PHILADELPHIA – When a goalie enters a game down a couple goals, he knows there’s no room for error.
One more goal and the contest is just about over.
That was the situation facing veteran goaltender Brian Elliott entering Thursday night’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.
The Flyers were down 4-2, having just surrendered four straight goals when coach Dave Hakstol sent Elliott out to replace starter Cal Pickard with 13:22 left in the second.
Elliott did his job, making several tough stops and blocking all 16 Arizona shots to allow the Flyers to rally for a 5-4 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
“You’re not thinking about letting goals in,’’ said Elliott, who had missed a pair of games due to a head injury suffered in practice on the western road trip. “You’re just trying to get in front of pucks.
“The heartbeat gets going pretty quickly. Sometimes it’s easier just to get thrown in. I had a couple shots right away to get the feel of things.’’
The Flyers moved above .500 at 8-7-1 and are 4-0-1 in their last five. They moved into a tie with idle Washington and Columbus for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Scott Laughton’s goal started the Flyers’ comeback. Elliott said he could feel the momentum changing.
“That’s why the two-goal lead the worst lead because that momentum change is big,’’ Elliott said. “You have to really come up with a big save or something has to happen to stop it. (Dale) Weise went down on that breakaway (to tie the score in the closing minutes) and that was clutch.’’
Calmer, mature Lindblom hitting his stride
Most players who anticipate getting selected in the NHL Entry Draft make it a point to be there.
Oskar Lindblom, thinking there wasn’t much of a chance, didn’t.
By age 18, the young forward’s stock had fallen so far he didn’t bother to make the trip from Sweden to Philadelphia for the big show.
On draft day 2014, the Flyers surprised a lot of people by taking Lindblom in the fifth round (138th overall).
Reason why Lindblom wasn’t thinking about the draft?
Well, scouts had made it known that his skating really wasn’t up to professional standards, at least the NHL variety.
So Lindblom was surprised as anyone when his cell phone rang in Sweden and Flyers general manager Ron Hextall was on the line.
Fast forward to 2018 and Lindblom is off to a blazing start with the current Flyers. He’s coming off a great road trip, one in which he set up two big goals and scored another in Flyer wins (they finished the trip 3-0-1).
Hakstol says some of it has to do with maturity.
“He’s feeling it right now,’’ Hakstol said at Thursday morning’s skate at the Wells Fargo Center. “He’s got a little bit extra moxie to his game.
“The foundation of his game has always been there. With a little success, he’s been able to loosen up a bit. With that, you usually get a little more production and that’s what we’re seeing out of him.’’
The 22-year-old left wing managed to get into 23 games with the Flyers last year but only produced two goals and six points.
In 15 games this season, he’s already surpassed that with a 4-4-8 scoring line. Playing on the second line with Nolan Patrick and Jake Voracek has helped his growth.
“Oskar is a very complete player,’’ Hakstol said. “He had good chemistry with ‘Patty’ last year down the stretch. The point production wasn’t there but that’s natural with young players.
“When he came to camp this year, he was a year more advanced, a year more mature, a little stronger, a little more confident in everything he was doing. He’s a little quicker, he’s been in that situation (winning puck battles) before. That all contributes to his success.’’
Lindblom seems to be taking it all in stride.
“The more games (his line) plays, we get better and better,’’ he said. “Last year, I really didn’t know what to expect when I got here. This year I was more comfortable, I knew what was going to happen.
“I thought I would make the team so I had good confidence that I was ready for camp.’’
Sometimes when players don’t get drafted until a later round (or not at all), they feel a bit of extra motivation.
“It didn’t matter a great deal to me because I felt I needed more time to develop back home,’’ he said. “I just had a mindset to show them I could be here.’’
Now about that draft day. . .
“I was back home,’’ he said with a smile. “The Flyers called me right after I got drafted. It was fun to see my name up there (on the board) but I knew I had a long way to go.’’
Judging by his performance so far, that journey might be just about over.
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