For most of Saturday’s game against Ottawa, the Flyers channeled the energy of the Eagles. The 1968 Eagles.
Sure, they gained a point, but losing to the lowly Senators, 4-3, in a six-round shootout, cost them a second point that might come in handy in the first week of April.
“We need to play a 60-minute game to earn those two points,” Sean Couturier said. “The first [period] was probably questionable. We battled hard to get a big point, it would be nice to get two.”
The Senators came into the game with two wins in their last 18 road games and were playing without top scorer Mark Stone. Cherry Hill native Bobby Ryan also missed the game for Ottawa (17-24-9) because of a hand injury.
Rookie goaltender Alex Lyon got the surprise start for the Flyers (24-19-9) ahead of Michal Neuvirth and did not look comfortable. Hakstol turned to Neuvirth at the start of the third period.
Lyon gave up three goals on 23 shots in the second start of his career, his first at the Wells Fargo Center.
“I felt good today, I felt like I had good preparation,” Lyon said. “It didn’t obviously end up the way that I anticipated or hoped it would.”
A fourth goal allowed by Lyon was overturned by coach Dave Hakstol’s successful challenge of a missed offside. The violation really had nothing to do with the goal, which Matt Duchene scored with 2.9 seconds left in the second. It was a critical challenge and kept the Flyers within two goals when Hakstol turned to Neuvirth, who missed Thursday’s loss at New Jersey because of illness.
“He was available if needed,” Hakstol said, “and I thought that was the right time to make a change for our team going into the third period.
Team captain Claude Giroux said the third was one of the best periods the Flyers have played this season. They outshot the Senators, 16-3, and salvaged a point when Nolan Patrick scored with 2.6 seconds left to force overtime. It was his fifth goal of the season and easily the biggest of his rookie year. Scott Laughton scored with 5:45 left to make it 3-2 to set the stage for Patrick’s goal. Couturier notched the Flyers’ other tally.
Jordan Weal, Patrick, Jake Voracek, Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds and Shayne Gostisbehere all were denied during the shootout. None of their efforts was particularly difficult for Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson.
Mike Hoffman beat Neuvirth for the winner.
Neuvirth, who had a poor outing at Washington on Wednesday when he allowed five goals to the first-place Caps, was deemed to be healthy by general manager Ron Hextall on Friday. So it was a surprise when Hakstol called on Lyon to start on Saturday.
“I’m still battling with the flu,” Neuvirth said. “I’m starting to feel better and better.” Neuvirth said he informed Hakstol on Friday he still wasn’t 100 percent.
Before the game, the Flyers showed a video montage of Eagles highlights, which included Doug Pederson’s locker-room speech following the stirring win over the Vikings to get to the Super Bowl. Lauren Hart sang the national anthems wearing an Eagles jersey and frequently the crowd was encouraged to chant E-A-G-L-E-S.
Instead of playing like the NFC champs, the Flyers were flatter than the 1968 Eagles team that went 2-12 and angered fans enough to throw snowballs at Santa Claus. If the Eagles do to their fans on Sunday what the Flyers did to theirs on Saturday, emergency rooms throughout the region will be standing room only.
Starting goaltender Brian Elliott has a lower-body injury and missed his fourth game. He’s expected to be available for Tuesday’s game at Carolina, which is right on the Flyers’ heels in the wild-card standings.
“It’s an important point that we earned in the third period,” Hakstol said. “But I don’t think it leaves any type of satisfaction for us knowing that we left a point on the table in our own building.”
It's like you can't take a nap in the opponent's bench anymore. pic.twitter.com/YYc0YVDGDg
— NHL GIFs (@NHLGIFs) February 3, 2018