Patrick, Neuvirth combine to save Flyers from ugly loss

Patrick, Neuvirth combine to save Flyers from ugly loss


GLENDALE, Ariz. — A slew of fans in orange jerseys came out to Gila River Arena to support the Flyers on Saturday night.
So much so, when there were “Let’s Go Coyotes” chants, it was clear you could hear a mix of “Let’s Go Flyers.” You might as well have thought you were inside Wells Fargo Arena when the Flyers scored.
And yes, the “E-A-G-L-E-S, Eagles” chant made its appearance.
The home crowd seemed to play in the Flyers' favor on Saturday night, as they were able to squeeze out a win in a shootout, 4-3, to move into third place in the Metropolitan division.
The Flyers allowed a third-period goal to ex-Flyer Zac Rinaldo to tie the game at three. Overtime passed with both teams exchanging chances back-and-forth. The Flyers got their first shootout victory of the year with goals from Voracek and the game-winner from Nolan Patrick.
The Coyotes, who currently sit in last place in the NHL standings, fell to 13-33-9 on the season.
The Coyotes entered the game having a 7-2-2 record against the Flyers in their last 11 contests. This was the second matchup of the season between the Flyers and the Coyotes. The first meeting was back at the start of the season.
Remember this, Flyers fans?
The Coyotes were winless at 0-10-1 back on October 30 and the Flyers fell 4-3 in OT.
Here are some observations from the game:

•Two huge missed opportunities from Sean Couturier and Jordan Weal raised a potential cause for concern for the last-place Coyotes early in the first period. The Coyotes surrendered three breakaways to the Flyers in the first period alone, one that arguably could have been a penalty shot.
That’s all the shine the Coyotes would get in the first period because the rest of it belonged to the Flyers. They went into the first intermission with a 2-1 lead.

•The Flyers' 11th ranked power-play went to work tonight. Claude Giroux was the recipient of a beautiful pass from Jakob Voracek and clocked a one-timer over Antti Raanta’s blocker. Wayne Simmonds was parked out in front of the net, per usual, and redirected a Shayne Gostisbehere shot on the other goal. The first power-play grouping had the Coyotes playing on their heels at every second.
The power play has hit their stride over the last two games for the Flyers, having gone 4-for-8.

•Chances galore for the Flyers to put this game away. Wayne Simmonds was robbed on a shot from Raanta inside three minutes left, two more chances at it by the Flyers and they still couldn’t get it home. The Flyers outshot the Coyotes in the third, 18-4.
•Both goaltenders struggled mightily with rebound control. Brian Elliott, who started in the Flyers' previous two victories over Carolina and Montreal, made 24 saves on Saturday night. But every time the Coyotes took a shot, you feared someone would be right on the doorstep to put home the loose change.
Elliott allowed two shaky goals in the first 20-plus minutes. He has normally handled his rebounds with better control. He played better in the third period, until he was forced to leave the game in the second round of the shootout after suffering a lower-body injury. Michal Neuvirth came in and went 4-for-4 and gave the Flyers the win. 
•The Flyers had been 0-4 in shootouts prior to this game. Ex-Flyer Nick Cousins got the scoring started in the shootout, but that’s all the Coyotes could get.
Patrick would score the game-winner in the seventh round and give the Flyers their 27th victory of the season.
•Luke Schenn was a scratch on Saturday night for the Coyotes. He has played in all but five games for the Coyotes this season. Schenn spent three seasons with the Flyers before being traded along with Vincent Lecavalier to the Los Angeles Kings.
•Zac Rinaldo picked up his fourth goal of the season against the team that drafted him in 2008. Rinaldo spent four seasons with the orange and black before he was traded to Boston in 2015-16.
•The Flyers wrap up their back-to-back Sunday with a mactchup against the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m. on NBCSP.

Alex Lyon unfazed by the moment in massive relief effort

Alex Lyon unfazed by the moment in massive relief effort


Entering a game cold to start the second period following a wild six-goal first period while staring down at future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist at the other end of the rink may have intimidated most rookies, but Alex Lyon simply wasn’t phased. Not this time. 

Perhaps Lyon didn’t have a moment to absorb the magnitude of the moment, and even better, playing on the grand stage of Madison Square Garden didn’t overwhelm him at all. After all, for Lyon, the best way to earn that first NHL victory was in a building where he had never lost. Lyon is now a perfect 4-0 in games at the Garden, dating back to his days with Yale and their battles with Ivy League rival Harvard.

