With some tough teams coming into the Wells Fargo Center during this five-game homestand, a rematch with the Islanders felt like the best opportunity to back in the win column. And it was thanks to their most complete effort of the season, and two goals from Kevin Hayes, that the Flyers were finally able to end their losing streak after 10 games.
"“It’s no fun when we’re losing every night. I do think there’s games that we deserved to win in that streak, but also games that we deserved to lose. Tonight, I think everyone gave a full 60 effort, right from the first faceoff. I think everyone is pretty happy that we won.” Hayes said afterwards."
If you thought there was going to be some bad blood between the Flyers and Islanders coming into this one, you were certainly right about that. It only took seven seconds for Zack MacEwen and Matt Martin to drop the gloves. That wasn’t it, though. Just one second later, Nicolas Deslauriers went at it with Ross Johnston in another heavy-weight battle.
Turns out those fights were very much planned out before the game. Deslauriers had spoken to Martin before the game, but he was already planning to go with someone else. Martin was nice enough to tell him that someone else was brought into the lineup just for him to fight, ala Ross Johnston.
John Tortorella talked before the game about wanting to come out “the right way” and how the Flyers seemed to struggle in getting the first goal. Two fights a second apart were done to try and bring some energy. But it didn’t end up giving the Flyers the energy they needed to grab that first goal.
Instead, Kieffer Bellows took a slashing penalty, and then Rasmus Ristolainen was sent off for interference 37 seconds apart. It didn’t take long for the Islanders to capitalize on the 5-on-3. It was Noah Dobson who took the pass from Mathew Barzal and fired a one-timer from the faceoff dot. But with some time left on the second penalty, the Flyers were able to respond.
Noah Cates and Lukas Sedlak came down the ice on a shorthanded 2-on-1 break. Cates went to pass the puck across to Laughton but a sprawling Islander knocked it away. Fortunately for the Flyers, Travis Sanheim was right there and flipped a slow-rolling curveball over the shoulder of Ilya Sorokin to tie the game at 1-1. The goals were separated by 1:25.
"“Sanheim’s goal was very important. After a couple of fights, we get just some momemtum on our bench. Take an offensive zone penalty, you’re just not gonna kill it. To kill it but also score to at least even the game up at that time was very important.” John Tortorella said afterwards."
The energy and momentum seemingly flipped as almost midway through the period, Kevin Hayes grabbed his seventh of the year. Off a tie-up on the faceoff, Lukas Sedlak seemingly kicked the puck back to Hayes who pulled the trigger on a high-corner blast to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
And after 20 minutes, it was only the second time they had come out of the first period with a lead. If you count have many games have been played this season, you would understand how that stat is not something to be proud of. But nonetheless, the Flyers decided to go another period with the lead as well. There wasn’t much to write home about in the second period as neither team appeared to want to do much for the most part.
Sorokin was forced to make a flurry of saves towards the end of the period as the Flyers finally came on with some opportunities thanks to a late power play. Sedlak, who played well in this one, had a chance in front but waited out Sorokin too long and couldn’t get a good shot off. Scott Mayfield also blocked a blast from Ivan Provorov as well.
The Islanders are one of the best third-period teams as they’ve outscored teams 35-19 in the final frame. The Flyers, on the other hand, are among the worst when it comes to giving up goals in the third period. So it was going to be all hands on deck in order to finally put an end to this losing streak. One thing in the Flyers’ favor? They are 5-0-1 when leading after two periods.
Make that 6-0-1 now as Hayes would ice this one out with an empty net goal. But not before the Flyers were forced to kill off an Owen Tippett high-sticking penalty. It wasn’t just Hart who saved the day as both Egor Zamula and Nick Seeler came up with big-time blocks and game-saving saves.
"“Him and Seels both, I owe them both dinner. That was a huge, huge save by both of them. A couple of blocks and Z with a goal-line save there.” Hart mentioned after the win."
A win doesn’t all of a sudden change things for the Flyers, but it does help them breathe a sigh of relief. The games will only get tougher as they’ll see the Lightning, Devils, and Avalanche come to town. Getting back in the win column was great, now it’s about staying there.