Flyers

Flyers

ANAHEIM — They had 55 shots, just seven shy of their all-time franchise record, and couldn’t get a fourth goal.

“A month ago, we’d have several more,” sighed Flyers coach Dave Hakstol after a 4-3 shootout loss on New Year’s Day where the Flyers richly deserved two points instead of one (see Instant Replay).

The Flyers return home 1-4-2 since their 10-game winning streak, but it’s hard to find much fault in this game, given the effort, although the road trip was horrific at 0-2-1.

“We deserved better, we played a helluva hockey game,” Hakstol said. “We executed pretty well. I thought our effort was coming back in San Jose, but our execution side of our game wasn’t there.

“Tonight, for the most part, our execution was pretty good and we had a lot of quality chances. Couldn’t get an extra one to go in.”

Just ask Michael Del Zotto.

He and Brayden Schenn each had a team-high seven shots. Del Zotto’s shot in the final 42 seconds of overtime went off Ducks goalie John Gibson’s mask, or it’s the game winner. It hit Gibson so hard, his helmet came off.

“I had a bunch of chances all game,” Del Zotto said. “I was fortunate to be out there with Jakey [Voracek] and he made a bunch of plays. I got quality looks.”

 

There really wasn’t much more the Flyers could have done as Gibson stole the extra point.

“As a team, we played a great game, created a lot of offense which as a team we’ve been struggling with as a team,” Del Zotto said.

“Put up 55 shots, you’re going to win most games. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the two points. We’ve been in a little bit of a lull, but we keep playing like that, we’ll be successful.”

Overlooked here is that the Flyers power play, which has been struggling since mid-December, could not convert a four-minute advantage in the third period.

Ryan Kesler notched a hat trick on his first four shots.  His goal at 7:55 to open the game will show even strength, but the Flyers were caught coming off the penalty kill as Kesler stood in the paint unnoticed waiting for Ryan Getzlaf’s pass.

The lead didn’t even last a minute as the Flyers came out the next shift with a Travis Konecny rush up ice. The rookie took a pass from Wayne Simmonds and put a hard shot off Gibson, then somehow managed to keep his balance for a tough-angle rebound inside the post to tie it.

Konecny had gone 22 games without a goal and was questionably benched Friday night in San Jose.

“The last game I played in St. Louis, me and Simmer had a 2-on-1 similar to this one,” Konecny said. “I stayed on my forehand side and it kind of took away the opportunity for him to make the pass.”

Kesler regained the lead for Anaheim, 2-1, at 16:54 as the Ducks outmuscled the Flyers in the paint. He made his rebound look easy as the Flyers backed in on Steve Mason, who faced just five shots in the second and 10 in the third.

Kesler notched his hat trick in the opening 1:09 of the second period with a weak shot angling in off right wing that tricked under Mason’s pads.

After that goal, however, Mason was outstanding.

“It was a difficult game to play,” Mason said. “It was so dark out there I had a hard time tracking the puck which was another thing adding to the game. The guys were working hard and trying to get it done.”

The Flyers came back from that 3-1 deficit to score twice in 1:20 to tie and chase Gibson for Jonathan Bernier for a few minutes before Gibson returned.

Sean Couturier notched his first goal since Nov. 17 because of a prolonged injury absence.

“I was wide and I saw Mac [Andrew MacDonald] take a good shot and I went to the net and luckily enough the rebound came right back to me,” Couturier said.

This was his third game back since suffering a sprained left knee.

“It feels good to score coming off IR,” he said. “It's never easy getting back into the rhythm, but every shift and every game I think I'm getting better and this one is huge for the confidence.”

 

Schenn tied it on the power play with a rebound left in the slot to steal the momentum back. Schenn said he tried to ignore the frustration of trying to get one past Gibson by thinking it was like a shooting gallery.

“That’s the mentality you have to have,” he said. “You can’t get frustrated by that. The more pucks you throw on net, the better chance you have scoring. We didn’t get that bounce we were looking for.”

Simmonds came very close to winning it in the shootout with a slick backhander before Corey Perry did on the next chance.

“I did have him beat,” Simmonds said. “The puck jumped.”