Flyers

Flyers keep goals coming in win vs. Blues

Flyers keep goals coming in win vs. Blues

BOX SCORE

The Flyers on Saturday afternoon completed a season sweep of the St. Louis Blues, winning, 6-3, at the Wells Fargo Center in the return of former Flyers forward Brayden Schenn.

The Flyers blanked the Blues, 2-0, at Scottrade Center Nov. 2.

Tyrell Goulbourne, making his NHL debut, delivered a bone-jarring hit on Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo that set up the game’s first goal on a shot from Scott Laughton.

Goulbourne finished his first NHL game with 5:08 of ice time and just 20 seconds played in the third period.

With a goal and a pair of assists, Claude Giroux contributed another three-point performance, his third in the past eight games.

Making his 16th consecutive start, Brian Elliott turned aside 28 of 31 shots for his 16th victory. 

• Goulbourne, wearing No. 56, made his presence known off his opening shift. He collided with Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester with a big hit along the glass and then annihilated Pietrangelo with a big open ice hit that led to Laughton retrieving the puck and firing a shot he placed perfectly in the top left part of the net for a 1-0 Flyers lead. An unassisted goal, but Goulbourne played a big part in it.

“I just saw the puck underneath his feet and tried to knock him over,” Goulbourne said between periods. “I wasn’t really worried about the puck there. I just wanted to get that first hit under me.”

• There was a good scoring chance for the Flyers’ top line with the Blues' third defense pairing out on the ice, as the Flyers spread out the Blues' defense. Radko Gudas took a shot from the point, which led to a rebound when Sean Couturier worked his way between the defensemen.

• On their very next shift, off an Ivan Provorov blocked shot, Giroux took the puck and led the rush up the right side where he attempted to thread a pass to Travis Konecny. Instead, the puck deflected off the butt of Colton Parayko and past Blues goaltender Jake Allen for an early 2-0 Flyers lead. Allen had already committed to a possible pass to Konecny and had no chance of reversing course.   

• Jake Voracek draws so much attention when he brings the puck across the blue line that it benefits whoever is playing on his line. Jordan Weal was the latest recipient when Voracek attracted three defenders and then dished it off to Weal, who had open ice and speed to burn. Weal put a beautiful move on Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson and then went to his backhand to slide it past Allen for the goal, which made it 3-0.  

• The Flyers controlled play for the first 35 minutes, winning the majority of puck battles while creating more transition opportunities. The Blues reversed that trend when Pietrangelo and Vladimir Tarasenko made plays off their backhand to spring Paul Stastny on a 2-on-1, leading to the Ivan Barbashev goal that cut the Flyers' lead to 4-1. First, I credit Tarasenko, who batted the puck out of the air, which led to the break. Secondly, Elliott should have sealed off the post. There wasn’t much Barbashev could have done off his backhand from that angle, and Elliott appeared to have been caught by surprise.  

• The Blues cut the Flyers’ lead to 4-2 in the first 12 seconds of the third period as Blues coach Mike Yeo switched up his lines to start. The combination of Barbashev, Tarasenko and Stastny opened the scoring with Bouwmeester’s two-line cross-ice pass to Barbashev on the right wing. Tarasenko wheeled completely around Giroux and as Shayne Gostisbehere dropped to a knee, Tarasenko centered a pass to Stastny for an easy goal.   

• Provorov has had a very up-and-down week. He committed what could have been a costly turnover early in the game. As both teams were making line changes, Provorov attempted a centering pass Alexander Steen intercepted, skated in and fired a shot from the high slot. Thankfully for Provorov and the Flyers, the shot hit Elliott right in the crest.

• After connecting for three power-play goals in the win against the Islanders, the Flyers' PP came up empty in their first two opportunities in the opening period. They generated five shots on net, but outside of Wayne Simmonds' attempt to bang one home from down low, they were all low percentage attempts.

• The Flyers had a 2-on-1 in the opening minutes of the second period with Voracek leading the rush down the right wing. Instead of faking a shot, Voracek telegraphed a pass to Valtteri Filppula, who didn’t have much on his one-time shot. All of which made for an easy read and save for Allen.

• As well as he’s played on that top line, I still think there’s room for improvement for Konecny, who had a couple of shifts where he appeared to be looking to score instead of creating offense. He fired a sharp angle shot high that had very little chance of going in, instead of shooting low with Couturier charging to the net. Konecny had another opportunity to feed a backhand pass to Couturier but didn’t appear to be looking to pass.      

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

Defense
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goaltending
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Just shoot! Jakub Voracek quiets many with his heroics

Just shoot! Jakub Voracek quiets many with his heroics

BOX SCORE

Jakub Voracek had dead aim, at least that’s what the score sheet confirmed Tuesday following the Flyers' 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens (see observations).

Two shots on net. Two shots that found a way past Carey Price.

Even though the NHL’s assist leader has more shots on net than Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Voracek hears the voices that say he passes up on quality scoring opportunities. 

One prime example came with 30 seconds remaining in the second period. Claude Giroux forced a takeaway and fed Voracek on a 2-on-0 prime scoring chance, but it resulted in Voracek sending a pass back to Giroux when perhaps he should have shot.

“It’s always easier to say we’re over-passing things,” Voracek said. “If you’re on the ice, the actual situation looks completely different. I hear ‘shoot the puck’ every single time I touch it. If I listened to all the people who say shoot the puck, I’d have 500 shots at the end of the season.”

