Flyers-Coyotes observations: An overtime loss to lowly Arizona

Flyers-Coyotes observations: An overtime loss to lowly Arizona


The Flyers know how to script a Nightmare on Broad Street.

On the eve of Halloween, the Flyers nearly overcame their most uninspiring and lackuster effort of the season before losing, 4-3, to the Arizona Coyotes in overtime Monday.

Defenseman Alex Goligoski scored the game-winner in the extra stanza.

Trailing, 3-1, the Flyers scored a pair of goals in the final minute of the third period with goaltender Brian Elliott on the bench. Jordan Weal scored on a rebound tap-in with 53 seconds remaining in regulation, and Sean Couturier tied it as he flipped a backhand into a wide-open net.

• The victory marked the first for new head coach Rick Tocchet, as the Coyotes had begun the season at 0-10-1, the worst start in NHL history.

• Jordan Martinook, Christian Dvorak and Brendan Perlini also tallied for Arizona. Playing his first game in a year and a half, Coyotes goalie Scott Wedgewood turned aside 28 of 31 shots for the victory.

• Couturier scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season on a feed from Claude Giroux on the team’s first power play of the game in the opening minutes of the third period. Couturier caught Wedgewood leaning to his left and then fired a shot right to put the Flyers on the board. Later in the period, Couturier added his ninth with 16 seconds left on the clock to force overtime.

• It appeared as if the Flyers would have a second opportunity to take advantage of the NHL’s 31st-ranked penalty kill as Arizona’s Luke Schenn was assessed a two-minute minor for roughing. However, after further deliberations, the referees also whistled Jakub Voracek with a double-minor for high sticking.

• Defensively, the Coyotes may have played their best game of the season keeping the Flyers around the perimeter for nearly the entire first half of the game. The Flyers didn’t start to show life until about the final six minutes of the second period.

• Zac Rinaldo, one of three former Flyers on the Coyotes' roster, delivered a big check on Travis Konecny in the second. Rinaldo, who at times displayed a sense of undisciplined aggression during his time in Philadelphia, stayed out of the penalty box in this game.

• Giroux released a quick wrist shot 3:39 into the second period, which was not only the Flyers' best opportunity to that point, but their first shot from a forward in the game.

• Arizona’s Brendan Perlini could have increased the lead to 3-0 but his shot went off the toe of his stick and went wide left of a wide-open net as the Coyotes nearly executed a 2-on-1. 

• The first period was Dave Hakstol’s worst nightmare as the Flyers had very little sustained pressure and looked completely uninspired to play a Coyotes team with an 0-10-1 record. Their passing was some of the worst I’ve seen all season — pucks at skates, little communication and at times trying to make the perfect pass instead of the simple one. 

• The Flyers' first shot on net came nearly 6½ minutes into the game when Ivan Provorov launched a harmless slap shot from the blue line. The Flyers were outshot, 13-3, in the opening period and didn’t have a real quality chance in the opening 20 minutes. All three of the Flyers' shots came from their defense. In other words, the Flyers did not have a single shot on net from their forwards.

• Wedgewood, who the Coyotes obtained Saturday in a trade with the New Jersey Devils, could not have scripted an easier first period.

• On Arizona’s first goal, rookie defensemen Travis Sanheim and Mark Alt were caught on the right side of the ice at the same time. Sanheim stayed right while Alt should have recognized this and stayed on the left side to prevent the backdoor play. Martinook got tangled up with Jori Lehtera on the boards, broke free before Lehtera got up and had a wide-open one-timer on Elliott, who nearly made the save, but couldn’t cover the post in time.

• On Arizona’s second goal, the Flyers had the play covered defensively, but once Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s shot was blocked, Elliott lost sight of the puck and briefly lost track. Once Christian Dvorak had gathered the puck and skated around the masses, he had an easy shot that found the back of the net. If Elliott had tracked the puck, it would have been a routine save as the puck never left the ice. Elliott finished with 30 saves on 34 shots faced.

Lines, pairings and scratches

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

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Mark Alt

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forwards Dale Weise (healthy) and Nolan Patrick (upper body), and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (upper body).

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Replacing Wayne Simmonds on the power play may be one of the toughest assignments in the NHL.

