Flyers-Ducks observations: Wayne Simmonds delivers yet again with OT winner

Flyers-Ducks observations: Wayne Simmonds delivers yet again with OT winner


ANAHEIM, Calif. — Wayne Simmonds played hero once again Saturday night for the Flyers.

Simmonds scored the game-winner 44 seconds into overtime to hand the Flyers a 3-2 win over the injury-depleted Ducks at the Honda Center. It was the Flyers’ first win in Anaheim since Dec. 2, 2011. 

The OT marker was Simmonds’ fourth goal of the season. He had a hat trick in the season opener Wednesday in San Jose.

Saturday’s win also snapped the Flyers’ eight-game losing streak to the Ducks.

• Ivan Provorov may have been the best player on the ice in this game, playing 25 minutes for the second time in three games. Primarily tasked with shutting down the Ducks’ top line and their most potent scoring threat, Provorov and the rest of the Flyers' defense limited Anaheim’s top line of Andrew Cogliano, Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry to just three combined shots.

• Brian Elliott had solid rebound control and was in control throughout as he kept everything in front of him. However, Elliott surrendered a game-tying goal in the third period for the second straight game. Overall, he stopped 21 of 23 shots.

• It was just a matter of time before the Flyers' top line scored an even-strength goal. After producing a myriad of shots in L.A., they finally got on the board, as Jake Voracek did nice job of drawing his man down low before backhanding a pass to a wide-open Sean Couturier, who was fortunate that John Gibson left his five hole slightly exposed.

• One of the biggest concerns for the Flyers' coaching staff is not getting caught with two of their rookie defenseman on the ice at the same time. That’s precisely what happened during the Ducks’ first goal, when Travis Sanheim and Robert Hagg were caught together on the same side of the ice, leaving Antoine Vermette all alone for the easy one-time goal.

• On their first shift of the game, the newly formed duo of Travis Konecny and Nolan Patrick nearly scored on a 2-on-1, as Patrick tried to beat Gibson on a one-timer. On his second shift, Patrick read a pass, intercepted it at center ice and nearly got another shot on net. I actually believe Patrick will benefit playing on the third line, especially with a talented player like Konecny. Imagine how good this line could be in a few years with Oskar Lindblom on the left side and Konecny on the right.

• Late in the third period, Konecny had a Grade-A chance to win the game from the bottom of the right circle with an uncontested shot, off a beautiful pass from Patrick. 

• Someone let out the helium out of the Flyers’ power-play balloon. After scoring three power-play goals on their first three opportunities in San Jose, Dave Hakstol’s club is now scoreless in their last 12 chances. They also gave up their first shorthanded goal of the season when Cam Fowler tied the game early in the third period. The Flyers are getting shots, but they’re just not getting those second and third whacks in front. 

• After nearly 14 minutes into the second period, the Flyers had produced more goals (1) than the Ducks had shots (0). Anaheim finally got their first shot on net 45 seconds after Couturier’s goal.

• Patrick picked up his first NHL point with the primary assist on Provorov’s goal. In the first period, arguably his most productive yet, Patrick attempted three shots, was a plus-1 and went a perfect 4 for 4 in the faceoff circle.

• The Flyers are the Ducks’ only Saturday game at the Honda Center this season. Compare that to the Flyers, who have 12 Saturday home dates. The city of Anaheim prefers to reserve Saturday for musical acts. Apparently, Ducks fans couldn’t adjust to the rare Saturday date, as every section had large numbers of unfilled seats.

• Next up for the Flyers is a date with Nashville on Tuesday. It's the Predators' home opener. The Flyers leave California with four points and two wins.

Best of NHL: Nick Bjugstad stars in Panthers' shootout win over Maple Leafs

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Best of NHL: Nick Bjugstad stars in Panthers' shootout win over Maple Leafs

SUNRISE, Fla. — Nick Bjugstad scored Florida's only goal in regulation and the game-winning goal in a shootout as the Panthers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Wednesday night.

Bjugstad skated in and held the puck until Toronto goalie Frederick Andersen was sprawled out, then moved to his right and flipped in his goal during the fourth round of the shootout.

The Panthers won the tiebreaker 2-1 after Aleksander Barkov scored for Florida, and Patrick Marleau was successful for Toronto.

Vincent Trocheck and Henrik Haapala had assists for the Panthers (8-11-2).

Nazem Kadri netted a goal for Toronto (14-8-1), assisted by Connor Brown and Marleau (see full recap).

Forsberg, Turris lead Predators past Habs in SO
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Filip Forsberg scored a pair of power-play goals and Kyle Turris had the only goal in a shootout to lead the Nashville Predators to a 3-2 victory over the struggling Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night.

Pekka Rinne made 27 saves in regulation and overtime, then denied all three Montreal shootout attempts as Nashville won for the eighth time in nine games.

Jordie Benn and Joe Morrow scored for the Canadiens, who have lost their last five. Morrow's goal evened the score with less than a minute left in the third period.

