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.

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

USA Today Images

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.