Flyers

Best of NHL: Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets smother Sabres

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Best of NHL: Bobrovsky, Blue Jackets smother Sabres

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Seth Jones had a goal and an assist for Columbus to help the Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Serge Bobrovsky stopped 34 of 35 shots to lead Columbus (6-3-0) to its fifth win in its last seven games.

Buffalo dropped to 3-6-2 in front of goalie Chad Johnson, who stopped 33 of 38 shots.

The Jackets power play had been an anemic 2-for-20, but got a goal at 12:00 of the first period after Zach Redmond's hooking call. Oliver Bjorkstrand whipped his second goal of the season past Johnson off an around-the-horn pass from Jones to Sonny Milano, and a picture perfect screen by Boone Jenner.

The game became a defensive battle between goalies until the second period when quick puck movement on a rush by Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Atkinson set up a trailing Jones, who scored his second goal of the season at 15:20. The Jackets struck again at 17:38 when Jack Jackson's shot bounced off Johnson, right toward a driving Nick Foligno, who dribbled it into the net. It was the third goal of the season for Foligno, who was moved up this game to center the first line, and it paid off.

Blues ride power play to win over Flames
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz and Alex Pietrangelo scored second-period power-play goals and Jake Allen made 23 saves to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Calgary Flames 5-2 on Wednesday night.

St. Louis has won three of its last four, losing only to red-hot Las Vegas in overtime.

Calgary had won its first four road games this season. Mikael Backlund scored twice for the Flames.

Schwartz and Pietrangelo scored in a span of 2:46 to break a 1-1 tie. The Blues had come up empty on their previous 18 power-play chances.

Alexander Steen added a goal and three assists for the Blues. It was his first points of the season after missing the first six games with a broken thumb.

Paul Stastny scored with 3:32 left to push the lead to 4-2. Joel Edmundson added an empty-net goal with 43.9 seconds left. 

Playing through pain, Provorov and Couturier give Flyers all they've got

Playing through pain, Provorov and Couturier give Flyers all they've got

BOX SCORE

You could see the tears that had formed in Ivan Provorov’s eyes.

Whether it was the product of elimination, a turnover that led to the Penguins' go-ahead goal, the sheer emotion of playing on a shoulder that may need offseason surgery or the tribulations of a six-month journey, no 21-year-old kid can be expected to overcome these levels of distress and anguish.

“I did everything I could. The third period didn’t go as well as I wanted to. I turned the puck over a couple of times and it turned to goals and it cost us the game,” Provorov said while holding back emotions. “As long as my arm was attached I was playing.”

How Provorov mustered up the strength to play 20-and-a-half minutes in his final game of the season, an 8-5 loss to the Penguins, probably defied medical logic. His left shoulder was so battered from crashing into the boards in the final few minutes of Game 5 that his upper body was often contorted to a 45-degree angle where his only option was to pass just about every time the puck was on his stick, even with a wide open net to shoot at. 

 “He is a warrior,” said defenseman Andrew MacDonald. “Everyone here knows it and respects the hell out of him.”

Had this been the regular season, Provorov and teammate Sean Couturier would have missed weeks of action. Couturier revealed he suffered a torn medial collateral ligament when he collided with Radko Gudas leading up to Game 4. Last Wednesday the Flyers' center could barely walk and yet he was already skating again.

“The decision was on me,” Couturier said, “Obviously, I had the support of the staff, the organization and the medical team. They helped me a lot. I had a lot of treatments. It definitely got better over the days, but it wasn’t the ideal situation. I didn’t really feel a whole lot today to be honest. I was just giving everything I got.”

Courageous and so incredibly determined, Couturier gave a performance for the ages. Skating on one good leg and another that needs at least four weeks of rest and treatment, the Flyers' Selke Trophy finalist scored a hat trick to go along with five points, and was on the ice for every goal the Flyers scored.

"Credit to Coots, what he played through during the playoffs and the way he played,” Scott Laughton said. “I don’t know much more to say about that guy. The way he battled and the way he played through what he was dealing with.”

The Penguins had their share of injuries as well. Evgeni Malkin missed Game 6 with a leg injury and Patric Hornqvist returned after missing the previous two contests. Even without Malkin, the Penguins had four goals from Jake Guentzel, plus they created havoc and stifled the Flyers with a suffocating forecheck that exposed areas the Flyers need to address in the offseason.

“You have to do it all the time and you have to be consistent in executing under pressure,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “We didn’t do that consistently in this series, not just tonight. That’s the time of year that it is.”    

Overall, the Flyers weren’t eliminated in six games because they didn’t have a healthy Couturier and Provorov. 

Rather, the dogged determination and incredible resolve of those two players is precisely why the Flyers can take pride in pushing the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions to six games, especially after the Flyers were manhandled 7-0 in Game 1.

In the end, the guys in orange and black simply weren’t good enough or deep enough. 

But draft and develop a few more Couturiers and Provorovs on your roster and the thought of winning championships year after year won’t just be a Pittsburgh thing.   

Sean Couturier played through torn MCL in Flyers' final 2 games

Sean Couturier played through torn MCL in Flyers' final 2 games

Sean Couturier's "lower-body" injury was a lot more serious than originally believed.

After the Flyers were eliminated by the Penguins in Game 6 Sunday (see observations), Couturier revealed he had been playing on a torn MCL in his right knee. It will not require surgery, he said.

Couturier missed just one game with the injury. When asked if he'd come back as fast if it were the regular season, the centerman said, "probably not."

"It's usually something like four weeks," he said. "Depends on the situation during the season, [but] probably take more time off."

The Flyers' top center suffered the injury in a collision with teammate Radko Gudas during practice April 17. He missed Game 4 and then returned for Game 5 in Pittsburgh, where he scored the game-winning goal to help the Flyers force Game 6.

On Sunday afternoon, Couturier recorded his second career playoff hat trick — both coming against the Penguins — and had five total points in the Flyers' 8-5 loss.

"That was incredible," Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald said. "If you guys only knew what kind of shape those guys were in. I respect the hell out of those guys."

It turns out, we found out exactly what kind of shape Couturier was in, and it certainly was far more serious than we thought.

NBC Sports Philadelphia's Eric Mullin contributed to this story.