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Flyers Can’t Gain Ground in Wild Card Race With Disappointing Loss to Blackhawks, 4-1

(Heather Barry Images, LLC)

Entering the night only 5 points out of a Wild Card spot, the Philadelphia Flyers disappointed by falling to the NHL’s worst team in the Chicago Blackhawks, 4-1.

To their credit, the Blackhawks entered tonight’s game winning 4 of their last 5 and then added to it with a strong showing, mostly from their goaltender who stopped 38 shots. Morgan Frost opened the scoring midway through the first period for his 10th of the season but that was all she wrote for the Orange and Black as the Blackhawks scored 4 unanswered, including a back-breaking goal 35 seconds into the third period that doubled their lead. The Flyers threw everything towards Petr Mrazek but the former Flyer was a wall, especially in the final 2 periods where he made 32 saves.

Game 3 of 5 this week had the Philadelphia Flyers facing off against the actual basement dweller of the NHL standings. After being walloped in Boston on Monday, the Flyers bounced back with a team effort that was propelled by Kevin Hayes’ first career hat trick against the lowly Anaheim Ducks. Looking for their 9th win in 11 games and trying to make inroads in a wild card race they have suddenly found themselves in, Carter Hart returned in goal as the only change in the lineup – yet again. Tonight also marked another throwback Thursday celebration as the 2000-2009 Flyers were commemorated throughout the night.

The Chicago Blackhawks walked through the tunnels of the Wells Fargo Center coming off the heels of a comeback victory against the Buffalo Sabres, overcoming a 3-1 deficit entering the third period. They’ve won 4 of their last 5, which equates to 33% of their victories this season as the rebuilding-tanking Hawks sported a 12-26-4 record heading into tonight’s tilt. The Orange and Black were facing another former Flyer in goal, this time in Petr Mrazek who will be infamously remembered for his time here as the goaltender that allowed 10 goals in a very important weekend for their Wild Card race in 2018.


The pace was good to start for both teams but once they entered the zone they weren’t able to do much of anything. In the first 7 and a half minutes heading into the first commercial break  the shots were tied at 3 apiece, however each team had one good scoring chance. For the Blackhawks it came off the opening faceoff with Jake McCabe coming off and the rush and firing a shot that was gobbled up by Hart and forcing a faceoff. For the Flyers it was the Scott Laughton, Kevin Hayes, and Wade Allison line, with the latter of the 3 being stoned in the crease.

8:52 into the period and the game, Morgan Frost scored another highlight reel goal after making a nasty head-fake on Seth Jones and then handling the puck with open space before firing it bar down past Mrazek for his 10th of the season.

Rasmus Ristolainen forced the turnover, Nick Seeler then tried poking it forwards to Owen Tippett but he had 2 Blackhawks convening on. They couldn’t control the puck, which allowed Morgan Frost to steal it and take it the other way. Seth Jones had to focus on the playmaking Frost and James van Riemsdyk on his opposite side but as Frost made the move, he drove Jones further away, and just wired one past the goalkeeper.

9 seconds after the Flyers scored the game’s opening goal, Andreas Anthanasiou came in all alone on Carter Hart and finished the play with a nice set of moves, seemingly tying the game. However after further review, Anthanasiou was very much offside as the puck that banked off the boards was a mile behind, disallowing the goal and keeping the Flyers’ lead intact for the time being.

With 1:27 remaining in the period, Scott Laughton slammed into the end boards behind the net after making a heads up play from the defensive zone to the offensive zone. He flipped the puck past Jack Johnson and then tried chasing it down for a scoring chance but as he lunged for the loose puck he lost an edge and slammed into the boards. 16 seconds later the Flyers received the first power play of the game after Connor Murphy as called for a cross-checking minor. Laughton didn’t appear on his usual shift with the top power play unit but he did jump on the ice with a few seconds remaining as the Flyers were changing.

The Blackhawks survived the first 71 seconds of the penalty kill but they headed into the first intermission down by 1 with Morgan Frost being the lone goal scorer. The Blackhawks did hold a 9-7 shot advantage as they tried tilting the ice in their favour after the game’s opening goal but Carter Hart wasn’t tasked to make any difficult saves. In his defence he was well positioned, controlled his rebounds, and made the saves he had to make as he was on the hunt for a bounce back game after he was pulled in Boston.


