Home isn’t where the Hart is: Flyers fight, ultimately fall in opener

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers continued a common theme from last season in Friday’s 2021 regular season opener against the Vancouver Canucks. An ugly second period, which saw Carter Hart concede four goals was followed up by the Orange and Black fighting back in the third period to force overtime. Still, the Flyers could only walk away with one point in their back pocket after falling in a shootout.

Hart was beaten in both shootout tries by Travis Green’s side as the Flyers lost 5-4 in its home opener of the new campaign. Joel Farabee struck first for Alain Vigneault’s side, but a disappointing second period saw the Canucks flip momentum in their favor, before eventually conceding twice themselves in the third period.

After allowing the most goals in the NHL last season, the Flyers didn’t start the new season on positive terms after conceding four in just under 15 minutes. Sure, a pair of bad bounces didn’t help Hart in the second period, but the Flyers need to be mentally strong going forward to avoid a repeat of last season.

“It’s just you got to be able to play 60 minutes the same year,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said. “That was the biggest problem last year and we are definitely going to work on that. I don’t think because we did that today, it’s going to happen all year. I think today’s game shows that we got character and we are pushing and playing all 60. Today was more bad bounces then anything else. I think we’ll learn from that and we’ll get better with every game.”

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Hart did finish the game with 35 saves, keeping the Flyers from losing in regulation or by an even-larger scoreline. Several new faces made their Flyers debut on Friday night with forward Cam Atkinson scoring once and defensemen Ryan Ellis and Keith Yandle each registering two assists apiece. Rasmus Ristolainen missed out due to a nagging preseason injury, but other arrivals Derick Brassard and Nate Thompson both featured in offense for the Flyers.

It was the first time in franchise history that the Flyers would lose in a shootout on opening night, missing an early chance to walk away with a full two points earned. The Orange and Black outhit (38-23) and out blocked (19-15) the Canucks in the final statistics, but will feel disappointed with their overall performance in front of a packed Wells Fargo Center.

“You know what, staying out of the box would be a good idea,” Vigneault said postgame about what changes the Flyers need. “I liked a lot of our 5 on 5 games. If you analyze it, we did a lot of the right things. Unfortunately, I think Carter got a little bit unlucky on two of those goals. Those are things that happen. Keep working hard and the breaks will come your way, but we did a lot of good things, great start, found a way to come back, lost in a shootout. We’ll get ready for the next game and be ready for the next game. ”

“Yeah, I mean chemistry with a lot of the new players isn’t going to come overnight, but you can tell that when you play with new players you see a little bit of how they play and that hesitation that maybe we have in our game right now,” captain Claude Giroux said about the new faces on the team. “It’s going to go away. We just got to keep building there.”

Luckily for the Flyers, they have three more chances during this early-season home stand to rebound and pick up a first few wins of the campaign. Up next is a showdown with former head coach Dave Hakstol and expansion-side Seattle Kraken on Monday before showdowns with Boston and Florida next week.

The Flyers showed some positive signs in the shootout loss, but a full 60-minute performance is needed if Vigneault and his squad want to avoid some early-season pressure.

You can follow Larry Henry on Twitter (@lhenry019) and e-mail him at

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