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.”

Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

USA Today Images

Seguin nets OT winner for Stars

BOSTON — Tyler Seguin made a move at the left circle to get past one defender, then skated into the slot as the other two Bruins went to the ice.

He swooped wide to Anton Khudobin's glove side, inducing the goalie to leave his skates as well, and then flipped the puck into the net for the game-winner.

"I feel like everyone was just sliding at me, and the whole time I wanted to pass," Seguin said after his goal with a delayed penalty man-advantage gave the Dallas Stars a 3-2 victory over Boston on Monday.

"I was just kind of looking for the right play and just kept holding it," the former Bruins first-round draft pick said. "I just kind of shot it, and luckily, it went in."

Stephen Johns and Alexander Radulov also scored for Dallas, and Kari Lehtonen stopped 30 shots (see full recap).

Tavares' 2nd goal lifts Islanders past Canadiens in OT
MONTREAL — John Tavares scored his second goal of the game 1:51 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 5-4 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Monday night.

Mathew Barzal, coming off his second five-point game of the season, had a goal and two assists to keep up his scoring binge for New York. Anthony Beauvillier and Adam Pelech also scored to help the Islanders win their third straight after a season-high five-game losing streak, and Thomas Greiss finished with a career-high 52 saves.

Nicolas Deslauriers, Paul Byron, Jonathan Drouin and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal, which twice tied the scored after falling behind by two goals. Carey Price stopped 19 shots.

Pelech gave the Islanders a 3-2 lead 2:37 into the second period as he pounced on a loose puck after Barzal's shot was blocked and swept it in fromt eh slot for his first of the season (see full recap).

MacKinnon helps Avs beat Ducks for 7th straight win
DENVER — The save by Jonathan Bernier that sticks out the most was the one where he simply stuck out his stick.

Out of sheer desperation, no less. To thwart what looked to be a sure goal, too. It's just another sign of how well things have been going for the Colorado Avalanche in recent weeks.

Nathan MacKinnon kept up his torrid home scoring with a goal, Bernier turned back 33 shots and the Avalanche beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-1 on Monday for their seventh straight win.

Matt Nieto and Colin Wilson also scored for the Avs, who are outscoring opponents 29-10 during their longest win streak since the 2005-06 season (see full recap).

Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

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Old wounds have healed for Eric Lindros

You could say the life of “88” has completed a lifelong figure 8, where you ultimately come back to the point where it all started.  

That starting point for Eric Lindros was sometime at an early age when life was simple, friendships were forming and the game of hockey wasn’t tugging him in a hundred different directions. Not that Lindros feels like a kid now, but clearly he views life rather buoyantly.

He smiles, he laughs, he tells stories and enjoys living essentially burden-free. 

“I’m seeing things from a different perspective,” said Lindros during my visit with him at his new home in the Toronto suburbs. “I think when you’re playing, and for good reason, you’re focused on your game. You live, eat, breathe the sport and the game. You have the blinders on. You might not be aware of what’s going on politically. You might not be aware of what’s going on with some of your friends back home.

“Now, I have no blinders. I’m not restricted. If I choose to look left or choose to look right, I can. It’s a different mindset. It’s a different way of going about it. It’s a whole new world.”

Lindros left Philadelphia unceremoniously sitting out an entire season before he was eventually traded to the New York Rangers in August 2001, and even after he stopped playing six years later, a lot of those old wounds still hadn’t healed and the relationship between himself and the organization was scarred. A once tight relationship with former Flyers GM Bobby Clarke was seemingly frayed beyond repair.

The 2012 Winter Classic alumni game at Citizens Bank Park was the first step in the rehabilitation between a stubbornly proud organization and its franchise center the city once cherished. Then came Lindros’ induction into the Flyers Wall of Fame in 2014, his 2016 induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame and now, the latest culmination is the retirement of his legendary No. 88 along with other events surrounding the former superstar. 

There’s now a renewed sense that Philadelphia will always be Lindros’ hockey home.  

“Listen, hockey was great for a long time and where I could give the most was in Philly. From start to finish, I never played as well anywhere else. I really enjoyed it. There’s ups and downs with everything that you do, but overall I truly enjoyed playing there,” Lindros said.

“Eric doesn’t have a home,” Clarke told me in 2011 prior to the Winter Classic alumni game. “Eric needs a home and the Flyers are his home.”
Of course, it’s not exactly a home surrounded by a white picket fence, but rather one that had a fence that needed to be mended. Retirement for Lindros and Clarke, who both coincidentally stepped down as player and executive in 2007, helped gain perspective and patch some damaged feelings. 

“We see each other at all these events and Bob’s been very nice," Lindros said. “We can joke around. What’s happened, happened. Let’s move forward and go on.”

Eric has done that while also discovering why the present should be cherished so much more than what has transpired in the past. Whenever Lindros spends time at alumni functions, he’s easily immersed in the aura surrounding Bernie Parent and how it can easily rub off on him. 
“What a fun-loving spirit. He gets it,” Lindros said of Parent. “You know where some people have that vibe and you want to be in the room with him. He’s got a gift. Bernie’s a terrific, terrific man. He’s got to get me out on the boat.” 

After Thursday's ceremony prior to the Flyers' game against Lindros' hometown Toronto Maple Leafs, Lindros and Parent can hang together all they want, at least, in the rafters of the Wells Fargo Center.

However, Lindros doesn’t need those types of reminders. Nowhere in his brand-new home will you find any connection between himself and his playing days — no photos on the wall, no replica of the Hart Trophy he won in 1995 and no sign of his Olympic gold medal. Nor does Lindros believe his career was any more distinguishable from that of his wife Kina Lamarche, who was a very successful businesswoman.  

As you enter the basement, there’s a painting of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate. Turn the corner and down the hall you’ll find a newly-installed locker room and a synthetic ice surface that currently serves as a playroom for his three kids: Carl Pierre, Sophie and Ryan. This is Eric Lindros now, a man with a greater purpose in life.   

“Same way my dad was with me,” Lindros said. “My dad took a lot of heat for looking out for me and representing me and my brother. People would be lucky to have my dad as a representative. I’m very lucky to come from where I did. I got big shoes to fill. I’m around the house quite a bit now. I got lucky. I really did. I don’t think it could have worked out better.”