After all, the guy is second to only Alex Ovechkin with 85 man-advantage goals since the 2011-12 season.

So when the predicament actually faced Dave Hakstol this week, the Flyers' head coach turned to … a 19-year-old rookie.

Why Nolan Patrick?

Three components of the decision stand out:

Intelligence factor
Leading up the NHL draft, the overwhelming strength of Patrick's scouting report was his hockey sense.

Those close to him, as well as draft experts, lauded Patrick for comprehending plays before they even happen and being above the ice in understanding spacing.

Those characteristics are crucial when having an extra man.

Patrick has two goals over two games filling in for the injured Simmonds on the Flyers' top power-play unit. Patrick exhibited his IQ with Thursday's game-winner, where he quickly planted himself right in front of the net, had the presence of mind to find the puck and then bury it past Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We told him, just stand in front, if you see a puck, bring it home," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We tried to simplify it for him and he's going to take care of it himself, he's a great hockey player. It's paying off for him."

All about the touch
Patrick has excellent hands.

Put him around the net, and he'll know how to deflect pucks and find holes in a goalie. His vision, skill and finesse are why he's regarded as such an all-around playmaker.

In Tuesday's win, Patrick found immediate success with the first power-play group. Making his way to the middle, Patrick took a Claude Giroux pass and showed off that touch, adeptly going top shelf as Carey Price went low.

Studying Simmonds' net-front proficiency hasn't hurt, either.

"I watch him every game, he's unbelievable there and good at tipping pucks and making plays," Patrick said. "You learn from just watching every day."

Building up the kid
With time, Hakstol and the Flyers have allowed for Patrick to become comfortable instead of putting the world on his shoulders from the get-go.

That's part of Patrick's makeup.

"He almost always wants to be comfortable and then he really starts to exert himself," Patrick's uncle, James, said to NBC Sports Philadelphia last June

We're starting to see Patrick let loose.

As the Flyers have gradually upped his opportunity and responsibility, Patrick has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his last 12 games after putting up six (two goals, four assists) over his previous 34.

Placing Patrick among the team's best talent on the man advantage will only help with his confidence moving forward, in all situations.

The Flyers' power play entered Friday with the NHL's sixth-best percentage at 21.6.

It'll need more of Patrick — but the Flyers couldn't have asked for a much better start to life without Simmonds over the next two to three weeks.

Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

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Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each had two goals and an assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins routed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Friday night for their season-best sixth straight victory.

Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists, Sidney Crosby scored a late goal and Olli Maatta also scored. The Penguins took control with three goals -- two by Kessel -- in a 7:39 span in the second period.

Matt Murray made 27 saves for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 13 to overtake idle Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Since the Penguins were shut out by Carolina on Jan. 4, they are 16-3-1.

They were just as busy off the ice, completing a mid-game trade in which they picked up center Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. As part of the complicated three-team deal, they sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Teuvo Teravainen scored and Cam Ward stopped 33 shots for the short-handed Hurricanes, who have gone 0-3-1 during a four-game slide that's keeping them outside the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Wild dominate skidding Rangers for New York sweep
NEW YORK -- Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal each scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves in the Minnesota Wild's 4-1 victory over the free-falling New York Rangers on Friday night.

The Wild completed a three-game sweep of New York-area teams after beating the Monday night and New Jersey on Thursday night.

The Rangers lost for the sixth straight time in regulation. New York is 6-17-0 since beating Buffalo in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 (see full recap).

Blackhawks’ Berube dominant in 1st Chicago start
CHICAGO -- Jean-Francois Berube made 42 saves in his first start for Chicago to help the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Friday night.

Defenseman Jan Rutta, activated from injured reserve Friday, and Nick Schmaltz scored, and Artem Anisimov added an empty-netter with 30.5 seconds left.

Anthony Duclair had two assists for the Blackhawks. They won their second straight and third in four games following an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to last place in the Central Division.

Berube lost a bid for this first NHL shutout when Timo Meier scored his 15th goal on a screened shot with 7:51 left in the third period.

Martin Jones stopped 33 shots for the Sharks, coming off a 7-1 loss at Nashville on Thursday night (see full recap).