Hart Shines Despite Shootout Loss
The Flyers (17-14-5) rescued a point in a shootout loss at the New York Islanders (24-10-4) Saturday night, after falling behind 2-0 in the second period. Anthony Beauvillier netted both the goals for the Islanders and captain Claude Giroux had both the tallies for the Flyers. The result is not ideal, as the Flyers need as many points as possible to make a run for the playoffs, but saving a point is a good start to a crucial week for the Flyers season. Carter Hart was incredible for the Flyers, saving 22 shots and robbing the Islanders many times in the third and overtime periods, which is a great sign for the Flyers' final stretch of the season.
The game opened with an aggressive, chippy attitude from the Flyers, with Sam Morin starting the game with a fight on Islanders Ross Johnston 3 minutes into the contest, landing a hard right hand to the jaw of Johnston that sent him to the locker room. After coming out of the box from the fight Morin then got called for an interference penalty that should be considered lucky for not being a major penalty. However, the luck ran out when Anthony Beauvillier scored on the ensuing power play off of a beautiful pass from Matt Martin, who is replacing Islanders captain Anders Lee on the power-play unit. A minute later JVR took a penalty for retaliation on an Islanders player who had tackled him to the ground, continuing the chippy play of the game from the Flyers. After killing the penalty the Flyers got a 5 on 3 power play on their own but were unable to convert a couple of empty-net chances on the attack. The period ended 1-0 to the Islanders despite the Flyers leading in shots 10-2.
The second period was more of the same from the first period, both teams taking their chances and playing conservatively on defense. The Flyers, trying to improve from their worst defensive month in franchise history, played this game with a much less risky, aggressive attitude on offense that had led to turnovers a lot recently, and it helped them from giving up too many opportunities to the Islanders. The Islanders finally broke through with their second goal 15:40 into the second period when Beauvillier finished off a pass from Matthew Barzal, doubling the Islanders lead going into the final frame. The Flyers went into the locker rooms with their backs against the wall not only for this game but for their season as well.
The Flyers came out for the third period looking for a spark and some late-game success that they tend to find in the third period this season. That success came from captain Claude Giroux, who had a beautiful backhand shot to the top corner past Ilya Sorokin, who had 30 saves for the Islanders. The Flyers then continued their push looking for an equalizer and got it from the captain G again with 9:28 left in the game, tying the game with a snipe off of a feed from Kevin Hayes. The third-period goals were Giroux's 10th and 11th of the year. The Islanders applied pressure towards the end of regulation, pushing for a winner, but Carter Hart was ready to stop everything that came his way, finally looking like the goalie we saw last year in the bubble. Hart's glove hand had been struggling all year but was able to flash the glove on multiple occasions tonight to rob the Islanders of a potential winner in the third period and OT.
OT Brough much of the same as the end of the third period, as the Islanders found themselves with numbers multiple times and Carter Hart keeping them off the board. However, the luck ran out for Hart when the fourth shooter in the shootout for the Islanders, Barzal, finished his penalty shot into the bottom corner and Jakub Voracek could not respond with a goal to keep the Flyers hopes of winning the game alive. Hart had saved the previous three penalty shots on the Islanders with great saves on Beauvillier, Wahlstrom, and Eberle. The Flyers went 0-4 on the shootout as Giroux almost won the game on the third attempt for the Flyers, but couldn't quite lift the puck past the blocker of Sorokin on the backhand.
In a game that could have gone south fast after going down 2-0 in the second period, the Flyers were able to rescue a much-needed point to keep their hopes of a turnaround in the season alive. Carter Hart, to repeat myself again, was great and if he can continue to find this kind of form, the Flyers could run the table at the end of the season. Giroux was great as well and showed a lot of emotion with a fist pump after his tying goal to get the team motivated for the rest of the game. Tanner Laczynski made his debut in the orange and black as well tonight. The Flyers survived and advanced tonight, but will need to bring much more to find success in their next 2 games at the Boston Bruins, who stand 4 points ahead of the Flyers currently. This week will be very telling about where this Flyers season is headed, after two games at the Bruins, the Flyers head back to New York to face the Islanders again. Wins in these three games could make the home stretch of this season very much so a playoff race.