Flyers

Flyers-Avalanche observations: A warrior mentality not enough in shootout loss

Flyers-Avalanche observations: A warrior mentality not enough in shootout loss

BOX SCORE

The Flyers erased three different deficits but couldn't come up with the game-winner Saturday night as the Colorado Avalanche won, 5-4, in a shootout at the Wells Fargo Center.

Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon scored for Colorado in the shootout as the Avs scored twice in the three-round shootout. Jordan Weal was the lone Flyer to convert.

The Flyers controlled much of the play during overtime, outshooting the Avs, 6-5, but couldn't convert their one golden opportunity when Travis Konecny broke in all alone on Semyon Varlamov only to fire wide.

• At one point, every line was buzzing in the third period. The third line chipped in with a goal with a beautiful give-and-go between Dale Weise and Jordan Weal. Weal did much of the work, as he stick-handled the puck from behind his net and somehow his backhanded pass made its way through three Colorado sticks right to Weise, who was standing in the slot and fired a one-timer past Varlamov.

• A minute after the Flyers tied it at four, Shayne Gostisbehere may have had his worst play of the season when he turned the puck over as Matt Duchene stripped him from behind and fed Nail Yakupov, who then beat Michal Neuvirth's five-hole, a shot Neuvirth certainly should have stopped.

• Voracek got just enough of a rebound with a one-handed poke at the puck that practically traveled parallel to the goal line. The puck ricocheted off the inside of the post and past the line for the Flyers' first goal of the third period.

• Michael Raffl couldn't have had a better, closer look at his first goal and his first point of the season. Raffl was front and center in front of the crease when he took a centering pass and somehow fired a shot wide right. You have to think Raffl is growing impatient playing on that fourth line with Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier that's had some early-season success.

• After the Flyers' second power-play unit got a little overaggressive, it led to an Avalanche 3-on-2 break. Colorado's Blake Comeau was attempting to shoot low for a rebound, but his shorthanded goal hit the skate of Ivan Provorov, ramped up and found the top-right corner that Neuvirth had no chance at stopping. A lucky break for Comeau, a bad one for Neuvirth.

• Less than a minute later, Colorado capitalized with its other special-teams unit. The Avalanche's power play got on the board when Rantanen attempted a centering pass and with Robert Hagg dropping to his knee to block the pass. Rantanen instead banked the puck off Hagg's stick and into the net to give the Avs two goals in a span of 43 seconds. Just a pair of bad luck goals.

• In the second period, Konecny had a 2-on-1, where the pass was taken away and he should have taken the shot. On the same shift, Konecny, determined to get the puck to Valtteri Filppula, fired a perfect seed from below the goal line to Filppula, who poked it past Varlamov for the Flyers' first goal.

• The Flyers really needed to get Gostisbehere back on the power play, and it paid dividends on their first opportunity in the second period, when "Ghost" cranked up a big-time blast from between the circles. His shot was low enough that it led to an even bigger rebound, which Claude Giroux quickly put back in for a goal, as Varlamov wasn't in position to make the save.

• Giroux already has eight goals this season, which is more than halfway to his total of 14 from last season. He didn't score his eighth goal until Dec. 8, 2016, in the 2016-17 campaign.

• Mark Alt has been solid in the three games he’s played thus far for the Flyers. However, he had one pass that got away from him Saturday. Erik Johnson intercepted Alt’s cross-ice pass in the second period, skating in and getting off a big slap shot on Neuvirth. Perhaps Alt’s biggest mistake since his call-up.

• Neuvirth can thank the top-left part of his sweater for getting just enough of Sven Andrighetto’s wrist shot that bounced off his shoulder, veered to Neuvirth’s left and caught the post for Colorado’s best scoring chance in the second period. One of three Colorado shots that hit the iron through two periods.

• All the Flyers needed to do to get out of the first period scoreless was win the faceoff with nine seconds remaining. Instead, MacKinnon beat Sean Couturier and then it was MacKinnon who had a beautiful backhand-feed to a wide-open Duchene to his right for a wide-open goal with 1.9 seconds remaining in the opening period. A rare example of how important last-second faceoffs can make a difference.

