As John Tortorella said after the Flyers loss to the Lightning, the biggest thing to watch was going to be how the team responded to it. They practically got run out of their own building as Tampa’s talent was too much for them, especially in the second period. Safe to say the message was heard and the response was about as good as you can ask for. But unfortunately, despite all the good, it was the costly lapses in the third that allowed the Devils to come away with the 3-2 victory.
The Flyers held the Devils to just four shots in the first period and fired 12 of their own. A speedy team like New Jersey can take advantage of you in a matter of seconds. The Flyers used smart checking to not allow themselves to fall victim to that. Despite not scoring a goal in the period, there was plenty to like. The power play, while not scoring, had strong puck movement and was a Kevin Hayes shot off the inside of the post away from a goal.
Scott Laughton also made a strong move to the net prior to that to draw the penalty. His shot ended up just missing the net as it may have nicked off the toe of Akira Schmid’s skate. So despite not finding the back of the net, the Flyers held it together against one of the best teams in the league.
They continued to do the same in the second period ad the Devils went over six minutes before they had a shot on net. Of course, that ended in a goal. From behind the net, Miles Wood found Fabian Zetterlund streaking toward the net. It’s those behind-the-net plays that tend to have a lot of success. It didn’t help that the Flyers didn’t take advantage of Wood falling before getting back up to make the pass.
But the Flyers would respond under two minutes later. Their power play had struggled mightily coming in but it was some pretty passing that set Travis Konecny up for his second goal in as many games. Kevin Hayes held onto the puck before finding Noah Cates down low. Cates managed to get the puck to Konecny who was in between two Devils. Konecny quickly fired the puck over the shoulder of Schmid. That ended an 0-20 drought for Philadelphia’s power play.
Despite all of his strengths, there’s one glaring weakness that Carter Hart has. And that’s his play behind the net. It came back to bite him in a big way as the Devils took the lead in the third off a miscue by him. A moment of indecisiveness of rimming the puck around the boards ended with Miles Wood blocking the attempt. Dawson Mercer had an empty net to play with as he wrapped it easily around and into the net. For all the good that happened, that was a letdown.
"“We played a great game the whole 60. I think it just comes down to goaltending. I gotta be better, I gotta make a few more saves, make some better plays. Learn from it and move on. And I will be better.” Hart said after the loss."
The Flyers didn’t let that faze them though as they still continued to largely carry the play in the final frame. Jack Hughes decided to change that, though. It was a one-man show for Hughes who beat Ivan Provorov along the wall and basically walked right to the front of the net. His initial shot went off the mask of Hart and rebounded right back to him for the goal. Rasmus Ristolainen and Noah Cates appeared to be caught watching as well as Hughes did his thing.
The Flyers didn’t go away without a fight as Lukas Sedlak continued his quietly solid season since being claimed. Travis Sanheim’s pass lightly deflected off the stick of Fabian Zetterlund. As the puck dribbled to him, Sedlak wound up and fired it on net. It hit off Schmid’s pad and went in. The Flyers would tie it up moments later but the goal was immediately waived off as Morgan Frost was deemed to have made incidental contact with Schmid. Right call, but an unfortunate result.
And while they put heavy pressure on the Devils to end the game, they couldn’t find the equalizer. It was a game in which they should’ve won, but lapses in the third period ended up being the story in this one.