Coming into tonight’s contest, the Flyers have been red hot. Winning their last 5 in a row and recently defeating the talented Toronto Maple leagues 6-1 at home. Needless to say, for once in a long time the Flyers were flying high. However, this was going to be a true test as the Arizona Coyotes are also one of the top teams in the league. With a strong veteran cast and young core that has finally hit its stride, former Flyer Coach, Rick Tocchet was ready to come in to spoil the party.
Early in the first Claude Giroux takes an uncharacteristically bad penalty early in the 1st period. Arizona strikes early on an easy goal for a tip in right in front of the net that sneaks past Brian Elliot. It looked like one that he would want back, but Kessel was all alone in front and no one had him locked. The trap game started off like everyone was worried about and the Flyers gave up the first goal on the penalty kill. Giroux takes another bad penalty early on, which is normally unlike him. A tripping call sends him off the ice and the Flyers find themselves down again.
Trying to turn the tide, Jake Voracek drew a penalty behind the net and the Flyers got to go on their first power play of the game, but the team was not able to capitalize. A relatively quiet first period as the shots were only 4-4 with 2 minutes left in the first. Not exactly the 1st period you’d expect from two top performing teams. With only 10 shots total in the first the Flyers found themselves down 1-0 going into the second period. If they wanted to take control of the game, against a team that’s playing a careful away game, bringing an extra gear is the only way to break through. Darcy Kuemper was sharp early and the Flyers would have to turn up the intensity if they want to take the lead.
The second period started off quiet, but the Flyers were at least getting some early shots on net. A beautiful chance in front of the net was stopped as the Flyers were close to tying the game. Close, but no cigar as Kuemper came up strong again with a beautiful stop in front. One thing was clear, this game was going to be a battle. Even though the Flyers were getting the better of the play in the second period, Phil Myers took a penalty 12 minutes in and the Flyers found themselves on their heels and still without a goal. With 6 minutes left in the 3rd period and the Flyers finally had an opportunity to even the score with their second power play of the game. Early on there was a great opportunity for Frost to bury one early on. However his shot sailed high and wide from inside the slot. Another slew of chances by the Flyers turned away as Darcy Kuemper, as he continued his strong game, stopping Lindblom shot at the side of the net and the again Couturier one timer in the slot. At this point the Flyers frustration must of been mounting. They were now outshoot the Coyotes 17 to 9 and had no goals to show for it. With just over two minutes left in the 2nd period the Flyers had their third chance at redemption as the Yotes took a bad slashing penalty in the Flyers zone. However, with tight checking the Flyers were not able to sustain much pressure and found themselves scoreless after 13 shots in the second period.
In the Third period it was all Flyers, as they started off with 4 shots on net early, but they still found themselves down a goal after missing several redirects that slid wide of Kuemper. The frustration continued as the 3rd period was now half over and the Flyers still found themselves down 1-0 against a good team with a hot goaltender. A frustrating situation for a team that’s been getting used to scoring goals. The bad luck continued as the Flyers carried all the pressure in the third period, but found themselves down 2-0 after a late goal by Connor Garland at the side of the net. A frustrating night only continued to get more frustrating as the Flyers couldn’t figure out Kuemper. Then finally, with less than 5 minutes left in the 3rd period the Flyers finally broke through as Niskanen was able to beat Darcy Kuemper with a shot from the point was that slightly redirected off the defense, which made its way to the top shelf. With just over two minutes left in the game, the Flyers were pressing hard. Unfortunately, Kevin Hayes took a late cross checking penalty that killed all momentum. The Flyers were now left with the difficult task of trying to come back in a game being one man down and the odds weren’t strong. This was the nail in the coffin. Even though the Flyers pressed hard, the Coyotes didn’t give up enough opportunities to lose their lead. The Flyers would look to rebound and get right back on the winning track as they ended up falling short in a 3-1 loss.
While this loss was hard to take, there were positives to take away from it. The Flyers were the better team in a game that they couldn’t get quite right. Missed opportunities are the only things that held them back in this one and that can be easily corrected. Look for the Flyers to get back on the winning track against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday afternoon.