PHILADELPHIA – Just like Thursday night when the Flyers wanted to win the game to mark Cam Atkinson’s return to Columbus, the team was equally psyched to post a W on public address announcer Lou Nolan’s 50th anniversary game on Saturday night.
And for awhile it looked like they just might pull it off again against the Anaheim Ducks.
But after taking a two-goal lead by the first intermission and later gaining a 3-3 tie in the third period, the Flyers found a way to come unglued and went on to a 5-3 defeat at the Wells Fargo Center.
Troy Terry’s goal at 11:38 broke the three-all tie and Derek Grant scored with 5:27 to go for an insurance goal.
Interim head coach Mike Yeo hopes games like this can serve as a “learning process’’ but that doesn’t mean they’re any less painful.
“We came out with the right intentions, doing the right things,’’ he said. “Got off to a hot start. In the second period we stopped being physical. Execution was a problem for us through the neutral zone. We let them take the momentum and run with it.’’
While the Flyers dominated the first period, it was a complete reversal in the second as the Ducks erased that 2-0 Flyers lead with three unanswered goals.
The parade began at 3:06 when Sonny Milano cleaned up a rebound just beyond goalie Martin Jones’ reach.
Then Zach Aston-Reese deflected Adam Henrique’s long shot into the net at 4:38 followed by Trevor Zegras’ power-play goal at 14:13.
But the Flyers rallied in the third on an Ivan Provorov goal at 3:53. He finished off a superb pass from Nate Thompson stationed at the bottom of the left circle.
The Flyers seem to put their foot on the gas at times but then they let up. It’s been going on a lot.
“We have to understand that we’re not good enough to do that,’’ Yeo said. “There’s still progress, there are still things that are positive. We can’t just wait until periods to collect ourselves and regroup and get back at it.’’
Provorov would like to see a more consistent effort.
“We have to find a way to snap out of it (bad shifts),’’ he said. “And we just weren’t able to.’’
Morgan Frost believes the second period blues don’t come by accident.
“I think we kind of came out flat,’’ Frost said. “Maybe we were thinking about how well we were playing in the first period. It’s a learning process but it (giving up leads) has happened too many times this year.’’
At the start of the game, the Ducks needed to call a timeout after the Flyers blitzed them for a pair of goals before the game was three minutes old.
Travis Sanheim began the proceedings by converting a nice feed from Morgan Frost, who circled behind the net and caught Sanheim out front for a one-timer at 1:39. Sanheim’s shot eluded Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz, a former second-round draft pick of the Flyers.
Rookie defenseman Ronnie Allard’s first NHL goal doubled the lead at 2:28. Attard’s point shot passed through a screen of bodies in front before getting past Stolarz. That prompted head coach Dallas Eakins to call his early timeout.
>Attard gaining confidence
In addition to scoring his first goal as a Flyer, Attard seems to be gaining confidence in his game.
“I think Ronnie continues to grow,’’ Yeo said. “Get better every game. He’s doing a lot of good things for us.’’
The goal was a special moment for the Western Michigan University product.
“It’s something you always dream of,’’ Attard said. “I’m really happy. It’s not how I drew it up but I’ll take it. This past week I’ve learned so much from players, the coaching staff. I’m continuing to learn. Just starting to feel more comfortable each game.’’
>Hodgson in for Farabee
Hayden Hodgson was a late callup from the Phantoms after wing Joel Farabee took ill (not COVID-related) on Saturday morning.
>Stars come out for Nolan
Saturday night’s pre-game celebration for public address announcer Nolan’s 50th anniversary game included some headline stars from the Flyers’ past.
Eric Lindros presented the Nolans with a special bottle of wine from California. Bob “Hound’’ Kelly offered a free trip to Napa Valley’s wine country and Hall of Fame goaltender Bernie Parent gave Nolan a unique commemorative microphone.
Nolan made it a point to thank the fans for their unwavering support through the years. There was a video tribute featuring many shots of the old Spectrum and the Broad Street Bullies. Chants of “Lou-u-u! Lou-u-u!’’ echoed through the building
Video congratulatory messages came from ex-Flyer great Dave Poulin among others. The Flyers all wore special No. 50 jerseys in pre-game warm-ups.
The Flyers are off until Tuesday when they visit the Washington Capitals. . .Jones came up with a big save on Jamie Drysdale’s breakaway off a Kevin Hayes turnover in the first period. . .