Flyers

Nationwide (Arena) is not on the Flyers' side

Nationwide (Arena) is not on the Flyers' side

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If you feel like you've seen this movie in the exact same theater before, it's because you have.

The Flyers' 2-1 shootout loss Saturday night to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena marked their 11th straight loss in the building that opened in 2000 (see observations).

Thanks to Pierre-Luc Dubois' shootout goal, and some tough luck, the Flyers head into the Christmas break losers of two straight and winless in Columbus for the 12th straight calendar year.

Just 24 hours after enduring a disappointing regulation loss in Buffalo, the pair of points on Columbus ice remained elusive despite eking out the shootout loss point.

“It’s a good team and a tough barn to take points out of and I’m proud of the way the guys played,” said goalie Brian Elliott, who was burdened with the loss despite stopping 35 of 36 shots thrown his way.

In just their fifth contest of the season against a division opponent — and the first of four against their rival from Ohio — the Flyers once again found themselves playing catch-up thanks to Seth Jones’ power-play goal in the opening stanza.

The Flyers answered in the second with Ivan Provorov’s blast from the point that found eyes through traffic and past Sergei Bobrovsky, who now stands just one win away from his 200th career NHL win.

Despite Bobrovsky’s 30-save performance, the Flyers had their chances. After Provorov's goal in the second, the Flyers appeared to take the lead on a deflection off the stick of Taylor Leier. The play was reviewed, however, and waived off due to Leier’s stick making contact with the puck above the crossbar.

In the third period, Jakub Voracek was thwarted on two separate opportunities, including a close-range one-on-one chance against Bobrovsky after causing a turnover in the Flyers’ offensive zone.

Additionally, Sean Couturier — who added his 16th assist of the season on Provorov’s goal — nearly prevented overtime by beating Bobrovsky to only see his wrister go off the inside of the post.

“A couple bounces either way, like Cootsy’s chance at the end there," Travis Konecny said, "it goes up inside the post so I think it was a good effort tonight.”

Missing key defenseman Zach Werenski, Columbus failed to put the visiting Flyers away early despite dictating the pace of play throughout much of the contest. For those familiar with games between these teams though, outcomes are seldom of a wide margin.

Despite finding themselves pressured once again by an aggressive Blue Jackets team, the orange and black were able to force overtime for the sixth time during the span of their 11-game skid in Columbus.

And although Hakstol’s team came away from Buffalo empty-handed, they depart Ohio’s capital with one point in hand — a valuable point as they now sit four points out of the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

“I think we had a real good effort from our lineup,” Hakstol said. “Obviously, we weren’t happy with the result or, you know, overall how things went for us last night, but I think tonight, you can flip that around the exact opposite. We had real good efforts from everyone in the lineup.”

With an exhausting five-game gauntlet in eight days behind them, the Flyers not only welcome the Christmas break, they also know things could be a lot worse.

“I feel good about our team,” Provorov said. “We’re playing hard, we’re getting better, you know, that 10-game losing streak kind of set us back a little bit in points, but we stuck with it, kept battling and we’ll continue to do that.”

With three games remaining against Columbus on the schedule, and one more at Nationwide Arena, the Flyers will have to find a way to end what’s now become a running narrative — the fact they can’t win in Columbus.

Not only do they have just two wins in the former Western Conference city, no player on the current roster was on the team that last won on Dec. 13, 2005.

It’s a hurdle that must be cleared if general Ron Hextall’s blueprint is to turn into a masterpiece.

Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

uspresswire-goldenknights-marcandre-fleury.jpg
USA Today Images

Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

TAMPA, Fla. -- Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves, David Perron had a goal and an assist, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 Thursday night in a matchup of conference leaders.

James Neal, Nate Schmidt and William Karlsson also scored for the Golden Knights, who swept the two-game season series with the NHL-leading Lightning.

Tampa Bay, coming off its bye week, got a goal from Ondrej Palat, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots. Vasilevskiy, an All-Star this season, has allowed 19 goals over his last four games.

Fleury made a number of impressive stops, including a left-circle shot by Steven Stamkos and in-close chance from Nikita Kucherov during the second period. The goalie, who spent most of career with Pittsburgh, is 19-11-4 against the Lightning.

Neal opened the scoring with a nifty deflection 56 seconds into the first, and Schmidt made it 2-0 with 3:57 left in the period. Deryk Engelland got his 100th NHL assist on Neal's goal.

Vegas is 19-1-0 when scoring first, with the lone loss coming Oct. 30 to the New York Islanders (see full recap).

Devils beat Caps in OT on Hall’s goal
NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall scored on a breakaway 34 seconds into overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night.

Sami Vatanen collected his third assist of the game on the winning goal, a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Braden Holtby.

Drew Stafford, Andy Greene and Miles Wood also scored for the Devils, who have won two straight after breaking a six-game winless streak (0-3-3). Keith Kinkaid had 16 saves and the Devils killed off all five Washington power plays.

Brett Connolly scored twice and Dmitry Orlov had a goal for the Capitals, who lost for only the second time in eight games. The Capitals, however, extended their streak of getting a point against New Jersey to 14 games (12-0-2).

Holtby made 28 saves, but gave up three breakaway goals (see full recap).

Panarin puts Stars over the top in shootout
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Artemi Panarin scored in the second round of a shootout, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Thursday night.

Joonas Korpisalo had 35 saves for Columbus (26-18-3), which returned from its five-day break after losing both ends of a back-to-back last week. Jordan Schroeder scored his first goal of the season in the first period.

