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Frustrated Flyers on wrong end of reviews in loss to Senators

Frustrated Flyers on wrong end of reviews in loss to Senators

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA, Ontario — Wayne Simmonds described playing the Ottawa Senators as similar to working your way through a maze.

The Flyers almost got that piece of cheese at the end, only to lose, 5-4, Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre (see observations).

In what appeared to be the Flyers’ game-tying goal with 56 seconds remaining in regulation, Sean Couturier pushed the puck across the line and into the webbing of Craig Anderson’s glove just before referee Steve Kozari had blown the whistle. 

As Dave Hakstol came out of the coach’s room to address the media, he had just viewed the play from the overhead angle that provided conclusive evidence.

“We tied it up,” Hakstol said. “It’s there. I just watched it on our own video in the coach’s room and it’s clear as day. I watched the puck go over the line. It’s 100 percent a goal.

“I don’t know how that’s missed. That bothers me because the guys fought their rear ends off to get back into this game and tie this thing up.”

Hakstol said he was provided no explanation, but the NHL handed down this ruling from the NHL’s situation room in Toronto

“The referee informed the Situation Room that he was in the process of blowing his whistle to stop play when he lost sight of the puck under Craig Anderson’s skate. According to Rule 78.5 section (xii) apparent goals shall be disallowed ‘when the referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity stop play by blowing the whistle.’ This is not a reviewable play, therefore, the referee’s call on the ice stands — no goal Philadelphia.” 

“I didn’t even know it went in,” Couturier said. “I tried to jam it and I didn’t really know where it was. When I found out it was in his glove I thought maybe it was in, but I don’t know. I don’t know what the explanation was.”

That was the first of two goals that went against the Flyers in the third period. The first one came with 10:22 remaining in the game when Brandon Manning blasted a shot past Ottawa’s Anderson, which would have cut the Senators’ lead to 4-3. 

However, Sens coach Guy Boucher challenged the marker on account of goaltender’s interference. Flyers forward Jordan Weal backed his way into the crease, but it was Anderson who initiated contact. Weal had left the crease as Manning was firing off the shot. 

After further review, the NHL’s situation room had determined the contact was worth waving off the goal.

“(Valtteri) Filppula had the puck and I realized I was a little close and he kind of shoved me,” Weal said. “I got out of the way as the shot was coming in and I guess in their eyes they saw something different. We got a couple of tough calls against us there. It seems like we’re getting that every couple of games — a couple of tough calls against us. We played strong and sometimes those things happen.”    

“The first overturned goal — those are judgement calls,” Hakstol said. “I don’t get involved in second-guessing them. I thought it was a goal, but they’ve got to make that call when they watch it. But that’s a judgement call.”

Roughly a minute later, the Senators converted a 2-on-1 when Tom Pyatt wristed a shot far post to beat Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth blocker side. In the span of 57 seconds, the Flyers went from possibly being a goal down to staring at a 5-2 Ottawa lead.

“We dug ourselves a hole, but the big thing is we dug out of that hole. Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Hakstol said.   

“It always sucks getting the goal called off, but I think we responded pretty well,” Couturier said. “We kept going. We scored two goals and almost the tying goal. We battled hard to get back but we need to have a better start.”

For a second straight road game, the Flyers trailed 3-0 in the opening period. It took all of 91 seconds for the Senators to jump on the board as Dion Phaneuf’s wrist shot from just inside the blue line found its way through a line of players to the top right corner of the net.

“I didn’t see it. I’ve got to watch the replay, but I don’t think it was a hard shot,” Neuvirth said. “But we’ve got to block those on the PK.”

After giving up two or fewer goals in his first three starts, Neuvirth had his toughest night of the season as the Senators touched him up for five goals on 28 shots.

“It was a tough game,” Neuvirth said. “Five goals against is way too much. Got to be better.”

The Flyers were well aware of Ottawa’s 1-3-1 neutral zone play that clogs up the middle of the ice, and yet Hakstol’s club was turnover-prone in the first 15 minutes of the game, which led to the 3-0 deficit.

“I think we were just sloppy,” Jakub Voracek said. “There’s no way around it. Bad start and they score right away. Second goal was a blown coverage by me. We played better from the second period, but sometimes it’s not good enough. We just didn’t skate and if you don’t skate, you don’t have the openings. You don’t skate, you get scored on and there goes the first period.”

The Flyers can only hope whatever maze they navigate in Toronto Saturday night doesn’t have quite the same steep, uphill climb.

Capitals regain top spot in Metro as Ovechkin scores NHL-best 35th goal

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USA Today Images

Capitals regain top spot in Metro as Ovechkin scores NHL-best 35th goal

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Alex Ovechkin can stop fretting about what the Washington Capitals captain described as the worst game of his career.

He and the Capitals were much better in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, two days after a 7-1 meltdown at Chicago.

