Flyers-Maple Leafs observations: Jakub Voracek, top line sparks bounce-back win

Flyers-Maple Leafs observations: Jakub Voracek, top line sparks bounce-back win


TORONTO — The Flyers were determined they weren't going to leave Canada without declaring a victory through customs, taking down the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, Saturday night at Air Canada Center.

The Flyers dominated the second period, outshooting the Leafs, 16-8, and grabbed a 4-2 lead after 40 minutes. That was all they needed.

With the win, the Flyers improved to 5-0-0 this season when leading after two periods and 5-0-0 when Claude Giroux scores a goal.

Brian Elliott stopped 28 of 30 shots for his fifth win in seven starts.

• The Flyers played an extremely conservative third period, not allowing the Maple Leafs to generate an odd-man rush.

• One of the big advantages for the Flyers was their ability to generate puck possession with their four lines, as the Leafs have been struggling to find secondary scoring behind their top line of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Zach Hyman.

That trio was a threat from their opening shift and played some major minutes.

• The Leafs came out determined in the opening minute of the second period. They had a 2-on-1 opportunity on the opening shift. Hyman had a clear shot on Elliott that could have been a goal had Shayne Gostisbehere not committed a slash, breaking up the potential scoring chance.

• Robert Hagg was called for holding Nazem Kadri, who lost his edge otherwise I’m not sure that penalty is called. The Flyers were forced to kill off a 5-on-3 for 34 seconds. Credit the Flyers' penalty kill, which has been very good since Ottawa’s flukey power-play goal in the opening minute of that game.

• Leo Komarov had a nasty check on Gostisbehere, extending his arms into the back of Gostisbehere, whose head appeared to snap following the blow into the boards.

Gostisbehere left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury and did not return.

• The Flyers found a weak spot in Frederik Anderson's game. Valtteri Filppula connected on a power-play goal that went top-right over Anderson's glove for a 3-1 lead.

For Filppula, that's his third power-play goal this season, tying him for the team lead with Wayne Simmonds.

Roughly four minutes later, Giroux took a nice cross-ice stretch pass from Jakub Voracek and scored in the same exact spot to extend the Flyers' lead to 4-1.

• Elliott displayed good rebound control throughout most of the game. However, he was unable to cover a rebound in front of him with Toronto’s Connor Brown right there on his doorstep. Brown attracted the attention of both Ivan Provorov and Gostisbehere and once the puck squirted free, Kadri was able to lunge for the puck and put it into a wide-open net.

• Voracek now has a goal in two straight games. On a play that appeared Radko Gudas could have been whistled for interference, Sean Couturier backhanded a pass to Voracek, who blew past Leafs defenseman Morgan Reilly and beat Anderson five-hole.

• Matthews made an impressive play to give Toronto a 1-0 leading, assisting on Kadri's first-period goal. As Gudas stepped up at the blue line, Matthews entered the offensive zone with speed and was easily able to blow around Provorov. He then fed Kadri, who broke into the zone on the opposite side. Because Provorov had shifted to the right side, Scott Laughton was playing back and couldn't change direction fast enough to cover Kadri.

Yes, Gudas shouldn't have stepped up, but credit Matthews and Josh Leivo for making the initial pass.

• With the Leafs breaking in two new players on their fourth line, I thought the Laughton line could create a mismatch. Instead, Leafs coach Mike Babcock elected to utilize his second line against the Flyers' fourth line.

With eight minutes remaining in the opening period, the Flyers executed a perfect offensive-zone entry, as Michael Raffl backhanded a pass to Taylor Leier, who drew a pair of defenders and Laughton finished the play with Brandon Manning scoring off the rush.

• The Flyers had some quality zone entries in the first period, where they were able to skate the puck in and set up their offense as opposed to a dump-and-chase game.

• Couturier committed his first penalty of the season in the first period when he was called for tripping. Couturier held out his arms as to question what he did wrong. It was the Flyers' only penalty in a rather clean opening 20 minutes.

• Travis Konecny made a very risky play in the opening stanza when he reached out with his stick and attempted to go for the steal on Nylander and a potential breakaway. Instead, the highly-skilled Nylander was able to pull the puck back on his stick, skate around Konecny and fire off a quality shot.

Thankfully for the Flyers, Nylander’s shot went high and wide of the net. If it was a game where the Flyers needed to take risks, then I’d fine with Konecny attempting that play, but not in a 1-1 game in the first period.


Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Matt Read-Jori Lehtera-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

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

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Nolan Patrick (upper-body injury), Dale Weise (healthy)

Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

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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.)

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way


OTTAWA, Ontario — An early goal, a beautiful goal, a lucky goal and a disallowed goal. That’s all you need to know about the Flyers' 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon (see observations). Just for fun though, here’s a little more detail.

Ivan Provorov scored 28 seconds into the game to get the Flyers going in what eventually turned out to be their fifth consecutive win and 11th consecutive game with a point.

With the score 2-1 in favor of the Flyers late in the second period, Zack Smith looked like he had tied the game for the Senators, but coach Dave Hakstol issued a challenge and the goal was overturned on an offside that wasn’t originally called.

Well done.

In the third period, Claude Giroux scored a beautiful breakaway goal when he contorted his body to his backhand then back to his forehand before depositing the puck behind Craig Anderson in the Ottawa goal, who was left in a twisted heap in the corner of the crease.

That goal made it 3-1 four minutes into the third and after Nolan Patrick made it 4-1, Brandon Manning dumped a shot in just passed the red line, but the puck hit a stanchion in the glass and redirected into the net. Anderson had a great view of the goal from behind the net where he was standing after he went out to play the puck.

“We’re getting the bounces,” Giroux said.

“Brandon Manning’s goal, you can’t draw that up, but we’re definitely going to take it.”

Robert Hagg also scored for the Flyers, who momentarily slipped into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins lost in regulation at Florida, but Washington downed Buffalo, so the Capitals have moved back into first with 76 points, one more than both the Flyers and Penguins. The Flyers are in second in the Metro right now because they have played 62 games, one less than the Pens. But Pittsburgh currently owns the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker 34-32 and that could come into play down the line when the games played even out.

Still, the Flyers are four points clear of New Jersey and a wild-card spot and nine points clear of Columbus and the playoff brink.

Considering they were last in the division about two months ago, that’s a pretty remarkable turnaround.

“I think it was always in the room and that we just had to believe in ourselves and know that we were capable of doing good things,” said forward Travis Konecny.

“We just had to stick with it and eventually things were going to pay off for us.”

That they have, and although Saturday might not have been the Flyers' best effort, it was good enough. The Senators got two late goals from Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to make the final count a little more respectable. Mike Hoffman also scored.

“We’re playing some good hockey right now and everyone has bought into what we want to do here,” Giroux said, adding the overturned goal was big.

“Anytime you get a goal like that turned (over), it’s a relief and a walk-up call at the same time,”

Patrick scored just his ninth goal in his rookie season, but he has six in his last 13, including goals in four straight.

“I think I’ve been playing good in the last 15 to 20 games and not just because of the goals; I think I’ve improved on both ends of the puck,” Patrick said.

He was standing at the top of the crease when Manning’s shot-pass hit his stick and redirected in past Anderson.

On a final note and not to be lost in all the offense, Petr Mrazek made 25 saves and has won both starts with the Flyers since he was acquired last week from the Detroit Red Wings.

All is good on Broad Street.