Flyers

Flyers show up too late in OT loss, allow Coyotes to notch 1st win

Flyers show up too late in OT loss, allow Coyotes to notch 1st win

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On a night when hockey fans were decked out in the Halloween spirit, the Flyers reverted yet again to their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde routine.

A disastrous start coupled with a furious finish and capped with an overtime turnover allowed the Arizona Coyotes to earn their first win of the season, beating the Flyers on Monday, 4-3, following the worst start (0-10-1) in NHL history (see observations). Coyotes defenseman Alex Goligoski sealed Arizona’s first win for new head coach Rick Tocchet. 

“They’re definitely a better team than what people give them credit for,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We didn’t play a good game at all. It wasn’t a good first period. It wasn’t an ideal game for us.”

Rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim fumbled a puck at Arizona’s blue line, which allowed the Coyotes to break down the ice and convert a 3-on-2 at the other end, as Goligoski’s one-timer easily beat Flyers netminder Brain Elliott with 15 seconds remaining in OT (see highlights).

“Three-on-three is tough,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We made a decision instead of taking the puck to the net, we had a little bit of a bad roll, a bad hop with the puck, and they take it over, come back hard and make the play for the goal.”

For the third time in their last nine games, the Flyers also spotted their opponent a 3-0 lead before mounting a serious comeback. However, considering their winless opponent and a failure to bring energy on home ice, this early deficit was nearly inexcusable.

“As a group, we were too far below the bar,” Hakstol said. “I think we had eight shot attempts in the first period. In our own end, we weren’t quick and hard defending through the entire period. I’m not taking anything away from our opponent, they played hard. We didn’t start the hockey game where we wanted to be and where we needed to be.”

The Flyers also failed to capitalize on Arizona goaltender Scott Wedgewood, who was making his first start since March 2016. Almost inexplicably, the Flyers didn’t have a single shot on net from their forwards until Claude Giroux was able to fire off a quick wrister 3:39 into the second period. Since the Flyers generated little pressure until the final 20 minutes, they were also unable to fully take advantage of the NHL’s worst penalty kill, scoring a goal on their only power-play opportunity of the game in the third.

“I’m not too sure,” Giroux said, trying to put a finger on the team’s early mistakes. “It’s really frustrating right now. The game goes pretty quick. That’s why it’s good after games to go look at the game film and see your shifts and see what you did wrong, and correct that.”

“Yeah, we were very fortunate [to earn a point]," Sean Couturier, who scored a pair of goals in the loss, said. “We didn’t play very good at all in the first two periods. We battled back but it was too big a hole to complete the comeback. It’s a huge point, I guess.

“Once we were down a goal or two goals, the crowd got into it and it kind of got frustrating for everyone. It was tough to get back into it, but in the third we battled.” 

With the recent injury to Shayne Gostisbehere and with Samuel Morin not ready for action, as well, the Flyers had to turn to Mark Alt, who was given notice at 11 a.m. Monday that he would be in the Flyers' lineup for his second career NHL game (see story). Alt finished the night with 16:54 of ice time and a minus-1 rating after he and fellow rookie Sanheim failed to communicate on the Coyotes' first goal.

“There was a change and we kind of got stuck on the same guy,” Alt said. “Yeah, it’s tough, because you never know how the game is going to start out. You just have to pick up and roll with it. There’s going to be an adjustment, for sure. At the same time, you want to come in and be ready to go and try and eliminate as many of those hiccups as you can.” 

Notes and tidbits
• Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov registered three assists for his second-career three-point game. He now has five points (one goal, four assists) over his last three games. The Flyers' No. 1 defenseman continues to log some monster minutes, setting a new career high with 28:06 of ice time.

• Couturier extended his point streak to four games (five goals, three assists). The Phoenix, Arizona-born Couturier scored twice, including his first power-play goal since April 2, 2016, a span of 82 games. With a team-leading nine goals, Couturier is on pace to shatter his single-season career high of 15 goals scored in 2014-15.

• According to the NHL’s stats department, Monday’s game marked just the second time in franchise history in which the Flyers scored two goals in the final minute of regulation to tie the game. The other instance came on Feb. 3, 1980, when Reggie Leach and Rick MacLeish scored 33 seconds apart in a game that ended in a 3-3 tie.

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way

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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 than 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.”

Ivan Provorov and Robert Hagg also scored for the Flyers, who have now slipped into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division, pending the outcome of the Penguins' game Saturday night.

Considering they were last in the division about two months ago, that’s a pretty nice 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 their 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,”

Nolan 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 pass/shot 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 being acquired last week from the Detroit Red Wings.

All is good on Broad Street.

Losing is still foreign to the Flyers

Losing is still foreign to the Flyers

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OTTAWA, Ontario — It would seem as if the Flyers are for real.

Since halting a 10-game losing streak Dec. 4 against the Calgary Flames, the Flyers have posted a 25-8-3 record, including Saturday’s 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators.

They’ve also gone from last in the Metropolitan Division to a tie for first.

Saturday, Brandon Manning led the offense with a goal and two assists while Claude Giroux contributed a goal and a helper.

Robert Hagg and Ivan Provorov also scored for the Flyers (33-19-10), who have now won five straight.

The Senators got goals from Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel and Matt Duchene a day after shipping center Derrick Brassard off to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

•It took 20 seconds longer than Tim Kerr, but Ivan Provorov’s goal 28 ticks into Saturday’s game was a good start for the Flyers. Kerr scored eight seconds into a game against the Edmonton Oilers way back in 1989 to set the standard for the fastest Flyers’ goal to start a game. Provorov scored 20 seconds faster than Giroux did on Nov. 28, 2017, which was the previous quickest 1-0 lead for the Flyers this season.

•Challenge accepted. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol challenged a goal 12 minutes into the second period, claiming the Senators were offside. The coach was bang on, the goal was overturned and the Flyers maintained the 2-1 lead.

•Nolan Patrick had scored in his three previous games and through the first 40 minutes Saturday, the Flyers' rookie was unable to make it a quartet. It wasn’t for lack of trying though, as Patrick had five shots on goal through two periods. The goal finally came for Patrick in the third, however, with a tip in front off a Manning shot. He finished with nine shots.

•Petr Mrazek only needed to make 19 saves Thursday to get a win in his first game with the Flyers. He made 19 through the first 39 minutes Saturday. He also got help from his right post when Dzingel rang one off it midway through the second.

•Despite two early goals on shots he should have stopped, Craig Anderson picked up his game through the final two-plus periods, making some big saves to keep the Senators alive and kicking.

•The Flyers’ third and fifth goals were a perfect example of the Beauty and the Beast. Giroux scored a beauty on a breakaway when he turned his body and went to his backhand before turning the other way to his forehand and placing the puck into an empty net behind an undressed Anderson. Manning scored when his dump-in hit the station in the glass and went in, as Anderson stood behind the net and watched after going to play the dump in.

•The Flyers will be silent on the ice until after the trade deadline as they don’t play until they meet the Canadiens in Montreal Monday night. Off the ice, we’ll see.