Rookie fill-ins shine in Flyers’ shootout loss

Mike Yeo
        While the Flyers couldn’t have been too pleased giving up a late tying goal in regulation time and then losing in a shootout Thursday night, there was a bit of a silver lining.
      Two rookies, Jackson Cates and Max Willman, scored the Flyers’ only goals in a 3-2 setback at Montreal, salvaging at least a point as the team’s three-game win streak came to an end.
      The Flyers tried to protect a 2-1 lead into the closing minutes at an empty Bell Centre (due to Quebec province health mandates) but couldn’t hold it.
      A goal by Montreal’s Laurent Dauphin with 5:39 to play tied the score 2-2.
      Cates, just called up from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms to replace Morgan Frost (COVID protocol), connected with a minute to play in the second period to break a 1-1 tie but the Flyers couldn’t hold the lead
      Max Willman scored his second goal as a Flyer. Montreal won the tiebreaker, 1-0, dropping the Flyers to 0-3 in that department.
      Cates also had an assist on Willman’s goal, giving him a multi-point game.
      Carter Hart, who faced a personal season-high 19 shots in the first period, took the loss in goal for the Flyers.
      Both Cates and Willman are giving the Flyers some depth when they need it most.
      “It (first goal) is a dream come true,’’ Cates said. “It’s a goal I’ll never forget.’’
      The fact that the Bell Centre was quiet didn’t detract from the moment.
      “There were no fans but at the end of the day it’s still a hockey game,’’ Cates said. “You have to play to win.’’
      As for the callup, he added: “That’s pro hockey. You have to be ready for your shot.’’
      After a back-on-their-heels first period which saw them surrender the only goal, the Flyers drew even on a goal at 2:20 of the second period.
     Willman, called up with both Derick Brassard and Joel Farabee on the shelf, did the honors, finishing off a play set up by assists from James van Riemsdyk and Kevin Hayes. Willman scored his second goal of the season, sending a high shot past goaltender Cayden Primeau, son of former Flyer great Keith Primeau.
      Coach Mike Yeo sounded OK with the effort.
      “I don’t think you can go out and expect to win 6-1 every night,’’ he said. “This is a team don’t forget that went to the Stanley Cup Final last year. When we talked to our team, we told them we have to expect their best, they’re a desperate team.’’
      It’s safe to say Willman wants to make the most of this chance to show what he can do.
      “Especially with a lot of the guys out of the lineup,’’ he said. “It’s important for us to come in and contribute. I think our mindset is we don’t want to come out of the lineup.’’
     The Canadiens, just 1-8-1 in their previous 10 games, took a 1-0 lead at 5:20 when Artturi Lehkonen’s long looping shot nicked off the stick of Flyers defenseman Keith Yandle and past Hart.
      Cates put the Flyers ahead when a Travis Sanheim long pass deflected off a Montreal stick and right to Cates in full stride. He made no mistake on a short-side shot off the rush.
      Last season, Cates appeared in four games for the Flyers. He has been performing well for the Phantoms.
      “Lappy (Phantoms coach Ian Laperriere) is doing a good job down there making sure the guys are prepared coming up,’’ Yeo said. “We don’t guys to just come in and play, we want them to make a difference. Tonight those guys did that for us.’’
      >Empty building reminder of past
      The empty building reminds everyone what it was like earlier this year when all NHL arenas had no fans.
      “It’s a little bit different,’’ Yeo said. “Everyone in our organization is putting health and safety at the top of their list. I know the league takes this stuff very seriously. I don’t think it affected the game. I was expecting a very desperate team tonight. We had a couple guys on the bench (before the game) saying how weird it was going to be. But when you’re in Montreal, the intensity and the emotion are still there.’’
      >Short shots

Yandle played in his 950th consecutive game. . .The Flyers’ Cam Atkinson and Claude Giroux were both plus-5 in Tuesday’s 6-1 win over New Jersey and that marked the first time the Flyers have had two plus-5 players in the same game in four years. . .The Flyers return to action Saturday when they play host to the Ottawa Senators. .Ivan Provorov got hit in the throat by an errant puck in the third period but did not miss any playing time. His ironman streak stands at 399 from the start of his career. . .Van Riemsdyk ran his point streak to four games (three goals, two assists).

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About Wayne Fish 1784 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.