>Flyers finish first half of season on a high note

Jamie Drysdale

     PHILADELPHIA – Now that’s the way to end the first half of a season.

      A goal by Sean Couturier in the first round of a shootout stood up in Game No. 41 of the 82-game campaign and sent the Flyers on their way to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center on Wednesday night.

      The Flyers reached the season mid-point with a record of 21-14-6, good for sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division.

      Coach John Tortorella had a big meeting with the team on Wednesday morning to go over how the players were competing. It apparently had a good effect.

      “We needed to reset how we play,” the coach said after the game. “I just don’t think we’ve been playing fast enough, not direct enough going north. I liked the speed of our game. That was the most important thing. If we can get back to our checking. . .to allow us to get the puck to go north as quickly as possible. I thought we did that fairly consistently tonight.”

      The Flyers scored a power-play goal for a third straight game and it helped complete a comeback from an early 2-0 deficit.

      Morgan Frost fired a shot from inside the top of the left circle past goaltender Cayden Primeau at the 8:30 mark of the second period for a 2-2 tie. Newly acquired defenseman Jamie Drysdale had an assist on the play.

      Another slow start by the Flyers led to an early deficit. Montreal scored just 1:29 into the first period and later doubled that lead before Philadelphia got its offense untracked.

      Sean Monahan tipped a Justin Barron shot out of the air and through a screen in front of goaltender Samuel Ersson.

      Next, David Savard connected at 11:28. This time Savard was stationed in front and was able to hold his ground, allowing the puck to deflect off him into the net with Michael Pezzetta picking up the primary assist.

      The Flyers finally got things going when Owen Tippett scored at 15:41. Couturier attempted to pass to Travis Konecny across the lower slot. Konecny couldn’t get control of the entry but Tippett, cruising in from the right side did, sending a pinpoint shot past Primeau, the son of ex-Flyer star Keith Primeau.

      In the shootout, Ersson was back to his usual brilliance. He’s now 4-1 in these tiebreakers and has allowed only two out of 15 shots to get past him.

      After allowing those two early goals, Ersson was rock-solid the rest of the way.

      “I put this win in the mentally strong file,” he said. “It’s hard to start a game like that. It happens and you have to deal with it. I think I did a good job, the team did a great job.

      “(In the shootout), I have to trust my game there. The results build confidence.”

      >Drysdale praised

      Drysdale’s first game as a Flyer was a positive one. Acquired in a trade with Anaheim on Monday, Drysdale made few mistakes and looked energized.

      “He gets up at 4 o’clock in the morning (Tuesday) and flies here,” Tortorella said. “I thought he played really well. Living in a new place, he has so much stuff going on. I was impressed with how he handled it.”

      Drysdale’s assist on the Frost goal showed what he can do.

      “Really good lateral movement,” Tortorella said of Drysdale. “His ability to skate is going to be a big thing for us as far as the way we’re trying to play. The players accepted him right away.”

      Drysdale seems to be enjoying himself in the short time he’s been here.

      “I feel like you can’t draw it up better,” the 21-year-old said. “Great crowd, great fans and came out with the win.”

      Drysdale’s parents came to the game as guests of the Flyers. They watched their son put on a pretty good performance.

      “A couple slip-ups on my end,” he said with a smile. “Little things I can look at on video and learn from. Overall, it’s a great environment and I love the way the team plays, run-and-gun and speed – I think I can fit right in there.”

      >Pride Night well-received

      It was Pride Night at the Wells Fargo Center and a celebration of the LGBTQ+ community by the Flyers. Throughout the game the organization celebrated and recognized local LGBTQ+ groups and individualsas well as host guests through the team’s community grant program and Flyers forward Scott Laughton’s Pride initiative.

      Kicking off the Flyers’ Pride Game, the Flyers welcomed Speed Finney, who plays center for the Ed Snider Youth Hockey and Education traveling Mite team along with his mom, Dr. Stacey Trooskin, executive medical officer of Mazzoni Center, Philadelphia’s top LGBTQ health and wellness center.

      Also, throughout the evening Flyers staff showed their support and wore Pride shirts and pins. Laughton invited all the Pride guests from the past three seasons back for this game.

     >Short shots

     The Flyers begin a three-game road trip in Minnesota on Friday night, then hurry to Winnipeg to face the Western Conference-leading Jets on Saturday night. They complete the trip on Monday in St. Louis. . .The Flyers entered the game second in the NHL in shots taken with 1,327 and tied for fifth in per-game average at 33.2. . .The Flyers’ Garnet Hathaway played in his 498th NHL game and is scheduled to play his 500th in Winnipeg.

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About Wayne Fish 2338 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.