“I actually did take a comfort in that,” Lyon said. “I’ve been here, I’ve won here. You know the surroundings here a bit, so it’s good. When you’re in college and you look at the building and say, ‘Oh my God, it’s huge’, but now that I’ve seen a lot of NHL and AHL rinks it calms things down a little bit.” 

Sunday, Lyon came off the bench in relief of Michal Neuvirth to stop 25 of 26 Rangers shots in leading the Flyers to a 7-4 win over their Metropolitan Division rivals (see observations)

“It really does make a difference when you get that first win, especially after my first start against New Jersey where I felt like I could have uplifted the team there and we lost late. I’m just happy I could contribute,” Lyon said. 

The Flyers announced after the first period that Neuvirth would not return to the game after suffering a lower-body injury. Neuvirth was slow getting to his skates on a Rangers 2-on-1 goal where he was forced to fully extend himself moving post-to-post. 

“You never want to see injuries happen and you never want to see them in key areas, but it is part of the game,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “With Neuvy and (Brian Elliott) being down, it’s a challenge. Alex stepped in today and did the job. And that’s what our guys will rally behind going forward.”

On the 50th anniversary of the very first game at the current Madison Square Garden, which coincidentally was played between the Flyers and Rangers, the two bitter rivals had no problem turning back the clock to a time when fighting went hand-in-hand with scoring goals. Shayne Gostisbehere dropped the gloves for the first time in his NHL career with Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich, who laid out Travis Konecny with a hard hit on the opening shift of the game.

“I’d never done that before, but the boys were happy I did it,” Gostisbehere said. “I just heard the loud noise and I saw him on the ground. I thought he got smoked and I passed it to him so, I don’t know, I dropped the gloves.”

“It was cool. It was a fun game. It’s not how we drew it up. 3-3 after the first. As a team, our coach said we didn’t really have it tonight, but we found ways. I think the boys stood up for one another and we went out there and got the job done.”

Most impressively after a dismal defensive effort in the opening 25 minutes and facing the adversity of losing another goaltender, the Flyers still found a way to earn a victory during a time of the season when earning points are vitally important. The Flyers have now collected at least a point in their last eight games with a 6-0-2 record dating back to Feb. 3.

“Sometimes you have those nights,” Hakstol said. “Guys were ready to go. There were three scraps in the early parts of the game. It was one of those nights playing against a good offensive team. We weren’t sharp enough and we weren’t quite hard enough with or without the puck, but we recovered enough to get the two points.”

Fortunately, the Flyers were still able to dismantle a fragile Rangers team that has plummeted to last place in the Metropolitan Division by racking up seven goals against Lundqvist for the first time in 56 career games against the Orange and Black.

“Obviously, there were a lot of mistakes,” Lundqvist said. “They’re getting deflections in our net, odd-man rushes. I just have to start with myself, somehow find energy and confidence to play your game, but it’s hard when you give up so many goals to stay confident.” 

“You got to get to the net. There were some flash screens and just a good job of getting pucks to the net and winning net-front battles and it kinda went both ways,” said MacDonald.

Notable stats
• The Flyers are digging the day games, now 7-1-3 in afternoon starts.

• The top line dominated once again with seven points and a plus-five rating. Konecny registered his first career three-point game and Claude Giroux scored his 200th career goal.

• The Flyers scored seven goals on the Rangers for the first time since November 11, 1992, at the Spectrum.

• The Flyers have not allowed a power play in back-to-back games, which has not happened since the NHL began tracking those number through box scores dating back to 1977.

Alex Lyon saves Flyers' day at MSG

Alex Lyon saves Flyers' day at MSG


Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden turned into the off-Broadway performance of “Lyon King.” 

While it may not qualify for a Tony award, the Flyers' 7-4 victory over the New York Rangers had plenty of entertainment value.

Rookie Alex Lyon replaced Michal Neuvirth to begin the second period and stopped 25 shots to earn his first-career NHL victory, beating Henrik Lundqvist at MSG. Neuvirth appeared to have sustained an injury on Mats Zuccarello’s goal late in the first period that tied the game at 3-3. The Flyers later announced Neuvirth did indeed suffer a lower-body injury and would not return to the contest. Enter Lyon, who performed brilliantly in the spotlight.