The first real noticeable shift came with 9 and a half remaining in the period with the Laughton line making noise again. Kevin Hayes had a few shots, Scott Laughton had a turn around shot near the blue paint that was stopped, and Wade Allison was in and around the crease making things difficult for the defence and goaltender – at one point with the puck behind the net, Mrazek was so unsure of where the puck was he hugged the post and made sure it wasn’t behind him. It seemed to be going Philadelphia’s way up until that point.

Things quickly changed because at the 9:51 mark of the second period, Jonathan Toews tied the game with a deflection from a Seth Jones point shot. There was nothing special about the play, the Blackhawks kept it simple with passes from point to point with the first shot going well wide by Jones. Toews corralled the loose puck on the opposite side, passed it to McCabe who gave it back to the Jones with Toews going straight for the middle of the ice. He made his way into open ice with no white jerseys keeping tabs on the captain, deflecting it over the shoulder of Carter Hart for his 10th of the season.

17 seconds later, James van Riemsdyk was tripped up in the offensive zone by Caleb Jones, sending the Flyers on their second power play of the game against the NHL’s worst road penalty killing unit with a 67% success rate. It was a much better showing with the extra man and their best chance came from Travis Konecny, who rang one off the post in his bid for his 25th of the season. His initial shot hit nothing but the post but Mrazek got his pad in position to keep it from rolling past him and into the net. The Flyers gained momentum even though they weren’t able to take the lead with the power play. They had back to back shifts after the expiration of the penalty that were deep in the offensive zone but Mrazek was able to keep things tied.

The Blackhawks tried responding themselves and their best chance of the game to that point – outside of the Toews goal – came from Seth Jones who was left unmarked and untouched in the slot but his shot was gobbled up by Carter Hart, keeping the game tied with 5:22 remaining. However 1:13 later (4:09 left in the second period), Reese Johnson scored the go-ahead goal after Colin Blackwell forced a turnover at his own blue-line.

After Ristolainen rimmed it around the boards to Owen Tippett, he waited a little before backhanding a pass attempt at the blue line that Blackwell read perfectly, knocked it down with his skate, protected the puck, and sent a pass towards the slot before Johnson ripped it past Hart for his 3rd of the season.

Konecny – who had 5 shots on goal to that point – had a 2-on-1 opportunity after being set up by Joel Farabee but the latter’s saucer pass fluttered off the heel of Konecny’s stick and wide. The puck was loose and in the crease for a few seconds as the Flyers tried jamming it home but to no avail as Frost’s scramble attempt was blocked away with chaos surrounding the net. The period ended with the Blackhawks taking a 2-1 lead into the intermission after Toews and Johnson scored within 6 minutes of each other. The Flyers had a 15-11 shot advantage in the period, taking their totals to 22-20 into the third period.


35 seconds into the third period, Tyler Johnson doubled the Blackhawks’ lead after finishing off the rebound for his 5th of the season. Tony DeAngelo was beat at the blue-line after a long stretch pass got past him, was too slow to recover as Johnson passed it to Patrick Kane who was allowed to walk in the slot. Even though his shot was initially stopped, the rebound was juicy and went towards the corner where Johnson was able to finish it off with relative ease. The second goal of the game where DeAngelo was beat by the eventual goal-scorer – first being on the Toews goal where he allowed the captain to walk into the middle for a deflection.

Not for a lack of trying, the Flyers threw everything but the kitchen sink at Petr Mrazek, who just seemingly had all the answers. The Flyers fired 11 shots in the first 14 minutes, went straight towards the net, crashed the crease, scrambled in front, hustled for loose pucks, won board battles, but none of it made any difference with the former Flyer playing lights out.

With 200 seconds left in the game, John Tortorella pulled Carter Hart for the extra attacker and even though the Flyers were in the zone, making passes, and trying to fire shots towards the net, they didn’t register a shot on goal for almost 2 minutes. They took a timeout with 1:43 remaining and once again started their shooting gallery that kept missing the net, which all culminated towards an empty net goal for Philipp Kurashev with 41 ticks remaining.

It was the first Blackhawks regular season win in 18 attempts in Philadelphia that stretched from 1996. The Flyers fired 39 shots towards Mrazek, including 32 in the final 40 minutes.


The Flyers kick off a weekend back-to-back on Saturday night in Detroit against the Red Wings before heading back home Sunday to host the Winnipeg Jets.

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