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.” 

Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

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Capitals reclaim sole possession of Metro lead

WASHINGTON — T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Matt Niskanen scored as the Washington Capitals swept a home-and-home set against the skidding New York Islanders with a 6-3 win on Friday night.

Alex Chiasson had a goal and two assists for the Capitals, who hammered the Islanders 7-3 in New York on Thursday. Jakub Vrana's goal gave Washington a 5-1 lead with 9:04 remaining. Lars Eller added an empty-netter, and Braden Holtby made 22 saves.

Washington broke a tie with the idle Pittsburgh Penguins for sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals' four-game winning streak is their longest since taking five in a row from Dec. 28 to Jan. 9.

Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington's second-leading scorer, left in the second period and did not return after sustaining an upper-body injury, according to the team.

Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson and John Tavares scored for the Islanders, who have lost 10 of 11 (see full recap).

Hoffman lifts Senators over Stars in OT
OTTAWA, Ontario — Mike Hoffman scored at 3:26 of overtime and the Ottawa Senators beat the Dallas Stars 3-2 on Friday night to win their third game in a row for just the second time this season.

Ottawa won on home ice for the first time since Feb. 17.

Marian Gaborik and Matt Duchene also scored for the Senators (26-33-11), and Craig Anderson made 23 saves.

Tyler Seguin and Tyler Pitlick had the goals for the Stars (38-26-8). Ben Bishop, who stopped 22 shots, made his first start since missing five games with a knee injury sustained March 5 against the Senators. Bishop has a 9-0-4 career record against Ottawa.

Dallas has lost four straight, its longest skid of the season (see full recap).

Predators rally past Coyotes
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The Nashville Predators keep rolling toward the best regular season in franchise history.

Kevin Fiala and Kyle Turris each had a goal and assist in the third period, leading Nashville to a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night. Ryan Ellis also scored to help the Western Conference-leading Predators get their 21st road win of the season and improve to 12-0-1 in their last 13 games overall. Pekka Rinne finished with 32 saves.

Nashville, which reached the Stanley Cup Final a year ago after earning the second wild card in the West, has 102 points through 70 games, and needs nine more in its final 12 games to set a new franchise record (see full recap).

Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

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Alex Lyon can save the Flyers' season

Lost amid the Flyers’ 5-3 defeat at the hands Blue Jackets on Thursday was yet another stellar relief appearance in goal from Alex Lyon.

Lyon was sensational after replacing Petr Mrazek between the pipes early in the second period, stopping all 18 shots that came his way. Flyers coach Dave Hakstol praised the rookie netminder for giving his team an opportunity to come from behind.

“He’s a battler, and that’s what we asked from him last night going into that situation,” Hakstol said following Friday’s practice.

“You need to have a mindset of going in there and absolutely slamming the door to give your team a chance to win. In order to do that, you have to have a real battling mentality, and I thought he had that right from when he stepped in the net.”

Success in a sort of stopper role has become increasingly commonplace for Lyon since joining the Flyers.

Lyon came off the bench to make five saves during the final eight minutes of a 5-3 loss to the Capitals in his January debut. The 25-year-old later earned his first NHL win against the Rangers in February, blocking 25 of 26 shots over the second and third periods to help procure a 7-4 victory.

His play has been on the rise ever since. Lyon appears to be improving with experience, posting a 2-1-0 record with a .939 save percentage in his last four games.

“I don’t know if I’d say confidence so much as comfortability,” Lyon said of his growth. “I think I always had the confidence in myself that I could do it. It’s just you have to get comfortable enough to kind of believe that.”

He shined as a substitute goaltender all along. Including his performance against the Blue Jackets, Lyon has amassed a .980 save percentage in three relief appearances — a number emblematic of his season.

Lyon began 2017-18 as the emergency-goalie-in-waiting at Lehigh Valley. He earned the call-up to the Flyers’ main roster after the injury to Brian Elliott, then saw an uptick in ice time due to Michal Neuvirth’s subsequent maladies.

The club traded for Petr Mrazek after Neuvirth went down, but Lyon still finds himself in the mix. He’s expected to start against the Hurricanes on Saturday — a pivotal contest for the Flyers’ bid to make the playoffs.

“It’s extremely exciting,” Lyon said. “This is what you think about when you’re a little kid.

“It’s not quite the same, but down in Allentown we were in a pretty hot playoff race last year and always at the top of the standings, so I’m going to draw on my past experiences.”

Elliott returned to the ice this week and could be back in uniform soon, at which time Lyon will be sent back to the minor leagues. But if the Flyers do manage to reach the postseason, his fill-in contributions will have played a big part.

Perhaps Lyon will even warrant a closer look for a full-time spot on the Flyers’ roster next season.