Flyers-Islanders observations: Skid extends to 6 with tough OT loss

Flyers-Islanders observations: Skid extends to 6 with tough OT loss


NEW YORK -- The New York Islanders extended the Flyers’ season-high losing streak to six games with a 4-3 overtime win Wednesday night at The Barclays Center.

Josh Bailey rammed home his own rebound just 32 seconds into the OT session as the Flyers fell to 1-5 in overtime this season.

The Flyers finally received some secondary scoring as Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl scored their first goals of the season.

Brian Elliott stopped 35 shots as his record dropped to at 6-6-3.

Once again, the Flyers were buried by their penalty kill as the Islanders converted 2 of 5 power-play opportunities. The Flyers have allowed seven PP goals in their last three games. 

• The Flyers turned it up in the final period of regulation as they outshot the Isles 14-8 with most of those shots coming in the final eight minutes.

• The Flyers penalty kill was considerably better in the opening minutes of the third period. The unit played more aggressively and did not allow the Isles to set up or have several cracks at Elliott. Ivan Provorov had a big block as the Flyers was forced to kill off back-to-back minors. Samuel Morin took a foolish interference penalty.

• There was some big-time pressure from the John Tavares line midway through the third period, but credit the Flyers’ defense as it kept the Islanders’ captain around the perimeter for most of the game. Tavares was one of two Isles player who didn’t have a shot on net.

• In undoubtedly his best game of the season, Raffl was all over the place with his early breakaways and his strong net presence. He led the Flyers with six shots on goal, three hits and even won 3 of 4 faceoffs.

• Elliott stifled a pair of 2-on-1 opportunities for the Islanders in the second period. He came up with a tremendous save when Tavares set up Josh Bailey with a one-timer that Elliott read perfectly and snatched with the glove. Elliott certainly kept the Flyers in this game with timely saves as he faced 29 shots in the first 40 minutes.

• The Flyers got a much-needed power play goal, set up by Wayne Simmonds with a nice and quick cross-ice pass from down low to Jake Voracek in the right circle. The attention Simmonds commands around the crease made that play possible.

• The Flyers lost a key faceoff in the defensive zone in the second, which allowed a pass from Adam Pelech to Josh Ho-Sang to get his stick up and deflect a puck past Elliott. These are the type of goals the Flyers have desperately needed but have failed to get against opposing goalies.

• There was good speed by the Flyers’ third line between Valtteri Filppula and Travis Konecny. However, Filppula was only able to put a weak backhand attempt on net, an easy save for Thomas Greiss. 

• Jordan Eberle picked Provorov’s pocket in the opening seconds of the second period. Sometimes his teammates assume Provy will just skate the puck out of danger or always come away with it when battling along the boards. Tough first six minutes for Provorov, who also took a cheap hooking penalty.

• After Morin flipped the puck into the stands for a delay of game, the Flyers’ PK let them down once again on a 5-on-3 Islanders’ opportunity as Johnny Boychuk found the space just under the crossbar. It was an open lane that doesn’t exist on a 5-on-4 PP, but give Boychuk credit for working his way into the open lane. That made it seven power-play goals surrendered by the Flyers in their last seven periods of action at that point.

• Raffl converted on his second breakaway as he made a move on Greiss just enough for his shot to hit the post and then kicked over the line off the goalie’s skate. The Flyers capitalized on the Islanders’ defensive breakdowns early with three clear breakaways in the first 23 minutes. 

• Dave Hakstol told me Morin was primarily a left-side defenseman, but in the first period we saw him play the right side in a few instances and look comfortable doing so. Morin had a big hit on Eberle late in the first period to dislodge his stick. The Islanders seemed to sense Morin’s length and were reluctant to challenge him in the offensive zone. Overall, it was a solid first period for Morin. 

• There was a very quick read-and-react play from Danick Martel with his takeaway at the point. He then displayed his breakaway speed as he came in on goaltender Greiss, who got enough of his blocker on the shot. Still, that’s precisely the type of offensive jolt the Flyers need from Martel, who said after the first period of his NHL debut, “There was a lot of emotion for sure. Hockey is a simple game and I wanted to keep it simple, play hard and that’s what I did and I had a couple of good scoring chances.”

