Flyers

Brian Elliott shows Flyers what he's made of

Brian Elliott shows Flyers what he's made of

Ivan Provorov barely had time to settle in after his backhanded clear went out of play untouched for a delay of game penalty. It put the Flyers down two men for one minute and 44 seconds late in the second period with a two-goal lead and momentum fizzling.

The Blackhawks won the faceoff, set up and found Patrick Kane, one of the most lethal passers in hockey, at the goal line to the left of Brian Elliott. Before the puck arrived, Kane knew what he was going to do: feed former Flyer Patrick Sharp on the backdoor.

There was one problem for Chicago. Elliott was one step ahead of Kane, as the Flyers’ goalie made a subtle poke check to prevent a goal and the Flyers escaped unharmed.

Perhaps it was the six seasons Elliott spent in the Western Conference or the five years with the Blues. Whatever the reason was, Elliott out-anticipated a Hart Trophy winner.

“You definitely pick up on stuff, tendencies and stuff like that,” Elliott said. “They could be saying the same thing about me. If they’re on the winning end, you’d be asking them those questions. You just try to better each other every night and we came out on top.”

On Thursday night, Elliott produced his best effort yet in orange and black, turning away 38 shots as the Flyers beat the Blackhawks, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Center (see story).

Elliott didn’t face much danger on the successful 5-on-3 kill, stopping the only shot he saw, a testament to the killers — specifically Robert Hagg, who logged a 2:12 shift that featured a big blocked shot. Shortly after Provorov exited the box, Elliott bailed out the Flyers once again. This time, it was a Brandon Saad breakaway with 22.9 seconds left.

Throughout, Elliott, whose unorthodox style, at times, is fundamentally a wreck to watch, was tracking pucks far greater than he has this season. He was patient in net, outwaiting Blackhawks shooters. He looked calm, and even when he didn’t, he looked in control.

There was a sequence during the third period in which Elliott staved off a shot that deflected twice. There was a sprawling stop on Richard Panik. He saw 16 pucks in the final stanza and answered each one. It was Elliott at his finest, and an Elliott that we hadn't seen in his first nine starts.

“I felt good out there,” Elliott said. “I thought we did a good job defensively to allow me to lock in on the puck, took away lanes, took away passes. That’s what you have to do against a team like that.”

Thursday was Elliott's second consecutive start against the Blackhawks after serving as the backup in the Flyers' previous two games. Elliott stopped 34 of 36 shots his last time out, a 3-0 loss in Chicago on Nov. 1.

In 10 games, Elliott is 6-3-1 with a 2.90 goals-against average and .903 save percentage. His 38-save effort Thursday brought his GAA below three for the third time this season — the first was after his second start and the other after his fifth.

Since allowing six goals against the Ducks on Oct. 24, Elliott has allowed just nine goals on 137 shots. He now has three straight 30-plus-save performances.

"You just want to keep getting more and more comfortable," Elliott said. "It's a process. It's not going to happen automatically. Sometimes you hit bumps in the road. You're only as good as your last game."

The Flyers are Elliott's third team in as many seasons. The 32-year-old signed a two-year contract with the Flyers on July 1 after spending the 2016-17 campaign in Calgary.

Last season with the Flames was a rollercoaster for Elliott. He had a 2.96 GAA and .889 save percentage after his first 20 games with Calgary, but he finished with a respectable 2.55 GAA and .910 save percentage.

This season hasn't been as lousy as his start last year, but it hasn't exactly been smooth. He's allowed six goals twice in 10 starts and has looked erratic at times. That's part of who he is as a goalie, though.

Elliott isn't fundamentally sound as a netminder. He has his own style and it can be cringeworthy. But throughout his career, he's proven to be a reliable goalie.

As part of a tandem with Michal Neuvirth, Elliott figures to give the Flyers two steady goaltenders. Through 16 games, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol has split it up 63/37 in Elliott's favor.

If Thursday's effort against Chicago is an indicator, Elliott's starting to find his footing with the Flyers and that is a welcomed sign.

"He's going to get better and better," Flyers center Sean Couturier said. "He's been pretty good so far this year. He's making the saves he needs to do to get the wins — that's what matters.

"He's probably getting more comfortable. You'd have to ask him. You're coming into a new town, new city, new team, you've got to get to know the guys, get to know the city. It's always a little change."

Flyers call up Danick Martel, Samuel Morin

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Flyers call up Danick Martel, Samuel Morin

Mired in a five-game losing streak and in last place in the Metropolitan Division, the Flyers on Wednesday recalled defenseman Samuel Morin and forward Danick Martel from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.

