Flyers bit by own-goals, bad breaks in shootout loss to Avalanche

Flyers bit by own-goals, bad breaks in shootout loss to Avalanche


Now that we’ve all turned back the clock around the house Sunday morning, why not do the same with the Flyers' home portion of their schedule.

Following the Flyers' 5-4 shootout loss Saturday night to the Colorado Avalanche, how far should we go back to find the last time they actually took a lead into the third period?

Try Oct. 17, a 5-1 win over the Florida Panthers. Since that shellacking, the Flyers have played 309 minutes and 45 seconds on home ice and in that span, they've held a lead for 52 minutes and 46 seconds, or approximately 17 percent of the time.

Last Monday, against Arizona, the Flyers dug themselves out of a 3-0 hole before losing in overtime. On Saturday night, against Colorado, they had to battle back from three different one-goal deficits to earn a point.

Sure, no lead is safe when playing the Flyers, but playing without a lead, rarely, if ever, results in a positive outcome.

When Claude Giroux scored a power-play goal at the 6:31 mark of the second period, which gave the Flyers a 2-1 advantage, it appeared the Flyers were on the verge of erasing some past failures. Seven minutes later, the Flyers' power-play unit was given a golden opportunity to extend that lead, and even better, take a lead into the third period, where they’re a perfect 6-0-0 this season.

Only this time, their equipment got in the way. 

Blake Comeau's shorthanded goal went off Ivan Provorov's skate and deflected perfectly into the top-right corner of the net, which tied the game at two. Nothing Michal Neuvirth could have done about that goal.

Moments later, Travis Sanheim was whistled for hooking that gave Colorado a power play. On the ensuing man advantage, the player the Avalanche took advantage of this time was Robert Hagg. From behind the Flyers' goal line, Mikko Rantanen banked a pass off Hagg's stick and into the back of the net. Once again, nothing Neuvirth could do about that, either. 

"I was not happy, I'll tell you," Hagg said. "But it was a bad bounce, there's not much I can do. If I'm not there, it's a tap-in for the guy on the back door, but hopefully, I can keep the puck out of the net next time."

"I don't even know what to say about those," Travis Konecny said. "That's just the way hockey is. You can't do anything about those. That's just the way bounces go sometimes. It's a tough one to lose. We had a lot of good opportunities out there. It's still sinking in right now."

A skate, a stick and eventually, another lost point on home ice, where the Flyers now have dropped four of their past five and have earned just four out of a possible 10 points.

For the most part, the Flyers can look at the overall picture and feel they've outplayed their opponents — they just haven't outscored them.

"It doesn't feel very good, losing a point at home," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "If you're asking what the feeling is, that's what it is — doesn't feel very good."

When asked if the team is better than the record indicates, Jakub Voracek quipped, "I think so. We've played tough teams, tough buildings. We've played a lot of good games, but in the end, it has to show up on the scoresheet."

The Flyers' record stands at 7-6-2 and just 3-2-2 at the Wells Fargo Center. Not only are points hard to come by, but so are days off. They just wrapped up a stretch of six games over a span of 10 days.

"I think it will be good for us to get some rest," Provorov said. "We've played a lot of games in a short amount of time. We'll get some rest and work on a lot of things during practice and then we'll get better."

"Playing back-to-back in Chicago and St. Louis and playing here," Claude Giroux, who scored his eighth goal of the season, said, "a little time off will be good for us. Not just physically but mentally. When we come back to work (Thursday against Chicago), we need to keep doing what we're doing."

Except for that one part where the Flyers can’t seem to play with a lead on home ice.

Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

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Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Matt Niskanen scored as the Washington Capitals swept a home-and-home set against the skidding New York Islanders with a 6-3 win on Friday night.

Alex Chiasson had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who hammered the Islanders 7-3 in New York on Thursday. Jakub Vrana's goal gave Washington a 5-1 lead with 9:04 remaining. Lars Eller added an empty-netter, and Braden Holtby made 22 saves.

