The Flyers seemed to respond well to a bit of extra time off, but again had issues when it came to showing up and converting in the 2nd and 3rd periods. Unlike in Game 2, they did not spot themselves enough of a lead to get away with it.
The Flyers looked impressive in the first period. They were up on their skates, and some bottom 6 shuffling seemed to have the Islanders trying to figure things out. One line they had issues with was the third line combination of James van Riemsdyk, Scott Laughton, and Tyler Pitlick. After some good early chances, they converted on the Flyers’ first and only goal. Pitlick traded possession with Laughton who took the puck around the net but got knocked off of it, but the puck returned to Pitlick’s stick. He fired the puck through 4 players and beat the screened Semyon Varlamov. Laughton got an assist on the play as did Matt Niskanen…somehow.
That would be one of the very few highlights for the Flyers in this game. Carter Hart was strong for the most part, with a sliding save on Brock Nelson again. Other than that the Flyers play was uninspired. The 2nd period till nearly the end of the game was all Islanders, and the Flyers seemed to be unbothered by their own sloppy mistakes. Take the 1st Islander goal. Kevin Hayes gets the Carter Hart dump out at the blue line and slides it over to Joel Farabee, who can’t contain the pass and it results in a dump back into the zone. Travis Sanheim bated the puck down with his hand and watched Jordan Eberle push it past him into the corner. Kevin Hayes glides into the corner on the backcheck allowing Mathew Barzal to beat him to the puck, and Myers is drawn to the corner leaving the front of the net wide open. Matt Martin caught the pass from Barzal and one-timed the puck past Hart, as Sanheim didn’t get back to cover the front, and Farabee drifted casually in covering no one.
With seconds left in the 2nd, the Flyers again allowed themselves to be taken advantage of. Ivan Provorov couldn’t put a pass around Leo Komarov’s stick. The puck bounced up into the air and was caught by Derick Brassard who fired an easy shot towards Hart, who directed the puck behind the net. Brassard, who was scratched in the first two games, came in hard and pushed Niskanen off of the puck. Ivan Provorov and Sean Couturier were both staring at the battle between Niskanen and Brassard and didn’t see Komarov come back to the front. He caught Brassard’s pass and fired the backhand shot which slipped between Hart’s pads with just 6 seconds left in the period. The effort from what is considered your 3 best defensive players and the lack of awareness and execution was not nearly at the level it should’ve been.
Now riding a lead, the Islanders found their nail in the coffin goal on the powerplay. The Flyers got a bad break in a call against Robert Hagg, who broke his own stick trying to corral JG Pageau in their race for a loose puck and got called for a slashing penalty. This came shortly after the Flyers were openly complaining to the officials about non-calls and what seemed like obvious Islander penalties. Again the Flyers gave up a goal by making positional mistakes. Kevin Hayes, the Flyers’ much-lauded penalty killer, chased the puck carrier down to the corner, who passed up to the point man, who was open. Hayes then sprinted to the point, leaving the man at the half wall open as he tried to cover the zone. This drew Laughton over when Ryan Pulock took the puck to the center of the ice. He slid the puck to an open Jordan Eberle who drew Sanheim out to him. He got the puck passed him down to Anders Lee who was engaged with Justin Braun and tried to redirect the puck to an open Barzal. Instead the puck deflected to the net, off of Hart’s stick, which was out of position because he was covering the pass.
The Flyers got their first powerplay opportunity with just over 4 minutes left in the game, and also pulled their goalie for a 6 on 4 attack in an attempt to find a solution to the 2 goal deficit. They seemed lost. The Flyers didn’t move well in the zone and mostly waited as they casually passed the puck around the outside.
Game 4 is at 8 pm on Sunday night, and if the Flyers don’t show a much better game they are going to be in series trouble in this series. They’ve only scored goals in the 1st period in games 2 and 3, and at times seem unable to generate any really consistent threats. At one point the Flyers went 11:44 between shots on goal. The top 6 forwards after showing well in game 2 have again come up small. You can certainly see effort from Giroux and Voracek, who both seem close to breaking through but can’t find the bounces. Farabee looks to be overwhelmed, but did have a scoring chance, and was simply stoned by Varlamov. The good feelings from game 2 that we had for Hayes and Couturier evaporated and Konecny is visibly frustrated. He’s banging his stick against the boards, throwing his head around, and showing very negative body language. The Flyers woes will be impossible to solve without one of these guys finding fire.
Some changes might come thanks to the back to back scenario, and it might not be a surprise is Shayne Gostisbehere and Micahel Raffl return to the lineup for Game 4. We’ll have that post-game report as well.