Flyers

Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Topping off a fulfilling homestand?

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Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Topping off a fulfilling homestand?

Flyers (5-3-0) vs. Ducks (3-3-1)
7 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 6:30

The Flyers have a chance to punctuate their five-game homestand when they welcome the Anaheim Ducks to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.

Let's get you set for puck drop with some thoughts before Game 9 of the season.

• This is tied for the longest home stretch of the Flyers' season, and it just so happened to come in October. The Flyers have another five-game homestand from Dec. 12-20. Despite the first one being so early, the Flyers are making it meaningful. They've built confidence and even somewhat of a new identity for the 2017-18 season. The Flyers have shown they're faster, more mobile and much scarier from top to bottom, while they've also displayed the ability to win in a variety of styles.

Look at what the Flyers have accomplished on the homestay before the finale. They're 3-1-0 and with a combined score of 10-3 in two of the victories over teams led by Alex Ovechkin and Connor McDavid. In the four games total, the Flyers have outscored the opposition, 15-5, while the penalty kill is 13 for 14. They've also outshot teams, 127-112, and have won more faceoffs, 124-101.

It may be a small sample size, but it's a good one.

• With Andrew MacDonald out four to six weeks because of a lower-body injury, the Flyers will maneuver their defensemen a bit (see story). An exciting new pairing will be second-year blueliner Ivan Provorov with rookie Robert Hagg. We know the special makeup of Provorov, but Hagg has quietly been a rock for the Flyers. He leads the team with 22 hits, is first among Flyers defensemen as a plus-5 and has committed just four giveaways.

The 22-year-old rookie does all the little things and played some with Provorov during the preseason, so the two have a nice understanding of how to complement each other. Hagg's ice time could see an uptick from the 18:19 he's logged through eight games.

The third pairing of Brandon Manning and Travis Sanheim will also be worth watching given both players have yet to play in a regular-season game together.

• Brian Elliott in net seems likely for the Flyers. He saw the Ducks a little over two weeks ago, making 21 saves on 23 shots for a 3-2 overtime win. He's also coming off his best performance of the season in which he stopped 23 of 24 shots in a tight, 2-1 win over the Oilers.

However, his career numbers aren't great against the Ducks, posting a 2-7-3 mark in 13 lifetime matchups to go with a 3.10 goals-against average and .886 save percentage.

• The Ducks will look different from the Oct. 7 meeting with the Flyers. Ryan Getzlaf missed the game because of a lower-body injury, but he'll be in the lineup Tuesday. The big 6-foot-4, 223-pound center has never been easy on the Flyers, with 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 14 career games against the orange and black.

Also, defenseman Hampus Lindholm will make his season debut. The 6-foot-3, 208-pounder is only 23 years old and has been a real positive for Anaheim through his first four NHL seasons.

The last time the Flyers took consecutive matchups over the Ducks was when they won on Feb. 2, 2008, and Jan. 2, 2009.

• Jakub Voracek and Shayne Gostisbehere are tied for third in the NHL with 10 assists apiece. They have one goal between them, but they've been stalwarts in making things happen for the Flyers.

• Through eight games, the Flyers currently have six players with six points or more. Through seven games, the Ducks have just one as Andrew Cogliano is their leading scorer with six points (two goals, four assists).

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup:

Update: Weal (upper body) and Read (healthy) were the final players off the ice at morning skate, signaling they are the likely scratches.

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Shayne Gostisbehere-Radko Gudas
Brandon Manning-Travis Sanheim

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forwards Matt Read and Dale Weise, and defenseman Andrew MacDonald (injured).

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers

BOX SCORE

When asked what he thought about the current Flyers team prior to his retirement ceremony, Eric Lindros admitted he really didn’t know all that much regarding this year’s team. 

After Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Lindros’ hometown Maple Leafs (see observations), "Big E" and a sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd learned something about the Flyers that no one in Philadelphia had been privy to.

The Flyers capped off their first win this season when trailing by two or more goals entering the third period. Interestingly, the only other third-period comeback that led to a victory was when they trailed this same Toronto team, 2-1, on Dec. 12. Prior to this game, the Flyers were 1-12-2 this season when trailing after two periods.

Certainly, the Flyers needed goal scoring, but more importantly, they also received a handful of momentum saves from goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

“Huge," Neuvirth said regarding his 29-save performance. “When we tied it, it was like, 'OK, here we go. You gotta be at your best right now.' So I was just focusing on the next shot. Just happy the way the guys responded in the third.”

Neuvirth had little, if any, margin of error after the Leafs scored twice in a 28-second span to grab a 2-0 advantage, but the Flyers' backup netminder provided a handful of momentum saves that allowed the Flyers to win in overtime.

