Flyers

Flyers' top line delivers statement in win over Blackhawks

Flyers' top line delivers statement in win over Blackhawks

BOX SCORE

The Blackhawks want what the Flyers have right now.

A dominant No. 1 line.

The Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek trio scored all three of the Flyers' goals Thursday, dominating the Blackhawks' top line in the first 25 minutes of a 3-1 victory (see observations).

“When you get a chance to play against one of the top lines in the league, you get excited about it,” Claude Giroux said. “Coach told us that we were going to play most of the game against them. I think when you play with the same guys for a good amount of games, you feel more comfortable and the chemistry is more there.”

Giroux scored his ninth goal of the season 4:58 into the game on a perfect one-time feed from Voracek. A little more than seven minutes later, Shayne Gostisbehere teed up a similar pass for Voracek, who ripped home his fourth goal in his last seven games (see highlights)

Three goals, four assists and a plus-9 rating compared to Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane that finished with a minus-5 and no points. The Flyers' "Big Three" has combined for 60 points in the Flyers' first 16 games of the season. 

“It was a big matchup and a big challenge for us,” Couturier said. “We’re willing to go against anyone. We feel really confident about our game right now. We can outscore any line or any pairing. We've just got to keep going.”

“You’re talking about competitive people,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s three good players on that line and they’re all different, they play the game differently, they have different elements, different strengths, but the three of them together, big credit to them — it has worked well for our hockey team to this point.”

Hakstol assembled the Flyers' top line by transitioning Giroux from center to left wing during the second week of training camp, and the Flyers' head coach has yet to deviate from that trio this season. On the other hand, the Blackhawks are desperate to try anything. 

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville shook up his lines again, this time pairing Toews and Kane together with Sharp in an attempt to rekindle some magic from the glory days of their Stanley Cup seasons. The Flyers proved the experiment to be an utter disaster as it barely lasted 20 minutes before Quenneville pulled the plug and switched Sharp with the speedier Brandon Saad.

Hard to believe this was the same Chicago team that put up 10 goals on the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins just a month ago. 

“[Ivan Provorov] and [Robert Hagg] did a great job against their top line and frustrating them," Gostisbehere said. "When you’re frustrating their top line, it’s kind of like cutting the head off a snake. The rest of the team will fold. I think we did a lot of good things out there of limiting time and space because they’re a skilled team."

Gostisbehere became the quickest defenseman to score 100 points in a Flyers uniform, reaching the milestone in 155 games

“Yeah, it’s awesome, a tremendous honor to do it but do it with my teammates and my coaches, they put me in those situations to go out there and get those points,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s huge. It’s a nice group effort — family support, everyone.”

After the Flyers jumped out to a 3-0 lead, they appeared to shift into cruise control and were outplayed over the final 35 minutes. Brian Elliott, who lost, 3-0, to the same Blackhawks just eight days earlier, bailed out the Flyers on more than one occasion with perhaps his best all-around game since joining the Flyers.

Elliott turned aside 38 shots and was vital in helping the Flyers kill off Chicago’s two-man advantage for 1:44 near the end of the second period.   

“It was huge," Elliott said. "They could have tied it up there at the end of the period and we would have been tied going in. Killing that off was big for our guys. We did a really great job. They didn’t do much on it. You keep things to the outside on that and they didn’t cross box us, so that’s good.”

When asked which save stood out the most, Elliott pointed to a pass he disrupted as the one play that was fresh in his mind.

“Taking away that pass from Kane in the 5-on-3 with my stick," Elliott said. "I was happy with that one because that’s an open net at the backdoor.”

“It’s big, to be able to get that at that time of the game and that situation," Hakstol said. "[Elliott] did a good job, made some saves for us. PK battled hard, big part of the game.”

The Flyers' win also marked the 14th consecutive regular-season win over the Blackhawks at the Wells Fargo Center, dating back to Nov. 9, 1996.

Quenneville might consider reuniting Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull on a top line if he thought it might bring the Blackhawks a win in Philadelphia. 

Brayden Schenn nets 20th goal as Blues cruise

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Brayden Schenn nets 20th goal as Blues cruise

ST. LOUIS -- Carter Hutton made 25 saves for his 10th career shutout and the St. Louis Blues got goals from Vladimir Sobotka and Vladimir Tarasenko in a 3-0 victory over the struggling Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night.

Brayden Schenn, who also had an assist, added an empty-net goal at 17:34 of the third period. It was his 20th goal of the season.

The game was a bounce-back effort for Hutton, pulled after giving up three goals on 12 shots in Saturday's 5-2 loss to Arizona.

Hutton, normally the Blues' backup, started for the fourth consecutive game and eighth in the last 10. He earned his second shutout this season (see full recap).

Lightning top Preds before visiting Flyers
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Down a goal late in the third period in the second game of a back-to-back, the Tampa Bay Lightning looked to captain Steven Stamkos and he got the tying score. Yanni Gourde then came through in overtime.

