Harding blanks Flyers in Minnesota, Wild win 2-0

 

Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images

After playing an ugly road game on Saturday and winning, the Philadelphia Flyers played another ugly road game tonight. Unfortunately, they didn’t walk away with the win, as the Minnesota Wild produced a 2-0 victory on home ice. Josh Harding stopped 21 shots for the shutout, while both Jason Pominville and Charlie Coyle beat Ray Emery, who had 19 saves in the loss.

Just under four minutes into the final period, Mikko Koivu carried the puck along the side boards to Emery’s left and around the net before he hit Pominville in front with a beautiful pass. The former Buffalo Sabre was able to beat Emery’s glove while being checked by Sean Couturier for the game-winning goal with 16:08 left in regulation.

It took 57 seconds for Coyle to make it a two-goal game, as a Jared Spurgeon blast from the point led Emery to leave a rebound to his left that landed right on Coyle’s stick for his third of the season.

Philadelphia tried to claw their way back into the game, but some bad luck on a power play a few minutes after the Wild’s two goals essentially killed any hopes of a comeback. Harding robbed Jakub Voracek with a diving save and Claude Giroux hit the post moments later, as the Wild held on for the win.

Tonight’s loss had the feeling of a loss from earlier in the year, as the team not only couldn’t score, but they had trouble just producing scoring chances all night until the game was out of reach. They were lucky to be in it late in the game when you consider Minnesota’s puck possession and advantage in the shot count. In the Flyers’ defense, they did battle until the end, as Craig Berube pulled Emery with several minutes left in regulation and the team provided a few good scoring chances in the final moments.

The Orange and Black seemed to have trouble in a handful of ways when it came to producing scoring bids tonight. For one, it seems as though the defense can’t cleanly and quickly carry the puck up the ice and into the zone fast enough to catch anybody off guard or set up offensive. That problem also leads to less odd-man rushes. Also, they didn’t seem to attack the slot or net this evening, as many of their shot attempts came from the perimeter, often  from shooters who were closely defended, which resulted in a lot of missed and blocked shots.

Whether it was issues with scoring or not, Berube switched up the lines at moments tonight, as Steve Downie joined Giroux and Scott Hartnell on the first line. It might be Berube’s idea for trying to produce something offensively, which was a good idea since Voracek hasn’t done much lately. The plan didn’t succeed, as the Flyers haven’t scored more than two goals in a game for five straight contests now.

Although the first period didn’t produce a goal, it did seem as though the Wild played better in the first 20 minutes. With a 9-4 shot advantage, Minnesota displayed a few instances of cycling in the opening frame where the Flyers couldn’t force the hosts out of their own end and were saved on a few big saves by Emery. On top of the puck possession, the Wild also had part of a power play to end the first period, as Spurgeon drew a holding call out of Wayne Simmonds with 34 seconds left in the stanza.

After the Flyers killed off the remainder of Simmonds’ minor to start the second period, it looked as though Jay Rosehill could have potentially gave the visitors momentum by dropping Mike Rupp in a scrap. Unfortunately for the Orange and Black, the team didn’t seem too motivated after the tilt and any momentum they did grab from the fight was ultimately killed by a Giroux delay-of-game minor less than four minutes later.

Philly killed off the Giroux infraction, but the Wild continued their cycling and fore checking domination in the contest until about the final few minutes of the second period. With about five minutes left in the middle frame, the Flyers seemed to provide some cycling and scoring chances of their own, but it didn’t provide the game’s first goal, as the teams skated into the third period in a scoreless tie. The Wild held a 15-10 shot advantage after 40 minutes of competition.

Then the home team potted a pair of goals in the final period for the win.

The Flyers will look to rebound on Wednesday, as they visit Detroit to take on the Red Wings.

Notes: The Flyers snapped a three-game point streak against the Wild…Emery recorded his first regulation loss against the Wild, as he is now 4-1-1 against Minnesota in his career…Philly is now 1-10-1 when they allow the game’s first goal…With two successful penalty kills tonight, the Flyers have killed off 14 straight opposing power plays…Adam Hall had one shot on goal and one hit in 7:05 TOI against his former team…Rupp played in his 600th NHL game tonight. He earned five PIMs for fighting Rosehill and one hit in 3:25 TOI…The Flyers dropped to 2-1-1 against the Central Division and to 3-4-1 against the Western Conference…The Flyers dropped to 12-13-2. They were 12-14-1 after 27 games last season.