Special teams plays role in Flyers overtime win over Vegas

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 18: Tyson Foerster #71 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts after scoring during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - NOVEMBER 18: Tyson Foerster #71 of the Philadelphia Flyers reacts after scoring during the second period against the Vegas Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center on November 18, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

The Flyers power play was stuck in an 0-for-25 rut heading into a Saturday matinee matchup with the Vegas Golden Knights. The Knights have a top-five penalty kill so it was a recipe for the Flyers woes to continue.

Instead, they scored twice on the power play and moved their winning streak to a season-high four games as they took down the defending Stanley Cup champions in overtime by a score of 4-3. They have not trailed once during their winning streak. It wasn’t an easy one and while neither of the power play goals ended up being game-winners, breaking through on the man advantage still played a key role in the victory. 2-for-4 looks a lot better than 0-for-4 in the end.

The Flyers did let a five-minute power play go by at a moment where they could’ve really put Vegas back on their heels, though. It was only a matter of time before the Flyers would find a way to break through. And not every goal has to be pretty, it just has to hit the back of the net. And that’s exactly how it happened in this one.

"”We had some good looks, we finished plays. I thought we were a little hungrier than maybe last couple games. We just have to have that hungry mentality and killer instinct,” Sean Couturier said on how scoring on the power play helps them moving forward."

Owen Tippett now has goals in four straight games after a blocked shot ended up on his stick with under five minutes remaining in the first period. And a shot from Travis Sanheim that missed the net and bounced right to Tyson Foerster gave him his first goal of the season just 59 seconds into the second to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. Seeing a player finally get rewarded and show that much emotion can also spark a team as well.

"”I think it’s a little bit of pressure on myself, but I think I’ve been playing good like I said. Lucky enough I was able to get one tonight,” Foerster said on his first goal of the season."

The Flyers penalty kill, on the other hand, has had a respectable start to the season. They sit just over 80% and are just outside the top-10 in the league. They put that to the test toward the end of the second period by taking three consecutive penalties in just 1:30. Vegas could’ve used that to turn the tide and while they did tie the game at 3-3 via Jonathan Marchessault’s second of the night, it could’ve and likely should’ve been much worse. Overall the Knights went 1-for-4 with the man advantage.

Carter Hart strong in back to back games

Hart hasn’t missed a beat since returning from a lower back injury and a bout of food poisoning. He was largely the reason the Flyers came out on top against the Hurricanes on Thursday. And he had to be on his game quite a few times against the Knights.

He was tested right away via an Ivan Barbashev breakaway attempt not even two minutes into the game. A Brett Howden shot from in tight was swallowed up by the Flyers’ goaltender after a turnover not much later. Hart would stop Howden once more later on in the period after another turnover in the zone. He had to deal with several odd man rushes and near misses to keep the Knights off the board in the first period.

Hart did all he could when the Flyers were faced with a two-man disadvantage late in the second period. But there was nothing he could do when  Mark Stone completely screened him on Marchessault’s power play goal. William Karlsson was one of many Knights players with four shots. And while he got Vegas on the board to make it 2-1 in the second period, one of his most important shots came via a short handed breakaway in the final minutes of regulation. But again, Hart stood up to the challenge and allowed the Flyers to get to overtime where Sean Couturier would win the game.

"“He definitely gives us a chance at the beginning of the game. A breakaway, that’s two games in a row he’s let us get settled. He’s been outstanding,” John Tortorella said on his goaltender’s effort. “I thought both goalies were good because we created a ton of offense. Both goalies were good but Carter— third period he makes a couple of huge saves to get us the point and get us to where we can play some 3-on-3.”"

Blocked shots a focus for Flyers

After blocking 30 shots to help lead them to a win over Carolina, the Flyers put their bodies in front of 26 shots in the win over Vegas. Nick Seeler went above and beyond to make sure that the puck didn’t go past him as he led all Flyers with five blocks. Only Brayden McNabb had more blocks (7) as he is one of the top players in the league when it comes to putting his body on the line. Morgan Frost led all Flyers forwards with four blocks as he’s likely trying to do everything he can to remain in the lineup.

Blocking shots is a big focus of what the Flyers do and has been key in recent victories.

"”You don’t play if you don’t block shots. Every team— teams are good at it,” Tortorella said about the blocked shots. “That’s part of playing defense…I think it needs to be a mainstay for us. And it does, it creates, goes to what I’m talking about in the room, it creates that camaraderie. Those type of things create the camaraderie.”"

For Carter Hart, all the shot blocking makes his life easier. And with a team that is so willing to do that in order to win, the Flyers are sure to let their teammates know how much they appreciate their efforts. 56 blocked shots in two games is no small feat.

"”When guys block shots, we do a good job of letting them know they’re doing a great job. I mean, Seels ate a lot of pucks tonight. He’s a warrior. A lot of guys ate some pucks tonight and laid their bodies on the line to get two points,” Hart said on the energy generating from the blocked shots."

The Flyers are among the top-10 in the league when it comes to blocked shots per 60-minutes. They average 17.47 and are fifth in the league with 298 total shots blocked. It’ll be Columbus coming to town on Sunday and they average just over 31 shots per game. After what Tortorella said, you can bet the Flyers will continue to be willing to lay their bodies out to keep this win streak going.