Gourde scored 1:45 into the extra period to give Tampa Bay a 4-3 victory over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.

Chris Kunitz had a goal and two assists, and Vladislav Namestnikov also scored as the Lightning won their second straight. Louis Domingue stopped 30 shots.

"It was all about our compete," Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said. "It was about nothing else but our compete. They are a hell of a team over there. They just keep coming at you,” (see full recap).

Dea scores 1st NHL goal, Pens beat Hurricanes
PITTSBURGH -- Not much more than a month ago, Dominik Simon, Jean-Sebastien Dea and Casey DeSmith were playing minor league hockey in Wilkes-Barre for the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Fast forward to Tuesday night, when that unlikely trio carried Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions to an important win.

Simon and Dea scored 76 seconds apart in the second period, and DeSmith made 34 saves for the Penguins in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes.

"They've been huge," Jake Geunztel said of his rookie teammates. "They're playing really well, and they have that excitement to be here. We have all been there -- and to see that, it's cool to be around, for sure,” (see full recap).

Eichel's 4 points lead Sabres to win over Oilers
EDMONTON, Alberta -- Jack Eichel had a goal and three assists, Ryan O'Reilly scored twice and the Buffalo Sabres earned an easy 5-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.

Sam Reinhart had a goal and two assists and Zemgus Girgensons also scored for the last-place Sabres (13-26-9), who won their second game in a row for just the second time this season. The other time was in late October.

Robin Lehner made 33 saves for his second shutout of the season.

Cam Talbot started in net and stopped 18 of 22 shots in 31:32 of work before Al Montoya turned aside 11 of 12 in relief for the Oilers (21-24-3), who had a three-game winning streak snapped (see full recap).

Even controversial OT winner can't slow down Konecny

Even controversial OT winner can't slow down Konecny

BOX SCORE

DETROIT — Twenty-seven is Travis Konecny’s lucky number these days.

That’s because, for the second game in a row, Konecny scored a goal 27 seconds into overtime to give the Flyers a win.

The Red Wings were Konecny’s victims Tuesday night, as his overtime marker gave the Flyers a 3-2 win at Little Caesars Arena for their eighth win in nine games (see observations). On Sunday, Konecny scored 27 seconds into the extra period to beat the Capitals, 2-1.

“I don't know, but it is certainly going well. I think it is just a matter of not thinking and having fun out there,” Konecny said. “I always know Coots (Sean Couturier) is going to get me the puck in a good spot, and I've had a couple go in.”

Konecny, who has nine goals and 21 points in 48 games for the season, has four goals and six points in his past six games.

Konecny became the second Flyer to score back-to-back overtime winners — Sami Kapanen did it on Dec. 28, 2005, at Atlanta, and then Dec. 29, 2005, at Carolina.

Tuesday night’s OT winner was reviewed because it was possibly offside. With the play on the right-wing boards, the puck came out of the Detroit zone, with Konecny still in. But Couturier poked it right back into the zone and it was ruled that Konecny got his skate on the blue line — putting himself back onside — before he touched the puck.

From there, he skated into the right-wing circle and beat Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek with a shot on the short side (see highlights).

“I was pretty sure it was a good goal,” Konecny said. “When I saw the replay, my skates hit the blue line before the puck hit my stick. I didn't think they had enough to overturn it.”

Jakub Voracek had a goal and an assist, defenseman Andrew MacDonald scored and Couturier had two assists. Goaltender Brian Elliott had to make only 19 saves, but a few were outstanding.

“When you look at the shot clock, it didn't look like I had much to do, but it felt like a lot of work,” Elliott said. “They had a lot of great chances where they missed the net.”

Two of those chances were by Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi in the third period with a chance to break the tie.

Seconds after Frans Nielsen tied it 2-2 for the Red Wings with 9:16 remaining in regulation, Bertuzzi had the puck in the lower right circle facing an open net. But MacDonald got his stick on Bertuzzi’s shot and deflected it over the net.

And with 1:11 left in regulation, Bertuzzi, off a rebound, appeared to have an easy tap-in from two or three feet but shot the puck wide and went barreling into the net, knocking it off its moorings for a stoppage in play.

The Flyers scored twice in the second period to take a 2-1 lead.

Voracek’s power-play goal with 37 seconds left in the middle period gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead. It was his ninth goal and came just 12 seconds after Dylan Larkin took a tripping penalty.

MacDonald tied it 1-1 for the Flyers 1:10 into the second.

The Flyers outshot the Red Wings, 18-7, in the second period after a slow start in the first.

“We had a really sluggish start, but we were really good in the second period. It was night and day,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “They really pushed us back at the end, especially with their speed, but we found a way to get two points.”

Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson gave Detroit a 1-0 lead with 9:18 left in the first when his shot from the left point deflected in off the leg of Brandon Manning.

The Flyers outshot the Red Wings — who beat New Jersey, 3-0, Monday night — 5-4.