The Philadelphia Flyers were in a familiar position on Tuesday night – three games in the books and still looking for their first win of the season. In each of the last two seasons, the Flyers started off their seasons 0-3 before notching their first win in the fourth game of the year. This season is a little different as they grabbed their first point of the season on Saturday so they were only 0-2-1 entering their third game of the season.
At the end of the day, that’s immaterial and the Flyers needed to come out Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks and make a statement.
It was not going to be easy by any stretch as Anaheim took both games from the Flyers in 2013-14 and had registered a point in each of their last seven games against Philadelphia going 5-0-2. The Flyers sent out Steve Mason between the pipes as he was looking to erase the memory of the five-goal outburst the Devils opened their season with on Thursday against him and his teammates.
The start was not ideal as the Ducks struck first. Just over midway through the first period, Mason stopped a Francois Beauchemin shot from the point and swatted the rebound away from the net. In a stroke of bad luck, the puck was swatted right to the stick of Tim Jackman who beat Mason to put Anaheim up 1-0.
A few moments late the Ducks went on the power play thanks to a Nick Schultz hooking penalty. As the penalty time was coming to an end the Flyers were unable to clear the puck. There were numerous opportunities as the puck reached the blue line but the Flyers couldn’t clear.
Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm wound up and let go a rocket of a shot from the point that was redirected in front by Devante Smith-Pelly to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead. The goal occurred just after the expiration of the penalty.
“Those are tough plays that you have to make,” Mason said following the game. “You know, when guys are killing penalties they get tired. When the puck gets that close to the blue line and you can’t get it out that’s when it’s going to bite you and it did.
“We have to be strong on the puck there in order to get the puck out and get fresh guys on the ice. If we were able to get that puck out, who knows what would have happened.”
The game went to the second period where the Flyers began to take over. The Flyers started firing shots at Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen and broke through on the power play thanks to a blast from Mark Streit to get the Flyers on the board.
Recently when the Flyers have needed a big goal, they have gotten it from winger Wayne Simmonds. Tuesday night was no different. The Flyers went back on the power play with just over two minutes remaining in the second period when there was a scramble in front of the net and in the crease. The puck was never frozen and Simmonds found it near the goal line and put it in to tie the game.
The second period really turned things around.
“I just feel like we kept it simple,” said Simmonds. “We weren’t trying to be fancy. We weren’t trying to make plays in the neutral zone, we got pucks deep and guarding them down.”
Unfortunately, that lead was not safe. Matt Belesky beat Steve Mason with 16.3 seconds remaining in the second period to put Anaheim back on top.
The third period featured chances for both teams before the Flyers started to take momentum in the second half of the period. Philadelphia appeared to be capitalizing on a tired Anaheim team that played a day prior in Buffalo.
“The long road trip,” Flyers forward Jakub Voracek explained after the game. “They played yesterday. It’s always tough.”
Voracek would be the one who exploited them as he took the puck behind the Anaheim net ad beat Andersen on a beautiful backhand shot to tie the game for the Flyers with 5:20 remaining in the third period.
The Flyers kept the pressure on Anaheim but were unable to score before heading to overtime. The overtime period featured a lot of the same things the end of the third period did – Flyers swarming and creating chances but failed opportunities. Philadelphia recorded the only two shots on goal in the overtime period but walked away with nothing to show for it.
It would head to a shootout where the Flyers are bad on a historical level. Claude Giroux would net a goal for the Flyers but the Ducks would get goals from Jakob Silfverberg and William Karlsson to win it for Anaheim.
The Flyers are now 0-2-2 on the year with the same number of points through four games as they had last year. The last time the Flyers started the first four games of a season without a win was in 2008-09 when they started the year 0-3-3 but recovered to make the playoffs.
Next up for the Flyers are the Stars as the Flyers will head to Dallas for a Saturday night clash at 8:00 pm.