• Once again, the Flyers’ top line generated an outstanding scoring chance with Sean Couturier and Voracek working in tandem. Voracek’s shot created a big rebound and Couturier failed to elevate the puck or he may have scored his 13th goal of the season. Credit Greiss for being able to extend the right pad and keeping the puck out of the net.

• The Flyers’ penalty kill failed to get the job done once again in the first period as the Islanders’ quick puck movement really backed the PK down low. Matthew Barzal’s shot from the faceoff dot didn’t allow Elliott enough time to react. 

• Raffl, mired in a 42-game stretch without a point, had his best opportunity of the season with a breakaway chance and tried to slide the puck five-hole. I think if Raffl had some confidence in his game he would have made some sort of move on Greiss.

• The Flyers scored the first goal for the fourth straight game as Travis Sanheim unleashed a rocket that created a big rebound and Leier did exactly what the players and Coach Hakstol have been preaching: crash the net and work for those dirty goals. The shot inadvertently deflected off Leier’s skate for a 1-0 lead. I feel that Sanheim has been more active in the offensive zone over the past six to seven games.

• It hasn’t been talked about much, but Sanheim has a heavy shot. If taken from the top of the circles, it can create some second-chance opportunities. 

• Elliott has been solid with rebound control recently, but in the first period he gave some long ones that allowed the Islanders some second-chance opportunities.

Lines, pairings and scratches

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

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Travis Sanheim
Samuel Morin-Shayne Gostisbehere

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Jori Lehtera, Dale Weise and Radko Gudas.

Blue Jackets pull even with Flyers in points

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Blue Jackets pull even with Flyers in points

BOSTON -- Cam Atkinson scored 2:55 into overtime to lift the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-4 victory over Boston on Monday night for their eighth straight victory, spoiling a splendid NHL debut for Bruins forward Ryan Donato.

Sonny Milano, Boone Jenner, Thomas Vanek and Artemi Panarin also scored for the Blue Jackets. Nick Foligno had two assists, nd Vanek and Jenner each added one. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 34 shots.

Atkinson cut in on the left wing and fired a wrister past Rask for the game-winner.

Columbus moved into a tie with Philadelphia with 85 points, but the Flyers hold the tiebreaker for third place in the Metropolitan Division and the Blue Jackets hold the first wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Donato had a goal and two assists for Boston, which moved a point behind idle Tampa Bay for first in the Atlantic. Riley Nash, Brad Marchand and David Krejci also scored for the Bruins, and Tuukka Rask finished with 19 saves (see full recap).

Luongo, Panthers blank Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Roberto Luongo stopped 28 shots for his third shutout of the season and 76th of his career, leading the Florida Panthers to a 2-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov scored to help the Panthers inch closer to a playoff position, pulling three points behind idle new Jersey for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Florida has two games in hand on the Devils.

Antti Niemi finished with 38 saves for Montreal, which was shut out for the second straight game and 12th time this season -- including three against the Panthers. The Canadiens were coming off a 4-0 loss at Toronto on Saturday.

The opening 10 minutes saw two fights, one of which had Ekblad sparring with Nicolas Deslauriers. It may have fired up the big defenseman because he stole a puck from Michael McCarron, deked past defenseman Jeff Petry and beat Niemi with a move to the backhand for an unassisted goal with 1:29 left in the opening period.

Jacob De La Rose thought he had tied it for Montreal 17 seconds later, but a video review showed Alex Galchenyuk was offside by a toenail and it was waived off.

Barkov got his 26th of the season at 6:23 of the third when his shot from the left side went in off Montreal forward Logan Shaw.

Star goalie Carey Price returned to the Montreal lineup after concussion suffered Feb. 20. He backed up Niemi (see full recap).

Rinne makes 35 saves in Preds’ shutout
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Pekka Rinne stopped 35 shots for his eighth shutout of the season and the Nashville Predators set a franchise record by earning a point in their 15th consecutive game with a 4-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

Mike Fisher and Ryan Johansen scored goals 4:34 apart in the second period, and Filip Forsberg and Ryan Hartman sealed the victory by scoring in the final four minutes.

