Impressive outing for rookie goalie in Flyers’ loss to Blackhawks

Winning three straight games usually isn’t a big deal for the Flyers in an average season.

But as followers of this team are quick to point out, this isn’t your average Flyers season.

The Flyers tried to win three consecutive Chicago victories on Monday night. However, despite Felix Sandstrom’s outstanding performance, the Flyers lost 3-1 at the United Center.

Sandstrom completed the night stopping 30 out of 33 shots.

More:Persevering through family loss and injuries, Flyers’ Hayes earns NHL’s Masterman Trophy nomination

The Flyers will finish the season with a three-game win streak (their highest for the campaign).

It’s not like the Flyers have had a lot of chances to complete a “hat trick’’ lately. Their last two-game winning streak began in March’s first week.

Flyers special teams have been a problem all season. This was no exception. Although Philadelphia was able to keep Chicago off the board with five power-play attempts it can be exhausting to kill penalties.

Meanwhile, the Flyers’ worst in the NHL power play went zero for four and continues to stagger along at a historically bad 12 percent.

Sandstrom was able to get off to a good start, despite having to give up two goals in his first period. He was tested by Chicago on several occasions, and the Swede responded with some impressive saves.

“He was great, outstanding,’’ interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “He did a hell of a job to settle into the game. He really gave us a chance. Made some huge saves through the course of the night, especially on the penalty kill.’’

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen (32) makes a save against a shot by Philadelphia Flyers' Kevin Hayes during the second period of an NHL hockey game Monday, April 25, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

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Kevin Hayes appreciated Sandstrom’s effort.

“We need to respond no matter what the score is,’’ he said. “I thought at any moment we could have tied it up. Felix played well. It was a tough one.’’

This was hardly the Flyers team that dominated playoff-bound Pittsburgh just one night earlier in Philadelphia.

“The intentions were good,’’ Yeo insisted. “What we did so well against Pittsburgh we didn’t do tonight. We didn’t manage the puck very well. We easily turned over pucks. You can’t control the game if you can’t control the puck.

Poor positioning or lack of hustle are the most common causes of penalties. In this particular case, it was likely both.

“We weren’t good enough with the puck tonight,’’ Yeo said, “against a team that transitions really well – a dangerous team off the rush. We gave them many opportunities with that. We spent too many hours in the box. It’s tough to come back when you’re killing penalties constantly.’’

Added Hayes: “They have elite players on their power play. The more touches they get, the more confident they’re going to be. It’s tough to win games when you give guys like Patrick Kane 10 minutes of power-play time.’’

Erik Gustafsson, an ex-Flyer defenseman, put the Blackhawks on top with a goal only 1:44 into the action. Gustafsson was able to score from the top of right circle because the Flyers were slow in a defensive backcheck.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago’s captain, made it 2:2. The sequence began with Bobby Brink, a Flyers rookie, turning the puck over after a power play. Toews leapt out of the box and took an outlet pass to beat Sandstrom at 6:15.

The Flyers scored one back when Scott Laughton executed an ingenious no-look pass from Hayes to Hayes after a two-on-1 rush for an easy tapin past Kevin Lankinen at 8:30.

Alex DeBrincat scored at 7 minutes 45 of the third period to bring Chicago back within two goals.

“I thought we played a pretty solid game,’’ Travis Konecny offered. “We stuck in it for quite a bit there. They got the third goal and we kind of chased after it.

Philadelphia Flyers' Kevin Hayes (13) watches his shot score past Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Kevin Lankinen, second from left, and Riley Stillman (61) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Monday, April 25, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

More:Flyers’ rookie Hogberg impresses in debut in win against Canadiens

Here are some quick shots

The Flyers will travel to Winnipeg to play the Jets on Wednesday night. . .Konecny recorded his 51st point in Sunday’s 4-1 win and moved past the injured Cam Atkinson into the Flyers’ lead for points.

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