The Flyers kept rolling Monday, defeating visiting Ottawa, 3-2, and running their record to 18-4-2 in their last 24 games.
It would have been easy to glance ahead to difficult matchups against Washington, Toronto, and Pittsburgh and look past the worst-in-the-NHL Senators. But to the Flyers’ credit, they kept their focus and moved to within three points of a playoff spot — the closest they have been since Nov. 20.
The Flyers faced a 1-0 deficit after 20 minutes, but not because they were outplayed. They had the better scoring chances and kept the puck down the Senators’ end but couldn’t solve goalie Craig Anderson.
“I wasn’t worried about how we were playing,” interim coach Scott Gordon said of the deficit the Flyers took into the second period. “The Washington game [an eventual 5-3 loss last Wednesday], I was worried how we were playing.”
Monday, the Flyers patiently waited for their opportunities.
“We didn’t try to sell the farm to get one play,” Gordon said. “We did the right things and we started establishing more momentum and obviously had a great second period.”
They swarmed the net in the second, outshot the Sens by 15-5, and took control with a 3-0 domination in the period.
“We’re a pretty confident group right now, and we just find ways to win games,” winger Michael Raffl said.
Oskar Lindblom has quietly joined the NHL’s top rookie scorers. The left winger scored his 13th goal of the season, tying him for fifth among rookies, to tie the game at 1.
It wasn’t an artistic goal, but Lindblom worked hard to get position in front and he scored when Shayne Gostisbhere’s shot deflected off Sean Couturier’s knee and then Lindblom’s skate.
“It was lucky, but I’ll take it,” he said of his fifth goal in his last 11 games.
The goal energized the Flyers and triggered the three-goal second period.
“We had the puck for most of the game, and the longer the game went, we got more shots on net and more traffic in there,” Lindblom said. “We did what we had to do.”
The Flyers’ power play needs to be better if they are going to beat the Capitals on Thursday.
The Flyers over-passed and went 0-for-4 with an extra skater Monday. The power play is 0-for-8 in the last four games.
On the flip side, the penalty kill continued its impressive revival. It was 2-for-2 Monday and is 13-for-14 (92.9 percent) over the last six games.
After struggling mightily in the season’s first half, defenseman Ivan Provorov has looked like himself in the second half.
Monday, he made several subtle plays to break up Senators chances. He finished with seven shots (four on goal), three blocked shots, and a plus-1 rating in 23:49.
The Flyers will host Washington on Thursday, then play in Toronto on Friday – and Gordon said goalie Carter Hart will play in one of those two challenging games.
My gut: Gordon will play the rookie Thursday at home. Whenever Hart plays, it will be his first game since he was shelled and removed in the first period of a 5-1 loss in Montreal on Feb. 21. Hart had been sidelined by an ankle injury before serving as Elliott’s backup Monday.
Elliott, who was solid (again) Monday, is 5-1-1 in his last seven decisions.
“The guys back-checked like crazy,” Elliott said.