Flyers 'can't keep doing this' ... but they do

Flyers 'can't keep doing this' ... but they do


The Flyers' margin of error is paper thin right now.

Against the Bruins last Thursday, it was a failure to clear the puck out of their zone in the final minute that set up the game-winning goal.

Facing the expansion Golden Knights Monday, all it took was losing one board battle late in the third period that led to another regulation loss and a 3-2 setback at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

“It was a scrum in the corner and they play a good triangle down low and we knew that before the game,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We just needed a little winger support, and they made a great play.”

Former Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare fought off Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula and Radko Gudas to gain possession along the boards and behind the Flyers' net, which ultimately led to Ryan Carpenter’s one-timer goal from the left circle that beat Petr Mrazek with 2:40 remaining in regulation.

“I felt like we controlled this one,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t get a puck out and that whole shift we didn’t get the puck under control. We had an opportunity to push it out at the blue line, and then we got caught outside of our coverage down in the slot.”

One mistake overshadowed another solid 60-minute effort in which the Flyers controlled possession and neutralized the Golden Knights' fast-paced attack, limiting Vegas to just 19 even-strength shots.

“We should have gotten a point obviously,” Simmonds said. “We've got to be focused. We played solid but we didn’t get the two points and that’s what matters. I guess it doesn’t really matter here. We've just got to make sure we play the full 60. If it’s not 60, it’s not good enough.”

And right now, as well as the Flyers have played recently, it simply isn’t good enough. In seven of their last eight games, the Flyers have scored two or fewer goals.

“We’re pretty pissed. We’re letting these games get away from us right now,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s March. We can’t keep doing this. We need every point we can get.” 

After racing to the top of the Metropolitan Division following a 1-0 shootout victory over the Canadiens on Feb. 26, the Flyers have mustered just three points (1-5-1) over their last seven games.

Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury came up with some spectacular saves to earn his 400th career victory. Perhaps the biggest was a sprawling glove save on rookie Travis Sanheim in the first four minutes of the third period. 

The former Pittsburgh Penguin also beat the Flyers for the 28th time in his career, which ranks third all-time behind New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and New York Rangers great Henrik Lundqvist.

“We’ve had such a good rivalry,” Fleury said. “I thought it was always intense games and tough games, tough place to win. The crowd is into it, too, usually. With this team, it’s still fun to win here.”

As for the Flyers, they need to discover that enjoyment rather quickly. 

Thursday they host the Blue Jackets, who are now just two points behind the Flyers in the standings. 

March is not a good time to be a bubble team, no matter what sport it is.

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time

Flyers stunned by their effort in bad loss at bad time


DETROIT — The Flyers brought a cold engine to the Motor City and it took a good 40 minutes to finally get it started.

Sure, Dave Hakstol’s team rallied back from a two-goal deficit Tuesday to earn a point at a time when every point is critical, but losing a 5-4 shootout to a fragile Detroit team is unacceptable and unexplainable (see observations).

“Maybe we thought it was going to be an easy game,” Sean Couturier said. “We didn’t play the right way. We didn’t play hard. We wasted 40 minutes. We came back and got a big point, but we can’t be wasting time at this time of the year.”

On a night when the Flyers could have officially eliminated the Red Wings from postseason contention, they turned back the clock and made this Detroit team look more like the juggernaut that won back-to-back Stanley Cup championships 20 years ago. 

At least through the first two periods.

“The second period was god-awful,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We really didn’t help our cause out. We weren’t pushing plays and we just weren’t battling out there. You saw in the third what we could do when we light a fire under our ass. It’s tough like that when you dig yourself a hole and you come back, you expend a lot of energy. The positive we can take is that we got a point out of it.”

You may have never known this was the same Red Wings team that, like the Flyers in the first half of the season, had dropped 10 straight with an 0-9-1 record. Detroit had been outscored a whopping 41-19 from Feb. 28-March 18.

The Red Wings had also returned from a four-game Western Conference road trip less than 48 hours prior to the opening faceoff.

