Frustrated Flyers earn point but lose more ground

Robert Hagg

Even when the Flyers play some of their best hockey, they can’t seem to find a way to keep up in the standings.

On Thursday night, it was more of the same frustration which has characterized their past couple weeks.

The Flyers marched into Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, N.Y. where the Islanders are 17-1-2 and, after giving up two bad-break goals in the opening minutes, rallied for a pair of their own against the East Division leaders.

It came down to another dreaded shootout, which the Flyers lost by a solitary goal in the fifth round, and Philadelphia had to settle for one point.

Meanwhile, Boston won at Washington, so the Flyers actually lost ground and now trail by six points for the final playoff spot with the Bruins holding two games in hand.

Coach Alain Vigneault and four players were all asked the “frustration’’ question after the game and it was difficult for anyone to put a positive spin on the situation.

Granted, the Flyers have put together some solid hockey the past four games. But when the results aren’t there, some exasperation sets in.

“We’ve been talking with the group about not looking at what’s ahead but what’s in front of you,’’ Vigneault said via media Zoom call after the game. “We need to focus on our next game (Boston on Saturday in Philadelphia) and that’s what we’re going to do.’’

Jake Voracek said the Flyers should have won the game in 60 minutes. His team had the better of the scoring chances in regulation time.

“It is frustrating,’’ he said. “We have to find a way to win those games. You have to stay focused. If you get four or five wins in a row, you’re right in the mix. Hopefully we put it together – we have to, we have no other choice.’’

Travis Sanheim feels the same way.

“We’re playing some good hockey,’’ he said. “We want different results. You can get frustrated over that. But we really don’t have time for that. We can’t look at the negatives right now.’’

The two goals the Flyers did surrender early came on a pair of miscues by usually stellar defenseman Ivan Provorov.

On the first, he couldn’t get a shot through and the Islanders turned a rush the other way with Brock Nelson scoring at 6:10.

Just moments later, Provorov lost an edge and Jordan Eberle wound up putting a shot past Carter Hart at 7:13.

Vigneault took issue with calling the Flyers’ effort a “slow start.’’

“We came out doing the right things,’’ he said. “Unfortunately, Provy doesn’t get that shot through.  He’s trying to take the pass away, goes off his stick and finds its way to the back of the net.

“On the second goal, he lost an edge and they have two shots, two goals. Not an easy situation at the start but not because our guys weren’t doing the right thing. We battled back hard, we’re competing, trying every shift and no one put their heads down.’’

The Flyers got one back on a long knuckleball shot by Nicolas Aube-Kubel at 13:53 of the first, then tied it on Jake Voracek’s goal at 3:22 of the second period.

>Morin faces possible fine, suspension

Defenseman Samuel Morin received a five-minute boarding major and game misconduct for his from-behind hit on New York’s Casey Cizikas in the first period.

Any infraction of that sort is up for league review. Morin has only had a handful of NHL games, so he doesn’t have a history of violence and that might work in his favor.

The Flyers were annoyed because later in the game, defenseman Travis Sanheim was hit from behind on a similar play and not even a minor penalty was called.

“Obviously I don’t agree with the call,’’ Vigneault said. “I haven’t had a chance to look at the hit on Travis. Referees see the game the way they see the game.’’

Sanheim saw a little bit of favoritism on the two plays.

“We thought it (Morin’s) should have been two minutes,’’ he said. “Weren’t quite sure about the five. Obviously they (the officials) disagreed.

>Penalty kill sharp

The Flyers did kill the Islanders’ five-minute power play and kept them off the board with the man advantage the rest of the way, including the final 1:58 of overtime.

Not too shabby for a team with one of the lowest-ranked penalty kills in the NHL.

“It was a huge night for us,’’ Vigneault said. “Those five minutes we had to kill on that call I don’t agree with. We didn’t give them a scoring chance (on the power play) in overtime.’’

The five-minute kill really kept the Flyers in it. They could easily have been down 3-0.

“It was huge,’’ said defenseman Robert Hagg, just back after missing 11 games with a shoulder injury. “We were already down 2-0. I think all the killers did a great job. We got some momentum from that.

>Hart turns in another strong effort

Since a two-game benching Hart seems to have found his game again in his past three starts.

“I feel good,’’ he said. “I feel solid in the pipes. It’s not the result you want.’’

Hart was asked if there’s any danger of the team losing confidence if hard work doesn’t get rewarded.

“Some things you can’t control,’’ he said. “The other team gets some bounces. That’s just the game of hockey. We’re playing hard. We’re going to get rewarded by sticking to the process.’’

>Short shots

Voracek extended his point-scoring streak to five games (two goals, three assists). . .Claude Giroux won 15 of 21 faceoffs. . .Provorov played 29:59, his third-highest total this season. . .Brian Elliott is scheduled to start in goal for the Saturday afternoon game vs. Boston.

 

 

 

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About Wayne Fish 1291 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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