Washington broke a tie with the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals' four-game winning streak is their longest since taking five in a row from Dec. 28 to Jan. 9.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington's second-leading scorer, left in the second period and did not return after sustaining an upper-body injury, according to the team.

Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and John Tavares scored for the Islanders, who have lost 10 of 11 (see full recap).

Hoffman lifts Senators over Stars in OT
OTTAWA, Ontario — Mike Hoffman scored at 3:26 of overtime and the Ottawa Senators beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night to win their third game in a row for just the second time this season.

Ottawa won on home ice for the first time since Feb. 17.

Marian Gaborik and Matt Duchene also scored for the Senators (26-33-11), and Craig Anderson made 23 saves.

Tyler Seguin and Tyler Pitlick had the goals for the Stars (38-26-8). Ben Bishop, who stopped 22 shots, made his first start since missing five games with a knee injury sustained March 5 against the Senators. Bishop has a 9-0-4 career record against Ottawa.

Dallas has lost four straight, its longest skid of the season (see full recap).

Predators rally past Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Nashville Predators keep rolling toward the best regular season in franchise history.

Kevin Fiala and Kyle Turris each had a goal and assist in the third period, leading Nashville to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. Ryan Ellis also scored to help the Western Conference-leading Predators get their 21st road win of the season and improve to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games overall. Pekka Rinne finished with 32 saves.

Nashville, which reached the Stanley Cup Final a year ago after earning the second wild card in the West, has 102 points through 70 games, and needs nine more in its final 12 games to set a new franchise record (see full recap).

Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

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Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

Lost amid the Flyers’ 5-3 defeat at the hands Blue Jackets on Thursday was yet another stellar relief appearance in goal from Alex Lyon.

Lyon was sensational after replacing Petr Mrazek between the pipes early in the second period, stopping all 18 shots that came his way. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol praised the rookie netminder for giving his team an opportunity to come from behind.

“He’s a battler, and that’s what we asked from him last night going into that situation,” Hakstol said following Friday’s practice.

“You need to have a mindset of going in there and absolutely slamming the door to give your team a chance to win. In order to do that, you have to have a real battling mentality, and I thought he had that right from when he stepped in the net.”

Success in a sort of stopper role has become increasingly commonplace for Lyon since joining the Flyers.

Lyon came off the bench to make five saves during the final eight minutes of a 5-3 loss to the Capitals in his January debut. The 25-year-old later earned his first NHL win against the Rangers in February, blocking 25 of 26 shots over the second and third periods to help procure a 7-4 victory.

His play has been on the rise ever since. Lyon appears to be improving with experience, posting a 2-1-0 record with a .939 save percentage in his last four games.

“I don’t know if I’d say confidence so much as comfortability,” Lyon said of his growth. “I think I always had the confidence in myself that I could do it. It’s just you have to get comfortable enough to kind of believe that.”

He shined as a substitute goaltender all along. Including his performance against the Blue Jackets, Lyon has amassed a .980 save percentage in three relief appearances — a number emblematic of his season.

Lyon began 2017-18 as the emergency-goalie-in-waiting at Lehigh Valley. He earned the call-up to the Flyers’ main roster after the injury to Brian Elliott, then saw an uptick in ice time due to Michal Neuvirth’s subsequent maladies.

The club traded for Petr Mrazek after Neuvirth went down, but Lyon still finds himself in the mix. He’s expected to start against the Hurricanes on Saturday — a pivotal contest for the Flyers’ bid to make the playoffs.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Lyon said. “This is what you think about when you’re a little kid.

“It’s not quite the same, but down in Allentown we were in a pretty hot playoff race last year and always at the top of the standings, so I’m going to draw on my past experiences.”

Elliott returned to the ice this week and could be back in uniform soon, at which time Lyon will be sent back to the minor leagues. But if the Flyers do manage to reach the postseason, his fill-in contributions will have played a big part.

Perhaps Lyon will even warrant a closer look for a full-time spot on the Flyers’ roster next season.