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.

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway


NEW YORK — Flyers players lifted their massive equipment bags onto carts outside the visiting locker room of Madison Square Garden.

There wasn't much energy or zealousness to such a mundane task.

Shortly before doing so, the Flyers made skating in the world's most famous arena seem just as mundane, allowing the New York Rangers to turn Broadway into breakaway on Tuesday night to the tune of a 5-1 loss (see observations).

"We just made too many mistakes that cost us," Jakub Voracek said. "Four goals out of five came off our mistakes, so it's tough."

The Rangers, not once, but twice during the first period, bolted behind the Flyers' slow-reacting coverage for nothing but open ice and Brian Elliott to beat. On both occasions, New York scored easily and took control of the evening.

It was a full exploitation of a Flyers team that had won four straight but wasn't "engaged in this game enough," as head coach Dave Hakstol put it.

With the Flyers holding a 1-0 lead just over six minutes into the contest, Pavel Buchnevich fed a stretch pass to Rick Nash streaking up the middle of the ice, leaving defensemen Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning in the dust. Both the delivery from Buchnevich and the speed of Nash appeared to catch Gudas and Manning by surprise.

"The first one, probably a better read by me and Gudy," Manning said. "We talked before the game, we knew that's what they were going to do, they were going to try and stretch us out. That one we can probably eliminate."

The second was deflating in every way imaginable. As the Flyers sputtered through their first man advantage, a pass behind Jordan Weal bounced off the side boards and right to Peter Holland. With most of the Flyers' second power-play unit pinching on the attack, New York rushed up ice and beat Manning in retreat as Holland hit Paul Carey for a shorthanded marker.

Whatever life the Flyers still had, it was sucked out of them.

At the time, before it unfolded, they seemed to be in OK position. The Flyers were down, 2-1, but vying for an equalizer by turning to their power play, which had been 7 for 14 over the four-game winning streak. However, what transpired was New York taking a surprising 3-1 lead with 10 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

"Those are ones we can prevent," Hakstol said. "They're a good transition team, so when you give them opportunities, whether it's a turnover out of their defensive zone or a turnover entering the zone, they're a good transition team. But our awareness on those plays was not what it needs to be.

"I just thought in the first half of the game, in all the areas of the game that mattered, they were the quicker and hungrier team."

The Rangers showed it some more when they went on another semi-breakaway, this time midway through the second period for a 4-1 edge. Michael Grabner came swooping in to pick Voracek's pocket before quickly flicking a shot past Elliott, who watched another blue jersey barrel down untouched toward his crease.

"We put him in pretty tough spots tonight with the opportunities that we gave up in the first 30 minutes of the game," Hakstol said.

The goalie making his 18th start in the last 19 games still took blame.

"It's not the easiest way, but that's my job," Elliott, who was yanked ahead of the third period, said. "I didn't have them tonight. Go back to work and try to feel good about my game. That's not where I wanted to be tonight. I didn't really give ourselves a chance to win and I've got to own a lot of that."

Tuesday marked the Flyers' first outing against the Rangers this season.

Were they surprised by the opposition's transition game?

"No," Hakstol said.

Manning sounded like he will be far more ready when the Flyers come back to Madison Square Garden on Feb. 18 for the second of four meetings.

"I don't know if surprising is the right word, they have some guys who can skate and I think we were expecting that," Manning said. "We haven't played them this year, it's the first time. When you see it for the first time, it's something a little different."

The Flyers on Thursday night will see the Maple Leafs for the third time. The previous two matchups were won by the Flyers. Interestingly enough, Manning had his best game of the season with a goal, an assist and three hits in the October victory, while rookie blueliner Travis Sanheim played in the December win.

Hakstol will have to decide between the two for Thursday.

One will be an extra, the other will want to make sure breakaways are at a minimum.

Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

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Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

NEW YORK -- Damon Severson scored twice 1:26 apart in New Jersey's three-goal second period, and the Devils ended a six-game skid with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall also scored for New Jersey, which was 0-3-3 since beating Detroit at home on Dec. 27. Keith Kinkaid, getting the start after Cory Schneider was a late scratch due to illness, stopped 25 shots.

Anders Lee scored and Jaroslav Halak made 38 saves as the Islanders snapped a three-game winning streak that started with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Devils here on Jan. 7.

New Jersey trailed less than two minutes in but got four straight goals starting with Palmieri's score late in the first period.

Halak, who faced more than 35 shots on goal for his 10th straight start, made nice stops on in-close tries by Brian Boyle and Brian Gibbons with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the middle period to keep the score tied.

However, Severson gave the Devils the lead about 30 seconds later as he got the rebound of a shot by Gibbons and beat Halak from the right circle. It was the defenseman's fifth goal of the season and first in 12 games (see full recap).

Spezza scores 2 after benching in Stars’ win
DETROIT -- Jason Spezza responded to being benched by scoring two tiebreaking goals on power plays, helping the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Spezza scored on a lunging, one-timer below the left circle with 5:52 left in the second period. His first goal came on a redirected shot midway through the first.

The 33-year-old forward was a healthy scratch on Monday when Dallas won at Boston in overtime. He bounced back by ending his 14-game goal drought, scoring twice in a game for the first time since March 12, 2016. Spezza scored 33 goals just two years ago and has 323 career goals.

Dallas' Radek Faksa and Martin Hanzal also scored. Ben Bishop stopped 13 shots for the Stars, who have won six of eight.

Trevor Daley put Detroit ahead in the opening minute, but Faksa redirected a shot past Jimmy Howard at 2:48. Andreas Athanasiou pulled the Red Wings into a 2-all tie midway through the second period and Spezza's second goal 2:25 later put Dallas ahead 3-2.

Howard had 22 saves for the Red Wings, who had won five of their previous seven games (see full recap).

Blues rally late for overtime victory
TORONTO -- Alexander Steen tied it with 57 seconds left and Vince Dunn scored 1:43 into overtime, lifting the St. Louis Blues over the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Connor Brown put Toronto ahead on a short-handed breakaway midway through the third period, but Steen scored with goalie Carter Hutton pulled for an extra attacker by backhanding Alex Pieterangelo's rebound past Frederik Andersen.

Dunn snapped a low shot past Andersen after choosing to keep the puck on a 2-on-1.

Andersen stopped 40 shots and Hutton had 30 saves.

It was the Maple Leafs' first game back after the bye week. Their last game was a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 10 (see full recap).