However, Voracek shot the puck when it mattered most. With the Flyers trailing, 2-1, Dave Hakstol pulled goaltender Alex Lyon for the extra attacker Voracek, who took a shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off the stick of Max Pacioretty and past Price for the game-tying goal, and then buried the game-winner 1:26 into overtime (see highlights).

When asked if he caught Price by surprise on the equalizer, Voracek responded: “Me shooting? 100 percent. I just tried to hide behind the D and I got lucky and it went in.”

“It’s one of those nights when you had a lot of really good scoring opportunities and we weren’t able to cash in on them,” Hakstol said. “It’s nice to get a bounce like that with a minute and a half to go to tie it up.”

For the game, the Flyers had 79 shot attempts to Montreal’s 55. Thankfully for the Flyers, No. 79 was Voracek’s game-winner, which came at the end of his 56-second shift. Had he missed the net and been forced to play defense at the other end of the ice, there may not have been much left in the tank.     

“I was pretty tired,” Voracek said. “I’d rather have it like that. If I had missed the net, I’d have to stay on the ice and try to backcheck after, so I got lucky.”

Voracek became the second player in franchise history to score a game-tying goal in the final two minutes of regulation, and then follow it up with an overtime game-winner. Moving forward, the Flyers may need Voracek to shoot and score more with the recent injury to Wayne Simmonds, who will miss the next two to three weeks with an upper-body injury (see story).

To make matters worse, Flyers top-line winger Travis Konecny may have suffered a foot injury after taking a shot off his skate in the opening period (see video). Konecny never left the game but labored playing short, limited shifts, and wasn’t on the ice with Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov to begin the overtime session.

“He obviously got hit with the puck there, but he finished the game and that’s part of the game,” Hakstol said. “He was obviously sore through the rest of the game, but I give him credit, he continued to battle through to do everything that he could.”

Less than 24 hours after the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings to solidify the goaltending position, Alex Lyon turned in another solid effort with 25 saves on 27 shots, beating perennial All-Stars Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price in back-to-back victories.

“Yeah, it’s cool obviously to play against those guys,” Lyon said. “You watch them and you try to model your game after them. Obviously, they’re fantastic. In the same breath, you've got to go out there and say, ‘I’m coming out here to be better than you today.’”  

“It’s always nice to have some clarity,” Hakstol said. “I think Alex said it best after the game in New York the other day — it’s an ever-changing business. You just have to be ready and prepared for what the next day brings. He pretty much lived by his words.”

Notables
• Simmonds' streak of 223 consecutive games played ended Tuesday night. It marked the first game Simmonds has missed dating back to April 11, 2015.

• For the third straight game, the Flyers weren’t forced to utilize their penalty kill at any point, becoming the second team in NHL history to go three games without allowing a power-play opportunity.

• Forward Oskar Lindblom made his NHL debut Tuesday night, replacing the injured Simmonds in the Flyers' lineup. Lindblom finished the game with 15:11 of ice time and one shot on net.  

Blue Jackets snap skid on rare Harrington goal

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Blue Jackets snap skid on rare Harrington goal

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman Scott Harrington broke a second-period tie with his second goal of the season, and the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets snapped a three-game losing streak and ended the New Jersey Devils' four-game winning streak with a 2-1 decision on Tuesday night.

Boone Jenner also scored as the Blue Jackets moved into the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference with 65 points, one ahead of Carolina and the Islanders. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves in helping the Blue Jackets win for the fifth time in 15 games (5-9-2).

Taylor Hall scored for the Devils to extend his point-scoring streak to 12 games, tying David Pastrnak of the Bruins for the league-high this season. He also pushed his personal point-scoring streak to 19 games. He missed three games with a thumb injury, so the league does not consider that to be part of his current streak.

Keith Kinkaid had 17 saves for New Jersey, which holds the first wild-card spot in the conference (see full recap).

Point helps Lightning beat Capitals in showdown
WASHINGTON -- Brayden Point scored two first-period goals, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 shots to earn his NHL-leading 35th victory and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 Tuesday night in a matchup between division leaders.

Chris Kunitz also scored in the opening period, which ended with Tampa Bay up 3-0. That was enough of a cushion for Vasilevskiy, an All-Star who came in with a 2.34 goals-against average.

After Alex Ovechkin notched his NHL-high 36th goal for Washington to make it 3-2 at 11:02 of the third period, Nikita Kucherov clinched it with a breakaway goal with 7:02 remaining.

The victory improved Tampa Bay's NHL-best record to 40-17-3 and kept the Lightning ahead of surging Boston in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

Lars Eller scored a power-play goal for the Capitals, who lead Pittsburgh by one point in the Metropolitan Division (see full recap).

Andersen makes 40 saves in Maple Leafs’ shutout
TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen made 40 saves and James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal as the surging Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Tuesday night.

The shutout was Andersen's career-best fifth of the season. The 28-year-old goalie has reached 30 wins for the third time.

Toronto (37-20-5) has won 11 of 12 and improved to 14-4-2 since Jan. 4.

The Panthers (26-25-6) have dropped back-to-back games after opening their five-game road trip with three straight wins. Florida entered the night six points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Florida threatened in the third with goaltender Roberto Luongo pulled for an extra attacker, but Andersen managed to thwart the Panthers' best chance -- a point shot from Keith Yandle with 23 seconds remaining.

Luongo stopped 30 shots in the loss (see full recap).