Flyers-Wild observations: 5-game winning streak over Minnesota ends

Flyers-Wild observations: 5-game winning streak over Minnesota ends


The Minnesota Wild once again relied on their two hottest players Saturday night in beating the Flyers, 1-0, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jason Zucker scored the only goal of the game and, remarkably, has scored all six Minnesota goals over the past three games.

Devan Dubnyk stopped all 32 shots for his second consecutive shutout. Dubnyk has not surrendered a goal in his last 136 minutes and 20 seconds of action.

The two teams will meet again Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

• The Flyers pulled Brian Elliott in the final minutes and still couldn't stuff the net, as they got their best look with five seconds remaining, but Dubnyk covered up any potential rebound opportunities.

• The Flyers' power play generated very little after their first opportunity, manufacturing just one shot on Dubnyk over their final four minutes.

• Zucker scored the game's only goal, banking a shot off Elliott that found the back of the net. The initial slap shot from the point was deflected, creating a wicked bounce and catching Elliott completely out of position.

• With the top line generating the majority of the offensive pressure in the third period, Sean Couturier lost his stick, picked it up just in time to take a centering feed from Claude Giroux and nearly scored on Dubnyk's five-hole. Couturier has set up his office in front of the crease and seems to embrace the combative nature in the trenches. Minnesota's 5-foot-9, 168-pound defenseman Jared Spurgeon couldn't remotely budge him out of the way.

• One problem I have with shorthanded opportunities is failing to understand the situation. Such was the case when Wayne Simmonds came charging down the right side and tried to fire a low percentage shot top shelf on Dubnyk. Simmonds missed the net, which led to a power-play rush and a quality scoring chance for Minnesota. Elliott was able to extend his right pad on Marcus Foligno and prevent a goal.

• Considering Simmonds' position on the ice, the better shot would have been low to Dubnyk's outside pad, creating a rebound opportunity. Instead, the puck rimmed around the boards.

• Minnesota’s second line of Nino Niederreiter-Eric Staal-Zucker was its biggest threat with its combination of size and quickness. Still, they couldn’t capitalize on a 3-on-1, as Niederreiter took a pass and fired a slap shot that hit Elliott right in the crest. 

• The Flyers killed off the Wild’s first power-play of the game. Minnesota’s best opportunity came when Zucker came flying around Shayne Gostisbehere and fired a wrist shot on Elliott from close range. It was the Wild’s only shot on net during the two-minute man advantage, as the Flyers' PK did a solid job of keeping the play around the perimeter. 

• Overall, the Flyers turned in a strong opening 20 minutes of the game, especially defensively, not allowing the Wild to generate much possession time. The Flyers outshot Minnesota, 12-5.

• The standout defensive play came when defenseman Ivan Provorov raced back to break up a 2-on-1 opportunity when Zucker tried to feed Niederreiter, who was cutting down the left side. Provorov, perhaps not known for his speed, got a stick on the pass, eliminating any potential scoring chance.

• With the Flyers on their first power play of the game, Wild center Mikko Koivu forced a turnover at the blue line and went in alone on Elliott. Koivu faked a slap shot and Elliott forced him outside. Koivu appeared to have an open seam, but Elliott did a good job recovering and stopping Koivu’s shorthanded shot with his paddle.

• Elliott stopped another potential goal when he reached out and poked the puck away from just outside the crease.

• The Flyers' best opportunity on that one and only first-period power play came when Travis Konecny took a feed and fired a shot from the left circle, electing to test Dubnyk’s glove hand.

• Prior to the game, general manager Ron Hextall talked about the Flyers' need for secondary scoring. There’s been too much reliance on their top line recently, however, Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula nearly got the Flyers on the board first, as they swarmed Minnesota’s defense with a strong forecheck with Filppula feeding Weal, who came in strong on Dubnyk’s right side. 

• At 6-6, Dubnyk takes up so much size that there’s not much net to shoot at. You have to get him moving and active in his crease to have success. 

Injury updates
It appears Nolan Patrick will return to his hometown of Winnipeg with his teammates when the Flyers take on the Jets on Thursday. Whether Patrick suits up and plays remains a mystery at this point. The Flyers' rookie center skated for a third straight day Saturday and Hextall hopes Patrick can skate with the team Monday.

“He has been skating on and off for a week to 10 days by himself. He skates early in the morning,” Hextall said. “So, he has been on the ice, but it's a big difference on the ice by yourself and with your teammates. He has work to do. There’s been no setbacks.”

Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald suffered a deep bruise to his left knee when he blocked a puck in a game Oct. 21 against the Edmonton Oilers. Hextall is expecting MacDonald to practice Monday as well, his first time on the ice in three weeks. 

“Mac’s not a guy that takes a long time to get ready to come back,” Hextall said. “He’s a heavy guy, but he’s been off for a bit so, hopefully, he gets some good practice this week and play it day by day.”

Lines and pairings
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

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.”