After being held without a shot against Chicago, Ovechkin responded by scoring his NHL-leading 35th goal, and Washington reclaimed the top spot in the Metropolitan Division

"Yeah, I think the last game I didn't play my game. I think it was the worst play of my career by myself. I take the blame on it," Ovechkin said. "I think we understand the game in Chicago was just forget about it, you know. We moved forward. We got two points."

Capitals coach Barry Trotz noticed how much more involved Ovechkin was against Buffalo, particularly after a few early exchanges with Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (see full recap.)

Marchand's OT goal gives Bruins win over Flames 
CALGARY, Alberta — Brad Marchand scored his 22nd goal 3:36 into overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday.

After a turnover deep in the Flames end, Riley Nash sprung the Bruins' leading scorer on a breakaway and Marchand made no mistake, slipping the puck through the pads of David Rittich.

David Pastrnak also scored for Boston (36-13-8), which moved within one point of Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. Boston has two games in hand.

Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Flames (30-21-9), who fell to 1-3-4 in their last eight home games.

With the teams meeting for the second time in six days, Calgary was territorially outplayed by a wide margin in the first period but Rittich kept the Flames in it (see full recap.)

Cullen, Ennis star in Wild win against Islanders 
NEW YORK — Minnesota knows it needs to play better on the road to strengthen its push for a playoff spot. The Wild also want to do a better job of holding third-period leads than they have lately.

They accomplished both Monday against the New York Islanders.

Matt Cullen and Tyler Ennis scored in Minnesota's three-goal second period, and the Wild beat the Islanders 5-3. Jason Zucker added two goals, Joel Eriksson Ek also scored, and Devan Dubnyk stopped 32 shots as Minnesota improved to 4-1-2 in its past seven games.

The Wild just lost three of five on their homestand, including twice when they gave up the tying goal in the third period before falling after regulation.

"Having the lead in the second and keeping it is really good for us," Zucker said (see full recap.)

Arvidsson scores twice in Predators' win vs. Senators 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Viktor Arvidsson scored twice to reach 20 goals this season, and the Nashville Predators beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Monday night.

Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Craig Smith also scored for Nashville, which ended a two-game skid and tied Winnipeg for first place in the Central Division.

The Predators recorded two power-play goals and scored on the man advantage in their second straight game after going six games without converting on the power play.

Pekka Rinne made 36 saves to earn his 30th win of the season.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Max McCormick scored for the Senators, who played catch-up most of the game. Craig Anderson stopped 36 shots (see full recap.)

Goaltending help is on the way for the Flyers

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AP Images

Goaltending help is on the way for the Flyers

With injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, the Flyers wasted no time in finding a competent goaltender.

General manager Ron Hextall acquired Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings late Monday night in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 and a conditional third-round pick in 2019. According to sources, the Flyers were also in discussions with Toronto regarding Calvin Pickard but ultimately settled for Mrazek.

“We’re excited to have obtained Petr Mrazek. Petr is a proven NHL goaltender and given the situation we’re in, we needed a proven goaltender and we got one,” said Hextall. 

Hextall confirmed if the Flyers make the playoffs and Mrazek wins five regular season games, the 2018 fourth-round pick becomes a third rounder. If the Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and Mrazek wins six playoff games, the third-round pick then becomes a second rounder.

If the Flyers re-sign Mrazek for next season, then the Red Wings would also get the Flyers' third-round selection in 2019.

“Quite frankly when I look at this deal, I think it’s a fair and reasonable deal for both sides,” Hextall said. “If Petr performs, we pay more and Detroit gets more. I like the makeup of this deal. I think it’s a fair deal and I think both teams got what they wanted.”

Hextall had reportedly turned down Mrazek for a third-round pick last week, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, but that was prior to Neuvirth’s injury Sunday against the Rangers. Hextall also announced that Neuvirth is out “long-term” meaning weeks and not days, and quite possibly the remainder of the regular season.

As a backup to Jimmy Howard, Mrazek has appeared in 18 games this season with an 8-7-3 record, a 2.89 GAA and a .910 save percentage. In January, Mrazek posted back-to-back shutouts against the Blackhawks and the Devils before the Flyers snapped Mrazek’s shutout streak at 145 minutes and five seconds in a 3-2 overtime loss. 

The Red Wings will retain half of Mrazek’s $4 million salary in the deal, leaving the Flyers with a reasonable $2 million cap hit. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

Since Dec. 4, the Flyers are 21-8-3 and have climbed up the Metropolitan Division standings where they’re currently tied with the New Jersey Devils for third place with 70 points.

“This is a sign that our players have done a really good job,” Hextall said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. We’re in a tough situation. You lose your two goalies when you’re fighting for a playoff spot and our players have worked hard for a long time now. I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team.” 

Mrazek is expected to join the Flyers for Tuesday's morning skate.