The seven goals are the most the Flyers have scored against the Rangers since Nov. 11, 1992. The seven goals are also a season-high for the Flyers and the most Lundqvist has allowed in 56 career games against the Orange and Black.

Claude Giroux scored his 200th career goal while his linemate Travis Konecny produced his first career three-point game with a goal and two assists.

The Flyers also received goals from defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning, Nolan Patrick, Scott Laughton and Jori Lehtera.

Observations from the big win at MSG:

• Fifteen seconds into the game, Shayne Gostisbehere engaged in his first career fight when he took exception to Pavel Buchenevich’s check on Konecny that sent Konecny hard into the boards. Ghost held his own and was able to connect with a few right hands.

• Want proof that the Flyers' defense is out of whack when one of their key blueliners is not available? They were a complete mess with Gostisbehere in the box as they gave up a handful of high-quality scoring chances to the Rangers. Defenseman John Gilmour had a terrific look from the left circle, Michael Grabner had a point-blank look from the slot and Jimmy Vesey drove right around Ivan Provorov at one point. The Flyers were fortunate they weren’t down 2-0 early on after the Rangers opened the scoring.

• Just 75 seconds after Gostisbehere’s fight, the Rangers capitalized as Kevin Hayes pulled off a near impossible redirect off Ryan Sproul’s point shot. Not much blame to assign, just an unfortunate and near-impossible shot to defend. Perhaps Neuvirth could have initially played the puck better from behind his own net as opposed to just rimming the puck around the boards.

• Flyers scored a picture-perfect goal that was set up by a face-off win in the defensive zone when they took a 3-2 lead late in the first period. Giroux took off with the puck and the key to the goal was his drop pass to Konecny that pushed the Rangers’ defenseman back near the crease. That opened up a big lane for Brandon Manning, who beat Lundqvist blocker side for the goal. A textbook goal off the rush that gave them their first lead.

• In a wild first period that produced six goals and three fights, the Flyers did a fantastic job of beating Lundqvist on redirected shots. MacDonald received credit for the first goal as Lehtera whiffed on a deflection attempt, but Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo did the Flyers a favor by getting his stick on a shot that beat Lundqvist. The Flyers tied the game at 2-2 with Scott Laughton’s redirecting Provorov’s entry shot. This is a prime example of why the Rangers defensively appear lost without Ryan McDonough and Marc Staal, two of the better defenseman in the league. 

• I have the Flyers winning the first period on the fight card, 10-9 the advantage. Dale Weise wasn’t as fortunate in his scuffle with Cody McLeod. A total of 32 penalty minutes were handed out in the first 20 minutes.

• Just as the Flyers’ power play expired, Peter Holland and Zuccarello caught the Flyers’ defense flat-footed and connected on a 2-on-1 rush. The Flyers had four forwards on the ice plus defenseman MacDonald, and MacDonald left his feet in an unsuccessful attempt to break up the pass. He should have forced Holland to shoot. To make matters worse, Neuvirth appeared to have injured himself on that play moving post to post. Judge for yourself…

• Lyon replaced Neuvirth to begin the second period and the rookie was tested right away as the Rangers converted another bad rebound goal. Radko Gudas and Manning certainly didn’t help out their goaltender as both guys were on their knees in front of Lyon, who made the first two saves, but couldn’t stop Holland’s attempt after falling face forward to the ice.

• In the first period, Neuvirth was in goal for a similar play when MacDonald rode his man up the boards, which left center Sean Couturier forced to play Rick Nash 1-on-1 in front of the crease. Nash was able to maintain inside position and simply curled the puck around Neuvirth’s skate. Through 40 minutes, the Flyers’ defense in front of their goaltender was somewhere between subpar and terrible. 

• Lyon came up with some big saves in that second period - the biggest came when Lyon snared J.T. Miller’s snap shot out of the air with his glove. Lyon finished with 13 saves in the second period coming off the bench cold.

• Konecny continued his red-hot scoring pace with another multi-point game. After passing up a prime opportunity earlier in the second period, Konecny wasn’t about to let another one go by as he sniped a shot under the arm of Lundqvist, who clearly wasn’t having his best game as poor as the defense has played in front of him. Konecny’s tally wound up as the game-winner.

• Lyon was positioned perfectly again on Nick Holden’s wrist shot early in the third period. In his fourth career appearance, this is the best Lyon has looked as he didn’t try to do too much and was square to nearly every shot.