The Flyers nearly had their fifth 3-0-0 start in the last 30 years.
Instead, though, they stomached their first loss of the 2019-20 season with a 3-2 shootout defeat to the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Saturday night.
Elias Pettersson and Tanner Pearson beat Carter Hart in the skills competition as the Flyers (2-0-1) had to settle for a point.
During their first two games, the Flyers dictated possession and pace. On Saturday night, the Canucks (2-2-0) stemmed the tide with their speed and skill.
• Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom entered with a 1.73 goals-against average in six career games against the Flyers. Once again, he was pretty good vs. the orange and black.
The Flyers got after the 29-year-old and he yielded only two goals on 32 shots. He faced 14 of those shots in the third period and the goal he allowed was on the power play in which he had no chance as Matt Niskanen, Travis Konecny and Oskar Lindblom made a spectacular play.
Markstrom finished off the Flyers by denying Jakub Voracek and Kevin Hayes in the shootout.
• Interestingly, Voracek played no more than three minutes in the third period. He was replaced by James van Riemsdyk on the first line with Claude Giroux and Hayes.
Voracek finished with 14:30 minutes, his lowest ice time in a game since the 2015-16 season. He appeared to be healthy as he skated on a late power play and took the team's first shootout attempt.
Head coach Alain Vigneault has shown that, veteran or youngster, you have to earn your ice time (see story).
• The Flyers impressively broke the Canucks' penalty kill — which had been a perfect 12 for 12 on the season — with five minutes left in regulation to tie the game.
Niskanen, who was great in all areas, started the play with speed on the entry. Konecny made a nice read and pass for his sixth point through three games.
• JVR is without a point in three games but he had quality looks and was pretty good in 20-plus minutes of action Saturday night.
He also nearly drew a penalty during the third period as the Flyers were trailing, 2-1. The helmet came off of Tyler Myers as the Vancouver defenseman and van Riemsdyk were battling in front. Myers did not go to retrieve it and instead pursued van Riemsdyk along the boards.
Here is the new rule implemented by the league this offseason:
Player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play must (a) exit the playing surface, or (b) retrieve and replace his helmet properly on his head (with or without his chin strap fastened). A Player who is making a play on the puck or who is in position to make an immediate play on the puck at the time his helmet comes off, shall be given a reasonable opportunity to complete the play before either exiting the ice or retrieving and replacing his helmet. Failure to comply with the above will result in a minor penalty being assessed on the offending player.
The officials clearly did not view it as a penalty because Myers was not whistled and finished a hit on van Riemsdyk.
• The Canucks' 1-0 lead after the opening period marked the Flyers' first deficit at an intermission this season.
The Flyers outshot the Blackhawks and Devils in the second period by a combined 30-14. In the middle frame against Vancouver, the shots were 10-7 in favor of the Flyers. The Flyers picked up the pace early in the period but the Canucks answered the momentum of the Flyers' equalizer by going back ahead 1:13 later.
• Hart, coming off his first career shutout, allowed two goals on 24 shots.
On the first goal, Vancouver gave the Flyers a taste of their own medicine. It was quicker and hungrier, which eventually resulted in Brock Boeser sending home a loose puck.
On the second goal, Pearson made a sharp deflection right in front of Hart. Nobody accounted for the winger and he took advantage.
Hart really wasn't a problem and kept the Flyers in the game.
• Carsen Twarynski started slowly with the Phantoms last season in his first year as a pro. He scored one goal over his first 20 games, finished with a so-so year (10 goals, 24 points) and never got called up after impressining in the preseason.
A season later, he flat out earned his roster spot and netted his first NHL goal in Game 3 of 2019-20. He did so during the second period to tie the game briefly.
Good for him.
(Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers)
• Two role guys that make subtle differences are Justin Braun and Tyler Pitlick.
On Saturday night, Braun broke up Vancouver threats with his stick and added an assist. The 32-year-old knows how to play defense.
Pitlick was also good on the fourth line. He mentioned how he's a north-south skater and it has been evident. He made an excellent backcheck in the second period to impede a breakaway by Pettersson, which could have easily resulted in a 3-1 hole for the Flyers.
• To finish a three-game road trip, the Flyers play their first back-to-back set of the season when they take on the Flames Tuesday (9 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Oilers Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
The Flyers are back home Saturday to play the Stars (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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