Flyers coach John Tortorella decided to sit at press level for Thursday night’s game and although he might not have been pleased with the final score, he had to be satisfied with the way his players stuck up for one another.
The Flyers got caught up in a war of wills at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa and while they came out on the short end of a 5-4 score in overtime, they answered every physical challenge thrown their way.
Owen Tippett’s goal with 2:39 to play in regulation time capped a three-goal burst to send the game to OT.
But in overtime, a bad clear attempt by goalie Felix Sandstrom led to an Alex DeBrincat goal 1:36 into the tiebreaker.
Regulation time ended with the Flyers being outshot, 44-11. The final shot count was 46-11.
Although Sandstrom had to accept some of the blame for the outcome, several players – and associate coach Brad Shaw, filling in for Tortorella — said he played so well things kind of evened out.
“Sandy was great, not only on the penalty kill but five-on-five,” Shaw said. “It’s disappointing to see the way the game ends after him playing so well for us for the first 60 minutes.”
Added Tony DeAngelo: “He played great. He did nothing wrong. He was awesome. Breakaways, breakaways. . .he was really good. It stinks he has to take the loss.”
Tippett gave Sandstrom credit for covering up a lot of mistakes.
“He stood in there all night,” Tippett said. “Made some great saves. Guys trust him. I think we relied on him a little too much.”
Philadelphia saw a season-high four-game winning streak come to an end.
Things really got nasty in the second period after Ottawa’s Auston Watson crashed Flyers defenseman Cam York into the end boards. York wobbled off the ice, walked to the Flyers dressing room for some medical assistance and eventually returned to action.
Later, Nick Deslauriers challenged Watson to a fight and came out on top. Also, Joel Farabee went after DeBrincat, who was buried by a check along the boards earlier in the period.
For a team staying home for the playoffs, the Flyers put up a pretty gallant fight.
Execution might have been a different story.
“I think we fed their transition, I didn’t think we were very good with the puck, from the red line to the tops of the circles,” Shaw said of the 4-1 hole the Flyers dug themselves. “They have a ton of speed and they’re very good in that area of the ice.”
DeAngelo said failure to clear pucks out of the defensive zone led to the lopsided shot margin.
“We just weren’t exiting pucks out,” he said. “We get to the blue line and then, boom! Turnover again.”
Tippett offered similar thoughts.
“I think we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” he said. “We could have made some more simple plays.”
Sandstrom was under siege throughout the first two periods as the Senators outshot the Flyers, 27-5. The five shots for the opening 40 minutes tied a franchise-low record, originally set Dec. 4, 1968.
York showed a lot of grit coming back and actually having an impact on the game.
“For the first two periods I thought we kind of sat back,” York said. “They’re very good on the forecheck. We kind of found our game a bit (in the third). The game could have been a lot different if he (Sandstrom) wasn’t back there. He definitely sparked us. We did some good things in the third and we want to build off that.”
The Senators scored first on an unassisted goal from Watson at 10:58 of the opening period. It appeared Ivan Provorov missed a clear attempt on the play.
DeAngelo tied the score with a power-play goal at 2:51 of the second period. He finished off a York feed.
Then the Senators ran off the next three goals, with Tim Stutzle (7:43) and Shane Pinto (16:50) scoring in the second period before ex-Flyer great Claude Giroux put the game out of reach with a goal at 2:28 of the third.
York scored at 5:22 of the third with a shot from the right circle past Cam Talbot. The Flyers made it close when Noah Cates scored on a power play at 9:54 of the third. A Rasmus Ristolainen shot deflected off Cates into the net.
Shaw filled in for Tortorella behind the bench. Tortorella wanted to get a view from upstairs to evaluate players. Sitting at his side was interim general manager Daniel Briere.
>Hart still sidelined
Carter Hart (lower-body injury) missed his second straight game, meaning Sandstrom had to make the start. Sam Ersson again served as backup.
The Flyers might have a bit of a scheduling conflict over the weekend if Hart remains out.
Ersson was scheduled to play in a pair of critical games for the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, who are hoping to reach the playoffs for the first time in five years. However, the Flyers play back-to-back on the weekend, playing Buffalo at home and at Pittsburgh on Sunday. Tortorella has yet to start a goaltender on back-to-back days this season.
Ex-Flyer Derick Brassard suffered what appeared to be a serioud leg injury on the same play in which the Senators scored their third goal. Brassard had to be helped off the ice. . .Deslauriers now leads the NHL in penalty minutes and the Flyers took over the league lead in fights. They began the game tied with Minnesota, each taking part in 33 bouts. . .It was the Flyers’ first two power-play game on the road this season.