OTTAWA – Shootouts, regardless of the result, are often fool’s gold.
If you win a shootout, it’s easy to gloss over the things that went wrong in a game. If you lose a shootout, it’s easy to gloss over what went right.
Then again, sometimes when you lose a shootout, it’s easy to gloss over what went wrong too because, after all, you still earned a point and played well enough to make it to the post-game skills competition.
Sound confusing enough?
Fine, then let’s put it this way…. In the Flyers 5-4 loss to the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre that came as the result of a shootout, the Flyers had reason to be happy about a lot of things in the game, but at the same time have reason to worry about a few negative trends as well.
How they respond over the next few days – as this behemoth of a road trip finally concludes in Chicago and then is followed up in less than 24 hours with a game at home against Montreal – will answer the question of which the Flyers ultimately focused on more fervently – the positives or the negatives.
Trying to remain as optimistic as possible after a 30-game start that is 13-14-3 and a 2-2-1 record on the road trip thus fur, there were, in fact, a lot of things to like about how the Flyers played in the loss to the Senators.
- There was Jake Voracek, playing his best game in awhile, skating at a speed a step quicker than everyone on the ice. He had four shots on goal, and finally scored, snapping a 12-game drought.
- There was Michael Raffl, playing a very noticeable game, scoring his first NHL goal, adding an assist for his first multi-point game, and overall playing a sound game in competitive battles.
- There was Kimmo Timonen, snapping a 10-game goalless skid with a tying goal in the third period.
- And there was Luke Schenn scoring for the first time in 23 games and posting two points in a game for the first time in 74 games. All the while led the Flyers with five blocked shots. Unfortunately, it was while going for his sixth that an unfortunate bounce possibly cost the Flyers the second point in the game – more on that in a minute.
But, the Flyers shouldn’t overlook the negatives either.
- Craig Berube wants his defensemen up in the play a little bit more on offense, but it seems that they are unsure of when to pinch and when not to, and as a result, are starting to give up odd-man rushes again.
- The Flyers still struggle to generate a lot of chances early in games, and although they showed good character and determination to get going eventually in this one and come from behind not once, but twice, they need to start burying chances earlier in games to alleviate some of the pressure on the goaltending.
- Speaking of which, Steve Mason can’t bail the team out in every close game. The team needs to help him once in awhile and Monday was a case where they couldn’t come through when Mason wasn’t at his sharpest
“Any time you lose in shootouts or overtime [you feel like you let it get away] a little bit,” Berube said. “But, I thought our guys battled hard all game. I thought it was kind of a back and forth game, a competitive game.
“It wasn’t a struggle defensively tonight because there were a couple funny goals, but I don’t think we generated enough early in the game, but we picked it up for sure later on. Anytime you are not generating offense or shots, you’re usually spending time in your own end and we were too much in our own end the first half of the game.”
And yet, the Flyers scored first, as Raffl buried the rebound of a Wayne Simmonds shot for his first NHL goal.
It was a bit bittersweet for the Austrian rookie though – who played a strong game – as it came in a loss.
“It’s nice to get the first goal, but it would have been even nicer with a win,” he said. “That’s kind of disappointing.”
Ottawa rebounded before the game’s midway point with a pair of goals that resulted in one form or another, form Mark Streit turnovers.
Streit gave away the puck in the neutral zone and Jason Spezza flipped it ahead. Clark MacArthur was able to skate behind the Flyers defense to pick up the loose puck and beat Mason to tie the score.
Later, Streit lost the puck at the point and had to interfere with Spezza to prevent a breakaway. Streit was called for the penalty and on the impending power play, Patrick Weircioch scored off a nifty pass from Bobby Ryan for the lead.
Then the Flyers started to play their game and after Voracek’s power play goal, diligent work along the boards by Raffl and Simmonds led to a blast from Schenn, giving the Flyers a 3-2 lead after two periods.
But in the third, a rogue rebound off Mason’s pad bounced off MacArthur’s shin and into the net to tie it and a shot by Kyle Turris that Schenn attempted to block, ticked up off his skate blade and past Mason to make it 4-3 Senators.
“Anytime you go into the third period with the lead you want to keep it,” said captain Claude Giroux. “You want to make sure everyone is accountable for what they are supposed to do. They were able to get a couple goals… It’s tough to lose [that way].”
Timonen tied it on a floater from the point with a little more than nine minutes to go, and then the goalies turned it on. Craig Anderson was more noticeable, making huge saves on Voracek, Scott Hartnell and Giroux as the top line was buzzing, but Mason was equally strong making a sliding stop on Ryan and then stoning Milan Michalek on a 2-on-1.
In the shootout, both goalies were good, making two saves, but Jason Spezza deked Mason like 27 times before finally beating him to put one on the board for the Sens and Sean Couturier’s answer rang off the crossbar, ending the game with a loss for the Flyers.
“It’s where I wanted to go,” Couturier said. “A half inch lower and it would have gone in. I had him.”
And the Flyers had this game, but it went the other way.
As they head to Chicago they have to make sure they know why they earned one point, and why they didn’t earn the other.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers
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