Flyers draw on positives after loss
Take heart those looking for omens on a night the Flyers dominated play the first two periods, before stumbling down the stretch of a 3-1 opening night loss Wednesday night to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Only once before did the Orange and Black open the season vs. the Leafs: October 11, 1973. That, of course, was the season they went on to win their first Stanley Cup.
Unlike that 2-0 win behind Bernie Parent, Steve Mason, a bit of a surprise choice in goal over Ray Emery, couldn’t finish off what seemed sure to be a successful debut.
After Brayden Schenn converted Vinny Lecavalier’s perfect centering pass for a power-play goal with just :07 left in the first, the Flyers seemed to be in command.
But that turned out to be it, as Toronto goalie Jonathan Bernier, whom the Flyers had interest in before he was acquired from the Kings in the offseason, foiled six other Flyers power plays and a Wayne Simmonds penalty shot.
“I thought we had a lot of opportunities to put the game away,” said Lecavalier, as the Flyers out-shot the Leafs, 32-25. “We moved the puck around pretty well and had some great chances. If we’d gone up 2-0 it might have been a different game. But when you can’t score, you can’t score.”
Indeed, despite moving the puck well with the man-advantage and for the most part doing a good job clearing it out of their own end, the Flyers came up empty. Meanwhile, the Leafs took control when Phil Kessel banged home a rebound to tie it late in the second.
And, after Simmonds’ penalty shot in the waning seconds of the period went awry, the Leafs cashed in on the first of Dave Bolland’s goals early in the third — the other coming in the closing seconds when the short-handed Flyers were desperately trying to get the equalizer.
“Sometimes you get caught in those games where you feel like you are out-chancing them,” said Schenn, who found himself on the No. 1 line with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell. “The goalie played well, but we just have to find a way to finish when you are getting those chances.”
Aside from the score, Peter Laviolette liked much of what he saw.
“Offensively, that’s the best we’ve looked in a while,” said Laviolette, whose club now heads to Montreal and Carolina over the weekend, before taking on Florida back here Tuesday, “but at the end of the day you’ve got to score more than one goal to win a game.”
“We had a lot of chances, but there were plenty of missed shots and shots that they had blocked. We threw about 75 attempts at net tonight with 32 shots on net… you’d like to come away with more than one goal.”