Flyers take another gut punch in OT, drop to Penguins for 8th straight loss

Flyers take another gut punch in OT, drop to Penguins for 8th straight loss


PITTSBURGH — Any Flyers lead right now has the stability of an awkward-leaning Jenga tower, and all it takes is the slightest miscalculation for the whole structure to come crumbling down.

Monday night’s game at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh was another epic collapse, as the Penguins rallied to beat the Flyers, 5-4, in overtime (see observations). First, the Pens wiped out the Flyers' 3-1 lead in the opening 1:46 of the third period, then erased the Flyers' 4-3 advantage with 1:04 remaining in regulation.

And who other than Sidney Crosby to punctuate the Flyers' misery? He scored the game-winner in the extra session (see highlights).

It's the fourth time in the last six games the Flyers have blown a two-goal lead at some point of a contest, while extending their losing streak to eight straight games, five of those coming after regulation.

“We’ve got to finish one of these,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s not much more to be said other than that. We’ve got to finish one of these. We’re in position, night after night, and we were in position again tonight.”

“I think they just came at us,” goaltender Brian Elliott said. “They had a good push and it took all of two minutes to tie it up. We talked about it — try to keep our game going and be aggressive. They come out and get a power play and it puts an end to that.”

Confidence is frail right now and it won’t be restored until the Flyers earn that much-needed victory. However, it’s the same recurring problems that continue to plague this team. The Flyers' penalty kill gave up a goal for the sixth straight game, which now brings the total to 10 power-play goals allowed over that six-game span.

Combine that with a team that appears to have taken on the personality of its coach, who doesn’t appear to show emotion in those moments of desperation.

“I understand from a player’s standpoint the frustration level that comes tonight right into this point in time,” Hakstol said. “Again, we have to have a short memory because we have to turn around and play again Tuesday night. Bottom line, you can overthink it and put any terminology you want on it, bottom line is we have to go out and play another good hockey game and push to complete a win.”

The Flyers believed this time would be different. Michael Raffl’s one-man effort late in the game looked to be enough to break the team’s bad luck. Raffl stripped defenseman Matt Hunwick and then outmuscled Phil Kessel before breaking in on goaltender Tristan Jarry, beating the rookie with a backhand shot. At that moment, the Flyers appeared to have weathered the Pittsburgh storm.

“It’s hard because we’re playing really good hockey games,” Travis Konecny, who scored his first goal in a month, said. “We’re giving ourselves a chance to win hockey games. Maybe we just let our guard down for a couple of minutes and teams are taking advantage of those couple of minutes that we’re sitting back.”

That’s when it all started in the opening minute of the third period.

With Andrew MacDonald in the box for tripping, Patric Hornqvist ignited the Penguins' comeback when he batted a puck out of the air and right in front of Elliott’s glove. The Flyers' goaltender appeared as if he was on the verge of snagging the puck before Hornqvist beat him to it. Hakstol elected to review the play for goaltender interference, but the officials determined Hornqvist was not in the crease.

“It’s so gray that I don’t understand what’s a call and what’s not a call, even when you see replays throughout the league,” Elliott said. “I don’t know what’s what. I put my hand out to try and catch that puck. [Hornqvist] is coming in and bumps my hand. They say he’s not in the crease, but I don’t know if that matters if you can’t make a play on the puck.”

Elliott faced a barrage of shots and the Flyers had to feel fortunate they were able to force the game past regulation as Conor Sheary rang a shot off the post with a second to play in the third period. 

This was the first time in 355 career starts that Elliott saw 50 shots in a game, as the Flyers were under siege throughout the final period. As a result, Elliott was forced to make a career-high 47 saves, while the Flyers were outshot, 52-32.

“You see it all year. They’re good at just getting to the net and showing for bodies and just getting ugly ones like that,” Elliott said. “That’s how they get a lot of their stuff — shooting off bodies and guys standing at the posts and having those little deflections.”

Perhaps the biggest sting from this game was watching Crosby celebrate his game-winner. With three more points, the Flyers' killer now has 87 in 60 career games against the orange and black.

Watching that has been a frustration over the past decade.

Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

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Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Brandon Montour scored a power-play goal, helping lift the Anaheim Ducks into third place in the Pacific Division with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell each had a goal and an assist, and Jakob Silfverberg also scored for the Ducks, who lead Los Angeles by two points in the division. Anaheim won its third straight game and is 6-1-0 in its last seven at home.

John Gibson made 15 saves, improving to 9-2-0 in his last 11 starts.

Kyle Palmieri had a power-play goal and Patrick Maroon also scored for the Devils, who had won the first three games of their six-game road trip. Keith Kinkaid made 32 saves, ending a four-start winning streak.

New Jersey holds the second wild-card in the Eastern Conference, five points ahead of Florida (see full recap).

Karlsson's hat trick helps Vegas beat Flames
LAS VEGAS -- William Karlsson scored a natural hat trick to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

Colin Miller also scored as Vegas snapped a four-game home losing streak and improved to 25-9-2 at T Mobile Arena.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who made his 20th start in 21 games, made 42 saves. In getting his 48th career shutout and fourth of the season, Fleury moved into a tie with Chris Osgood for 12th all-time amongst goaltenders at 401.

Vegas improved to 3-0-0 against Calgary while outscoring the Flames 15-5. The teams meet once more, in the regular-season finale at Calgary on April 7 (see full recap).

Laine scores twice, matches Ovechkin for NHL goal lead
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Patrik Laine scored twice to extend his point streak to 15 games and tie Alex Ovechkin for the NHL goal lead, and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Sunday night to match the franchise wins record at 43.

The second-year sniper has 43 goals, matching the total from Ovechkin, the Washington star and Laine's boyhood favorite. Laine's point streak is the longest active run in the NHL and adds to his league record for the longest point streak by a teenager. The streak includes 18 goals and eight assists.

Ben Chiarot also scored and Blake Wheeler added an empty-netter for Winnipeg.

Mattias Janmark and Jamie Benn each scored for Dallas (see full recap).

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

If there was an NHL handbook on how to score goals in the most competitive hockey league in the world, you would have thought Oskar Lindblom would have read it forward and backward, on the charter to the Flyers' next road game and at night before bedtime.

From effort to playing at both ends of the ice, Lindblom had done everything to score a goal, except actually score one.

Prior to Saturday’s game against Carolina, Lindblom had played his first 12 games without registering a single point and it was starting to become a source of playful dissing and mockery in the Flyers' locker room.

“Teammates keep him loose,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think Alex Lyon was giving him the gears. I think Alex should have had an assist last night (in Carolina). I don’t know if he was credited with one or not, but I think Alex was chirping (Oskar) about having more points per game than he did, and that’s what guys do.”

However, the official scoresheet from the 4-2 win in Carolina had Lindblom credited with his first NHL assist and Lyon still looking for one. Prior to that, the zeroes next to Lindblom’s game were starting to add up and Hakstol sensed the 21-year-old rookie was taking notice.  

“I don’t remember the game last week, but he had a great opportunity off a rebound at net front,” Hakstol said. “That was the first time I saw a little bit of frustration creep in where he let it show. Oskar is a good offensive player. He wants to help by doing his part offensively, but I think what he just continued to concentrate on is just playing good hockey.”

Sunday that first goal finally arrived in the form of a snapshot that beat Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer up high. It gave the Flyers a lead they never relinquished in a 6-3 win over Washington.

“I don’t want to think about it anymore,” Lindblom said. “Got the first one today and it was a huge one in the game so it was good.”

And with that, the Swede slipped on the Ric Flair victory robe for the first time, handed down from the Finnish Valtteri Filppula, who was presented the feather-laced garment the night before in Carolina. 

Prior to that, the only thing Lindblom had received was encouragement and support from his teammates who knew his time would eventually come. With an easy-going smile and a personality to match, Lindblom’s fellow Flyers couldn’t help but root for him. 

“We’re all happy for him," Travis Konecny said. “It’s been paying off for him. He deserves it. He works hard at both ends of the ice. I’m personally happy for him.

“He’s got that offensive skill that’s far and few between that a lot of guys don’t have. He just has a knack around the net, he’s always around the puck. We all knew it was coming sooner or later.”

Apparently, everyone seemed to know and especially Jake Voracek, who’s been assisting in every way possible.

“He talks to me a lot,” Lindblom said. “He tried to calm me down a little bit. It’s good for me.”