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Quick Hits: Worlds Medal Round Set, Liftoff, Stadium Series, TIFH

May 23, 2023, 6:29 PM ET [79 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger • • RSSArchiveCONTACT
Quick Hits: May 23, 2023

1) Team USA took first place in the Group A preliminary round of the 2023 IIHF World Championships, going undefeated in seven games and capturing 20 of 21 possible points. On Tuesday, the Americans defeated Team Sweden in overtime. 4-3. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg netted the winning goal for Team USA at 1:37 of OT.

Top 2023 NHL Entry Draft prospect Leo Carlsson scored twice for Tre Kronor in a losing cause. The latter started a comeback from a 3-1 deficit in the third period before Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Timothy Liljegren tallied the tying goal at 17:29 of the third period. Back in the first period, Carlsson opened the scoring with a 5-on-3 power play goal at 9:10.

Coming off a four-point (3g, 1a) performance against France on Sunday, Flyers prospect Cutter Gauthier assisted on a Nick Bonino power play goal that knotted the score at 1-1 in the latter stages of the first period (16:49). The Americans scored two unanswered goals in the second period, as tallies by Vancouver Canucks forward Conor Garland and Montreal Canadiens defense prospect Lane Hutson opened a 3-1 lead that Team USA took into the third period before Tre Kronor's late comeback.

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith earned the win with 23 saves on 26 shots. Veteran Frölunda netminder Lars Johansson took the loss despite 39 saves on 42 shots.

Gauthier skated 16:58 of ice time and, along with Garland, recorded a game-high six shots on goal (third time in the tournament that Gauthier had led or tied for the most shots in a game).
Ronnie Attard, who has been scratched in three of the last four games for the Americans did not dress in this game.

2) Flyers center Scott Laughton notched a pair of assists on Tuesday as Team Canada closed out a somewhat disappointing round robin in Group B with a 3-1 win over Czechia (Czech Republic) on Tuesday. At 4:09 of the third period Laughton got the secondary helper on a Tyler Myers goal that proved to be the game winner. Later, Laughton got the lone assist on a Lawson Crouse empty netter that sealed the victory.

Peyton Krebs opened the scoring with a power play marker in the final minute of the first period. Martin Kaut made it 1-1 at 2:06 of the middle frame. That's where the score stayed until the Canadiens went ahead for good in the third period.

Karel Vejmelka gave his team every chance to stay in the game, stopping 41 of 43 shots before being pulled for an extra attacker. Samuel Montembeault saw only 17 shots at the other end of the ice, stopping 16.

Canada took second place in Group B, posting a 5-1-1 record and 15 of 21 possible points. Switzerland, undefeated heading into a game today against Latvia, will take first place in the pool regardless of the outcome of their game.

Czechia will play in the medal round quarterfinal against Team USA. The Canadians will play Finland in the single-elimination medal round opener on Thursday.

3) Tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET on YouTube, the Flyers will launch a new offseason web series called "Liftoff:Embarking on a New Era of Flyers Hockey". The multi-episode digital series will chronicle the Philadelphia Flyers offseason, starting with the introduction of President of Hockey Operations Keith Jones and General Manager Daniel Briere, who join the organization’s senior leadership team along with Head Coach John Tortorella, Chairman and CEO of Comcast Spectacor and Flyers Governor Dan Hilferty, and President and CEO of Spectacor Sports and Entertainment Valerie Camillo.

Liftoff will chronicle key upcoming events such as the 2023 NHL Draft and free agency, and will culminate with the Flyers’ 2023 Development Camp. The docuseries will be produced by the Philadelphia Flyers’ in-house video content shop, On The Fly Productions.

4) Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period tweeted today that the NHL will host two Stadium Series games in Feb. 24 at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ. One game will pit the Flyers against the New Jersey Devils while the other will feature the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders.

5) Today in Flyers History: May 23, 1997

One of the most memorable games on the Philadelphia Flyers' road to the 1997 Stanley Cup Final was Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers. Entering the match with a two games to one lead, the Flyers had an opportunity to put a stranglehold on the series if they could defeat the Rangers for a second time at Madison Square Garden.

Playing through a foot injury that hampered him for the remainder of the playoffs, Legion of Doom right winger Mikael Renberg was moved to Rod Brind'Amour's line during the series while 18-year-old rookie Dainius Zubrus moved up to play with Eric Lindros and John LeClair.

At 7:08 of the first period, Renberg gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead on a power play tally as he scored from close range a split second before he was leveled by a cross-check by Rangers defenseman Jeff Beukeboom. The Beukeboom cross-check touched off a scrum and offsetting penalties but the goal had already been scored.

The Flyers' skinny 1-0 lead held until the third period when veteran Esa Tikkanen finally solved Ron Hextall (31 saves) to knot the game. Turnabout was fair play as Flyers checking line forward struck for a shorthanded goal off his own initial rebound to put the Flyers ahead again, 2-1, with 3:13 remaining in regulation. A little more than a minute later, veteran Rangers blueline superstar Brian Leetch forged a 2-2 tie with 2:08 on the clock as he found a wide open lane to the net, took a centering pass from Wayne Gretzky and beat Hextall.

On the next shift, Beukeboom's careless use of the stick resulted in him clipping and cutting LeClair in the face behind the Rangers' net. The Flyers received a four-minute power play. With time in regulation ticking down below 10 seconds, Brind'Amour got the puck and sent it toward the net to LeClair. In too close to Richter to do much if he tried to shoot the puck, LeClair transferred the puck from his skate to his stick and slid the puck cross ice toward the left circle, where Lindros received it. With Richter overcommitted to the other side, the Flyers captain put a quick backhander toward --- and into the back of - the half-vacant need ahead of Richter's desperate feet-first lunge.

With 6.8 seconds left in regulation, the Flyers now held a 3-2 lead. Still shorthanded, the Rangers put goaltender Richter on the bench in favor of an extra attacker to make it 5-on-5 manpower. On the ensuing center ice faceoff, Joel Otto tied up Mark Messier. By the time the Rangers got the puck and dumped into the Flyers' defensive left corner, the final buzzer sounded.

The Flyers would go on to eliminate the Rangers in Game 5 in Philadelphia to capture the Prince of Wales Trophy as Eastern Conference champions. During their playoff meetings in the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals and the 1997 Eastern Conference Final, the Flyers compiled an 8-1 record against the Rangers, although many of the games in the two series were close ones that were up for grabs late in regulation or into overtime.

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