Flyers-Jets observations: Goal drought ends, but no win to show for it

Flyers-Jets observations: Goal drought ends, but no win to show for it


WINNIPEG, Manitoba — All the Flyers needed was a change of opponent to change their goal-scoring luck. However, it didn’t change the outcome. 

The Jets connected on 3 of 4 shootout attempts to earn the extra point Thursday and defeat the Flyers, 3-2, at Bell MTS Place in Winnipeg.

Jakub Voracek snapped the goalless drought just 2:27 into the opening period and Sean Couturier added to the lead a few minutes later as the Flyers were up 2-0 after the opening period. 

Jets center Mark Scheifele tied the game with 49 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime.

Despite the loss, Brian Elliott was still superb in net as he turned aside 31 of 33 shots.

• Jacob Trouba deserved a high-sticking penalty with roughly two minutes remaining in overtime when he shoved the butt of his stick under Couturier’s chin. Nothing was called by the officials. 

• The Flyers were given another power play and a chance to extend their lead in the third after Dustin Byfuglien’s sloppy tripping penalty on Travis Konecny. Couturier appeared to have a wide-open net from the left circle with Connor Hellebuyck out of position, but he hesitated long enough as it appeared he couldn’t get off a clean shot through traffic.

• The Flyers’ penalty kill came up with an excellent kill early in the third period as the Jets’ PP wasn't able to generate even one shot on Elliott. The Jets never really threatened to score during the entire two minutes.

• There was good early pressure from the Flyers’ second line when Jordan Weal and Konecny harassed the Jets’ defensive tandem of Toby Enstrom and Byfuglien into a turnover as Enstrom threw a blind pass behind the net. Eventually, that line drew a penalty when Scheifele crosschecked Valtteri Filppula away from the puck.

• Excellent rebound control for Elliott throughout, especially on the Jets’ first power play attempt of the second period. You can’t fault him at all on the Jets’ goal once Brandon Manning was deked on the play off a beautiful move from Joel Arnia. Arnia then fed a cutting Mathieu Perreault, who slid a backhand under Elliott’s pads. The play started when the Jets won the faceoff cleanly and the Flyers couldn’t settle into their coverage.

• Where was the forward coverage on Scheifele’s wide-open backhand shot on Elliott late in the second period? With the defense tied up in coverage along the boards, it appeared as if Konecny was late to react to a wide-open Scheifele in the slot.   

• With the Flyers in the middle of a line change, Couturier forced Trouba into a turnover along the boards and then centered a pass to Konecny, who had a wide-open look from the high slot. Those are the opportunities the other lines need to create and the type of shots Konecny needs to convert. Konecny had another prime opportunity with about five minutes remaining. It appeared he had a wide-open look but then elected to pass.

• Byfuglien delivered an elbow and an open-ice hit that came very close to Weal’s head. No penalty was called, but it very easily could have been elbowing as Byfuglien extended his forearm against a smaller Weal.

• It looked like the second power-play unit had an open seam to Michael Raffl right in front of the crease as the Jets lost containment for a second. Raffl has played well on the fourth line, but hasn’t had too many scoring opportunities. He has just 12 shots on goal in his first 18 games.

• Late in the second period, players on both teams started taking runs at their opponent as they tried to line up the big open-ice hit. These game against Byfuglien and the Jets usually seem to trend in that direction.

• It took all of 2:27 into the first period for the Flyers to finally break the drought. The play started when the Jets’ shot attempt missed the net completely, which produced a clean breakout for the Flyers. Voracek brought the puck across the blue line and sent a cross-ice pass to Couturier, who unleashed a shot that created a big rebound. Credit Couturier for shooting low on Hellebuyck and Voracek skating into the middle where he was in perfect position for the rebound goal.

• Mired in a 4-for-35 slump, the power play gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead as it was able to find the open lanes in the Jets’ box. Voracek spotted Wayne Simmonds just to the left of Hellebuyck. Simmonds nearly scored along the post, but his shot created another rebound in the slot where Couturier was lurking. 

• With Scott Laughton off for hooking, the Jets’ always dangerous first-unit power play looked to unleash Patrick Laine’s wicked one-timer. Elliott was obviously trending to his right and was in position to make a couple of saves on Laine.

• Perreault completely baited Radko Gudas into the five-minute slashing major when Perreault was taking several whacks into Gudas’ back. After having his helmet dislodged and slipping to the ice, Gudas caught Perreault’s neck with his stick (see video). It had the appearance of a very dangerous play, but those are the types of plays that Gudas needs to show some restraint. The play looked a lot worse than it was. 

• Can’t figure out what the officials were thinking when they assessed matching minors and then went to look at video before making the determination that Gudas deserved a major/game misconduct. You make those calls on the ice, not after video review.      

• Big glove save from Elliott on Bryan Little. However, the play was set up by Nikolaj Ehlers, the Danish-born winger who’s one of the more underrated players in the NHL. Ehlers has loads of talent with tremendous puck-handling skills and terrific speed. Ehlers had another drag move that completely faked out Simmonds to free up his shot on the Jets’ power play.

• The best shift of the first period came from Laughton as he displayed tremendous pursuit and aggression to fight off three Winnipeg defenders and cycle the puck behind the net. After the Jets finally gained possession, Laughton never stopped skating and jumped on a turnover and was able to get a shot off from the high slot. Textbook shift! 

• Travis Sanheim seemed inspired to play in front of about 20 family and friends who made the drive to Winnipeg from Elkhorn, Manitoba, which is about a three-hour drive west. Sanheim made a good defensive play on Perreault and then made a nice pass to Couturier, who didn’t appear to be expecting the feed. He seems primed to score his first NHL goal.

Lines, pairings and scratches

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

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

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Forward Jori Lehtera (healthy) and defenseman Mark Alt (healthy).

