Flyers

Best of NHL: Brayden Schenn stays hot in Blues' shutout

uspresswire-blues-brayden-schenn.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Brayden Schenn stays hot in Blues' shutout

ST. LOUIS -- Jake Allen made 29 saves, Brayden Schenn continued his red-hot play and the St. Louis Blues beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night.

Schenn got his team-leading 14th goal two days after netting a hat trick against Montreal. Colton Parayko and Vladimir Tarasenko also scored.

Allen got his first shutout of the season and the 16th of his career. He was briefly backed up by local vending machine worker Tyler Stewart after regular backup Carter Hutton was injured at the morning skate.

Dallas has lost two in a row since a season-high five game winning streak. Kari Lehtonen stopped 24 shots.

The Blues scored twice on the power play after connecting on just 2 of 17 chances in their previous four games. Schenn, acquired in an offseason trade with Philadelphia, pounced on a rebound from close range midway through the first period for a 1-0 lead.

Parayko blasted a shot from the just inside the blue line that eluded Lehtonen in the second period.

Tarasenko scored into an empty net with 47.6 seconds left, ending a six-game scoreless streak (see full recap).

Hunwick gives Penguins OT win over Islanders
PITTSBURGH -- Matt Hunwick scored 1:29 into overtime, lifting the Pittsburgh Penguins over the New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night.

Pittsburgh led 3-1 in the third period, but the Islanders tied it with goals in the final 4:53. Hunwick ended the game with his third of the season by pushing one in during a scramble in front of the net.

Phil Kessel got his team-leading 14th goal on a power play, and Jake Guentzel and Riley Sheahan also scored for Pittsburgh. Rookie Tristan Jarry made 23 saves. Pittsburgh has won five of six since a three-game losing streak.

Jordan Eberle got his 12th goal for New York, and Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson each got their eighth in the third period. Nelson tied it with 1:10 left. Jaroslav Halak stopped 28 shots.

New York has lost three of four since a four-game winning streak (see full recap).

Backes, Bruins stomp lowly Coyotes
BOSTON -- David Backes scored his first two goals of the season, helping the Boston Bruins beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-1 on Thursday night.

It was Backes' fourth game back after he missed 12 straight following surgery to remove part of his colon. The veteran forward scored his first goal with Boston on a tip-in 13:54 into the second period and then added another goal with 54 seconds left in the period.

Brad Marchand scored 15 seconds into the game for the Bruins, who won for the seventh time in nine games. David Krejci, Danton Heinen and Anders Bjork also scored, and Tuukka Rask made 20 saves.

Christian Dvorak had an unassisted goal for Arizona, and Scott Wedgewood made 25 saves.

Backes, the former St. Louis captain who signed with Boston as an unrestricted free agent in July, was expected to miss up to eight weeks following his surgery on Nov. 2 to relieve inflammation caused by diverticulitis. He returned to the Bruins on Nov. 29 and got his 500th career point Monday with an assist during a loss at Nashville (see full recap).

Ding dong, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is gone

Ding dong, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is gone

Michal Neuvirth stood by his locker Wednesday night dejected, like the rest of his teammates, after the Flyers’ latest blunder, an embarrassing 5-0 loss on home ice to the Penguins in Game 4.

The Flyers are on the brink of elimination to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, and Wednesday's defeat was the latest reminder of their current state of affairs.

"Definitely good to get in the mix," said Neuvirth, who replaced Brian Elliott in the second period for his first game action since March 28. "But tough outcome tonight. We lost it to a better team tonight."

With that, Neuvirth perfectly encapsulated exactly where the Flyers stand in this first-round playoff series with Pittsburgh. It's definitely good to be in the mix, and they lost to the better team.

We've heard that before and we'll hear it again, but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. This Flyers team isn't quite there yet, to compete with the Penguins or in the playoffs.

There are encouraging signs. The postseason experience will pay off in the long run — it's better than not being there. Nolan Patrick, 19, has perhaps been the Flyers' most consistent forward in the series. He was the only player who competed Wednesday.

But goaltending remains an eyesore and rookie mistakes are consistently being made by veterans, and some appear immune to accountability. Game 4 was as ugly as it gets (see story), and that's counting a series that included a 7-0 loss in Game 1.

