Flyers

More Sean Couturier, more points before Flyers' bye

More Sean Couturier, more points before Flyers' bye

BOX SCORE

The Flyers enter their bye week on a high after defeating the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1, Sunday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center, sweeping back-to-back weekend games on home ice as they also topped St. Louis Saturday.

The Flyers improved their home record to 11-8-4. With the win, the Flyers now have 46 points, tying them with Carolina for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference heading into Sunday evening's action around the league.

Shortly after Ryan O'Reilly opened the scoring early in the second with a power-play rocket, Shayne Gostisbehere's score knotted things with his ninth of the season, as he created the turnover in the neutral zone that led to him finishing the play with the goal.

Sean Couturier stayed scorching hot with two more goals, including the game-winner on a power-play one-timer from the dot midway through the second. He then added an empty-netter to make it 3-1 in the third as the Flyers' top line center continues to lead the team with his 23 goals. 

Ivan Provorov also chipped in with an empty net goal for extra insurance.

Michal Neuvirth earned his first win since Nov. 2 as he stopped 30 of 31 shots. 

Jakub Voracek added a pair of assists, increasing his NHL-leading amount to 43.

• The second period started out just like the first with more penalties (the Flyers took two very early ones to start the game) as the Flyers committed yet another stick infraction — Andrew MacDonald for hooking — and this time, the Sabres made the Flyers' PK pay. O’Reilly found a soft spot between the four Flyers on the ice, settled in and roofed a one-time shot over Neuvirth’s shoulder for a 1-0 Sabres lead. Ideally, you want this shot blocked or the play better defended. Neuvirth was slow to react, perhaps thinking he had the near post sealed off.

• The Flyers had a quick answer after the Sabres' goal as Gostisbehere stepped up in the neutral zone and broke up Jake McCabe’s pass, which resulted in a Flyers rush. Some very selfless passing as Jori Lehtera hit Scott Laughton, who then fed it back to Ghost, who was the trailer on the play. Gostisbehere made no mistake to tie the game at 1-1. It was very important, and not just on the scoreboard as the Flyers seized the momentum from Buffalo after allowing the first goal.  

• I really liked how the Flyers changed up their look on their power-play goal in their third PP opportunity. That goal, courtesy of Couturier, gave them a 2-1 lead. With Claude Giroux moving from his usual spot on the left-side half-wall to the right side, he took a puck from Voracek and skated behind the net with all four Sabres skaters watching him. It allowed Couturier to slide in under the coverage and fire a one-timer in the opposite direction from where Sabres goalie Robin Lehner was moving.

• The Flyers come so close to a two-goal lead later in the second as Voracek came up with a slick power move along the left boards, squeezing through a pair of Sabres players, which led to a 3-on-1. Voracek connected with Wayne Simmonds, but Lehner got just enough of his glove to deny the Flyers a goal. You’d like to see Simmonds bury those types of opportunities as he hasn’t been much of a factor this season at even strength. 

• Robert Hagg nearly broke Lehner’s collarbone with a one-time slap shot from about 17 feet away as he caught Lehner in the unprotected area between the mask and his shoulder pads. Once again, it was Giroux’s vision to spot the open seam in the Sabres' defense and create the scoring chance for Hagg. 

• The Flyers gave the Sabres a power-play opportunity in the opening minute as Voracek was called for hooking. The Flyers' PK kept Buffalo’s top PP unit around the perimeter, not allowing any looks from the high-danger areas. Less than a minute after the Flyers killed off that penalty, Simmonds was whistled for a similar slashing call that he’s been guilty of several times this season.

• On the Sabres' second power play, Neuvirth robbed Sam Reinhart with the glove. A fantastic save, while at the same time, he was just a little slow reading and reacting to the pass to Reinhart. Neuvirth had to resort to his athleticism over his technique there.

• It took a while for all four lines to get an even-strength shift thanks to penalties, but Nolan Patrick had a nice look to Michael Raffl when they were able to get on the ice. But Patrick’s dish was just a little far from Raffl's outstretched stick. If current Phantom Oskar Lindblom can evolve into a real sniper, potentially paired with Patrick, that duo could be deadly for years to come.

• The Flyers' power play certainly wasn’t short on zone time in the first period, spending 1:30 of their two minutes in the Sabres' end in their one and only attempt. The Flyers were able to work it down low to Simmonds and try to work in a rebound, but they weren’t able to break the Sabres' box and with any cross-ice passing lanes, mostly working it around the outside.  

• The Flyers again came out with a sluggish opening period as they were outshot, 12-5, by the Sabres. Clearly, they never gained any momentum after they were forced to kill off that pair early of penalties, and that played a huge role in not being able to sustain consistent offensive pressure at even strength. 

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl-Valterri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Tyrell Goulbourne-Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera

Defense
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goaltending
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

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AP Images

What Petr Mrazek hopes to add to Flyers

Petr Mrazek was the first Flyer on the ice for Wednesday's practice, spending considerable time with goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh.

"We talked about strategy a little bit, how to square up to the puck, how to help the D and the PK and how to manage things," Mrazek said, "I think we had a good conversation and I'm looking forward to working with him and try and help the team."

Mrazek was also the first guy off the ice, an early indication that he'll make his Flyers debut Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center. Mrazek spent his first day in Philadelphia serving as Alex Lyon's backup and watched his new team from the bench, quickly noticing how the Flyers moved the puck from zone-to-zone.  

"Everyone was really fast in transition yesterday. We were trying to get the puck out of the zone as quick as we can," Mrazek said.

Mrazek believes he can help facilitate quick breakouts with the way he plays the puck and working the puck to his defensemen.

"I'm really confident in playing the puck and helping the defense," Mrazek said. "I like to be involved behind the net and put the puck on their sticks and get the puck out of the zone. Especially on the road, it's very important when teams chip the puck behind the net and try to make play out there."

Playing the puck efficiently will certainly help Mrazek rest easier, as was his first night in Philadelphia. Staying at a nearby hotel, Mrazek was able to get a good night's rest after barely getting any sleep the night he was traded to Philadelphia. 

"I was fine today," he said, "but yesterday when I woke up at four in the morning I asked myself, 'Is this really happening?'"

Flyers survive a scare with Travis Konecny

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USA Today Images

Flyers survive a scare with Travis Konecny

VOORHEES, N.J. — T.K. appears to be OK.

The Flyers have apparently survived a scare, even though Travis Konecny sat out Wednesday's workout. The Flyers winger was given a maintenance day to recover from soreness from Tuesday's win over the Canadiens.

General manager Ron Hextall listed Konecny as probable after he took a slap shot off his left skate in the first period that severely hampered his mobility.

Konecny labored throughout the majority of the game, unable to sustain for prolonged periods with nine shifts under 30 seconds. The 20-year-old winger has been a primary contributor during the Flyers' second-half surge with 24 points (11 goals, 13 assists) in his last 24 games since being moved up to the Flyers' top line.

Tuesday night was just the seventh time during that 24-game span Konecny failed to register a point. The Flyers will make a determination following Thursday's morning skate regarding his availability against the Blue Jackets.

"Either you can play or you can't this time of year," Dave Hakstol said. "Nobody would be surprised to know that around the league there's a lot of guys that play at a little bit less than 100 percent. This time of year, that's how it is. You have to be able to do your job at a high level. That's the line — you're on one side of it or the other, and we'll make that decision."

Taylor Leier, a healthy scratch the past seven games, skated in Konecny's spot on the Flyers' top line with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier.