After an impressive season-opening win at Columbus on Thursday, the Flyers were hoping some confidence would carry over into Saturday afternoon’s game at Ottawa.
It didn’t really happen.
Although the Flyers kept it close for much of the first two periods, a mistake leading to a Senators goal with just 5.1 seconds left in the middle frame resulted in the Flyers’ 5-2 loss at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Quebec, Canada.
The Flyers, now 1-1, fell behind by a 2-0 score and never could quite catch up.
Giving up Ottawa’s fourth goal in the final seconds of the second period pretty much sealed the Flyers’ fate.
Flyers coach John Tortorella said his team was outplayed in just about every phase of the game.
“We played a much more skilled team,” Tortorella admitted in a televised post-game interview. “We didn’t really give ourselves a chance with taking that many penalties (eight for 19 minutes, resulting in Ottawa going three for five on the power play). Eight blocked shots (for the Flyers compared to 18 for Ottawa). They had the puck most of the night. We can’t sit in the box that much against a skilled team like that.
“Our penalty kill, our power play (one for six), our offense, our defense, we were outplayed in all categories. We’ll look at the tape, dust ourselves off and get ready for our (home-opener) game on Tuesday.”
Ottawa struck first and then went ahead for good on a pair of goals from defenseman Jakob Chychrun, son of Flyers former defenseman Jeff Chychrun.
The Senators needed just 2:36 to get on the board. With Flyers goaltender Carter Hart screened by several bodies, Chychrun sent a point shot into the net. Then, with the Flyers shorthanded, Chychrun took a pass from Vladimir Tarasenko and blasted another shot home at 10:47.
The Flyers finally got untracked by scoring on a five-on-three power play. Travis Konecny connected for his third goal in the first two games, firing home the rebound of a Tyson Foerster long shot past goaltender Anton Forsberg at 16:51.
In the second period, Ottawa took a 3-1 lead at 16:12 on a goal by Jake Sanderson. But the Flyers quickly responded, getting a goal from defenseman Cam York off the rush just 18 seconds later.
Then disaster hit. Brady Tkachuk took a pass from former Flyer Claude Giroux – who had stolen the puck from defenseman Travis Sanheim –and buried a shot as time was running out.
To his credit, Sanheim took the blame for that play and expressed his regret.
“We have to be more disciplined,” he said. “On the play, I spun away. I thought I had more time. ‘G’ kind of snuck in behind me and made a good play. I have to bear down with less than 10 seconds left in the period. I just have to clear the puck. Just too many mistakes. Couldn’t get enough going on the other end (Flyers were outshot, 31-21).”
At the start of the second period, Tkachuk struck again on the power play at 1:32 for a three-goal lead.
In a televised intermission interview, Konecny said the team knew Ottawa would come out flying after a difficult loss to Carolina a couple days back.
“You know that’s coming,” Konecny said. “In home openers (for the Senators), you know everyone is going to be amped up. We knew they were going to come out hot. We just talked about putting out the fire.”
The Flyers knew Ottawa’s fourth goal was a momentum breaker.
In pre-game ceremonies, former Giroux was honored for recently recording his 1,000th NHL point. The Flyers chipped in with a gift of their own (a golf package). Giroux played 1,000 games for the Flyers and registered 900 points. At the 2022 trade deadline, Giroux was sent to the Florida Panthers in exchange for right wing Owen Tippett.
“He (Giroux) has been a huge inspiration to me,” Konecny acknowledged. “Everything that I’ve accomplished myself is all from ‘G.’ He’s taught me literally everything I know. He was such a treat to play with.”
Rookie defenseman Emil Andrae made his NHL debut and Egor Zamula was scratched. Also, Foerster made his season debut and rookie Bobby Brink did not dress for the game. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen missed his second straight game due to undisclosed injury. . .Foerster was satisfied with his performance. He had one bad turnover but otherwise had an assist and some good looks. “I think I have to shoot the puck a little bit more,” he said. “I thought I played pretty well, just that one turnover. I took a penalty; I have to clean that up. But I felt pretty good.” . . .Noah Cates played in his 100th NHL career game for the Flyers. . .The Flyers return to action on Tuesday when they kick off their home schedule with a game against the Vancouver Canucks, coached by former Flyer forward Rick Tocchet. Reminder the start of the game has been moved up one hour to a 6 p.m. puck drop.