The Philadelphia Flyers and visiting Ottawa Senators will stop losing seasons as they begin 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 suffered separate losing streaks in 13 games and 10 games.
In addition, the longtime captain Claude Giroux switched to the Florida Panthers in March.
While some younger players like 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 pretty listless in a 4-0 loss en route to the Winnipeg Jets.
With starting goalkeeper Carter Hart (lower body) away for the rest of the season, the Flyers chose to join Felix Sandström in the net instead of veteran Martin Jones for the second straight match.
Sandström stopped 23 shots but received no offensive support as the Flyers were suspended for the seventh time this season.
The Jets scored a couple of power-play goals.
“Of course, you do not want to be too much on the penalty,” Sandström said. “When that happens, you just have to find a way to limit their chances and for me to come up with saves.”
Philadelphia’s interim head coach Mike Yeo, who took over for Alain Vigneault in early December, faces an uncertain future, but he sees potential in Sandström.
“I think he’s a fighter,” Yeo said of the 25-year-old Swedish rookie. “The first goal maybe he would like to have back, but he continued to fight for the rest of the road. Just like all young players learn, to make sure you are ready from the start of the match.”
The Senators played a weak match and fell 4-0 to the Panthers in their home final on Thursday.
The Senators (32-42-7, 71 points) end the season in improved form, as they have 9-5-1 in April.
Filip Gustavsson made 26 saves against league-leading and playoff-bound Panthers, who rested a majority of their top players.
“We were not very good,” said Senators head coach DJ Smith. “We tried to score from the rush. We turned the puck. We were beaten and we were simply not very good. We really did not 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 line.
“We gave up a bunch of sales,” Smith said. “We did not play very well and then they end up in our net.”
There is still a chance to end the season in a good light.
“We want to finish better than that,” Smith said of the shutout loss to Florida. “We did not play with the structure that has made us successful recently.”
Brady Tkachuk, who leads the Senators by 65 points, needs a goal to reach 30 for the first time in his four-season NHL career.
–Field Level Media