PHILADELPHIA – Three straight 2-1 games might be a rarity in the NHL but for a team like the Flyers, such low-scoring, tight-checking outcomes can be a good sign.
So while the Flyers have gone 1-1-1 in those one-goal games, the final scores indicate the team is adhering to coach John Tortorella’s structured game plan.
Saturday afternoon’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators at the Wells Fargo Center was a good example.
Like Monday’s 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders and Thursday’s 2-1 shootout win over the Edmonton Oilers, the Flyers were tidy with the puck. In this game, they officially gave the puck away only five times.
It took a Matt Duchene shot which appeared to deflect off defenseman Cam York’s skate before going through Carter Hart’s pads at the 34-second mark of overtime to decide the outcome.
The Flyers missed another chance to go over the .500 mark in terms of regulation-time wins and losses. They now stand at 22-22-10.
At least the Flyers continue to play good defense. They blocked a whopping 31 shots and Hart stopped all but one of 25 shots in regulation time.
“It was a lot of bend but don’t break,’’ Tortorella explained after the game. “I thought we did a good job in the middle of the ice when we were stuck in our end zone.
“You just can’t give up much. I think our guys have gone about their business to make sure they defend the proper way. A lot of the game we did.”
Hart, who said he should have made the save on Duchene’s shot despite the deflection, agreed the Flyers have kept themselves in each of these games coming out of the All-Star break.
“It was grinding, putting pucks in deep, a lot of blocked shots,” Hart said. “We’ve done a good job the last few games after the break. We’ve really kind of found our game again. It’s work, forecheck.”
Added Kevin Hayes, who scored the only Flyers goal: “I thought from the start we were good defensively,” he said. “That is how we win games.”
Some nasty deke moves by Hayes on a breakaway resulted in the Flyers’ tying goal at 12:48 of the second period.
A mix-up by the Nashville defense sent Hayes in alone on goaltender Juuse Saros. Hayes wiggle-waggled several times before putting a nifty backhand shot inside the post to knot the score at 1-1.
The first period saw some rather emotional play. It ended with Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen driving forward Filip Forsberg crashing into the corner boards with only seconds remaining on the clock. Forsberg fell to the ice and remained motionless for a minute or two before finally getting up and going off under his own power.
That incident, however, seemed to stir up some bad blood. Just 13 seconds into the second period, Nashville’s Tanner Jeannot and the Flyers’ Nick Deslauriers squared off. Later, the Predators’ Juuso Parssinen and Philadelphia’s Joel Farabee went at it.
“I thought it was a clean hit,’’ Ristolainen said. “And an unfortunate result. We move on.”
Nashville got on the scoreboard first. At 1:43 of the second, Nino Niederreiter got in behind Travis Sanheim and tapped in a pinpoint pass from Duchene.
The Flyers had several good scoring chances. In one particular sequence, they had a three-on-one with Scott Laughton leading the rush. But in attempting to get the puck to Travis Konecny, he put it right on the stick of the solitary Nashville defender.
“The part of the game where I wish we were more effective. . .we had some odd-man rushes and we came up with nothing,” Tortorella said. “We had chances for a few more scoring plays and we just came up with nothing there.”
>Konecny streak hits 12
Travis Konecny’s goal drought has hit 12 games. He didn’t look too sure of himself on Saturday but Tortorella said he confident things will change.
“You can tell TK is trying,’’ Tortorella said. “He had some chances. When he was on that streak (24 goals in 42 games), the puck was following him around. Now it’s a little difficult for him. I think all TK needs is something to bounce off him. And I think he will feel better. We can’t get frustrated.”
>OT woes continue
The Flyers dropped to 1-9 in overtime but Tortorella doesn’t seem to be overly concerned.
“I don’t even talk about the numbers (to the players),’’ the coach said. “We just talk about each individual game in our meetings. We got a little messed up in our coverage. I don’t spend much time worrying about what we are, just trying to get to where we improve.”
The lines which Tortorella used during the long run of success were somewhat reunited on Saturday, with James van Riemsdyk and Owen Tippett rejoining Morgan Frost.
“Put the lines back together that we had a few weeks ago,’’ Tortorella said. “Ended up creating a little bit of offense.”
On Saturday morning the Flyers recalled forward Olle Lycksell from the Phantoms. This move came after Friday’s decision to put Kieffer Bellows on waivers (he cleared). Lycksell played with the Phantoms on Friday night so he was not available to play against Nashville. So the Flyers went with a seven-defensemen alignment, putting Justin Braun back into action.
The Flyers complete their weekend action with an afternoon game against the Seattle Kraken on Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center. . .Nick Seeler is scheduled in his 200th NHL game vs. Seattle.