Fedotov helps Flyers salvage point in OT loss to Islanders

Ivan Fedotov

      PHILADELPHIA – Given his first shot at the NHL, Flyers new goaltender Ivan Fedotov lived up to his billing.

      He showed off his world-class talent in Monday night’s game against the New York Islanders.

      His heroics were enough to let the Flyers send their game against the Islanders into overtime. Morgan Frost’s goal with 9.6 seconds to play pushed the game past regulation time. Brock Nelson of the Islanders won it, 4-3, at 1:24 of the tiebreaker, but the Flyers salvaged a valuable point.

      Philadelphia moves one point ahead of idle Washington in the race for third place in the Metropolitan Division standings, although the Capitals now have three games in hand.

      Although Flyers’ starting goaltender Samuel Ersson did not play all that poorly in the first period, coach John Tortorella decided to have Fedotov, who just arrived on Friday from Russia, make his NHL debut at the start of the second.

      The move seemed to give the Flyers a jolt of energy as defenseman Travis Sanheim scored at just the 43-second mark to tie the score at 2-2. He sent a shot through a Ryan Pulock screen for his 10th goal of the season.

      But with 2:06 left in the second, Islanders captain Anders Lee tipped in a shot to restore the one-goal lead.

      Fedotov didn’t need much time to showcase his talent. At 4:55 of the second, he stopped New York’s Mathew Barzal on a clean breakaway.

      After stopping 13 straight shots, Fedotov finally let one get by him.

      Despite the late rally, Tortorella was in no mood to hand out platitudes after the game.

      “Soft,” Tortorella responded when asked to assess his team’s performance. “One guy played, the goalie. He was terrific, the only guy who played.”

      The coach continues to go back to the premise that at times like this, a player’s true colors come out

      “You’re finding things out here, OK?” Tortorella said. “When these games are a whole different plane. It’s still regular season, right? But it’s whole different plane. We’re finding things out.”

      If there’s one thing Tortorella can’t stand, it’s “soft” play. That’s what bothered him about Monday night’s tilt.

      “Not the whole game and not the whole group,” he said. “There are certain people that they don’t have a clue how to play. Or they just don’t have it in them to play in these types of situations. And this is why I’m playing them, because we have to figure things out as far as what we’re going to do as a team, become as a team. That was embarrassing in the second period to be in a Philadelphia Flyer uniform, the way we played, embarrassing. High marks as far as how we came back in the third, some guys.”

      As for Fedotov, the first look was rather impressive.

      “I wanted to bring him in, it just didn’t look right for ‘Ers.’ I’m totally impressed,” Tortorella said.  I put him in a hell of a spot. And he’s the only player who played in the second period.”

      Fedotov didn’t seem intimidated by the NHL game. He’s 27 and has played enough hockey to know all the shots, the angles and the deception plays.

      The Flyers’ fans certainly voiced their appreciation.

      “I’m excited, too,” he said. “I’m really happy. The guys (teammates) did some really good work. It’s a very important one point.”

      The goalie obviously heard what Tortorella had to say to his team in the second period.

      “Second period, we should have played with more aggression,” Fedotov said. “But the third period was really much better.”

      As for entering in the second period instead of starting, it really made no difference to him.

      “I have some experience,” he said. “I don’t care if I’m playing from the first minute. . .I just want to help the team.”

      A goal by Noah Cates provided the Flyers with an early lead but the Islanders came back with a pair of goals spaced just 18 seconds apart to take a 2-1 edge into the first intermission.

      Cates scored just his fifth goal of the season off a break-in at 4:57, sending a shot from the right hash marks beyond Semyon Varlamov’s glove.

      The Islanders came roaring back at 12:03. Erik Johnson fumbled the puck in the corner and Matt Martin wound up open in front for a shot past Ersson. Then, on the very next sequence, Bo Horvat scored off a rush, with his shot from the left faceoff dot beating Ersson short side.

      Sanheim said the Flyers were pleased to get one point but their performance left something to be desired.

      “Not sure we really liked our game, the majority of it,” he said. “Found a way to get a point, an unfortunate break in overtime. We got off to a good start (in the second period), getting the goal. Thought we got some momentum there but couldn’t sustain it.”

      >Short shots

      The Flyers are off until Friday when they visit the Buffalo Sabres. . .Cam Atkinson and Nick Deslauriers returned to the lineup and Bobby Brink was a scratch. . .This game pitted the Flyers’ league-worst power play against the Islanders’ league-worst penalty kill. . .Flyers captain Sean Couturier was injured on a big hit in the first period and did not return to action. . .Detroit won at Tampa Bay so now the Flyers have two teams trailing them by one point in the Eastern Conference playoff chase.

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About Wayne Fish 2472 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.