PHILADELPHIA – The Mike Yeo era didn’t start with a bang but it really wasn’t a dud either.
Understandably, there was going to be some confusion on Monday night, given the Flyers just found out in the morning they were playing for a new coach.
It had to be a little strange skating over to the bench during the game against the Colorado Avalanche and seeing Yeo, not Alain Vigneault, shouting out orders.
Vigneault was let go earlier in the day and Yeo got his baptism of fire in this encounter.
On the plus side, the Flyers managed to break the three-goal mark for the first time in 18 games. Plus, Oskar Lindblom scored his first goal of the season and Claude Giroux added a pair.
But on the negative side, the Flyers continued to take inopportune time penalties, gave up a truckload of odd-man rushes and came out on the wrong end of a 7-5 score at the Wells Fargo Center.
The loss extended the Flyers’ winless streak to nine games and kept them next to last in the Metro Division.
Martin Jones started in goal for the Flyers and didn’t look much better than Carter Hart did in Monday night’s 7-1 debacle loss to Tampa.
Colorado raced to a 4-1 lead in the first 17 minutes of the game and while the Flyers rallied to get to 4-3, they never quite got over the hump.
Keeping all that in mind, Yeo still saw some positives in the performance.
“I think there were certain points that were really good,’’ Yeo said. “The fact that we got down 4-1, the guys battled back. I know the guys really cared. Unfortunately, focus-wise, we were good but we took some penalties. It’s a period where we have to go to work, go to school.’’
After Giroux blasted home a long shot past Avs goalie Justus Annunen at 6:02, the Avalanche started their four-goal run with a shorthanded goal by Erik Johnson at 9:55. Giroux slipped and fell, setting up a two-on-one rush the other way.
After Gabriel Landeskog put Colorado in front at 13:13, Lindblom and Giroux took penalties and the Avs scored on both. Alex Newhook connected at 15:16, then Cale Makar raced past Ivan Provorov and buried the puck past Jones.
Lindblom countered at 16:28, then Giroux ripped in a shot from the left circle at 18:20. But in the second period, a goal by Valeri Nichushkin at 1:42 restored the two-goal edge. In the third period, Cam Atkinson scored at 2:16 to cut the lead to 5-4 but the Avs got a power-play goal from Nazem Kadri at 5:42 to put the Avs in front by two again.
The Flyers’ record fell to 8-11-4.
“Obviously we have a lot of work to do,’’ Sean Couturier said. “We need to possess the puck a little better. I thought our forecheck created turnovers at times and at others we made mistakes. We have to stick together and good things will come.’’
Kevin Hayes said it was an emotional day. He played for Vigneault both here and with the New York Rangers.
“It’s a league of results,’’ he said. “We haven’t performed the way we want to and changes were made. I’ve been with AV almost my whole career. He helped me be the player I am today. I can definitely say I wouldn’t be where I am today without his help. I owe a lot to him.’’
>Lindblom relieved to finally score
It took Lindblom 23 games to finally get on the scoreboard and to say he sounded relieved was an understatement.
The Flyers are hoping Lindblom will finally get untracked. He really hasn’t looked like himself since he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma (a rare form of bone cancer) back in December, 2019. It took seven months of chemotherapy to get past the disease.
“It feels awesome and it was a big goal, too, after they got that 4-1 lead,’’ Lindblom said during the first intermission. “It was a big goal and then ‘G’ (Giroux) got another big goal so that was a huge part of the game.”
Lindblom finished off a tic-tac-toe play with Travis Sanheim and Travis Konecny.
“It was a great play, I think ‘Sanny’ got it along the wall and hit TK behind the net,’’ Lindblom said. “I was open and he found me and I had an open net and put it in.”
Added Yeo after the game: “He’s been struggling. Last year was physical, this year I think it’s mental. When I met with Oskar today, I don’t know where it’s going to go. But let’s give him the opportunity. Two years ago, he’s the one everyone wanted to play with because he plays the right way.’’
>Laperriere back in town
Lehigh Valley Phantoms head coach Ian Laperriere made the drive down to Philadelphia to help out Yeo behind the bench. The Flyers were short a coach with the firing of assistant coach Michel Therrien.
>Giroux ties record
Giroux’s two power-play points moved him into a tie with Bob Clarke for the Flyers’ alltime lead. Both now have 333 points with the man advantage.
The 50 shots allowed by the Flyers were a season-high and the second-highest amount allowed on home ice in franchise history. The record in 52.