Flyers 5: Takeaways from Tuesday’s Flyers-Coyotes Game
Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault laid out the reality of games like the one on Tuesday night. The Arizona Coyotes came into Philadelphia and for more than two periods, made it a battle, so much so that the Flyers were leaning on their goaltender again at times. This was happening against the winless 0-8-1 Coyotes.
“I know you come into these games and people look at the opposition and everybody seems to expect a blow out or something,” Vigneault said, “but I’ve been in the NHL long enough to know every team competes, every team is a good team.”
The Flyers stayed the course though, overcoming a questionable overturned goal call and a tight contest between a team desperate to get their first win. They finally broke through in the third, and their goaltender did the rest.
Here are five takeaways from Tuesday’s 3-0 Flyers win over the Coyotes.
1. “Carter is the Difference Again.”
Carter Hart’s 2-2-1 record entering Tuesday’s game was a bit misleading. After a game with a few forgettable moments to open the season, Hart delivered quality performances in each of the last four games, despite only getting the win in two. This was his best to date.
Hart made 29 saves in a shutout win, the third regular-season shutout of his career. It was not an easy 29 saves either. Hart made numerous saves in close and sprawled across to stop a couple of rebounds.
During certain stages of the game, Hart was the best player on the ice, delivering a similar effort to Saturday’s game that kept the Flyers in the game. Arizona had an early push, then took control again in the final 10 minutes of the first. They also had a few moments early in the second, before the Flyers really took over in the latter half of the game.
“I just think he is battling extremely hard on all shots,” Vigneault said. “Technically, I’m not a goaltending expert, so I couldn’t really give you the fundamentals there. He seems in a real good place mentally. Been playing extremely well. Played extremely well again tonight. We’re like every team in the NHL that wants to have success, you have to have good goaltending and we are definitely getting it right now.
“Tonight, if you break down the game, you have a great first period. Both teams are getting some grade A looks. You’re getting a great goaltender performance from our side and you’re getting a great goaltender performance from their side. In the second period we started off, we made a couple mistakes. Carter is the difference again.”
2. “After Speaking with Each Other, We Have No Goal.”
Through two periods, the game was tied with no scoring between the two teams. The puck did enter the net though.
With 7:14 to play in the second period, the Flyers were applying pressure near the net when the puck came back to the front of the crease. Cam Atkinson knocked it home for what appeared to be his seventh goal of the season. The Coyotes protested, signaling that Karel Vejmelka had the puck covered.
The officials conferred and determined that the goal should not stand and that the puck was uncovered. Vigneault and several players ultimately agreed with the call postgame, however, it sure seemed like a play that isn’t reviewable. There was no whistle, the puck was covered for a split second, and the closest official, out of position in the slot, signaled goal on the ice. Upon announcing the disallowed goal, the official stated “after speaking with each other, we have no goal.”
3. Couturier Scores in Milestone Game
The disallowed goal ultimately didn’t matter, as the Flyers struck first anyway at 6:54 of the third period.
Sean Couturier had the finish, scoring on a one-timer after a saucer pass from Travis Konecny, who made a nice move to get space and created an odd-man situation. For Couturier, it was his 700th NHL game on Tuesday night, and he celebrated with what would be the only goal needed.
“Time flies,” Couturier said. “Feels like yesterday I was at my first game, like I said, time flies. Just trying to enjoy it the most I can. Hopefully many more.”
Couturier said that while sitting next to Cam Atkinson during postgame media availability, to which Atkinson reacted asking for a round of applause. Couturier also had an assist on the empty-net goal that capped the scoring, unselfishly making a pass to Claude Giroux for the final goal of the night. When asked what the thought process was to passing up a second goal on the night, Atkinson again chimed in. “You didn’t hear G calling for it?”
4. Staying Out of the Box
Going back to their last home game against Florida, the Flyers had formed a bad habit. They allowed seven power plays that night and it carried over to each of their three games on the Western Canada trip with a total of 14 power plays allowed to Edmonton, Vancouver, and Calgary.
So after making 21 trips the penalty box over four games, the Flyers also pitched a shutout in that department against Arizona.
“It was a hard-fought game,” Vigneault said. “There was some good intensity, some good battles. But we kept our sticks in the right position and when you do that, then a lot of times you stay out of the box.”
5. “Can’t Wait to Play in the First Battle of Pennsylvania.”
At times, it didn’t look pretty, but the Flyers ultimately handled business against the only remaining team without a win in the NHL this season. That’s an important two points, especially when you consider what is to come.
At 5-2-1, the Flyers have certainly built up a nice start to this point. It’s more impressive when you consider they are playing without Kevin Hayes and have been without Ryan Ellis for the last five games.
But now the real test begins. To this point, the Flyers have faced only the Boston Bruins among teams they played regularly last season, and that’s a team back in their traditional division alignment. On Thursday, they will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins, the first Metro game for this team to see just how they stack up in this stacked division.
Rasmus Ristolainen certainly expressed his excitement to be playing in his first game between the two Pennsylvania teams.
“You always want to play against those top teams to see where you are at so I can’t wait to play in the first battle of Pennsylvania of the season,” Ristolainen said.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.