In the tiebreaker, Turris beat Antti Niemi with a wrist shot between the pads (see full recap)

Anderson's goal in OT gives Blue Jackets win
COLUMBUS, Ohio — After missing training camp because of a contract dispute, Josh Anderson has performed at a consistently high level for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Anderson scored two minutes into overtime to give Columbus its fifth straight win, 1-0 over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

Sergei Bobrovsky had 22 saves for Columbus in his third shutout this season and 22nd of his career. Mike Smith turned away 40 shots for Calgary.

It was the first time this season that either team ended regulation scoreless (see full recap)

Point scores in overtime as Lightning beat Blackhawks
TAMPA, Fla. — Falling behind Chicago and staging a comeback has become the norm for the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Brayden Point scored a power-play goal 3:25 into overtime, and the Lightning rallied again to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Wednesday night.

Point took a pass from Steven Stamkos while positioned near the post and put the winner past Corey Crawford and complete a three-goal rally.

"To be down 2-0 to a team as good as Chicago, it was a great bounce-back performance," Stamkos said.

Chicago was short-handed after Nick Schmaltz was sent off for slashing at 3:10 (see full recap)

Flyers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss to extend skid to 6

Flyers suffer heartbreaking overtime loss to extend skid to 6


NEW YORK -- The book entitled “Finding Different Ways to Lose” is growing thicker by the game.

Josh Bailey scored on his own rebound just 32 seconds into overtime to give the Islanders the extra point and a 4-3 overtime win over the Flyers on Wednesday night at the Barclays Center (see observations). The Flyers appeared to have the play covered until defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere lost track of Bailey, who missed on his first attempt but converted on his second effort to hand the visitors a sixths straight defeat.

“Everyone goes through different struggles,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s a growing rule for everybody. Right now, Ghost is one of the elder statesmen on the back end there and sometimes that has a way of putting extra weight on your shoulders. I just think it’s a stretch that he’s going to get through. He’s doing a lot of really good things. He’s just got to get back to where he was before he was out a few games with that injury.”

In the eight games since returning from an injury where he was slammed hard into the boards in Toronto, Gostisbehere has struggled mightily in the defensive end. However, the Flyers’ problems over the course of their current six-game losing streak extend well beyond just one player. The penalty kill has completely fallen apart as the team has allowed seven power-play goals in the last three games. The units have also killed off just four of the last 11 power-play chances.

It’s a two-fold problem. The Flyers are creating self-inflicting wounds and the penalty kill isn’t outworking the opponents’ power play unit. Of course, it didn’t help when Sam Morin, who making his season debut, gave the Islanders a two-man advantage when he flipped the puck into the stands for a delay of game penalty.

“We’re right there. We kind of put ourselves in another bad position when we took a 5-on-3,” goaltender Brian Elliott said. “It’s still biting us in the butt a little bit. I thought we played a really good game. I think we’re right there. We just need to turn that corner.”

“Can’t pinpoint one thing. It’s just got be better,” Wayne Simmonds said. “Yeah, they’re going to score. You take a ton of penalties, teams are good enough in this league. Individual skill in this league is through the roof. Guys are going to make plays, especially when they’re up a man. Best form of penalty kill is not to be in the box at all.”

Hakstol even elected to switch up his shorthanded personnel in an effort to create a different look and hopefully provide some beneficial change. The Flyers even attempted to light a fuse be calling up Morin and Danick Martel from Lehigh Valley. Martel had six attempted shots (three on net) in just 12 minutes of action in his NHL debut.

“You’ve got to be ready every game,” Martel said. “I got my chance today and I had a really good game and I’m proud of it. I think my stick was a bit tight today, so that’s why I missed the net a couple of times.”

The Flyers did finally receive some secondary scoring to complement their top line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Coming into this game, that group had accounted for 46 percent of the team’s goal production. Taylor Leier opened the scoring with his first goal of the season and Michael Raffl scored his first point in 43 games with a breakaway goal that gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

“It’s a little bit different role playing with T.K. (Travis Konecny) and Fil (Valtteri Filppula) out there,” Raffl said. “You get a little more offensive looks and a little more ice time out there. You’ve got to take advantage of that. I feel pretty good out there. I’m fit. I have nothing bothering me right now, so that helps for sure. I told myself, scoring or not, you’ve got to play confident. You can’t get down on yourself.”

After consecutive shutouts to start the losing streak, the Flyers have scored the first goal in each of their last four games with an inability to play with a lead: 2-0 at Winnipeg, 3-1 vs. Calgary 1-0 vs. Winnipeg and 2-1 at New York Islanders.

Four games, four leads and just two points to show for it. 

“It stinks to work real hard to earn that point, and then we gave it away too easily,” Hakstol said. “That’s the part that hurts a little bit. I’m looking for growth in all the areas. Really, tonight, I was looking for the true test of the character of our team, and our team answered and played a helluva character game.”

Friday, it’s Chapter 2 against this same Islanders team. The Flyers are hoping it doesn’t continue to read like the rest.