Postgame Perspective: Better effort still leaves Flyers looking for ‘better’ fate


Take this in: the Flyers had to make a goalie change just 1:14 into the second, after Steve Mason allowed the Islanders third goal on 10 shots. The Flyers went on to outshoot the Islanders, 17-5, in the second and 46-26 for the game. 

So the Islanders won in a shootout.

Sounds familiar, right?

"We deserved better tonight," head coach Dave Hakstol said, "but that's the way the game is. I thought our team played a good hockey game. The guys competed and battled hard but unfortunately we couldn’t come up with the second point."

The second period alone was a tour de force for the Flyers. After the change in net, Hakstol had four lines rotating with consistent energy and effort. The score really should have been tied after two, that how much the Flyers were peppering Jaroslav Halak.

The Flyers did nearly have it tied on a power play goal by Wayne Simmonds that was waved off for a kicking motion.

No matter. Halak won the game for the Islanders on Tuesday. But the Flyers at least made it a game when it started to look like a carbon copy of Saturday's loss.

That was the most notable difference, the overall compete level. This was heading toward another game of disappointment, another game where the score matched the effort.

That's what makes Tuesday's disappointing result encouraging. The Flyers deserved better. They just couldn't finish.

"It’s probably the best game I have been a part of so far this season," Ryan White, who scored the Flyers second goal said. "I think when I was out there the guys were playing well for a good stretch. I thought as a whole 20 guys I thought we played well tonight."

"I think we were playing the right way and we got every line playing well," Claude Giroux, who netted the tying goal, said. "We got a big goal from Whitey’s line. We’ve got to keep grinding like that. When you play the way we played tonight, you’re going to be more successful and you’re going to win more games."

That goes for the two power plays, the majority of the final 38 minutes and a shootout that saw them shut out again. After Kyle Okposo scored what would be the game-winning goal in the shootout, the Flyers final shooter was Evgeny Medvedev, certainly an interesting choice over Jake Voracek or a more offensive-minded defenseman like Shayne Gostisbehere.

"He’s a skilled guy with a good quick stick," Hakstol said. "He’s never done it at the NHL level before but we needed a goal and he’s a guy that can score in that situation."

In reality, while Hakstol certainly said it like he would do the same again if put in the same spot, he probably put too much thought into that decision.

You could say the same for the Flyers in the final minutes of the third and overtime. If they hadn't already thrown the kitchen sink at Halak already, they tried harder to come up with the perfect play, instead of trying to just keep throwing the puck at Halak. In the final 8:29 of the third, the Flyers did not record a shot. They had just one in the five-minute overtime.

So after firing some 46 shots in just over 51 minutes of play, the Flyers went completely silent. The Islanders actually held control of the play for the final five minutes of the third. The overtime was pretty much an even battle of the Islanders just trying to get it to the shootout.

The problem for the Flyers is that deserving a better fate doesn't get you the extra point. You can attribute that extra point being lost to two goals Mason would probably like back, a disallowed goal on Simmonds, virtually no chances for the Flyers in overtime.

"One’s got to go in eventually," Simmonds said. "We kept throwing pucks at the net, we kept making good plays, we played a whole heck of a good game. We’ve been playing good hockey. I like the way we played all night long, every part of our game."

It's certainly a game and effort to build on for the Flyers, who looked rather lifeless on Saturday, but falling behind is not part of a "formula" for success in Hakstol's mind.

"I think at that point in time [the goalie change], the next one goes in and it’s probably over," Hakstol said. "Or it’s hard to come back from."

But otherwise, Hakstol liked everything about the effort after the change, and that's an effort the Flyers need to duplicate, more than the results or lack thereof.

"You’re not going to duplicate that," Hakstol said. "I’d love it if we could period after period but I don’t think that’s realistic. But that’s the type of play, I used the word tenacity, I thought we were tenacious in all areas of the game.

"I’m not critiquing anything. We played a hell of a game. We deserve better. I’m not going to start breaking those things down. Put this one behind us and get ready to play on Thursday night."

And Thursday night, as well as their following game in Friday, will be no easy task.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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