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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.

Best of NHL: Johnny Gaudreau extends point streak to 10 games

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Best of NHL: Johnny Gaudreau extends point streak to 10 games

WASHINGTON -- Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist to extend his career-best point streak to 10 games and the Calgary Flames beat the Washington Capitals 4-1 on Monday night.

Gaudreau scored and assisted on Sean Monahan's goal, one of two on the power play for Calgary, which has won four of its past five. Mikael Backlund and captain Mark Giordano also scored for the Flames, who got 29 saves from Mike Smith.

Gaudreau, nicknamed "Johnny Hockey," has eight goals and 11 assists during his point streak. Led by the Carneys Point, New Jersey, native, the Flames are 7-3-0 in that time.

Lars Eller scored the only goal for the Capitals, who took five minor penalties and lost for the third time in four games. Braden Holtby allowed four goals on 39 shots.

The Flames came in feeling good after a comeback victory in Philadelphia and a 1950s-themed train ride to Washington. But the Capitals took a 1-0 lead just 62 seconds in when Jakub Vrana found Eller for his fourth goal of the season.

Calgary controlled much of the play from that point on, tying it on Gaudreau's goal 4:49 in and taking a lead on Monahan's power-play goal 5:22 into the second. Monahan had a goal and an assist after a power-play hat trick Saturday against the Flyers.

Washington's parade to the penalty box gave the Flames momentum and then their third goal at 4:38 of the second when Backlund buried a loose puck. Giordano's goal to make it 4-1 was effectively a third power-play goal as it came 1 second after ex-Flames forward Alex Chiasson's penalty expired (see full recap).

Blue Jackets edge Sabres for 4th straight win
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sergei Bobrovsky made three of his 30 saves on a power play in the final two minutes, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 on Monday night for their fourth straight victory.

Rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Boone Jenner scored for the Blue Jackets. Markus Nutivaara had two assists.

Buffalo dropped its sixth straight game. Evander Kane and Sam Reinhart scored for the Sabres, and Robin Lehner stopped 25 shots.

Bobrovsky made his biggest save when he slid across the crease to kick away a Ryan O'Reilly one-timer with 1:49 remaining. Bobrovsky got a piece of Kyle Okposo's shot off the rebound and the puck trickled across the goal line while Okposo fell into the net. Officials determined on replay that the goal did not count.

The Blue Jackets scored first for the fifth straight game when Dubois collected a loose puck in the slot and lifted a wrist shot over Lehner four minutes into the second period. Oliver Bjorkstrand set up Dubois' third goal of the season with a pass from behind the net.

Panarin scored his fifth on a high wrist shot from the right circle 5:47 into the third. Jenner added his third goal of the year on a play in front of the net midway through the period (see full recap).

Raanta, Coyotes end Maple Leafs' win streak
TORONTO -- Antti Raanta made 26 saves and the Arizona Coyotes ended the Toronto Maple Leafs' winning streak at six games with a 4-1 victory Monday night.

Brendan Perlini, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Max Domi and Tobias Rieder scored for the Coyotes (5-15-3), who have won three in a row for the first time this season.

Arizona rookie Clayton Keller had two assists to give him 20 points in 23 games.

James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs (14-8-0).

Frederik Andersen had his shutout streak snapped at 1:41:28 when the Coyotes scored in the first period. Andersen, who made 28 saves, had blanked the opponent in back-to-back games.

Toronto star Auston Matthews, playing in his 100th career game, appeared to tie it 2-all with 3:50 to play but the goal was overturned after a replay review because of goalie interference by Zach Hyman (see full recap).

Wayne Simmonds issues timely reminder about Flyers

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Wayne Simmonds issues timely reminder about Flyers

VOORHEES, N.J. — Wayne Simmonds would make a pretty good salesman.

He speaks with conviction and knows how to convey a point.

On Monday, he was selling the 2017-18 Flyers.

None of it was fluff. In fact, the sales pitch was completely valid.

Many clamored for the Flyers to become younger, and they did. Nolan Patrick, 19, is just getting healthy again after missing nine straight games. The fourth line features two 23-year-olds (Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier) that developed last season in the AHL. And half of the current defense is made up of rookies.

That's not to mention Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov are only 20 years old, while Jordan Weal is in his first full NHL season.

After losing four straight games, the Flyers are 8-8-4 and still only five points out of first place despite sitting in last in the Metropolitan Division.

Things could be worse. Really, they're not all that bad.

"The season's not even close to being over," Simmonds said after practice at Flyers Skate Zone. "That's the way I'm thinking about it, guys. There's no need to be worried, we're a .500 hockey team right now, we've played 20 games, we have 62 games left, we've got a really young team and we're growing every single day. Yeah, we're going to have our struggles, but we're also going to have points in the season where we make huge strides. We've got to stick with it and we've got to keep going and going."

The Flyers were 9-8-3 after 20 games last season. Two games later, they were starting a 10-game winning streak. The run didn't accomplish much by season's end, but it's an example of how quickly trends can turn in the NHL.

Simmonds is experiencing his own negative trend of 12 straight games without a goal after scoring six in eight games to start the season.

"Sometimes you score 10 goals, then you don't score again for 20 games or something like that," Simmonds said. "Like I said, it's a long year, you keep going, you keep grinding, you guys want to jump to conclusions, that's your job. You guys have got to make decisions on a game-to-game basis, but for us, we just have to make sure we're coming to the rink and doing our job every single day and continuing to try and get better."

Throughout much of his drought, Simmonds has not looked himself, likely banged up from the style in which he plays and excels.

With time and patience, Simmonds is building himself up again physically.

"You think you can do some things and sometimes your body just tells you no," Simmonds said.

"I've been feeling better the last little bit. I feel like I've started to play better, things aren't coming offensively for me. I think as an individual, I've just got to keep working hard. The only way to break yourself out of a bad streak is to continue to work hard and hopefully things eventually go your way."

When does he know his game is coming to him?

"When I'm aggressive," Simmonds said. "When I'm battling in the corners, I'm hitting — I think earlier this year, I wasn't fully engaging in battles and stuff like that, and that's not me, that's not my game. I think the last little bit here, I've felt a lot better, I've been doing a lot more battling, a lot more hitting, a lot more physical things. It's nice and we've got to continue that. As a team, we've got to continue to do the same thing, to get to the front of the net and continue to put pucks in."

Aside from the first line of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, scoring struggles have permeated the middle six and secondary options. Konecny and Weal, two players the Flyers expected jumps from in production, have combined for four goals and nine assists. Konecny is without a goal over his previous 10 games, while Weal has scored one in his last 12.

"It's been a lot of hard work and not much to show for it," Weal said. "No matter what line we've been on, it seems like we've been getting three or four chances every game to put something in and nothing right now seems to be going in. It's one of those things that happens during a season.

"When it breaks open, hopefully it'll break wide open.

"When we have all four lines scoring, we're a really dangerous team."

Both Konecny and Weal are frequently the last two players off the practice ice.

Monday was no different.

"I just need to make sure I'm battling and creating more offense," Konecny said. "I feel like the opportunities are there, I'm not worried about that."

Nor is Simmonds worried about the Flyers with 62 games to go, the next coming Tuesday night at home against the Canucks.

Similar to building up strength and good health, patience is important to a season, especially with the makeup of this Flyers team.

Simmonds believes you'll buy in … just give it some time.

"You can look at the standings, you can do whatever you want, but we've played 20 games," Simmonds said. "There's still a long time to go in the season. We've got work to do.

"I'm definitely feeling better. It's up to me to get going."

When he does, the Flyers hope the rest follow.