The Flyers were never really in Wednesday's game outside of about a two-minute stretch in the first period, when they were buzzing in the Pittsburgh zone until a Scott Laughton centering pass turned into a Penguins odd-man rush.

Bang, 2-0 Pittsburgh. Ballgame.

"From our standpoint," Dave Hakstol said, "we have to look from within. There's going to be momentum swings, there are going to be pushes, but we haven't been able to reestablish our game quick enough to give ourselves an opportunity."

Wednesday served as another grim reminder. This Flyers-Penguins rivalry, well, isn't much of a rivalry and hasn't been one in quite some time now.

Coming into this series, we heard the old storylines, about how much these two teams hate each other, how close games are, but the hate hasn't been there for a while and the games, they haven't been close, either.

The Penguins have dominated the Flyers, this season especially. With the 5-0 win Wednesday, the Pens have outscored the Flyers, 38-17, in eight total games and 20-4 in games played at the Wells Fargo Center.

The hype machine was on full blast and we all bought into it. It's the playoffs, different animal, but some things never change no matter the environment.

At some point, it's time to bury the hatchet.

It was fun while it lasted, but for now, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is no more.

Another home nightmare has Flyers walking the plank

Another home nightmare has Flyers walking the plank

BOX SCORE

After watching what transpired over the last two games, there’s a strong feeling the Flyers played their final game on South Broad Street this season.

And for those who forked over postseason prices for Stanley Cup Playoff hockey, those fans certainly didn’t receive face value for what they paid.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, the Flyers dropped Games 3 and 4 on home ice, and neither game was even remotely competitive. After the Flyers lost, 5-1, in Game 3, the Penguins dimmed the lights at the Wells Fargo Center and shut off any electricity the crowd was hoping to generate in Game 4 with a 5-0 shutout (see observations).

Simply put, the Flyers looked deflated and dejected knowing they would be forced to play without Sean Couturier, who was a game-time decision but officially ruled out 40 minutes before the opening faceoff.

“They came out hard,” Andrew MacDonald said. “We kind of looked a bit flustered and I don’t know if it was attributed to the lines or what, but it certainly wasn’t a great start for us.”

Whatever rivalry existed between the Flyers and Penguins coming into this season was hardly recognizable in the four games played in Philadelphia (two regular season, two playoff), where the home team was outscored 20-4 (see story).

Just the mere presence of the Penguins in this building is expected to bring out the best in the Flyers. Instead, we saw them at their worst, and nothing irks Flyers fans more than watching Sidney Crosby walk out of the City of Brotherly Love with six points and two victories in a pair of playoff games. 

“It’s disappointing,” Dave Hakstol said. “You take that upon yourself. Bluntly, we’re not happy about it. It wasn’t good enough.”

The Flyers may have fed off the home crowd for one period on Sunday afternoon, but even as they barraged the Penguins with constant pressure, they still found themselves down 1-0 after the opening 20 minutes. After a slew of penalties in the second period, the Flyers were never the same.

Disapproval poured down Wednesday when the Flyers flopped on their power play, which finished 0 for 10 in the two games on home ice, and the crowd of 19,644 booed unmercifully as the horn sounded after each period.

With the Wells Fargo Center half empty midway through the third period, the postseason frenzy felt more like a preseason yawner. 

“Fire Hakstol” chants could be heard from the upper deck — the first time that phrase echoed throughout the building since the 10-game winless streak in November.

Prior to this week, the lasting memory of a playoff series against Pittsburgh was Claude Giroux decking Crosby on the opening shift of Game 6 in 2012 and then proceeding to score the first goal as the Flyers eliminated their cross-state rival.

For whatever reason, the Flyers never evolved into a dominant team on home ice this season. The Flyers' 22 wins were the fewest of the 16 teams to reach the postseason and even three non-playoff teams finished with better records at home.  

At times, the Flyers played too cute or tried to execute too perfectly in their building, but in this series, it was just too ugly.

“Earn Tomorrow” was the Flyers' playoff slogan coming into this series.

After what the Wells Fargo Center witnessed this week, a chance at tomorrow may be too much to bear.