Holding the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes to just one goal might, at first glance, look like a great defensive effort by the Flyers on Thursday night.
That would be fairly accurate but you would have to include the performance by goalie Felix Sandstrom, who played one of the best games of his brief NHL career.
Sandstrom, who made 28 saves, kicked out one quality shot after another on Thursday night at PNC Arena and kept the Flyers in it until the final horn.
Although the Flyers lost a tough 1-0 decision, one had to give a tip of the hat to Sandstrom, who has played through some tough luck.
His NHL record now stands at 1-13-2 (1-9-1 this season) but a lot of those efforts came in tight score games.
Sandstrom’s only goal allowed came off the stick of Andrei Svechnikov, who connected just 2:09 after the opening faceoff. The Hurricanes were on a power play (one of three in the first period) when Svechnikov’s shot found the back of the net.
Carolina goaltender Pyotr Kochetkov registered the shutout for the winners.
The Flyers received only one power play for the game and their 32nd-ranked power play could not generate much offense.
The Hurricanes raised their record to 18-3-1 over the last 22 games. It’s the first time the Flyers have been shut out by Carolina since November, 2000.
Philadelphia’s defense did what it could to help Sandstrom. It blocked 22 shots and tried to slow down Carolina’s speedy offense.
“When you don’t score you have to play with some patience,” coach John Tortorella said. “And hope you get good goaltending, which we got.”
Sandstrom, who was injured for a couple weeks and allowed Samuel Ersson to take over the backup role to Carter Hart for a while, looked sharp from start to finish.
“The difference from this game to all his others, as far as I’m concerned, he made every save,” Tortorella said. “Gave us a chance. I thought he was outstanding.”
As for the Flyers’ ineffective offense, the coach said it goes way beyond Carolina’s strong checking effort.
“It’s a challenge, period, for us offensively,” Tortorella said. “We have to be patient, be simple, we have to be above the puck and wait for our opportunities. We don’t make enough plays, we haven’t made enough plays. And we probably won’t the rest of the year. We have to get some good forechecking and hopefully bang some in.”
Obviously, Tortorella wasn’t particularly pleased with Carolina getting three power plays in the first period. The Hurricanes’ goal came on a questionable tripping call to Kevin Hayes.
“We just have to try to stay disciplined,” the coach said. “The biggest key is checking with your legs moving. It keeps you away from stick fouls. We just have to get better. We need that recipe of maybe taking just one (penalty) against top teams.”
Owen Tippett said it’s not easy generating offense the Hurricanes, who can forecheck with the best of them.
“That’s a good team so the chances don’t come easy,” he said. “When we get good chances we have to bury them. I think we can create a little more in front of the net instead of from outside.”
>Foerster makes NHL debut
Right wing Tyson Foerster was recalled from the Phantoms due to upper-body injuries suffered by right wings Wade Allison and Brendan Lemieux.
Foerster, a former first-round pick (23rd overall) in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, had his family make the trip from Canada to North Carolina to watch his NHL debut.
It’s been a bounce-back season for Foerster, who missed a lot of last year due to injuries. He saw action in only nine games after shoulder surgery.
On Thursday night, he wore jersey number 52 and played on a line with Scott Laughton and Morgan Frost for much of the game.
“It felt great,” Foerster said of his first shift during a first intermission interview. “Just having my family there. You know it’s always been a dream of mine to be here.”
The right wing made good plays at both ends of the ice. In the second period, he sprawled out to block what had the makings of a goal-scoring shot.
“That first shift, I was looking to get the puck in,” he explained. “I thought I made a pretty good defensive play there, not sure what shift it was. I just don’t want to get scored on.”
Foerster, 21, has registered 18 goals/38 points in 56 games for Lehigh Valley. The Ontario, Canada native nearly had his first NHL goal early in the game.
“I saw the puck jumping around,” he said of the play in a scrum right in the middle of the goal crease. “It was a good chance.”
Tortorella liked what he saw.
“Played very well, I thought he was one of the better players with poise with the puck,” Tortorella said after the game. “His first game, against a top team like this is encouraging.”
The Flyers also recalled Elliot Desnoyers from the Phantoms due to the loss of Allison and Lemieux.
Defenseman Tony DeAngelo sat out the first game of his two-game suspension, mandated by the NHL for his spearing of Tampa Bay’s Corey Perry in Tuesday night’s game in Florida. . .The Flyers will complete their three-game road trip with an afternoon game at Pittsburgh on Saturday. . .Former Flyer defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, recently acquired by Carolina from Arizona, made his debut against the Flyers as a member of the Hurricanes. . .Joel Farabee had a breakaway in the second period but was stopped. His goal drought has reached 24 games.