Flyers

Flyers prove they're the best in the business for 1 night

Flyers prove they're the best in the business for 1 night

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Flyers turned in one of their most impressive performances of the season to defeat the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 Friday night.

It was just the third regulation loss for the Lightning at Amalie Arena, as they came into this game with a 16-2-1 record.

Sean Couturier scored the go-ahead goal with 11 seconds remaining in the second period when he pounced on a loose puck right in front of Lightning goalie Peter Budaj that gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead.

Making his 13th consecutive start, Brian Elliott made some crucial saves late in the second period and finished the game with 24 saves on 27 shots.

Claude Giroux had his second three-assist night in his last five games, and extended his point streak to a season-high seven games.  

Both teams were playing on the second night of back-to-back games. The Flyers improved to 3-2-2 in the second game of back-to-back sets while the Lightning fell to 1-4-0.

• One of the more interesting subplots to this game was to see how Shayne Gostisbehere handled himself in the defensive end against the Bolts’ top line. Early on, Gostisbehere sealed off Lightning star Nikita Kucherov, got the puck back and proceeded to skate it out from behind his net. I liked the confidence and commitment to defense in Gostisbehere’s game at the outset.

• The Lightning buried the Flyers with their power play as Kucherov sent a cross-ice missile right through the box and onto the tape of Steven Stamkos, who may have one of the top three one-timers in the league. Not a thing Brian Elliott could do to stop that.

• The Flyers received a gratuitous power play when Cory Conacher seemingly hooked Gostisbehere. The Flyers’ first unit had a couple of early shots on Budaj and the second unit couldn’t even get set up.

• Another first-period stick infraction for the Flyers as Valtteri Filppula had his stick wrapped around Yanni Gourde. The Flyers’ PK performed much better at closing off those passing lanes while they successfully cleared the zone more often.

• There was a great read by Elliott to pick up Kucherov’s cross-ice pass to a cutting Victor Hedman. A play similar to the power-play goal, but Elliott had just a spilt second longer to react.

• Take away the Stamkos goal and I liked the Flyers’ opening 20 minutes. I give them the slight edge when the two teams skated at 5-on-5, even though the shot total was even.

• The Flyers can’t seem to cut down on the odd-man rushes. The Lightning had a golden opportunity early in the second period and the Flyers were fortunate that Conacher hit the outside post.

• The Flyers’ third line had an extended shift five minutes into the second period. Nolan Patrick looked much more comfortable playing alongside Wayne Simmonds than he did with Jake Voracek.

• The Lightning PK got a little overaggressive and the Flyers caught them in more of a diamond formation. With Dan Girardi as the only defender down in the low blocks, he unwisely went to his knees. That opened up a passing lane as Sean Couturier completed a nice no-look, backhand pass across the crease to Simmonds, who slammed it home. That snapped an 0-for-9 power-play skid.

• The Flyers continued to push play at even strength as Gostisbehere and Patrick nearly teamed up for a quality scoring chance, but the “Ghost” pass was just a touch behind Patrick.

• Kucherov took a retaliatory slashing penalty against Robert Hagg and that led to the Flyers’ scoring their second power-play goal. Gostisbehere was operating in the right circle as Simmonds took the shot, Giroux grabbed the rebound and fed a pass to “Ghost,” who found the wide-open net. 

• The Lightning’s big guns were able to strike late in the second period as Ivan Provorov turned the puck over in the neutral zone. That allowed Tampa to transition quickly and led to a 3-on-2 as no one picked up Brayden Point in the slot. Point nearly whiffed on his shot, but got just enough of it to throw off Elliott’s timing.

• Elliott bailed out the Flyers again as Alex Killorn got past Andrew MacDonald and skated in all alone. A sprawling Elliott denied Killorn with his right pad. Less than a minute later, Point sped his way around Radko Gudas and got a chance to bang home a shot. Once again, Elliott had everything sealed up.

• The Flyers grabbed a late lead in the second period as Tampa struggled to clear the zone. Gostisbehere jumped on the loose puck and fed it to Provorov, who fired a cross-ice pass to Giroux. Budaj robbed Giroux, but the puck squirted free and Couturier was there to clean it up. It was a big momentum goal for the Flyers.

• Elliott had another highlight-reel save when he snared Kucherov’s potential game-tying goal with a beautiful glove save. Fifteen seconds later, defenseman Brandon Manning, playing for the first time in 10 games, pinched down low. The initial shot was saved by Budaj, but Manning corralled the puck behind the net and wrapped it around for the goal.

• With the Flyers looking to add another power-play goal, they were doomed by an unfortunate circumstance when Provorov snapped his stick on a slap shot from the point. Provorov was left trying to defend Tyler Johnson without a stick. Johnson made a nice move to free up a shooting lane and proceeded to beat Elliott high to the blocker side.

• Scott Laughton lost an edge and undercut Budaj, who was clearly injured and had to be helped off the ice. The Flyers were fortunate they weren’t whistled for goaltender interference. It was a bad break for both teams as the Flyers had success against Budaj, who was replaced with No. 1 goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy.

• Valtteri Filppula scored an empty-net goal against his former team to put the game away.

Lineups, pairings and scratches 

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

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

Goalies
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Mark Alt, Taylor Leier and Travis Sanheim.

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers

BOX SCORE

When asked what he thought about the current Flyers team prior to his retirement ceremony, Eric Lindros admitted he really didn’t know all that much regarding this year’s team. 

After Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Lindros’ hometown Maple Leafs (see observations), "Big E" and a sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd learned something about the Flyers that no one in Philadelphia had been privy to.

The Flyers capped off their first win this season when trailing by two or more goals entering the third period. Interestingly, the only other third-period comeback that led to a victory was when they trailed this same Toronto team, 2-1, on Dec. 12. Prior to this game, the Flyers were 1-12-2 this season when trailing after two periods.

Certainly, the Flyers needed goal scoring, but more importantly, they also received a handful of momentum saves from goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

“Huge," Neuvirth said regarding his 29-save performance. “When we tied it, it was like, 'OK, here we go. You gotta be at your best right now.' So I was just focusing on the next shot. Just happy the way the guys responded in the third.”

Neuvirth had little, if any, margin of error after the Leafs scored twice in a 28-second span to grab a 2-0 advantage, but the Flyers' backup netminder provided a handful of momentum saves that allowed the Flyers to win in overtime.

• A minute after Wayne Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with a shorthanded goal, Neuvirth stopped Auston Matthews and Connor Brown on back-to-back shots, including an impressive blocker save on Brown from up close.

• With 2:48 remaining in regulation, Neuvirth made the save of the game with the Leafs coming down on a 2-on-1. Neuvirth expected Nazem Kadri to shoot. Instead, he passed it to his left, forcing Neuvirth to make a full extension on Patrick Marleau, turning aside the shot with the tip of his right pad (see highlights).

• Neuvirth denied Matthews from in tight with another pad save just 10 seconds into overtime. That save created a 2-on-1 scoring chance resulting in Sean Couturier’s game-winning score. 

“At least three 10-bell saves by Neuvy. He was tremendous,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We generated a lot in the third period, but when you give up those chances against, Neuvy stole the show in my opinion and you need those saves sometimes to win games. For me, he was first star.”

Neuvirth and the rest of the Flyers needed an initial spark and 19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick was surprisingly the one to provide it. After taking a shot that hit the side of the net and caromed behind it, Patrick chased down Mitch Marner, stole the puck and fired a quick shot on goaltender Frederik Andersen for his first goal in his last 25 games.

“I tried to forget how many games it was in a row without a goal and just keep playing,” Patrick said. “I thought I was playing some good hockey lately and I knew it would come.”

A minute and 52 seconds later, Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with the Flyers' second shorthanded goal of the season, extending his point streak to six games.

Struggling to find the right overtime combinations, Hakstol elected to go with the trio of Couturier, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov to start the extra session. Couturier continued his magical run and now has 11 goals in his last 12 games, while also providing five game-winning goals in the Flyers' last 10 victories. 

“He’s hot. We keep calling him ‘Rocket,’" Simmonds said, referring to Hall of Famer Maurice “Rocket” Richard. “You just keep giving him the puck and he’s going to find the back of the net. When you’re hot, you want to keep giving it to a guy like that. Hopefully, he’s going to continue to score for us.”

More Couturier goals and more game-changing saves, and the Flyers will find themselves rocketing up the standings.

Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

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Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

TAMPA, Fla. -- Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves, David Perron had a goal and an assist, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 Thursday night in a matchup of conference leaders.

James Neal, Nate Schmidt and William Karlsson also scored for the Golden Knights, who swept the two-game season series with the NHL-leading Lightning.

Tampa Bay, coming off its bye week, got a goal from Ondrej Palat, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots. Vasilevskiy, an All-Star this season, has allowed 19 goals over his last four games.

Fleury made a number of impressive stops, including a left-circle shot by Steven Stamkos and in-close chance from Nikita Kucherov during the second period. The goalie, who spent most of career with Pittsburgh, is 19-11-4 against the Lightning.

Neal opened the scoring with a nifty deflection 56 seconds into the first, and Schmidt made it 2-0 with 3:57 left in the period. Deryk Engelland got his 100th NHL assist on Neal's goal.

Vegas is 19-1-0 when scoring first, with the lone loss coming Oct. 30 to the New York Islanders (see full recap).

Devils beat Caps in OT on Hall’s goal
NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall scored on a breakaway 34 seconds into overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night.

Sami Vatanen collected his third assist of the game on the winning goal, a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Braden Holtby.

Drew Stafford, Andy Greene and Miles Wood also scored for the Devils, who have won two straight after breaking a six-game winless streak (0-3-3). Keith Kinkaid had 16 saves and the Devils killed off all five Washington power plays.

Brett Connolly scored twice and Dmitry Orlov had a goal for the Capitals, who lost for only the second time in eight games. The Capitals, however, extended their streak of getting a point against New Jersey to 14 games (12-0-2).

Holtby made 28 saves, but gave up three breakaway goals (see full recap).

Panarin puts Stars over the top in shootout
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Artemi Panarin scored in the second round of a shootout, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Thursday night.

Joonas Korpisalo had 35 saves for Columbus (26-18-3), which returned from its five-day break after losing both ends of a back-to-back last week. Jordan Schroeder scored his first goal of the season in the first period.

Korpisalo blocked a shootout try by Jason Spezza before Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin came up empty. Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop blocked Jussi Jokinen's shootout attempt before Panarin beat him.

Korpisalo got the start ahead of Vezina Trophy-winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled in the recent losses. The 23-year-old Finn got his first win in nearly a month in his ninth game this season.

Dan Hamhuis scored for Dallas with 2:15 left in regulation. Bishop had 25 stops, including a terrific glove save on Alexander Wennberg with 30 seconds left in the third.

Dallas (26-17-4) had won two in a row (see full recap).