• Of the four minor penalties in the first period, three of those were slashing calls. Flyers forward Dale Weise was guilty of one of those. Weise now has three slashing penalties in 12 games played. That’s one shy of the NHL lead. 

• Yakupov may not be the complete package deserving of being the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 draft, but he still possesses some breakaway speed. Yakupov wheeled completely around Hagg and cut in front of Neuvirth for the scoring chance. A backchecking Scott Laughton slashed Yakupov in an attempt to separate Yakupov from the puck. This penalty led to Colorado's power-play goal.

• Midway through the first period, the Flyers saw some poor, sloppy passing in their defensive end, which allowed the Avalanche to get some shots and chances on Neuvirth, who reserved his best save against Johnson. Johnson fired top right and Neuvirth made a lightning-quick reflex with his glove to make the save.

• With a handful of players dealing with flu-like symptoms, the Avalanche elected to play with seven defensemen and 11 forwards.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt

Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratched: Nolan Patrick (upper-body), Matt Read (healthy), Radko Gudas (upper-body), Will O'Neill (healthy)

Best of NHL: Johnny Gaudreau extends point streak to 10 games

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Best of NHL: Johnny Gaudreau extends point streak to 10 games

WASHINGTON -- Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist to extend his career-best point streak to 10 games and the Calgary Flames beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Monday night.

Gaudreau scored and assisted on Sean Monahan's goal, one of two on the power play for Calgary, which has won four of its past five. Mikael Backlund and captain Mark Giordano also scored for the Flames, who got 29 saves from Mike Smith.

Gaudreau, nicknamed "Johnny Hockey," has eight goals and 11 assists during his point streak. Led by the Carneys Point, New Jersey, native, the Flames are 7-3-0 in that time.

Lars Eller scored the only goal for the Capitals, who took five minor penalties and lost for the third time in four games. Braden Holtby allowed four goals on 39 shots.

The Flames came in feeling good after a comeback victory in Philadelphia and a 1950s-themed train ride to Washington. But the Capitals took a 1-0 lead just 62 seconds in when Jakub Vrana found Eller for his fourth goal of the season.

Calgary controlled much of the play from that point on, tying it on Gaudreau's goal 4:49 in and taking a lead on Monahan's power-play goal 5:22 into the second. Monahan had a goal and an assist after a power-play hat trick Saturday against the Flyers.

Washington's parade to the penalty box gave the Flames momentum and then their third goal at 4:38 of the second when Backlund buried a loose puck. Giordano's goal to make it 4-1 was effectively a third power-play goal as it came 1 second after ex-Flames forward Alex Chiasson's penalty expired (see full recap).

Blue Jackets edge Sabres for 4th straight win
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sergei Bobrovsky made three of his 30 saves on a power play in the final two minutes, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Boone Jenner scored for the Blue Jackets. Markus Nutivaara had two assists.

Buffalo dropped its sixth straight game. Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres, and Robin Lehner stopped 25 shots.

Bobrovsky made his biggest save when he slid across the crease to kick away a Ryan O'Reilly one-timer with 1:49 remaining. Bobrovsky got a piece of Kyle Okposo's shot off the rebound and the puck trickled across the goal line while Okposo fell into the net. Officials determined on replay that the goal did not count.

The Blue Jackets scored first for the fifth straight game when Dubois collected a loose puck in the slot and lifted a wrist shot over Lehner four minutes into the second period. Oliver Bjorkstrand set up Dubois' third goal of the season with a pass from behind the net.

Panarin scored his fifth on a high wrist shot from the right circle 5:47 into the third. Jenner added his third goal of the year on a play in front of the net midway through the period (see full recap).

Raanta, Coyotes end Maple Leafs' win streak
TORONTO -- Antti Raanta made 26 saves and the Arizona Coyotes ended the Toronto Maple Leafs' winning streak at six games with a 4-1 victory Monday night.

Brendan Perlini, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi and Tobias Rieder scored for the Coyotes (5-15-3), who have won three in a row for the first time this season.

Arizona rookie Clayton Keller had two assists to give him 20 points in 23 games.

James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs (14-8-0).

Frederik Andersen had his shutout streak snapped at 1:41:28 when the Coyotes scored in the first period. Andersen, who made 28 saves, had blanked the opponent in back-to-back games.

