Flyers' win streak runs into the wrong team

Flyers' win streak runs into the wrong team


There are certain NHL teams in which establishing a lead against is almost imperative.

The Los Angeles Kings are definitely one of those teams.

On Monday, L.A. swept its two-game season series against the Flyers with a 4-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center, snapping the orange and black's six-game winning streak (see observations).

In a matchup of two of the stingiest even-strength teams in the league, the Kings jumped on top early with a pair of first-period goals. Alec Martinez scored the first on a slap shot that deflected off the Flyers' Taylor Leier, and Kings forward Trevor Lewis followed up with a snap shot that beat Brian Elliott following a poor line change and a mix-up in coverage (see highlights).

“The first [goal], he just beat me with the shot,” Elliott, who lost for the first time in seven starts, said. “It was kind of a line change where we lost our coverage.”

 “I didn’t think we were sharp enough,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We start off by giving up a faceoff goal. The second goal is through the neutral zone on a line change. I didn’t think we made them work hard enough for the opportunities that they scored their goals on.”

According to the website, the Flyers generated 16 scoring chances at even strength but only a season-low two from the high-danger areas, where the Kings controlled the middle of the ice and pushed the play to the perimeter.

“It was a tight. Tight game,” Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. “They didn’t make any mistakes. We had to make a big push to create something 5-on-5. We had a few looks, in the second period especially. We've just got to recover and focus on Wednesday.”

The Flyers had the upper hand with six power-play opportunities to the Kings' one, but they couldn’t break through and score more than once against the NHL’s No. 1-ranked penalty kill.

“We couldn’t score on the power play,” Voracek said. “The power play lost the game. Unfortunately, we only got one [goal]. Give them credit, they played a good road game. I think (Jonathan) Quick was outstanding in net. We just couldn’t find a way to score more than one.”

Impressively, the Flyers had not allowed more than one goal in any period throughout their six-game winning streak. The Kings, the best third-period team in hockey with a 46-21 goal differential, bucked that trend and touched up the Flyers for two goals in the closing period to seal the win.

“They have a lot of experience,” Sean Couturier said. “They have won in the past and they know how to win. When you’re down early in the game and you can’t back in it early, it gets tougher and tougher. They kind of know how to close games.”

Returning to Philadelphia brought back fond memories for Kings head coach John Stevens, who won a Calder Trophy with the Phantoms as well as coached the Flyers from October 2006 to December 2009.

“That was brought up earlier, playing back in Philly,” Stevens said. “I’ll be totally honest, it’s nice to be where my kids grew up. It’s home for them. This was a big game for us on this trip. We really wanted to take two points home for us, so it’s just a nice win against a quality hockey team.”

With a win, the Flyers were hoping to match the dubious record held by the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs, who won seven straight games immediately following a 10-game winless streak. The Flyers feel they can shake off this loss and recapture their winning ways when they close out their five-game homestand against the Red Wings on Wednesday.

“I thought our guys did a really good job, six in a row after not winning 10,” Elliott said. “I think we have to really look at the positive and stop this at one game and move onto the next game. I don’t think we need to hang our heads too low here.” 

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway


NEW YORK — Flyers players lifted their massive equipment bags onto carts outside the visiting locker room of Madison Square Garden.

There wasn't much energy or zealousness to such a mundane task.

Shortly before doing so, the Flyers made skating in the world's most famous arena seem just as mundane, allowing the New York Rangers to turn Broadway into breakaway on Tuesday night to the tune of a 5-1 loss (see observations).

"We just made too many mistakes that cost us," Jakub Voracek said. "Four goals out of five came off our mistakes, so it's tough."

The Rangers, not once, but twice during the first period, bolted behind the Flyers' slow-reacting coverage for nothing but open ice and Brian Elliott to beat. On both occasions, New York scored easily and took control of the evening.

It was a full exploitation of a Flyers team that had won four straight but wasn't "engaged in this game enough," as head coach Dave Hakstol put it.

With the Flyers holding a 1-0 lead just over six minutes into the contest, Pavel Buchnevich fed a stretch pass to Rick Nash streaking up the middle of the ice, leaving defensemen Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning in the dust. Both the delivery from Buchnevich and the speed of Nash appeared to catch Gudas and Manning by surprise.

"The first one, probably a better read by me and Gudy," Manning said. "We talked before the game, we knew that's what they were going to do, they were going to try and stretch us out. That one we can probably eliminate."

The second was deflating in every way imaginable. As the Flyers sputtered through their first man advantage, a pass behind Jordan Weal bounced off the side boards and right to Peter Holland. With most of the Flyers' second power-play unit pinching on the attack, New York rushed up ice and beat Manning in retreat as Holland hit Paul Carey for a shorthanded marker.

Whatever life the Flyers still had, it was sucked out of them.

