NHL: Flyers, Senators clash to conclude losing campaigns
The Philadelphia Flyers and the visiting Ottawa Senators will end losing seasons when they square off on Friday.
The Flyers (25-45-11, 61 points) have been besieged by injuries to key players such as Sean Couturier, Kevin Hayes and Ryan Ellis and have endured separate losing streaks of 13 games and 10 games.
In addition, they traded longtime captain Claude Giroux to the Florida Panthers in March.
While some younger players such as Bobby Brink, Morgan Frost and Noah Cates have gained much-needed experience, not much else has gone right for Philadelphia.
On Wednesday, the Flyers were rather listless in a 4-0 road loss to the Winnipeg Jets.
With starting goaltender Carter Hart (lower body) out for the remainder of the season, the Flyers opted to go with Felix Sandstrom in net instead of veteran Martin Jones for the second straight game.
Sandstrom stopped 23 shots but didn’t receive any offensive support as the Flyers were shut out for the seventh time this season.
The Jets scored a pair of power-play goals.
“Of course, you don’t want to be too much on the penalty kill,” Sandstrom said. “When it happens, you’ve just got to find a way to limit their chances and for me to come up with saves.”
Philadelphia interim head coach Mike Yeo, who took over for Alain Vigneault in early December, faces an uncertain future, but he sees potential in Sandstrom.
“I think that he’s a battler,” Yeo said of the 25-year-old Swedish rookie. “The first goal maybe he’d like to have back, but he continued to battle right through the rest of the way. Just like any young player, it’s learning, making sure you’re ready right from the start of the game.”
The Senators played a lackluster game and fell 4-0 to the Panthers in their home finale on Thursday.
The Senators (32-42-7, 71 points) are closing the season in improved form, as they are 9-5-1 in April.
Filip Gustavsson made 26 saves against the league-leading and playoff-bound Panthers, who rested a majority of their top players.
“We weren’t very good,” Senators head coach D.J. Smith said. “We tried to score off the rush. We turned pucks over. We got beat and we just weren’t very good. We really didn’t put their defense under any pressure.”
Before Thursday, Ottawa had won four straight for the first time since posting a six-game winning streak from March 2-11, 2017. The Senators made too many mistakes against the Panthers to extend the streak.
“We gave up a bunch of turnovers,” Smith said. “We didn’t play very well and then they end up in our net.”
There’s still one more chance to finish the season in a good light.
“We want to finish better than that,” Smith said of the shutout loss to Florida. “We didn’t play with the structure that has made us successful recently.”
Brady Tkachuk, who leads the Senators with 65 points, needs one goal to reach 30 for the first time in his four-season NHL career.
–Field Level Media