Best of NHL: Islanders shut down Capitals to snap 5-game skid

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Best of NHL: Islanders shut down Capitals to snap 5-game skid

NEW YORK -- Jaroslav Halak made 31 saves after getting a vote of confidence from his coach, and the New York Islanders beat the Washington Capitals 3-1 on Monday night to snap a five-game winless streak.

Brock Nelson, Andrew Ladd and John Tavares scored goals for the Islanders, who built a 3-0 lead early in the second period and ended Washington's four-game winning streak.

It was the second time this season that Halak held an opponent to a single goal and the third time New York has allowed one goal as a team. Halak's strong performance came after coach Doug Weight sternly defended his goaltenders following the team's skate Monday morning. New York was 0-3-2 over its last five games.

Braden Holtby made nine saves for the Capitals before being pulled after the Islanders scored their third goal 1:34 into the second period. Philipp Grubauer made 17 saves in relief, and Dmitry Orlov scored Washington's only goal (see full recap).

Bernier makes 39 saves as Avalanche top Penguins
PITTSBURGH -- Jonathan Bernier stopped 39 shots and Mark Barberio scored in the third period, helping the Colorado Avalanche top the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Monday night.

Blake Comeau added an empty netter against his former team as Colorado won its second straight after a string of six losses in seven games. It was Comeau's seventh of the season.

Barberio put the Avalanche ahead to stay 6:17 into the third. His slap shot off the rush hit Pittsburgh forward Riley Sheahan in front and got past goaltender Tristan Jarry.

Bernier was on track for his second shutout of the season before Phil Kessel scored his 15th goal for Pittsburgh at 19:48. Bernier beat the Penguins for just the second time in 10 career games (see full recap).

Perreault, Jets beat Canucks to snap skid
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Mathieu Perreault scored two goals and added an assist to help the Winnipeg Jets halt a three-game losing streak with a 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday night.

The win was the Jets' seventh straight victory at home and they have points in their last 11 games (10-0-1) at Bell MTS Place.

The Canucks have lost three straight in regulation for the first time this season.

Dmitry Kulikov, Josh Morrissey and Nikolaj Ehlers also scored for Winnipeg (18-8-5). Ehlers' 14th of the season was on the power play and gave him goals in three straight games.

Brock Boeser scored his team-leading 16th goal for the Canucks. He also extended his goal-scoring streak to three games.

Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves for Winnipeg (see full recap).

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Reversing home fortunes

Flyers notes, quotes and tidbits: Reversing home fortunes

VOORHEES, N.J. — Home is where the _____.

For the Flyers, filling in this blank hasn’t solicited positive responses this season.

Of course, the Flyers haven’t provided positive results.

After trouncing the Capitals and Panthers in their first two home games of the season, the Flyers have dropped 10 of their last 12 in South Philly. They gifted the Arizona Coyotes their first win of the season back in late October and have turned in lethargic efforts against the Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins in recent weeks.

More alarmingly, the Flyers have just a 1-2-5 record in one-goal games, a situation in which home ice should come into play as one of the deciding factors. The losing and frustration culminated with a barrage of boos and a “Fire Hakstol” chant during that 3-1 loss to the Sharks on Nov. 28.

“It doesn’t help, but we’re not doing anything to help ourselves,” goaltender Brian Elliott said Monday. “You’re trying not to listen to any crowd. You’re just trying to block it all out and stay in that moment, just playing with your team out there, and that’s probably how I approach it. It’s taking that road style hockey game and bringing it here.” 

“I think the atmosphere will be better,” Sean Couturier said. “When you’re losing, it’s tough. We were trying so hard to get a win. It didn’t seem to come, and then finally to get one, two and then three. We’re kind of on a roll, but at the same time, it’s only three games. We’re pretty excited to be back home and keep winning.”  

Tuesday, the team will be looking to change its Wells Fargo Center fortunes when it opens up another five-game homestand, its longest of the season, beginning with a visit from the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Flyers are hopeful they can carry over their success from a three-game sweep in Western Canada when the Leafs hit town. 

“We keep it simple on the road. We went on the road and made a pact to keep it simple and play the right way,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We’ve had one of the best home records over the past three years. I think we do alright at home. Obviously, we’ve had a slow start at home, but we’ll pick it up.”

Not that the previous 14 home games have been irrelevant, but the final 27 games on home ice will have a much greater emphasis as 23 of their final 28 games come against Eastern Conference opponents, with 12 of those directly within the Metropolitan Division.

“From now on, games are going to get more and more important,” Couturier said. “Every point is pretty much necessary for us, especially when you lose 10 games in a row. You get behind in the standings and you’re chasing. We've got to stick together and get some more wins.”

'Ghost' feels for Wentz
Shayne Gostisbehere knows what it's like to wake up the way Carson Wentz did on Monday morning.

Wentz tore the ACL in his left knee during Sunday’s 43-35 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. 

In November 2014, Gostisbehere tore the same ACL in his knee during his rookie season with the Phantoms just five games in and never returned to action. Faced with months of rehab, there were moments when "Ghost" didn’t feel as if the injury was improving.   

“I saw the game yesterday,” Gostisbehere said. “I hope for the best for him. The rehab is really grueling. It's ups and downs. Some days you’re going to feel great, feel like you’re getting ahead of the game, and other days you feel you’re never going to get better. I think overall he’s going to have the best care in the world. I think obviously you hope for the best and hope it’s not that bad.”

Elliott named third star
Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott was named the NHL’s third star of the week after posting three road wins with a 1.67 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.

“It’s great when you get recognized,” Elliott said. “Whenever you get those recognitions as a goalie, it really shows how the group has been playing, especially this last week here. It’s probably my name up there, but definitely the whole team deserves that.”