The Flyers fell to the Edmonton Oilers, after a goal in the final seconds gave the Oilers the “W” and prevented the Flyers from getting a well-deserved point.
BY JAY BOEHMER, Staff Writer
The Flyers had a slow start as the Oilers got the game’s first scoring chances, testing goalie Michael Leighton. A fight by Ian Lapperiere and a couple of power plays gave the Flyers the jump they needed, outshooting the Oilers 14-11 in the period.
The second saw each team continue to exchange scoring chances without getting any consistent pressure. However, from about halfway through the period on, the Flyers had the better of the chances, including a power play spent almost entirely in the Oiler’s end. Edmonton goalie Jeff Deslauriers (in for injured Nikolai Khabibulin) had the answer for all 26 Philly shots, and the score remained 0-0.
The Oilers seemed to get the majority of the pressure at the start of the third and throughout the rest of the period. Each team exchanged some quality scoring opportunities, and similarly, each goalie held strong to keep it a scoreless tie. With 1:50 remaining, Flyer Darroll Powe took a high sticking minor. With a mere 16 seconds remaining, Dustin Penner dished it to Sam Gagner who found former Flyer Ryan Potulny on the back door for an easy tip in past a sprawling Leighton. With a 1-0 lead so late, the Oilers held on for the win.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Michael Leighton: Playing in his first game since a 4-0 loss to Toronto on January 14th, Leighton looked sharp, stopping 26 of 27 to keep his team in the game despite the occasional flurry of chances.
Jeff Deslauriers: Backup for the injured Nikolai Khabibulin, Deslauriers had a few sloppy moments, but managed to keep the puck out of his net for the full sixty minutes. He stopped 33 Flyers shots in Edmonton’s 1-0 shutout.
Sam Gagner: Not to be confused with our own Simon Gagne, Sam Gagner created a handful of scoring chances throughout the evening, providing 3 shots of his own. His prime contribution was a pass that found Ryan Potulny streaking to the net to score the night’s only goal.
Inability to Finish: The Flyers had their share of chances, including a power play with about five minutes left in the third that saw a puck barely slide through the crease on its way to the post. They outshot the Oilers throughout the night, but seemed unable to find the back of the net as frustration built.
“LCB” Line: The line of Laperriere, Betts and Carcillo generated energy at every opportunity, as usual. They had several shifts of consistent pressure, and Ian Laperriere had a first period fight of his own in an attempt to invigorate his team.
Coming into a game against the NHL’s bottom feeders, the Edmonton Oilers, who have lost 18 of their last 20, the Flyers had to have expected a win. Unfortunately, they may have expected it to come too easily, as they left their scoring touch at the hotel on this road game.
They generated the puck control and energy that they have shown in their recent wins, but also displayed a quality that’s been missing since their December drought: a missing finishing touch. It doesn’t matter how many shots you get if you never get it in the goal.
The Flyers are currently one point ahead of 7th seed Montreal and in sole possession of 6th place in the Eastern Conference. They have one more game to play on this road trip, Saturday in Minnesota, before returning to Philadelphia for a pair of home & home series against the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens going into the Olympic break.