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.

Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

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Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

SUNRISE, Fla. — Evgenii Dadonov scored with 1:53 to play to complete a hat trick and give the Florida Panthers a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Dadonov beat goalie Matt Murray on a one-timer off Aleksander Barkov's pass for the winner. Dadonov has 18 goals this season.

Vincent Trocheck, Jamie McGinn and Derek MacKenzie also scored. Barkov had three assists, Keith Yandle added two, and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves.

Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, and Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust added goals. Tristan Jarry made 13 saves for Pittsburgh before he was replaced in the second period. Murray had 11 saves in relief.

Trocheck finished a 2-on-1 cross-ice pass from Malgin after a breakout pass from Yandle early in the first period. Trocheck tapped in the pass at 3:44 for his team-leading 24th goal (see full recap.)

Maple Leafs win ninth straight at home
TORONTO — Ron Hainsey broke a tie with 1:23 left to give the Toronto Maple Leafs their franchise record-tying ninth straight home victory, 4-3 over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Hainsey's one-timed William Nylander's pass past goalie Tuuka Rask for his fourth goal of the season.

Toronto moved a point ahead of Boston for the second seed in the Atlantic Division.

Nazem Kadri scored twice, Mitch Marner had a goal and three assists, and Nylander had two assists. Frederik Andersen made 23 saves to improve to 10-1-0 against the Bruins.

Brad Marchand scored twice, and Jake DeBrusk also connected for Boston. Rask made 32 saves (see full recap.)

Point leads Lightning to shootout win over Canadiens
MONTREAL — Brayden Point scored in regulation and added the shootout winner and the Tampa Bay Lightning regained the top spot in the NHL with a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan also scored in regulation to help the Lightning (42-17-3) win their third straight and move a point ahead of idle Vegas for the overall NHL lead.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for his league-leading 36th victory of the season.

Byron Froese, Joe Morrow and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal. Antti Niemi, making his second straight start in relief of the injured Carey Price, stopped 36 shots. Price is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion (see full recap.)

Ovechkin scores twice in Capitals victory 
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin added to his NHL lead with two goals on the night he tied the Washington record for most games played, and the Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-1 on Saturday.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 50 seconds into the game and had two assists. Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller also had goals for Washington, which leapfrogged Pittsburgh and moved back into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals had lost two in a row and five of seven.

Ovechkin's 37th goal came on the power play with 9:47 remaining after Buffalo closed to 2-1 on Sam Reinhart's goal 14 seconds into the third period. Ovechkin redirected a shot past Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner with 1:24 left for his 38th goal.

The 32-year-old Ovechkin played in his 983rd NHL game, tying Calle Johansson for most in Capitals history. Ovechkin holds franchise records for goals (596) and points (1,105) (see full recap.)

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way


OTTAWA, Ontario — An early goal, a beautiful goal, a lucky goal and a disallowed goal. That’s all you need to know about the Flyers' 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon (see observations). Just for fun though, here’s a little more detail.

Ivan Provorov scored 28 seconds into the game to get the Flyers going in what eventually turned out to be their fifth consecutive win and 11th consecutive game with a point.

With the score 2-1 in favor of the Flyers late in the second period, Zack Smith looked like he had tied the game for the Senators, but coach Dave Hakstol issued a challenge and the goal was overturned on an offside that wasn’t originally called.

Well done.

In the third period, Claude Giroux scored a beautiful breakaway goal when he contorted his body to his backhand than back to his forehand before depositing the puck behind Craig Anderson in the Ottawa goal, who was left in a twisted heap in the corner of the crease.

That goal made it 3-1 four minutes into the third and after Nolan Patrick made it 4-1, Brandon Manning dumped a shot in just passed the red line, but the puck hit a stanchion in the glass and redirected into the net. Anderson had a great view of the goal from behind the net where he was standing after he went out to play the puck.

“We’re getting the bounces,” Giroux said.

“Brandon Manning’s goal, you can’t draw that up, but we’re definitely going to take it.”

Ivan Provorov and Robert Hagg also scored for the Flyers, who have now slipped into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division, pending the outcome of the Penguins' game Saturday night.

Considering they were last in the division about two months ago, that’s a pretty nice turnaround.

“I think it was always in the room and that we just had to believe in ourselves and know that we were capable of doing good things,” said forward Travis Konecny.

“We just had to stick with it and eventually things were going to pay off for us.”

That they have, and although Saturday might not have been their best effort, it was good enough. The Senators got two late goals from Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to make the final count a little more respectable. Mike Hoffman also scored.

“We’re playing some good hockey right now and everyone has bought into what we want to do here,” Giroux said, adding the overturned goal was big.

“Anytime you get a goal like that turned (over), it’s a relief and a walk-up call at the same time,”

Nolan Patrick scored just his ninth goal in his rookie season, but he has six in his last 13, including goals in four straight.

“I think I’ve been playing good in the last 15 to 20 games and not just because of the goals; I think I’ve improved on both ends of the puck,” Patrick said.

He was standing at the top of the crease when Manning’s pass/shot hit his stick and redirected in past Anderson.

On a final note and not to be lost in all the offense, Petr Mrazek made 25 saves and has won both starts with the Flyers since being acquired last week from the Detroit Red Wings.

All is good on Broad Street.