In the first game in the post-Hextall era, the Flyers had a monumental collapse Tuesday night, surrendering three goals in five minutes and 29 seconds to lose 4-3 to the Ottawa Senators.
Brady Tkachuk scored twice and Matt Duchene added the game-winner with 2:59 remaining in regulation.
Despite controlling possession for the majority of the game, the Flyers couldn’t overcome their defensive breakdowns.
Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:
• Regardless of whether they score first or lead after the opening 20 minutes, the Flyers' chances of winning improve dramatically when they score a first-period goal. They were 9-2-1 when they put up a first-period goal, and against the Senators, red-hot Travis Konency got the Flyers going with his one-timer. However, credit Ivan Provorov, who did some great work behind the Flyers' net to get the puck, and flip it out on his backhand to Claude Giroux at the Senators' blue line.
• Anthony Stolarz appeared to whiff on Thomas Chabot’s first-period goal, but after further review, the shot deflected off Oskar Lindblom, leaving Stolarz incapable of stopping the shot. The Flyers did a solid job of limiting the Senators in the first period after that goal, allowing just one power-play shot over the final 13:14 of the opening period.
• Coach Dave Hakstol reunited Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere as a pairing on the blue line. I’m not sure what Hakstol’s thinking was behind the move, but Gostisbehere has really been struggling recently. The game in Toronto was easily his worst of the season and against Ottawa, Ghost was once again careless with the puck, turning it over while making errant passes. I’d be very leery of this defense entering Saturday’s game at Pittsburgh.
It was a Gostisbehere turnover that led to Ottawa’s game-tying goal, as Chabot fired a shot from the point that was redirected by Tkachuk. Ottawa’s first three goals came with the Flyers' top defense pairing on the ice. Duchene made an incredibly athletic play batting the puck out of the air with his backhand to beat Stolarz. It was a play you would think Stolarz would have enough time to react and cover the post.
• Once again, the Flyers' top line of Giroux-Sean Couturier-Konecny dominated puck possession time, but Flyers fans should be encouraged by the improved play out of the second line from Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek, who appeared very engaged in this game after they appeared completely disinterested in the 6-0 loss against Toronto. How poorly had Voracek played coming into this game? Zero points and a minus-seven over his last five games. Patrick hasn’t cracked the scoresheet in his last seven games.
• It’s nice to see the Flyers come out and dictate the tempo and control the pace, but you have to consider the opponent and their massive defensive flaws. I don’t think I’ve seen a team chase the puck in their own end as much as the Sens did in this game against the Flyers, and goaltender Mike McKenna is a fringe NHL goaltender. He should have stopped Konecny’s one-timer and Gudas’s blast from the blue line.
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