The NHL-leading Predators improved to 14-0-1 in their past 15, and also extended their team-best road winning streak to nine straight.

Rinne won his 11th straight to match his personal best in a stretch in which he's allowed just 18 goals. The shutout was the 51st of his 12-year career and third in nine games.

And Rinne also improved to 40-9-4 in becoming the NHL's seventh goalie to win 40 games in a season three or more times.

The Predators haven't lost in regulation since a 3-1 defeat to Detroit at home on Feb. 17. And they improved to 12-0-3 in their past 15 road games since a 3-0 loss at Vegas on Jan. 2 (see full recap).

Travis Konecny answering Flyers' call of duty

Travis Konecny answering Flyers' call of duty

Travis Konecny is one of a handful of young Flyers who thrives on confrontation, lining up an opponent in his crosshairs and going for the kill.

And that’s just his profile in Call of Duty — the popular war-based video game he plays occasionally with teammates.

And while Konecny didn't show up on the score sheet Sunday evening, he still answered his call of duty, leading the charge in a variety of ways in the Flyers' 6-3 win over the Capitals that inched the Flyers within four points of division-leading Washington and two points of Pittsburgh for second place. All three teams return to action Tuesday with the Flyers in Detroit.

Battered, bloodied and perhaps a little beaten, Konecny was determined that the Capitals weren’t going to get the best of him.

“I just think I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been here it doesn’t matter what your role is on the team,” Konecny said after the game. “Everybody buys in, everybody blocks shots, everyone goes to the net, everyone backchecks. I think it’s a part of me that’s learned to become a Philadelphia Flyer.”

The orange and black uniform was only a cover for the black and blue bruises Konecny’s body endured. In the third period, he stood directly in the line of fire of Christian Djoos’ shot and then limped back to the locker room. On his next shift, Konecny blocked another shot from Dmitri Orlov.

Even after giving all the postgame interviews, Konecny was still limping. The playing surface at the Wells Fargo Center may not have had enough ice for all of his sore spots.

“He’s got the heart of a lion and I think you’ve seen that all year long,” said Wayne Simmonds, who tallied twice in the win. “I kept telling him that’s what winners are made of. It’s the type of effort we’re going to need from every single guy in this dressing room. He blocks one shot, he gets up slowly, gets back on the ice, blocks another.”

The clean-cut and rather reserved Konecny that came to the Flyers as a 19-year-old rookie last season has now been replaced with a more brash, tattoo-sporting, always-chirping Konecny with a longer hairstyle and the appearance of facial hair.

The only missing element to complete the look is a leather biker’s jacket.  

That rugged toughness was on display again when he dropped the gloves with Washington winger T.J. Oshie and bloodied his knuckles 7:41 into the third period.

“I just got high-sticked right before,” Konecny said. “I got frustrated and I finished my hit on him. Not a bad guy to take off the ice when they’re trying to score."

“It was awesome. It was great to see,” Simmonds said. “You see him get high-sticked there. He didn’t quit on the play and kept going. He battles with a guy who’s probably 20 pounds bigger, maybe more than that. It was a great emotional leap for the team in the third period there. Unbelievable job and kudos to him.”

Konecny, who has 19 goals and 22 asissts on the season and has earned Dave Hakstol's trust with a bump up to the first line alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, has quickly rounded into a five-tool player this season with speed, playmaking, a scoring touch with a hard-nosed edge. Much like Brad Marchand with the Bruins, that type of player becomes vital once the postseason rolls around.

“It gives the bench a good injection of life,” Hakstol said. “They love it and guys love to see that on the bench. I think that’s what our guys expect, but it’s always great when you see one guy doing it.”  

Which is probably why Konecny enjoys that other Call of Duty. Another game with a similar approach, except a lot less painful.

Raffl out
Forward Michael Raffl will miss two weeks with an upper-body injury suffered in the second period against the Capitals Sunday. Raffl, who has 11 goals and eight assists this year, had been seeing some time on the top line with Giroux and Couturier recently.