Bad Penalty, Lack of Scoring Contribute to 2-1 Loss
PHILADELPHIA -- Failure to capitalize on special teams, scoring just one goal and dreadful puck possession time doomed the Flyers as they fell to the Phoenix Coyotes, 2-1, on a rainy Friday night in Philadelphia.
To add an insult to injury, along with the loss, Flyers forward corps sustained a large blow by losing Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier, forcing both to leave the game.
According to General Manager Paul Holmgren, both will miss at least a week, and will both have MRIs tomorrow. Call-up opportunities remain to be seen, as the Adirondack Phantoms (AHL) were playing the Hartford Wolf Pack on this night as well.
Both Flyers power play units failed to score on multiple opportunities. Phoenix's suffocating defensive style under head coach Dave Tippett frustrated the Flyers all night long resulting in the power play going 0-for-4.
"We had some good looks but we're not desperate enough around the net for me," head coach Craig Berube said. "We don't have enough traffic at the net to get second and third opportunities."
"We need to get some greasy goals."
This night marked the fourth time in five games in which Flyers players could only muster one goal. Their highest offensive output of the season—two goals against Florida.
This night also marked another point-free night for Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek, who continue to mightily struggle this season.
Conversely, Coyotes special teams capitalized on a critical power play opportunity late in the second period after Zac Rinaldo took an unnecessary high sticking penalty.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, in an early candidate for top play of the night on NHL Network, deked Max Talbot into oblivion with an effortless toe drag, sniping top shelf on Flyers goaltender Steve Mason. His shot deflected off of Mason's glove and into the net.
The goal came with just 12 seconds remaining in the second period.
"It's a dumb penalty," Berube said of Rinaldo's high stick. "It's a fine line with him. He can't cross it, and he did."
Additionally, Rinaldo took another mindless penalty after cross-checking Paul Bissonette into Steve Mason in the third period. Rinaldo contributed heavily to six penalties taken by Flyers players on this night.
Before those instances, Rinaldo had been a significant part of this contest in a positive manner.
He dropped the mitts with Bissonette during the first period, and assisted on the Flyers' first goal of the game by Max Talbot after spinning a puck from the high slot to the net that deflected off Talbot's skate.
Rinaldo's mindless high sticking penalty, and a late holding/unsportsmanlike conduct call on Andrej Meszaros proved to be the difference.
Meszaros' late penalties put Phoenix up a man in the final two minutes. A pulled Mason helped put pressure on the Coyotes, but that final push went awry.
Mason, once again, gave his team a chance to win the game, making 31 saves. He has continued to prove himself as this team's bona fide number one netminder. His play may have earned him a start against Detroit tomorrow evening.
Berube praised his team's defense, calling attention to good clears and battling in front of the net. Defense can only go so far when only one goal is scored, however. Defense wins championships, but goals do too.
As good as Mason was, Coyotes backup Thomas Greiss one-upped him in every manner. Friday's number one star made 36 saves on 37 shots, including his best stops on Brayden Schenn and Matt Read in the third period.
Greiss also made two key stops on Adam Hall, who forced a shorthanded breakaway in the first period, drawing a penalty shot afterwards. Hall deked himself out of a goal, and Greiss covered a puck laying on the goal line just inches from going in.
Phoenix started the scoring early, as lifetime AHLer Rob Klinkhammer scored his sixth career NHL goal on a deflection of a Derek Morris point shot that trickled by Mason to make it 1-0. That early goal put a good early start to bed, setting the tone for the rest of the contest.
It won't get any easier for the Flyers, who will fly to Detroit to take on the Red Wings on Saturday for a 7 p.m. start. There will be lineup changes for certain—it's only a matter of who draws in.