At the time, before it unfolded, they seemed to be in OK position. The Flyers were down, 2-1, but vying for an equalizer by turning to their power play, which had been 7 for 14 over the four-game winning streak. However, what transpired was New York taking a surprising 3-1 lead with 10 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

"Those are ones we can prevent," Hakstol said. "They're a good transition team, so when you give them opportunities, whether it's a turnover out of their defensive zone or a turnover entering the zone, they're a good transition team. But our awareness on those plays was not what it needs to be.

"I just thought in the first half of the game, in all the areas of the game that mattered, they were the quicker and hungrier team."

The Rangers showed it some more when they went on another semi-breakaway, this time midway through the second period for a 4-1 edge. Michael Grabner came swooping in to pick Voracek's pocket before quickly flicking a shot past Elliott, who watched another blue jersey barrel down untouched toward his crease.

"We put him in pretty tough spots tonight with the opportunities that we gave up in the first 30 minutes of the game," Hakstol said.

The goalie making his 18th start in the last 19 games still took blame.

"It's not the easiest way, but that's my job," Elliott, who was yanked ahead of the third period, said. "I didn't have them tonight. Go back to work and try to feel good about my game. That's not where I wanted to be tonight. I didn't really give ourselves a chance to win and I've got to own a lot of that."

Tuesday marked the Flyers' first outing against the Rangers this season.

Were they surprised by the opposition's transition game?

"No," Hakstol said.

Manning sounded like he will be far more ready when the Flyers come back to Madison Square Garden on Feb. 18 for the second of four meetings.

"I don't know if surprising is the right word, they have some guys who can skate and I think we were expecting that," Manning said. "We haven't played them this year, it's the first time. When you see it for the first time, it's something a little different."

The Flyers on Thursday night will see the Maple Leafs for the third time. The previous two matchups were won by the Flyers. Interestingly enough, Manning had his best game of the season with a goal, an assist and three hits in the October victory, while rookie blueliner Travis Sanheim played in the December win.

Hakstol will have to decide between the two for Thursday.

One will be an extra, the other will want to make sure breakaways are at a minimum.

Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

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Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

NEW YORK -- Damon Severson scored twice 1:26 apart in New Jersey's three-goal second period, and the Devils ended a six-game skid with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall also scored for New Jersey, which was 0-3-3 since beating Detroit at home on Dec. 27. Keith Kinkaid, getting the start after Cory Schneider was a late scratch due to illness, stopped 25 shots.

Anders Lee scored and Jaroslav Halak made 38 saves as the Islanders snapped a three-game winning streak that started with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Devils here on Jan. 7.

New Jersey trailed less than two minutes in but got four straight goals starting with Palmieri's score late in the first period.

Halak, who faced more than 35 shots on goal for his 10th straight start, made nice stops on in-close tries by Brian Boyle and Brian Gibbons with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the middle period to keep the score tied.

However, Severson gave the Devils the lead about 30 seconds later as he got the rebound of a shot by Gibbons and beat Halak from the right circle. It was the defenseman's fifth goal of the season and first in 12 games (see full recap).

Spezza scores 2 after benching in Stars’ win
DETROIT -- Jason Spezza responded to being benched by scoring two tiebreaking goals on power plays, helping the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Spezza scored on a lunging, one-timer below the left circle with 5:52 left in the second period. His first goal came on a redirected shot midway through the first.

The 33-year-old forward was a healthy scratch on Monday when Dallas won at Boston in overtime. He bounced back by ending his 14-game goal drought, scoring twice in a game for the first time since March 12, 2016. Spezza scored 33 goals just two years ago and has 323 career goals.

Dallas' Radek Faksa and Martin Hanzal also scored. Ben Bishop stopped 13 shots for the Stars, who have won six of eight.

Trevor Daley put Detroit ahead in the opening minute, but Faksa redirected a shot past Jimmy Howard at 2:48. Andreas Athanasiou pulled the Red Wings into a 2-all tie midway through the second period and Spezza's second goal 2:25 later put Dallas ahead 3-2.

Howard had 22 saves for the Red Wings, who had won five of their previous seven games (see full recap).

Blues rally late for overtime victory
TORONTO -- Alexander Steen tied it with 57 seconds left and Vince Dunn scored 1:43 into overtime, lifting the St. Louis Blues over the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Connor Brown put Toronto ahead on a short-handed breakaway midway through the third period, but Steen scored with goalie Carter Hutton pulled for an extra attacker by backhanding Alex Pieterangelo's rebound past Frederik Andersen.

Dunn snapped a low shot past Andersen after choosing to keep the puck on a 2-on-1.

Andersen stopped 40 shots and Hutton had 30 saves.

It was the Maple Leafs' first game back after the bye week. Their last game was a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 10 (see full recap).