Both players are expected to be in the lineup Wednesday against the Islanders in New York. In corresponding moves, the Flyers sent forward Matt Read, who cleared waivers Tuesday, and defenseman Mark Alt to the Phantoms.

The 22-year-old Martel has been on fire with the Phantoms. He leads the AHL with 14 goals in 17 games this season, including a hat trick in the season opener to go along with a six-game scoring streak.

“He’s taken a step this year, for sure,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Tuesday. “He’s been a good player the last couple of years, but this year, he’s clearly taken a step. He’s a dangerous player when he’s on the ice. That’s a good thing. One game in Hershey he must have had six or seven chances. We’re happy with Danick.”

Morin started the season on the Flyers' roster and remained through their four-game road trip. He suffered an injury in an Oct. 28th game against Hartford and tried to play through it in the event he would be called up to rejoin the Flyers. Morin returned to the Phantoms' lineup last week.

“Mark has played well for us,” Hextall said before Tuesday's 5-2 loss to Vancouver. “We like Sam. We kept him on the opening road trip. People, I hope, know what we think of him. He certainly knows what we think of him and right now, he’s playing 20-plus minutes. That’s where he’s at.”

Wednesday’s game at the Barclays Center could mark the first time the Flyers have played much-heralded defensive prospects Travis Sanheim, Robert Hagg and Morin in the same regular season game.

“It’s certainly not a perfect world, but as you get injured, you say, we don’t live in a perfect world,” Hextall said. “Is it necessarily what we want? No, not really. We’ve got five young guys, two last year that are pretty big pieces. We’re pretty young right now with some pretty important players. In saying that if a young guy’s ready to play and he’s our best option then that’s what we’re going to go with.”

Best of NHL: Vladimir Tarasenko records 4 points as Blues rip Oilers

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Best of NHL: Vladimir Tarasenko records 4 points as Blues rip Oilers

ST. LOUIS -- Vladimir Tarasenko had two goals and two assists and got in a rare fight Tuesday night, helping the St. Louis Blues to an 8-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Brayden Schenn also had two goals and two assists, and Jake Allen stopped 26 shots for the NHL-leading Blues.

Tarasenko's fight came in the second period. In just the third scrap of his six-year career, Tarasenko tangled with Matt Benning and landed a solid right hand much to the crowd's delight.

Tarasenko was reacting to Benning's near-collision with Schenn that was almost a knee-on-knee hit.

It was Tarasenko's second career Gordie Howe hat trick -- a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game. The other one came on Nov. 13, 2014, against Nashville.

St. Louis (16-5-1) scored two goals in each of the first two periods before adding four in a wide-open third.

Tarasenko got his 11th goal 3:16 into the first period on two deflections. Shooting from the slot, he scored when his shot hit Connor McDavid's stick and then Adam Larsson's stick for a 1-0 lead.

Tarasenko has 14 points in his last 13 games (nine goals, five assists) against the Oilers (see full recap).

Stars rally for home win over Canadiens
DALLAS -- Devin Shore and Jason Spezza scored 59 seconds apart late in the second period to lift the Dallas Stars over the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Shore had no goals in the first 19 games this season, but scored for the second straight game to tie it 1-all at 18:22 of the second. Spezza, who also has scored in consecutive games after netting only one goal in the first 19, put in a rebound just less than a minute later.

Shore had an assist on Spezza's goal. So did Tyler Seguin, who scored into an empty net with 27 seconds to play.

Ben Bishop made 29 saves for Dallas on his 31st birthday. He allowed only a power-play goal by Brendan Gallagher at 12:04 of the second. Gallagher scored on a rebound after Charles Hudon sent a slap shot from the blue line.

After that, the Stars killed off all three Montreal power plays in the third period.

Canadiens goalie Charlie Lindgren had 26 saves.

Neither team scored in the first period. The best chance came with 2:15 remaining, when Mattias Janmark skated in alone on Lindgren, who stopped the shot with his glove and smothered the puck on the ice.

Montreal had a 4-on-3 power play to end the first period and start the second. The Stars killed off that penalty and finished 4 for 5 on the penalty kill.

The Canadiens had a scoring chance 4 minutes into the second when Brandon Davidson's wrist shot trickled past Bishop. Gemel Smith knocked the loose puck out of the crease for the Stars.

Gallagher had two close-in chances on rebounds after Hudon's shot and poked the second into the net for the game's first goal (see full recap).