Flyers 4, Hurricanes 3: Closer to a playoff spot

Updated: April 5, 2018 at 10:40 pm by Wes Herrmann

The Philadelphia Flyers did enough to clinch a playoff spot Thursday night by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-3, but the Florida Panthers also won their game, keeping their playoff hopes alive.

The Flyers’ magic number to reach the playoffs now decreases to one. If Florida loses one of their last two games or if the Flyers get at least one point Saturday against the New York Rangers, they’ll be in the playoffs.

But for now, the team can exhale after fighting back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits at the hands of the Hurricanes.

FIRST PERIOD

For all but 1:07, the Flyers had to have been happy with the play in the first period. They led in shots, 15-7, and had more and better chances through the first 20 minutes.

But between the 6:15 mark and 5:08, Philly gave up two goals. They may have scored one in that time also, but the Flyers still skated from the first stanza, down 2-1.

Things were going well for Philadelphia, until concurring minors were called on Travis Konecny for tripping and Brock McGinn for diving. On the 4-on-4 play that ensued, some nifty passing by the Hurricanes in the offensive zone led to defenseman Klas Dahlbeck getting off a quick wrister that beat Brian Elliott’s glove.

Fifty-three seconds later, Michael Raffl tied the game. The Austrian and Claude Giroux were on a 2-on-1. Giroux attempted a pass to Sean Couturier, the trailer, but the puck was knocked away. However, it skitted to the slot where Raffl spun and got off a shot that beat Scott Darling.

In a blink of an eye, Sebastian Aho had the lead back for the ‘Canes. The Finn stepped out from behind the Flyers’ net and backhanded the puck over a crouching Elliott.

SECOND PERIOD
For a team facing the very real possibility of not making the playoffs, the Flyers did not come out playing with any necessary urgency in the second period. It took over two minutes for the club to even have any puck possession in the offensive zone.

Unsurprisingly, Elliott was called upon more often in the second. He stopped a tip in front from Brock McGinn and a turn and quick shot from Elias Lindholm, but his biggest play came after one of Andrew MacDonald’s worst turnovers in the orange and black.

The former Islander, while under pressure, played the puck right up the Philadelphia slot to Aho, who had plenty of space to walk in. Elliott forced the Hurricane to make a move around him and MacDonald and Travis Sanheim dove to erase the chance of a shot.

Over time, the Flyers climbed back into it and the first line banked on the momentum again for the team. After about 15 seconds of offensive pressure, Couturier threw the puck into the crease for a pinching Ivan Provorov.

Provorov shot one chance off Darling’s pads, but was able to stuff in a rebound to tie the game at two.

Earlier in the period, Jori Lehtera hit the post and after the goal, Raffl almost put a puck in the net by banking a pass off his skate.

THIRD PERIOD

It wasn’t pretty — mainly because of Elliott — but the Flyers were able to pull out the win in the third period.

It was nonstop action for the first ten minutes with Philly controlling most of the play, but unable to finish. That changed at the 9:42 mark.

Couturier controlled the puck in the ‘Canes’ zone, fought off a defender one-handed and found Giroux in the high slot. The captain held the puck and snapped a shot far glove side on Darling, beating the former Blackhawk.

But if Elliott was rusty before, it showed even more three minutes after the Giroux goal. Jordan Staal took an innocent shot from a bad angle around the red line that somehow squeaked through Elliott’s pads to tie the game.

Fans mockingly cheered as a dread that the Flyers would lose this game took a grip on every Philly fan.

But Jake Voracek decided otherwise. Streaking down the left side, the Czech snapped a shot that rolled off a Carolina’s defender’s stick and beat Darling over his shoulder.

Despite some tricky moments in the following minutes, the Flyers held on for the 4-3 win.

QUICK-HITTERS

Although the new-look first line accounted for three of the four Flyers goals, I’m not so sure that it was as successful as it would seem. Raffl had one of the goals, but didn’t factor into any of the others. Whether it was Raffl, Konency or another winger on that line, the unit probably would have found similar success. Giroux and Couturier are that good together. It also seemed like the line may have missed the speed and talent of Konecny.

Meanwhile, the third line had a lackluster game. Konecny created a couple of prime chances in the first period, though. One where he found Wayne Simmonds for a 2-on-1 chance that was denied. Later in the stanza, he escaped defenders along the half boards and got off a good shot. But from there, the line was mostly quiet. Unfortunately, the success of the first line probably convinced coach Dave Hakstol there was no reason to go back to his original trio.

Brian Elliott looked rusty and possibly not ready in his first game back from injury. Every goal was stoppable, but the third is probably the worst one he’s allowed in a Flyers uniform. The former Blue looked better in the second, but gave up the horrific goal in the third and later, lost the puck on a dump-in floater that was sitting in front of him. Elliott’s shaky play certainly raises some questions for the Flyers. Do they play him Saturday? Or go with another inconsistent netminder in Petr Mrazek?

NEXT GAME
Rangers at Flyers, April 7th at 3 p.m.

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