Flyers rebound with 60-minute effort in bounce-back win over Maple Leafs

Flyers rebound with 60-minute effort in bounce-back win over Maple Leafs


TORONTO — Turning the page, turning the corner.

Whatever label you want to attach to it, the Flyers proved yet again Saturday night that disappointments don't seem to fester with this club, as they turned in a complete 60-minute effort, beating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-2, at Air Canada Center (see observations).

It also helped the Flyers didn't spot their opponent a 3-0 lead like they had in their previous two road games, in Nashville and against just two days ago in Ottawa, where they felt robbed of a game-tying goal in the final minute of a 5-4 loss.

"I thought we deserved a better result than what we got in Ottawa," Brian Elliott, who won for the fifth time in seven starts, said. "I thought we played a good game. We knew we had to come out 50 percent on this road trip. These are a big two points in this building right now."

"I think we played a really good hockey game, all 60 minutes," Jakub Voracek said. "It's a tough building to play in. That team is very good. I'd say they're one of the best teams in the NHL with a lot of young guys and a lot of speed. I think we eliminated them pretty well.”

The turning point Saturday came in the opening minutes of the second period when Shayne Gostisbehere was called for a necessary slashing penalty on Zach Hyman that negated a potential goal. Roughly a minute and a half later, Robert Hagg went to the box for holding, which left the Maple Leafs with a 5-on-3 power play for 32 seconds.

After killing those two minors, the Flyers gained control of the second period, outshooting Toronto, 16-8, and took a two-goal advantage into the third period.

“That’s a big part of the hockey game,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “You can break it down even further than that — the faceoff. We win the faceoff, we get the clear and they never did get set up. That was a big momentum builder for us and we were able to take advantage of it.”

After losing Andrew MacDonald a week ago to a leg injury in a win over Edmonton, the Flyers sustained another big blow on their blue line when Gostisbehere was forced to leave the game with an upper-body injury after taking a borderline hit from Leafs forward Leo Komarov, who extended his arms sending Gostisbehere face-first into the boards.

“It’s a tough hit,” Hakstol said. “It’s one that’s got to be looked at. It’s a hit in the numbers and it’s a tough play for our player.”

Komarov was not penalized on the play, but it’s one that will certainly grab the attention of the league office for supplemental discipline. Not only were the Flyers forced to play with five defensemen, but Hakstol also shortened his bench, primarily rolling three lines to solidify their two-goal lead.

“When you go down to five defensemen, the forwards did a really good job of helping them out,” Elliott said. “It’s tiring out there. When they’re working hard for the D, they can focus on the little things — getting those pucks out of the blue line and mitigating a lot of chances they had.”

Now the Flyers will have to dig even deeper and find a way to get over the loss of another key member of their defense.

A player that leads all NHL defensemen in points, and that, could have a lingering effect.

Getting offensive from defense
Despite playing without the NHL’s leading scorer among defensemen, the Flyers generated the majority of their shots from their blue line, as 20 of the team’s 30 shots on net came from the Flyers' defense, led by Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov, who both had five apiece to lead the team.

“They play a defensive game pretty close to the net," Voracek, who has a goal in two straight games, said of the Leafs. “The defenders are open on the blue line. Sometimes you have to play like that. It’s really important for defenders to get the shots through.”

Some home cooking
Any game in Toronto is usually a homecoming affair for the visiting team. The Flyers have about five players from the Toronto suburbs and the surrounding area, including forward Scott Laughton (Oakville, Ontario) and goaltender Brian Elliott (Newmarket, Ontario), who both played a solid game in front of family and friends. 

"I got about 20 people in the stands that you know is family or friends,” Elliott said. “It’s always fun to win for them. You grow up around here as a Leafs fan, so beating them is extra special.”

“I probably had 20 people there,” Laughton said. “It’s nice for my grandparents to come and stuff. They don’t get to see me too often — all my extended family and things like that — my best buddy growing up. It’s nice for them to come. Yeah, it’s an expensive ticket here.”

Flyers-Flames observations: Funk continues despite four goals

Flyers-Flames observations: Funk continues despite four goals


Thursday night, the Flyers couldn’t hold on to a third period lead.

Saturday afternoon against the Flames, they Flyers coughed up a two-goal second-period lead, and Calgary won 5-4 in overtime. Michael Frolik scored the game winner from Micael Backlund.

The Flyers have dropped four straight, three by one goal. 

Flames center Sean Monahan scored a second-period power play hat trick in a span of 7 minutes and 49 seconds.

• Nolan Patrick had a prime opportunity to pick up his second goal of the game in the third period — the rookie got his second talley of the season in the second period — when he collected a loose puck cutting across the crease, he just fired it over the net. This was Patrick’s best game in a Flyers sweater, as he was very active in the offensive zone.

• The Flames top line had so many quality chances. Right wing Michael Ferland had a shot from close range that Elliott snared. That top line had 12 shots on net through the first two periods, and for the most part, they were from close range. 

• Travis Konecny had some excellent chances, but his shot has been all over the place the past few games. He had an opportunity to give the Flyers a 5-4 lead but he shot over the net (again) and hit glass.

• Patrick looked a lot better than what we saw in the game in Winnipeg, as expected. In the second period, he had a nice backhand feed from his knees to Wayne Simmonds coming down the slot, as Simmonds had his best scoring opportunity in a long time. The Wayne Train’s shot hit Smith right in the midsection.  

• An unfortunate sequence at the 13:45 mark of the second period during 4-on-4 play. The Flyers had a 3-on-2 opportunity when Provorov sent a pass that was a little too far for Patrick. Provorov could have taken the shot himself.

