Flyers hang tough with Rangers, but ultimately fall

The Flyers played tough against the Rangers, but couldn’t beat Igor Shesterkin when it mattered most.
The Flyers played tough against the Rangers, but couldn’t beat Igor Shesterkin when it mattered most. / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages
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A matchup with the Rangers is always a good test to see where a team is at. There are one of the top teams in the league for a reason. Give them your best and you have a shot.

Sometimes, though, even your best isn’t good enough. The Flyers hung in there with the Rangers on Saturday afternoon. You could even say they outplayed them at times. But that isn’t good enough if you only score one goal. Igor Shesterkin had a lot to do with that. However, the Flyers failed at crucial opportunities to score.

The 2-on-0 with Travis Sanheim and Scott Laughton will likely go down as one of the most significant missed opportunities of the game. While on the penalty kill, Noah Cates spun a pass up to Sanheim, who was up in the zone. Going in alone, he had Laughton with him. But for some reason, Laughton coasted behind Sanheim, giving him no choice but to take the shot himself. Sanheim tried to pull it around Shesterkin but couldn't do so.

The blame here goes more on Laughton than it does Sanheim. Laughton needs to peel off to either side to, at best, make it look like Sanheim will pass the puck. Skating directly behind him and them slowing up once in the zone made it clear that Sanheim was shooting the puck. The better plan would've been to pass it back and forth to get Shesterkin moving laterally. It likely opens up an easy goal by moving the goaltender side to side.

Morgan Frost had a golden opportunity to tie the game on the power play in the late stages of the third, but his one-timer went wide of the net. In the final seconds, Sean Couturier hit the post on a shot from the side of the net. Shesterkin deserves plenty of credit as well. He stopped 39 shots in the Rangers' 10th straight victory and has been hard to beat lately. He has given up one goal in each of his last three games, stopping 119 of 122 shots. Those are good numbers.

Sam Ersson did his best to keep the Flyers in the game. On a Rangers' power play in the second period, Ersson had to stretch his left pad out to stop an Alexis Lafreniere chance. That kept the game scoreless at the time. Shortly after, the teams would end play 4-on-4, and Lafreniere would enact his revenge. It's a shot that Ersson likely should've stopped, as it beat him cleanly through the five-hole.

Vincent Trocheck skated into the zone before dropping the pass to Lafreniere. He took a few strides in before firing it through the pads of Ersson. The second goal the Rangers scored was more bad luck for the Flyers than anything. Braden Schneider took a shot from the point that deflected off Barclay Goodrow and Matt Rempe before going in. Rempe was parked in front of Ersson as the puck hit his pants and snuck through. It is hard to see around someone who is listed as 6'7".

Tyson Foerster made his return to the lineup in a big way. He scored the only goal for the Flyers, tying it in the early stages of the third period. It was his fourth goal in five games and came after missing four straight with a lower-body injury. The goal was his 11th of the season. Laughton was looking for the wraparound with Shesterkin out of position. He fell to the ice coming around, but it turned into a perfect pass to Foerster.

The Flyers threw 17 shots at Shesterkin in the third period and only allowed five to come Ersson's way. That went with the 18 shots they had in the first period. They outshot the Rangers 40-24, but the 2-1 final is all that matters.

Philadelphia won't have time to think about this as they travel to Pittsburgh. The Penguins have dropped five of their last eight games and are far away from a playoff spot. The Flyers can make it even harder on them with a victory.