Flyers flop in finale of homestand with 6-2 loss to Ducks

Flyers flop in finale of homestand with 6-2 loss to Ducks


Prior to Tuesday night, the only other time the Wells Fargo Center unleashed a round of boos during the Flyers’ five-game homestand was when Andrew MacDonald was introduced before the home opener.

For MacDonald’s sake, he had nothing to do with this debacle — a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks (see observations). It marked the Flyers’ most lopsided loss of the season and the first game in which they were completely out of it when the third period began.

“To a man, we could have been a lot better, starting with me in the net. That’s where it all starts,” Brian Elliott, who stopped just 19 of 25 shots, said. “It’s a big, strong team. We beat them in their barn last time. They had something to prove and we didn’t answer the bell.”

Tied, 1-1, after the opening 20 minutes, the Flyers seemingly lost their composure by turning over pucks and allowing calls (and even non-calls) to affect their play on the ice. 

“We’ve got to do a better job of keeping our composure,” Claude Giroux said. “We weren’t happy with some of the calls. I’m probably the first one to lose my composure, and we got away from our game plan.” 

Giroux’s lack of discipline came as Ducks center Antoine Vermette took a whack at Giroux’s shin and broke the captain’s stick. Yet, no slashing penalty was called. 

On Giroux’s next shift, he was called for tripping (possibly out of frustration) when he stuck out his skate and sent Chris Wagner tumbling to the ice just seconds after Wagner had leveled Jori Lehtera.

With Giroux in the box, the Ducks scored on the ensuing power play when Nick Ritchie backhanded a rebound past Elliott for a 3-1 lead.

The Flyers were also facing a Ducks team that came to Philadelphia considerably healthier than the one they faced on Oct. 7 in Anaheim. The Ducks’ boost most notably came from the return of captain Ryan Getzlaf, who led the attack with a goal and an assist (see highlights).

“They have guys who can skate, big bodies,” Giroux said. “We just couldn’t feel the puck tonight. It’s frustrating. Games like this are going to happen. It’s how we deal with it.”

Bad decisions? Check.

Poor discipline? Check.

Bad goaltending? Check.

Terrible ice? Depends on who you’re asking.

Apparently, there was plenty of blame to be passed around.

“That’s the worst it’s ever been in my career here,” Shayne Gostisbehere said. “I thought the ice was horrendous tonight. I don’t know what’s going on. It’s not an excuse or anything, it’s just something we’ve got to deal with and hopefully it will get better.”

“I don’t know, but we’ll look into it,” Giroux said. “It’s just a little different. We don’t know what was the issue. I don’t really want to comment on it because I don’t know what was going on.”

As bizarre as that may sound, head coach Dave Hakstol may have been second-guessing the defensive pairings he put on the ice following the injury to MacDonald Saturday, as all three pairs had very little experience together.

“You’ve got to play a couple of games to get some chemistry,” Gostisbehere, who started the game with Radko Gudas, said. “As a team, I think we could have played a little better, obviously, but I think it comes with not playing with certain guys.”

Even Ivan Provorov had a lousy night with his most inconsistent game of the season. By the third period, Hakstol elected to play the defensive shell game and go back to what had worked in the past.

“I think we just went back to some comfort level,” Gostisbehere said. “I played with Hagger (Robert Hagg), Man Dog (Brandon Manning) has played with Gudy before. I think just to get some familiarity together. I don’t know what’s going to go on, but as a team we could have played a lot better.” 

Patrick exits early
Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick left the game in the second period when Wagner checked him into the boards and appeared to rattle his head (see video). No penalty was called as the rookie went straight to the dressing room for further evaluation. By the third period, Patrick was dressed and in the press box. 

“I think it was a shoulder-to-shoulder finished check,” Hakstol said. “I’m going to look at it a little bit closer, but I don’t think I need to. I saw it live and I thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder finished check.”

Milestone moment
On the Flyers’ final goal of the game, three players all celebrated a milestone of sorts:

Sean Couturier scored the goal, his 200th NHL point.

Jakub Voracek registered an assist, his 500th NHL point.

Travis Sanheim recorded his first career NHL assist and point.

Monday's trade deadline no sweat for Flyers

AP Images

Monday's trade deadline no sweat for Flyers

MONTREAL -- They’re watching it. They’re following it. But the Flyers don’t appear to be sweating it too much as NHL’s 3 p.m. Monday trade deadline fast approaches.

As they wrapped up an abbreviated practice Sunday afternoon at the Bell Centre in Montreal, the team had just learned that Canadiens center Tomas Plekanec had been dealt to the Maple Leafs, and the rumors are swirling regarding Montreal captain Max Pacioretty. 

“I know what’s going on,” said Jake Voracek. “It’s different. I haven’t been in this situation since my first year here (2011-12). Obviously it feels pretty good, but you never know what’s going to happen no matter what position you are in.”

It’s the first time the Flyers, sitting pretty in second in the Metropolitan Division as of Sunday morning and owners of a five-game win streak and points in their last 10 games, have been a potential buyer since Ron Hextall took over as general manager in 2014, and consequently, there’s no real threat of trading players to Cup-contending teams like we’ve seen in previous seasons. 

Still, Hextall elected to stay behind in Voorhees fielding phone calls and performing his due diligence as the Flyers prepare to face the Canadiens Monday night. He’s already given up conditional draft pick(s) to acquire goaltender Petr Mrazek from Detroit, and he may consider adding depth to a team with a solid nucleus.

And, keep in mind, they have reserves on the way when goalies Michal Nuevirth and Brian Elliott get healthy and Wayne Simmonds returns from his injury in the coming weeks.

“We have good chemistry inside that locker room,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “From my standpoint our whole focus has been finding ways to get better from within — from within our dressing room and from within our own organization. If there’s a move or a decision that has to be made that Hex feels will make us better, I’m sure he’ll look at that in every way, but our job is to take care of our own business.”

Right now, that’s the perplexity of a playoff team that could benefit from adding experience. At the same time, there’s a risk tinkering with the chemistry that has developed over the past three months — a team that has endured and bonded following a ten-game winless streak to become one of the top six teams in the Eastern Conference with a 25-8-3 record and 53 points since Dec 4. 

“We’ve done a good job of playing as a team and sticking together, especially when you lose ten in a row,” said captain Claude Giroux. “I think you see the true colors of players and we didn’t have any negative things with this group. It’s definitely a positive. We like where this team is headed. Whatever Hexy decides at the deadline, that’s his decision, but we like who we have in this room.”

Hextall has stated previously that he believes major deadline deals don’t usually yield the desired playoff results, and he’s definitely not looking to mortgage the future by giving up prized prospects.

So don’t hold your breath that Hextall joins the likes of the Penguins, who dealt for Derrick Brassard, and Bruins, who acquired Rick Nash on Sunday morning, who are taking an “all-in” approach with the postseason nearing. 

As for the Flyers, they’re breathing a little easier as well. 

Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

USA Today Images

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.)