After a strong first period, the Flyers let up and had the game turned around on them in their 5-3 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday.
Lou Nolan’s voice had barely finished ringing through Wells Fargo Center when the Flyers got on the board with Travis Sanheim’s goal. Forty-nine seconds later, Ronnie Attard added another, the first of his NHL career.
Then the Flyers’ second-period struggles had returned. In a matter of 92 seconds, the game went from 2-0 to 2-2, thanks to goals from Sonny Milano and Zach Aston-Reese.
“Maybe we just thought it was going to be point night, and wanted it easy in the second period,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “We let them take the momentum and run with it.”
While the Flyers controlled the pace through the first period and outshot the Ducks, 16-6, the game completely flipped in the second. By the time the Ducks tied it, they had eight shots to a single Flyers’ shot.
The Flyers made execution errors and bad decisions, and they struggled to win on the boards. As a result, the Ducks were able to sustain more offensive-zone possessions, including a two-minute long one full of Flyers errors and giveaways.
“Whatever we did to them in the first, they did to us in the second,” defenseman Ivan Provorov said.
In the third, the Flyers came out stronger, and Provorov tied it. But Trevor Zegras pulled an elite move to set up a fourth goal, scored by Troy Terry. Derek Grant added a fifth to help the Ducks pull away.
Former Flyers Gerry Mayhew, Grant and goalie Anthony Stolarz earned the win.
Through the first period, Jones continued the strong performance that earned him a second start in a row. While he didn’t face many shots, he made some big saves, including one on Jamie Drysdale after he beat Kevin Hayes on the rush for a wide-open shot.
Then, like his teammates, he lets up in the second, allowing three goals. However, Jones also faced almost three times as many shots in the second (17 second-period shots to six in the first period). His teammates struggled to get out of their own end, and Jones had to stay vigilant for long periods of time.
Jones gave up a fourth goal in the third, but it happened during a Ducks All-Star moment. Zegras spun in a circle behind the net and whipped it to Terry, who deflected it in before Jones could track the puck.
Jones then deflected Andrej Sustr’s shot but couldn’t move fast enough laterally to stop Grant from tapping it in.
“They scored three goals from the blue paint,” Yeo said. “They had a backdoor tap-in. You know, I don’t think Jonesy could have done too much on any of those. So, again, we’ve got to be better in that area, in front of our net especially. ”
The Flyers spent a lot of time playing defense, especially in the second period, because they couldn’t find ways to exit the zone. Provorov said they struggled to win defensive-zone faceoffs and puck battles. On the rare occasions they came up with the puck, they struggled through the neutral zone.
But defense also became the story on offense. All three Flyers goals were scored by defensemen.
Sanheim shot from the right faceoff circle, and it made it through traffic to coast across the goal line. Attard then took several shots from the left wing. At first, it appeared he registered an assist on one, but it was later adjusted and went down in the stat sheets as his first NHL goal. Attard wasn’t happy with one and continued shooting, finishing with three shots on goal.
The top defensive pairing was responsible for tying the game. Cam York passed the puck to Nate Thompson, who passed it from behind the goal to Provorov, who scored. The defense finished with four points and nine shots on goal.
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Even in the Flyers’ recent wins, the special teams have not been the highlight, with the exception of the penalty kill against the Blue Jackets on Thursday. That continued to weigh the Flyers down Saturday.
The Flyers had two power plays and scored on neitherof them. While both units moved the puck better, they only got off two shots. There were two opportunities for dangerous shots when they passed to Cam Atkinson in front of the net, but they just weren’t able to connect.
Meanwhile, the Ducks had two power plays and scored on one when Zegras shot a one-timer from above the right faceoff circle.
The Flyers travel to Washington DC on Tuesday to play the Capitals, who are fighting for a wild card spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.