Korpisalo blocked a shootout try by Jason Spezza before Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin came up empty. Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop blocked Jussi Jokinen's shootout attempt before Panarin beat him.

Korpisalo got the start ahead of Vezina Trophy-winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled in the recent losses. The 23-year-old Finn got his first win in nearly a month in his ninth game this season.

Dan Hamhuis scored for Dallas with 2:15 left in regulation. Bishop had 25 stops, including a terrific glove save on Alexander Wennberg with 30 seconds left in the third.

Dallas (26-17-4) had won two in a row (see full recap).

Flyers go from running on E to comeback for 'Big E'

Flyers go from running on E to comeback for 'Big E'

BOX SCORE

On a night when a sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd celebrated “Big E,” the Flyers responded with an equally big ‘W’ by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, in overtime to sweep the three-game regular-season series. 

Sean Couturier scored his 26th goal just 18 seconds into the extra session on a feed from Travis Konecny.

The Flyers trailed, 2-0, after the first two periods, but erased that deficit in the first 3:25 of the third period.

Nolan Patrick opened the scoring in the third with his third goal of the season. 

Wayne Simmonds scored his 16th goal of the season and the second shorthanded goal for the Flyers this season, which tied the game at 2-2. Simmonds now has a point in six straight games (four goals, two assists).

Michal Neuvirth stopped 29 of 31 shots as the Flyers’ backup netminder has now won his last two starts.
    
• The Leafs snapped a scoreless tie in the second period when Shayne Gostisbehere attempted to keep the puck in the offensive zone. Gostisbehere missed it completely, and with Ivan Provorov already pinching, only Couturier was back at the blue line. Couturier couldn’t catch Connor Brown, who broke in all alone on Neuvirth and beat him through the five-hole for a 1-0 Toronto lead. “Ghost” has to make sure that puck doesn’t squirt past him. 

• Just 28 seconds later, the Flyers surrendered another goal on a fluky play as Jake Gardiner harmlessly shot the puck on net from the left circle. Neuvirth made the initial stop, but the puck popped up straight in the air. Unfortunately for the Flyers, Robert Hagg couldn’t prevent Frederik Gauthier from getting a shot off. Neuvirth either lost track of it or the puck was tipped on the way to the net, but it put the Flyers down 2-0.

• The Flyers finally came to life when Patrick scored perhaps his most impressive goal of the season. After his initial shot from a sharp angle was turned aside and bounced behind the net, Patrick tenaciously chased down Mitch Marner, stripped the puck and turned to fire a shot that caught Frederik Andersen by surprise. Patrick continues to improve his play and show more jump in the offensive zone. He had a strong first period and followed it up with a goal.

• Neuvirth made the save of the game off a 2-on-1 when Patrick Marleau had a wide-open net. Neuvirth went post to post and was able to extend his right pad just enough to kick away Marleau’s shot.

• The Jori Lehtera interference penalty was absolutely ridiculous. The referees allowed both teams to play without much officiating and then whistled Lehtera for a penalty they had no business calling. 

• It was a tight-checking game in the opening five minutes. The only sustained pressure came from the Leafs’ top line of Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Zach Hyman. The Flyers had a good look when Claude Giroux was able to feed Provorov, who came into the high slot untouched. However, Provorov’s one-timer hit Andersen in the chest.

• There was a great save from Neuvirth that started after Jakub Voracek was caught stick handling too much just inside the Leafs’ blue line. That led to a 2-on-1 rush with James van Riemsdyk leading the rush up the left side. Neuvirth did a fantastic job of anticipating the pass to Tyler Bozak, who was cutting down the middle of the ice.

• The Flyers worked a power play in the final two minutes of the opening period as Hyman tripped up Gostisbehere unnecessarily. “Ghost” unleashed a slap shot early that handcuffed Simmonds, who was looking for a shot where he could extend his hands a little bit more. Gostisbehere also had a prime opportunity as he broke in underneath the Leafs’ coverage for a quality scoring chance. 

• The Flyers continued to play with fire as they gave Toronto a shorthanded opportunity. Overall, it was a pretty good first period for the Flyers, who have struggled to score in the first 20 minutes with just five goals over their last 11 games. 

• Interestingly, Dave Hakstol had Lehtera as one of his penalty-killers. Lehtera, who’s not exactly fleet of foot, had a chance to jump on a loose puck and clear the zone, but simply couldn’t get there quick enough. Overall, the Flyers’ PK did a solid job of pressuring the Leafs from the top of the circle to the blue line, not allowing them to setup and ultimately no shots on goal.   

• If you enjoy the defensive part of the game, then you would have loved watching Couturier battle with Matthews. Couturier refused to give Matthews any room to maneuver with the puck. The Matthews line was clicking earlier this season when the Flyers faced the Leafs in Toronto, but not so much in mid-January.

• There was a very good save sequence from Neuvirth around the 12-minute mark of the second period as the Leafs had several whacks right around the crease area. Neuvirth stood his ground, looked calm and maintained his positioning for any rebounds.

• The Flyers came up empty with two of their best scoring opportunities from the high-danger area in the span of a minute. First, Konecny missed wide of the net, and then later, Jordan Weal’s shot was blocked by Leafs defenseman Gardiner. For Konecny, that’s a shot he has to bury.

Lineups, pairings and scratches

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

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

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Forwards Taylor Leier (healthy) and Dale Weise (healthy), and defenseman Travis Sanheim (healthy).