PHILADELPHIA — Sometimes in hockey the puck is going to bounce your way and sometimes it’s not. The Philadelphia Flyers were on the losing end of some bounces on Saturday night at the Wells Fargo Center and it ultimately hurt them in a second defeat of the new season.
The Florida Panthers walked away with a 4-2 road victory over the Flyers with Jonathan Huberdeau’s two goals and Sergei Bobrovsky’s 27 saves leading the way. In addition, Owen Tippett’s equalizing goal in the second period off his skate paired with Huberdeau’s clever finish from behind the goal-line midway through the third period, helped Joel Quenneville’s side remain undefeated at 5-0.
It wasn’t a well-drilled performance from the Orange and Black to end this four-game homestand, leaving both players and staff frustrated about the points left on the table.
“It was a hard fought game by two teams that came to play and came to compete,” Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said. “Both teams got goals from their power plays, both teams got goals from their penalty killing and both teams got some great saves. Unfortunately, from our side, two missed plays from the puck through the second period. One at the end of the second period and one on our power play in the third led to them countering and being able to score those two goals. We did a lot of right things, but obviously we need to be better. The way this game shaped out, both teams were heard and were able to get some good looks initially.”
“We had a few bounces,” Flyers captain and goalscorer Claude Giroux said. “The whole game we competed well. We played a good game, they’re a pretty good team. It was a pretty good test for us to see where we stand. They’re obviously rolling pretty good right now, but that game was there for us to win.”
The Flyers received impressive goals from both Giroux and Cam Atkinson (his fourth of the season), but ultimately they struggled with taking advantage of additional offensive opportunities and staying out of the penalty box. Seven different penalties were called on the Flyers in Saturday’s loss, one of which was taken advantage of by Huberdeau to score the opening goal of the game.
It was a tough matchup for the Flyers to go up against a high-flying team like Florida, who pose many threats with Huberdeau, Aleksandar Barkov, Patric Hornqvist, among others leading the offensive units. Hart’s 28 saves helped the Flyers avoid a much, larger defeat on home ice, but offensive players like Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk were silent on the night.
A positive was the Flyers killing six of the seven penalty kills, even without veteran defenseman Ryan Ellis not in the lineup, but overall it wasn’t a glamorous way to follow up Wednesday’s confident win over Boston.
“Yeah, I mean I thought we did a great job PK’ing and obviously scoring a goal, but you know you give those guys a lot of power plays, and you know that they capitalize off the faceoff goal but I thought we did a really good job,” Atkinson said. “But they’re going to gain momentum and like you said it kind of messes up roles on the lines and you know guys get out of synch and what-not.”
“I think that when we take a lot of penalties, some guys that stay on the bench and not as much in the game, and it’s hard to get back into it but I think we did a good job of killing them.” Giroux said. “But obviously yeah, we didn’t help each other.”
Luckily for the Flyers, it was only their fourth game out of 82 this regular season, meaning there’s plenty of opportunities to fix any early-season issues for the long haul. Injured players like Ellis and Kevin Hayes will be back in due time, giving Vigneault two big pieces in his roster.
The Flyers now embark to Canada for their first road trip of the new season, facing Edmonton, Vancouver, and Calgary between October 27-30. It will be three opponents that the team hasn’t faced in close to two years, providing new tests for this current bunch this season.
Although the homestand ended with a loss, the team remains confident as they head up north next week.
“I really think we’re in a good spot here going on our western road swing here,” Flyers goaltender Carter Hart said. “We’ve played some good hockey, some tough bounces tonight but that’s just the way it goes. Gotta put it behind us, they’re a good team. Some talent on their team but so do we. Thought we battled hard but we just gotta put it behind us and get ready for this road trip here.”