With eight games remaining on the Flyers' schedule, Hakstol is also mired in a goaltending dilemma. Petr Mrazek was rescued from Detroit to be the savior in Philadelphia following injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth. 

After winning his first three starts, Mrazek’s numbers reek of mediocrity: a 2-5-1 record, 3.72 GAA and an .860 save percentage. Most recently, he’s been pulled in favor of Alex Lyon in two of his last three games.

“The second one is a bad-angle goal,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, he wants that one back, but we gave up a number of opportunities that he was very strong on.”

Mrazek was pulled from the game at 3-1, and before heading to the locker room, he expressed his disappointment with the coaching staff over a non-goaltender interference call during the Red Wings' third goal.

“I talked to Coach and I was just wondering about the goalie interference because someone had bumped in there during the shot,” Mrazek said. “It wasn’t anything like I was mad or something that I got pulled. I was just asking him if there was a goalie interference or not.”

The Flyers' shootout loss coupled with the Blue Jackets' ninth straight victory now drops the orange and black into wild-card territory (see standings).

If this is indeed a playoff team, it needs to repair what’s under the hood and fix it fast.

Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

USA Today Images

Panthers rout Senators after death of Karlsson's son

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jared McCann had a goal and two assists to lead the Florida Panthers over the Senators 7-2 on Tuesday night as Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson sat out following the death of his son.

The team announced the death of Karlsson's son before the game. Erik and Melinda Karlsson were married last year and announced in November they were expecting their first child in the spring. The team released a statement offering its "collective thoughts and prayers" and requested privacy for the family.

Keith Yandle, Nick Bjugstad, Evgeni Dadonov, Jamie McGinn and Frank Vatrano each had a goal and an assist for Florida. Colton Sceviour had the other goal while James Reimer made 33 saves.

Patrick Sieloff and Marian Gaborik scored for the Senators, who lost their second straight. Craig Anderson started in goal but was replaced by Mike Condon after allowing four goals on 17 shots. Condon made 19 saves (see full recap).

Blue Jackets extend win streak to 9
NEW YORK -- Artemi Panarin had three goals and an assist, Sergei Bobrovsky made 29 saves and the Columbus Blue Jackets extended their winning streak to nine games with a 5-3 victory over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Markus Nutivaara and Alexander Wennberg also scored for the Blue Jackets, who have surged into a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. It is Columbus' longest winning streak since its 16-game run last season from Nov. 29, 2016, to Jan. 3, 2017.

Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad scored power-play goals and Kevin Hayes had a short-handed goal for the Rangers.

Henrik Lundqvist made 26 saves in his first start since March 10 against Florida. Lundqvist was briefly shaken up when Matt Calvert upended him and knocked his helmet off with five minutes remaining.

With Columbus leading 3-2 in the third period, Lundqvist made a nice save as Cam Atkinson drove toward the net, but Panarin poked the puck free and in for his 24th goal at 11:19.

Kreider scored his 14th with 1:52 remaining to get the Rangers to 4-3.

Panarin added an empty-netter for the hat trick and his 25th of the season (see full recap).

Islanders jump all over Pens to snap skid
NEW YORK -- Mathew Barzal and Adam Pelech scored in the first period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Anders Lee had a goal in the third period and Jordan Eberle added an empty-netter to help the Islanders snap a three-game skid with just their second win in 13 games (2-7-4).

Christopher Gibson, pulled in his last start after giving up five goals on 12 shots against Washington last Thursday, stopped 36 shots and has both wins for New York in its recent stretch.

Conor Sheary scored for Pittsburgh, which was 5-1-1 in its previous seven but fell four points behind first-place Washington in the tight Metropolitan Division. Columbus pulled into a tie with the Penguins for second at 87 points -- Pittsburgh holds the tiebreaker over the Blue Jackets.

Matt Murray, returning after missing nine games due to a concussion, finished with 36 saves for the Penguins (see full recap).