• A minute after Wayne Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with a shorthanded goal, Neuvirth stopped Auston Matthews and Connor Brown on back-to-back shots, including an impressive blocker save on Brown from up close.

• With 2:48 remaining in regulation, Neuvirth made the save of the game with the Leafs coming down on a 2-on-1. Neuvirth expected Nazem Kadri to shoot. Instead, he passed it to his left, forcing Neuvirth to make a full extension on Patrick Marleau, turning aside the shot with the tip of his right pad (see highlights).

• Neuvirth denied Matthews from in tight with another pad save just 10 seconds into overtime. That save created a 2-on-1 scoring chance resulting in Sean Couturier’s game-winning score. 

“At least three 10-bell saves by Neuvy. He was tremendous,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We generated a lot in the third period, but when you give up those chances against, Neuvy stole the show in my opinion and you need those saves sometimes to win games. For me, he was first star.”

Neuvirth and the rest of the Flyers needed an initial spark and 19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick was surprisingly the one to provide it. After taking a shot that hit the side of the net and caromed behind it, Patrick chased down Mitch Marner, stole the puck and fired a quick shot on goaltender Frederik Andersen for his first goal in his last 25 games.

“I tried to forget how many games it was in a row without a goal and just keep playing,” Patrick said. “I thought I was playing some good hockey lately and I knew it would come.”

A minute and 52 seconds later, Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with the Flyers' second shorthanded goal of the season, extending his point streak to six games.

Struggling to find the right overtime combinations, Hakstol elected to go with the trio of Couturier, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov to start the extra session. Couturier continued his magical run and now has 11 goals in his last 12 games, while also providing five game-winning goals in the Flyers' last 10 victories. 

“He’s hot. We keep calling him ‘Rocket,’" Simmonds said, referring to Hall of Famer Maurice “Rocket” Richard. “You just keep giving him the puck and he’s going to find the back of the net. When you’re hot, you want to keep giving it to a guy like that. Hopefully, he’s going to continue to score for us.”

More Couturier goals and more game-changing saves, and the Flyers will find themselves rocketing up the standings.

Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

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Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

TAMPA, Fla. -- Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves, David Perron had a goal and an assist, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 Thursday night in a matchup of conference leaders.

James Neal, Nate Schmidt and William Karlsson also scored for the Golden Knights, who swept the two-game season series with the NHL-leading Lightning.

Tampa Bay, coming off its bye week, got a goal from Ondrej Palat, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots. Vasilevskiy, an All-Star this season, has allowed 19 goals over his last four games.

Fleury made a number of impressive stops, including a left-circle shot by Steven Stamkos and in-close chance from Nikita Kucherov during the second period. The goalie, who spent most of career with Pittsburgh, is 19-11-4 against the Lightning.

Neal opened the scoring with a nifty deflection 56 seconds into the first, and Schmidt made it 2-0 with 3:57 left in the period. Deryk Engelland got his 100th NHL assist on Neal's goal.

Vegas is 19-1-0 when scoring first, with the lone loss coming Oct. 30 to the New York Islanders (see full recap).

Devils beat Caps in OT on Hall’s goal
NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall scored on a breakaway 34 seconds into overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night.

Sami Vatanen collected his third assist of the game on the winning goal, a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Braden Holtby.

Drew Stafford, Andy Greene and Miles Wood also scored for the Devils, who have won two straight after breaking a six-game winless streak (0-3-3). Keith Kinkaid had 16 saves and the Devils killed off all five Washington power plays.

Brett Connolly scored twice and Dmitry Orlov had a goal for the Capitals, who lost for only the second time in eight games. The Capitals, however, extended their streak of getting a point against New Jersey to 14 games (12-0-2).

Holtby made 28 saves, but gave up three breakaway goals (see full recap).

Panarin puts Stars over the top in shootout
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Artemi Panarin scored in the second round of a shootout, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Thursday night.

Joonas Korpisalo had 35 saves for Columbus (26-18-3), which returned from its five-day break after losing both ends of a back-to-back last week. Jordan Schroeder scored his first goal of the season in the first period.

Korpisalo blocked a shootout try by Jason Spezza before Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin came up empty. Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop blocked Jussi Jokinen's shootout attempt before Panarin beat him.

Korpisalo got the start ahead of Vezina Trophy-winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled in the recent losses. The 23-year-old Finn got his first win in nearly a month in his ninth game this season.

Dan Hamhuis scored for Dallas with 2:15 left in regulation. Bishop had 25 stops, including a terrific glove save on Alexander Wennberg with 30 seconds left in the third.

Dallas (26-17-4) had won two in a row (see full recap).