Both head coaches in this game can be a bit ornery, and both stress work ethic. This time around it was John Tortorella’s Philadelphia Flyers out-battling and out-performing Rick Tocchet’s more talented Vancouver Canucks 2-0.
With the result, both teams now stand with a 2-and-1 record on the season.
The score made the game seem much closer than what actually unfolded on the ice.
Spoiler alert: You may have heard this a number of times in recent years … goalie Thatcher Demko held the Canucks in the the game.
The first period wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t exemplary either. Philly limited high quality chances, effectively clogged the neutral zone, as Vancouver somehow mustered an 11-10 shot advantage. Their pressure gradually waned, an augur of the period to follow.
In the meantime, the Flyers scored twice. They came out like gangbusters in their home opener, getting 23-year-old Russian defenceman Egor Zamula his first ever NHL goal in his 28th career game. His wrist shot from the mid-point found it’s way through two Canucks and past Demko’s glove.
With two-and-a-half minutes remaining, Vancouver D-man Noah Juulsen slashed the hands of Flyers forward Sean Couturier on a breakaway, resulting in his first career penalty shot.
He’d convert, backing in near the net momentarily before turning and firing a hard wrist shot off the left post and in.
Spoiler alert: I hate to repeat myself, but consider this: The Flyers would out-shoot the Canucks 23-to-2 in the 2nd period and not score a goal. The Demko factor.
And this wasn’t because of a parade to the penalty box, with Philly piling up shots on multiple man advantages. Through two periods the home team earned two power play opportunities, outside of the 1st period penalty shot, while the Canucks picked up one. In the second period Philadelphia had eight shots on the power play and 15 at even strength.
Given their recent special teams history, the Flyers were better off staying at 5-on-5, kind of the East’s version of the Seattle Kraken in that regard.
Maybe the Canucks were gonna try to pull off one of those comebacks where a team saves everything for the 3rd period. Not a completely unreasonable concept, given it’s been done before and with the Canucks only trailing by two goals entering the final twenty minutes.
It’s why teams have goaltenders like Demko, who can keep you in a game while you’re getting your ‘you-know-what’ together.
Tocchet juggled the lines looking to find a spark. It seemed to work.
Vancouver came out quickly with Elias Pettersson and Conor Garland getting decent looks, but a Tyler Myers tripping call would squash any early momentum.
Fortunately for the Canucks the Flyers PP was absolutely useless. The only positive side effect for them was taking two minutes off the clock.
Shortly after, Garland crashed the net for a loose puck and pushed it in through the goalie’s right pad to put the Canucks on the board at 3:15. The goal was nullified upon video review: Goalie interference.
Either way, the event sparked the road team with Vancouver experiencing a brief surge. The game became chippy with off-setting penalties leading to a couple of four-on-fours. Eight minutes in, Ian Cole would put the Canucks shorthanded.
Later in the period Tocchet reunited the “Lotto Line”, 6, 40, 9, with Brock Boeser, Pettersson and J.T. Miller.
Not enough, and two late VAN power plays would fail.
Shots on goal would finish 42-25 in favour of the Flyers. Power plays: Vancouver 0-for-3, Philadelphia 0-for-4.
Canucks 3 Stars:
1) Thatcher Demko – Not even close.
2) Filip Hronek – “Huggie’s” partner led the team in ice time with a solid all around performance and 3 shots on goal.
3) Sam Lafferty – Despite 12 minutes in the box, including a 10-minute misconduct, he tallied three hits and three shots and was a powerful pest.