Toronto star Auston Matthews, playing in his 100th career game, appeared to tie it 2-all with 3:50 to play but the goal was overturned after a replay review because of goalie interference by Zach Hyman (see full recap).

Wayne Simmonds issues timely reminder about Flyers

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Wayne Simmonds issues timely reminder about Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Wayne Simmonds would make a pretty good salesman.

He speaks with conviction and knows how to convey a point.

On Monday, he was selling the 2017-18 Flyers.

None of it was fluff. In fact, the sales pitch was completely valid.

Many clamored for the Flyers to become younger, and they did. Nolan Patrick, 19, is just getting healthy again after missing nine straight games. The fourth line features two 23-year-olds (Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier) that developed last season in the AHL. And half of the current defense is made up of rookies.

That's not to mention Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov are only 20 years old, while Jordan Weal is in his first full NHL season.

After losing four straight games, the Flyers are 8-8-4 and still only five points out of first place despite sitting in last in the Metropolitan Division.

Things could be worse. Really, they're not all that bad.

"The season's not even close to being over," Simmonds said after practice at Flyers Skate Zone. "That's the way I'm thinking about it, guys. There's no need to be worried, we're a .500 hockey team right now, we've played 20 games, we have 62 games left, we've got a really young team and we're growing every single day. Yeah, we're going to have our struggles, but we're also going to have points in the season where we make huge strides. We've got to stick with it and we've got to keep going and going."

The Flyers were 9-8-3 after 20 games last season. Two games later, they were starting a 10-game winning streak. The run didn't accomplish much by season's end, but it's an example of how quickly trends can turn in the NHL.

Simmonds is experiencing his own negative trend of 12 straight games without a goal after scoring six in eight games to start the season.

"Sometimes you score 10 goals, then you don't score again for 20 games or something like that," Simmonds said. "Like I said, it's a long year, you keep going, you keep grinding, you guys want to jump to conclusions, that's your job. You guys have got to make decisions on a game-to-game basis, but for us, we just have to make sure we're coming to the rink and doing our job every single day and continuing to try and get better."

Throughout much of his drought, Simmonds has not looked himself, likely banged up from the style in which he plays and excels.

With time and patience, Simmonds is building himself up again physically.

"You think you can do some things and sometimes your body just tells you no," Simmonds said.

"I've been feeling better the last little bit. I feel like I've started to play better, things aren't coming offensively for me. I think as an individual, I've just got to keep working hard. The only way to break yourself out of a bad streak is to continue to work hard and hopefully things eventually go your way."

When does he know his game is coming to him?

"When I'm aggressive," Simmonds said. "When I'm battling in the corners, I'm hitting — I think earlier this year, I wasn't fully engaging in battles and stuff like that, and that's not me, that's not my game. I think the last little bit here, I've felt a lot better, I've been doing a lot more battling, a lot more hitting, a lot more physical things. It's nice and we've got to continue that. As a team, we've got to continue to do the same thing, to get to the front of the net and continue to put pucks in."

Aside from the first line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, scoring struggles have permeated the middle six and secondary options. Konecny and Weal, two players the Flyers expected jumps from in production, have combined for four goals and nine assists. Konecny is without a goal over his previous 10 games, while Weal has scored one in his last 12.

"It's been a lot of hard work and not much to show for it," Weal said. "No matter what line we've been on, it seems like we've been getting three or four chances every game to put something in and nothing right now seems to be going in. It's one of those things that happens during a season.

"When it breaks open, hopefully it'll break wide open.

"When we have all four lines scoring, we're a really dangerous team."

Both Konecny and Weal are frequently the last two players off the practice ice.

Monday was no different.

"I just need to make sure I'm battling and creating more offense," Konecny said. "I feel like the opportunities are there, I'm not worried about that."

Nor is Simmonds worried about the Flyers with 62 games to go, the next coming Tuesday night at home against the Canucks.

Similar to building up strength and good health, patience is important to a season, especially with the makeup of this Flyers team.

Simmonds believes you'll buy in … just give it some time.

"You can look at the standings, you can do whatever you want, but we've played 20 games," Simmonds said. "There's still a long time to go in the season. We've got work to do.

"I'm definitely feeling better. It's up to me to get going."

When he does, the Flyers hope the rest follow.