Greiss stops 36, Flyers fall 2-1 to Coyotes

Image courtesy of Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images

The Philadelphia Flyers endured another game where they struggled to find the back of the net, as they fell to the Phoenix Coyotes by a score of 2-1 tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. Thomas Greiss played a strong game for the visitors, as he denied 36 of the Flyers’ 37shots in the game. Rob Klinkhammer and Oliver Ekman-Larsson produced the goals for Phoenix, as Steve Mason provided 29 saves for Philly. Max Talbot was the only Flyer to solve Greiss. To make matters worse for Philly, both Vincent Lecavalier and Scott Hartnell left the game with injuries and are expected to miss some time.

“That’s the role of that player on your team,” said Coyotes’ head coach Dave Tippett about Greiss after the victory. “He’s got to go in during some very tough situations and give your team a chance to win.” Greiss didn’t just give his team a chance to win, he helped his squad come away with the win for four points in two days, as the Coyotes also beat the Detroit Red Wings last night.

Greiss did play a strong game, but it shouldn’t matter. The Flyers now have six goals over five games, as two of their goals were thanks to Tim Thomas’ horrible play on Tuesday night. The Orange and Black had a few chances, but nothing that made you say the Coyotes got lucky. Phoenix did a good job of cycling throughout the game and did a good job preventing Philly from creating scoring chances.

“We’re not desperate enough around the net,” said Craig Berube following the loss. “We don’t have enough traffic near the net. We need to get some greasy goals.”

A team that was playing their second game of a back-to-back was able to grab the lead early and hold on to it until late in the second period. The visitors seemed to be outworking the Flyers at times, despite the hosts having off since Tuesday night.

A lot of the questions that surrounded this team were based on the goaltending and the defense entering the season. Now, the question has to be about the offense. Two games against back-up goaltenders and two games against teams on their second games of back-to-backs, and the Philadelphia Flyers are having trouble creating a string of extremely close scoring chances in each game, let alone goals. With Lecavalier, who created the surge tonight for Talbot’s goal and has three points this season, and Scott Hartnell both expected to miss some time, things could somehow get even worse for the Orange and Black up front.

Perhaps a reach into the AHL could help kick start the Flyers’ scoring. Maybe a look at Michael Raffl, Chris VandeVelde, Tye McGinn, or Jason Akeson can start something at the NHL level. If they wanted to, they could even call up Scott Laughton for a few games without reaching his game limit. It’s a desperate and somewhat ludicrous thought, but there doesn’t seem to be many other options or ideas to solve the current state of the offense.

As for the contest, the Coyotes opened the scoring within the game’s first three minutes.

After some cycling to start the game, the Flyers found themselves down by one thanks to a tally from Klinkhammer. A shot from Derek Morris at the point was deflected by Klinkhammer in the low slot and found its way past Mason to hand the visitors a one-goal lead just 2:41 into the contest.

The team exchanged turns cycling the puck throughout the first period, but the Flyers entered the middle frame down by one despite leading the shot count 16-12.

In the second period, the Orange and Black were outshot 14-11, but they were able to tie the game late in the stanza.

It looked to be another goal-free period for the Flyers until Lecavalier drew a holding call out of Rostislav Klesla with 5:59 left in the frame. After a few chances during the man advantage, a play started by Zac Rinaldo led to Philly’s equalizer.

The Flyers’ pest carried the puck from left-to-right behind Greiss’ cage before he took a shot towards the cage from along the side boards, which led to Sean Couturier controlling a rebound below the goal line. A wraparound attempt failed for Couturier, but led to the disc gliding into the slot, where Rinaldo threw an attempt on net. With a deflection from Talbot, the biscuit found its way through Greiss’ legs and leveled the tilt at one 2:31 left in period.

Unfortunately for Rinaldo, all the energy he helped his team build up was immediately erased after he took an ill-advised high-sticking minor for accidentally whacking Mike Ribeiro in the face after a whistle in the frame’s final minute. Phoenix regained the lead just 13 seconds after Rinaldo’s infraction to put them up by a goal heading into the final 20 minutes.

After a failed clearing attempt by the Flyers, Ekman-Larsson worked his way around Talbot at the point and beat Mason’s glove with 13 ticks left in the middle period.

The final 20 minutes didn’t see the Flyers produce the game-tying tally, as Greiss and the Coyotes held on to win 2-1.

The Flyers have to rebound quickly, as they travel to Detroit tomorrow to take on the Red Wings.

Notes: The Flyers dropped to 0-3-0 when allowing the game’s first goal and trailing after the first period this season…Philly was 0-for-4 on the power play tonight. They’ve gone 12 straight power plays without converting…Tonight’s loss marks the Flyers’ first regulation loss to the Coyotes since November 21st, 2009. It ends a three-game point streak against Phoenix, as the club was 2-0-1 in their last trio of tilts against the Western Conference team…Philly is 0-2-0 against teams playing in the second game of a back-to-back…This is the Flyers’ first loss to a Western Conference team since their 1-0 defeat to the San Jose Sharks on February 28th, 2012..Greiss snapped a four-game losing streak and six straight appearances without a win. His last victory was on January 26th, 2013 against the Colorado Avalanche…Hal Gill, Kris Newbury, and Erik Gustafsson were scratched for the Flyers. David Rundblad, David Schlemko, and Brandon Yip were scratched for Phoenix…The Flyers are 0-1-0 against the Pacific Division and 0-1-0 against the Western Conference this year…The Flyers dropped to 1-4-0 on the season. They were 2-3-0 after five games last season.