Special teams fuels Flyers win over Canucks

Egor Zamula scored the first power-play goal of his career and his second goal of the season, both against the Canucks.
Egor Zamula scored the first power-play goal of his career and his second goal of the season, both against the Canucks. / Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

The Vancouver Canucks had not allowed three goals in the second period all season. They had the best goal differential in said period. That was until last night, however. Three goals in 2:02 fueled the Flyers past one of the best teams in the league. And they did it using special teams.

The struggles of the Flyers’ power play have been well-documented. If the unit was close to average, Philadelphia is likely even higher up the standings. There have been droughts and games where the man advantage has actively hurt the team. Sometimes, scoring just once with the power play can be enough. Enter Egor Zamula.

Coming in and out of the lineup can be hard on a young player. Zamula has taken things in stride and has worked on his play in all zones. He’s recently been given time on the team’s second power-play unit. That promotion paid off quickly for the Flyers. As a quarterback at the point, a player’s job can be to fire pucks on the net with traffic in front.

Zamula did just that and scored his second career goal. His first came at the beginning of the season, also against the Canucks, and from a very similar spot on the ice. Maybe Zamula enjoyed playing Vancouver. After finally getting a shot past Casey DeSmith, the Flyers found an extra gear to pour it on.

Sean Walker has been a revelation for the Flyers and may give them a tough decision. Will he end up as a trade asset at the deadline? Or could he play himself into a new contract? His confidence to step up in the offensive zone led to his fourth goal of the season and the Flyers’ second of the night just 1:21 after Zamula scored. Owen Tippett, who was flying at times, had plenty to do with it.

Travis Konecny, who would end up leaving the game due to illness, chipped a pass to a falling Tippett. From his knees, Tippett pushed the puck across to a driving Walker, who picked his spot over DeSmith. The Flyers were still not done. Joel Farabee had taken two tough penalties and was visibly frustrated. What better way to make up for that than by scoring?

To cap off the Flyers’ second-period frenzy, Bobby Brink poked the puck off the stick of Nikita Zadorov at center ice. That sent Farabee in on a breakaway, and with some quick stick work, he got the puck past the skate of DeSmith and in.

A push was expected from Vancouver, and it came just 25 seconds into the third period. Teddy Bluger and the Canucks’ red-hot third line quickly went to work and cut the deficit to two goals. The Canucks are one of the best teams in the league for a reason, and having their depth chip in is one of the reasons why.

And for the Flyers, a big reason for their success is the play of their penalty kill. After Farabee took a hit against the boards from Noah Juulsen, Cam Atkinson went after Juulsen. It was a bold move at the time, putting the Flyers down a man as Atkinson was given the extra penalty. It could’ve ended badly as the Canucks power play, while not scoring to that point, has lethal firepower. Philadelphia showed how much they didn’t care.

After a faceoff in the zone, Ryan Poehling used his speed to get the puck out and chipped it past Quinn Hughes. Having to wait for help, he found a wide open Garnet Hathaway in front. Hathaway was denied on his original shot, but his persistence ended up in the Flyers’ eighth short-handed goal of the year. So, maybe Atkinson knew what he was doing the entire time.

The second period surge and short-handed goal were the reasons the Flyers came out on top. But sometimes, there are little things that may go unnoticed that play into a win as well. Sean. Couturier won a game-high 20 faceoffs. That translated to a 74% mark on the night. That was the best among players who regularly took faceoffs in the game. It was the second most he has won in his career. Slowly but surely, the Flyers are getting the dominant Couturier they know so well.

Everyone played a part in the 4-1 win over the Canucks, including the tandem of Sam Ersson and Carter Hart. The latter was forced into action early in the third period. Ersson had been dealing with dehydration throughout the game and had to come out a few minutes into the third. Hart, who registered a shutout against the Canucks in October, stood his ground and didn’t allow a shot behind him. It cannot be easy to come into a game cold, especially that late in a game. The Flyers have been getting solid goaltending from the two for most of the season.

The Flyers won’t get time to rest as they face the Seattle Kraken 24 hours later. They’ll look to move their road point streak to nine games.