If you were curious about what an end-of-March game between two bottom NHL teams looked like, you have the Flyers and Canadiens matchup to thank. It wasn’t all bad as things did open up after the first period, but it was filled with a bunch of almost chances and players unable to finish when given the opportunity.
The Flyers came in having won three in a row and earning points in five straight games (4-0-1). Montreal had won three of their last four games. It ended with Philadelphia winning their fourth straight game thanks to two goals from Morgan Frost.
As John Tortorella said after the game, this one was pretty ugly. It was clear that it was two bottom-of-the-league teams facing off. It wasn’t that neither team wasn’t trying, there just wasn’t that same intensity of teams in the playoff race. But in the end, the Flyers found a way to pull this one out to finish their long home stand.
It took until the second period to find some real excitement. As a Flyers’ power play ended, Kevin Hayes skated around the net and sent a cross-ice feed to Frost. Frost turned and fired one on the short side and past Cayden Primeau. Rafael Harvey-Pinard blocked a Rasmus Ristolainen blast prior to that, essentially leaving the Canadiens down two men.
Things opened up after that as Nick Seeler nearly put the Flyers up 2-0, but the puck was swatted away just before crossing the goal line. Wade Allison had his own break but couldn’t get it past Primeau. Michael Pezzetta had a break of his own after a Tony DeAngelo turnover, but Felix Sandstrom stood tall. It was one of many good saves for Sandstrom who has played well over his last stretch of games.
"“It’s starting to click a bit more for me. I feel better and better so it’s fun. It’s great to be out there and great to play with the guys. I’m happy for every game.” Sandstrom said after his second win on the season."
The Canadiens cashed in six minutes after Frost gave Philadelphia the lead. Scott Laughton failed to clear the puck near the slot as it bounced over to a waiting Brendan Gallagher. He didn’t wait long to fire it high and past Sandstrom to tie the game at 1-1. It was the third straight game with a goal for Gallagher.
It took until 2:15 remaining in the third period for the action to really pick up again. Frost grabbed his second of the game with a nice end-to-end drive. It capped off a strong game for the Flyers’ young center. It was a game where Frost admitted he didn’t feel great to start, but one good play at the start helped catapult him to a strong finish.
"“I think that’s one of the things I can almost work on too is not needing something to happen for me to kind of get going. But like I said, I think that’s kind of how it is, when you make a play early or, you know, your first couple of shifts are good. I think kind of any player is like that, you kind of get it going the rest of the night.”"
Owen Tippett grabbed the empty netter, which turned out to be the game-winning goal. With the goaltender pulled for a second time, Rafael Harvey-Pinard brought the Canadiens to within one with 23 seconds remaining. The Flyers held on for the 3-2 victory to win their fourth straight game heading into a brief one-game road trip.
They will head to Ottawa for what should be a more intense matchup as the Senators are still battling for a playoff spot. They currently sit five points out of the wild card race battle in the East. The Flyers will try to be the spoiler once again. And unless Claude Giroux has an unbelievable game, he will not be getting career point number 1,000 against his former team.