• Johnny Gaudreau almost scored his second goal of the game — the South Jersey native scored on a first-period breakaway — as he read the puck and made a break towards center ice. Michael Ferland recognized it and tried to send a two-line backhand pass to Gaudreau but the pass was behind him and it slid all the way to Elliott. You almost need a free safety back there keeping an eye on the always sneaky Gaudreau.

• The slashing penalty on Brandon Manning was ridiculous. Manning was simply trying to use his stick against Matt Stajan’s to win a puck battle, and Stajan’s stick wound up snapping in two.  

• Elliott made a terrific glove save on Gaudreau, who tried to pick the upper left corner with a wide open wrist shot. That led to a rebound and no Flyer was there to clean it up.  It all started up top when T.J. Brodie faked a shot, forcing Couturier to go to the ice, and from there the Flyers were all out of position. 

• Not a memorable game for Shayne Gositisbehere. Aside from the first period mishaps described below, he was sent to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct after saying something to the officials, and then went back to the box 65 seconds later when he got his elbow up on Michael Ferland. Two bad mistakes that cost the Flyers two goals. 

• Sean Monahan scored a second-period (power play) hat trick, with his third goal coming on a one-timer from the left circle. Monahan's absolute bomb beat Elliott glove-side high. 

• The Flyers scored on their first shot of the game,  as Brandon Manning sent a somewhat harmless shot on goal that hit goaltender Mike Smith’s shoulder, off the post, off Smith’s back and over the line. Michael Raffl  provided the takeaway, creating the turnover and keeping the puck in the zone.  

• Two mistakes by Shayne Gostisbehere on one sequence. His outlet pass was picked off by Gaudreau, which led to Sean Monahan’s shot, and then Ghost failed to pick up Michael Ferland on the back end. Ghost doesn’t appear to be playing with much confidence right now. He had a clear opportunity to skate up the ice with the pick and hesitated looking for someone to pass to. When he’s playing with confidence, you can see it with the puck on his stick.

• Wonder why 31-yer-old Kris Versteeg has played for eight teams and can’t seem to stick around? Dumb, selfish plays like we saw in the first period when he takes an unsportsmanlike penalty on Taylor Leier AFTER the lineman blew the whistle for offsides. Versteeg, obviously upset from a previous incident, took a run at Leier, and it cost the Flames a goal. 

• On the Flyers power play, they did exactly what they’ve been trying to do over their last five games. Get shots in from the point and hope for rebound opportunities. Mike Smith gave up a bad one on Voracek’s wrist shot and Couturier continued doing what he’s done all season, camping out in front of the net looking for leftovers. This time he actually put the puck airborne. 

• Subtle but nice move from Jori Lehtera, who stepped into the face-off circle and kicked the puck out to Ivan Provorov, who perfectly placed a shot over Smith’s glove-side shoulder and gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead.

• Couturier almost scored a second goal by nearly converting a backhand on a shorthanded breakaway as he came across the slot he tried to go between Smith’s pads. There was a slight opening, but Smith caught it short side with his right pad and kept it from going in. 

• As he’s been throughout the past four games, Brian Elliott was splendid on a 4-on-3 penalty kill, as he was target practice from Gaudreau, Monahan, Hamilton and Giordano. Elliott made 4 saves in a 40-second span.

Lines, pairings and scratches 

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Travis Konecny

Dale Weise-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds

Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hägg

Brandon Manning-Shaybe Gostisbehere

Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt

Brian Elliott

Michal Neuvirth

Scratched: Radko Gudas (suspension), Jordan Weal (upper body), Andrew MacDonald (IR)

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets shut out Rangers

AP Images

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets shut out Rangers

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sergei Bobrovsky made 36 saves for his 21st career shutout and Zach Werenski and Artemi Panarin scored in the Columbus Blue Jackets' 2-0 victory over the New York Rangers on Friday night.

New York ran into a hot goalie in Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner who notched his second shutout of the season in powering Columbus to its third straight victory.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was nearly as good against the increasingly aggressive Blue Jackets, stopping 40 shots on the night. The Rangers (11-8-1) lost their second straight following a six-game win streak.

After a scoreless first period in which both goalies made some slick, sprawling saves, Werenski found the back of the net with his sixth goal of the season 13:34 into the second.

Brandon Dubinsky lost the handle of the puck in the slot, and Werenski picked it up just inside the right circle and beat Lundqvist with a one-timer.

Columbus (12-7-1) was the aggressor in the second frame, outshooting the Rangers 19-9, and kept up the pressure in the third.

Panarin scored his fourth goal of the season on a power play 7:14 into the third period, rocketing a slap shot from the high slot that ricocheted off the bar and in.

The Blue Jackets are 9-1-0 this season when allowing two goals or fewer (see full recap).

Red Wings’ 3rd-period goals enough to top Sabres
DETROIT -- Tomas Tatar scored a go-ahead goal midway through third period and the Detroit Red Wings went on to beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-1 on Friday night.

Detroit's Luke Glendening broke a scoreless tie late in the second period. Ryan O'Reilly pulled Buffalo into a 1-all tie 5:50 into the third.

Dylan Larkin scored late in the game and Jimmy Howard had 19 saves for the Red Wings. They have won consecutive games at home for the first time this season.

Buffalo's Robin Lehner stopped the first 20 shots he faced and finished with 30 saves.

The Sabres have lost four straight, one away from their longest losing streak of the season, but were thankful they didn't lose more than a game in Detroit.

Jack Eichel went to the dressing room late in the second period after coming off the ice slowly, keeping weight off his right skate following a collision with Glendening, and making a brief stop on the bench. Buffalo's standout center was cleared to return at the start of the third period.

After a scoreless first period with a combined 14 shots, Detroit outshot Buffalo 13-4 in the second and took control without that translating to a big lead (see full recap).