Poor shootout thwarts Flyers' comeback effort

Poor shootout thwarts Flyers' comeback effort


Sure, you can call it a comeback … sort of. 

The Flyers erased a two-goal deficit as rookie Nolan Patrick scored the game-tying goal with 2.9 seconds remaining in regulation before Ottawa’s Mike Hoffman scored the only goal in round six of the shootout to give the Senators a 4-3 victory.

Matt Duchene opened the scoring and center Derick Brassard increased Ottawa’s lead to 2-0 just 39 seconds later. It was the third straight game the Flyers had allowed a pair of first period goals.

However, the turning point came when Duchene’s potential 4-1 goal was disallowed in the final minute of the second period after video review had determined he was offsides on the play.

Goaltender Alex Lyon started his second straight game, but was pulled after 40 minutes and replaced by Michal Neuvirth. Lyon stopped 20 of the 23 shots he faced.

Sean Couturier (27) and Scott Laughton also scored for the Flyers.

The Flyers have allowed 17 goals over their last four games, the most they’ve allowed in regulation during a four-game stretch this season.

•Patrick was all over the ice in the offensive zone and he was finally rewarded as he scored one of the biggest goals of the season, tying the game with 2.9 seconds remaining, earning the Flyers a point and sending the game into overtime. You could see Patrick intently searching for the loose puck in what was a mad scramble in the final moments of regulation.

•Despite the Flyers dominating the action in the opening 10 minutes, the Senators grabbed the early 1-0 lead as they had a clean breakout from their own zone which led to a 3-on-2 which eventually became a 4-on-3 with Duchene as the trailer. Duchene wheeled around Scott Laughton and simply flipped a beautiful wrist shot over Lyon’s glove-side shoulder. The play all started with Laughton getting caught too low in the Senators' zone as the Flyers didn’t have the numbers to slow down their speed. I thought Lyon gave up the near post a little too quickly as well.  

•Less than a minute later the Senators doubled their lead to 2-0 and this goal I pin on Lyon, who made the initial save from the point and as he went to save the shot from Brassard, his momentum carried him onto his stomach and from that moment he was in scramble mode. He lost track of where the puck was on the ice and failed to protect the near-side post as Brassard continued to jam away until the puck eventually crossed the line. 

•The Flyers' top line was relentless in their first two shifts of the second period and their effort resulted in the Flyers first goal of the game. Defenseman Brandon Manning started the sequence as he fed a streaking Claude Giroux up the middle of the ice which led to a sequence that saw Konecny fire a snap shot on net and Senators goalie Craig Anderson was in pure scramble mode. Like Lyon previously, Anderson fell to his stomach and by the time Gudas backhanded a pass to Couturier Anderson was in no position to make a save.   

•The Senators grabbed a 3-1 lead on a play that all started on their blue line. Giroux was skating with the puck along the blue line and as he attempted to reverse course he lost an edge which led to a 2-on-1 for the Senators with Robert Hägg as the only man back on defense. Hägg has to ensure that pass isn’t there and leave Dzingel to shoot on Lyon who should be squared up and ready for the save, instead Hägg broke early which left an easy tap in goal for Ottawa’s Chris Didomenico.  

•As much as I like Jake Voracek and his relentlessness with the puck, he simply tries to overdo it by forcing plays and skating into traffic which is why he leads all Flyers forwards in giveaways. Voracek had a couple of instances where he was guilty of this and one came on the power play which burned about 15 seconds of powerplay time. 

•The Flyers caught a tremendous break as Ottawa’s potential 4-1 goal was overturned as Duchene was ruled offsides and thus his goal was disallowed. However, it should be concerning that the Flyers had a pair of defenders around Duchene, who simply outworked Laughton and Andrew MacDonald as MacDonald was completely turnaround. Duchene also beat Lyon in almost the same area as his first goal. If you’re Lyon you have to be mindful of this pattern or teams will start exploiting certain weak spots.

•The Flyers came at the Senators hard and heavy in the third period with multiple scoring chances from up close from the Couturier and Patrick lines, but Craig Anderson had an answer every time. Overall, the Flyers outplayed the Senators in this game, but their handful of breakdowns are proving to be too costly. 

•Sure enough, the Flyers' persistence paid off as Laughton scored, deflecting Brandon Manning’s point shot and cutting the Senators' lead to 3-2. 

•Some good early work by the fourth line as they outworked the Senators' fourth line, which culminated with a couple of Jori Lehtera shots on goal. To say Lehtera is due would be an overstatement. For a player that was on the Blues' top line at times last season, Lehtera has failed to score in 34 games played for the Flyers this season.

•Valtteri Filppula had a terrible penalty just seconds after the Flyers killed off the Senators' first power play opportunity. Filppula pursued Erik Karlsson and for whatever reason raised his stick, catching Karlsson. A terrible momentum crusher after the Flyers had just killed Manning’s tripping call, which was a weak call in itself.
•Shayne Gostisbehere laid a big hit on Senators fourth line center Nate Thompson, which led to Thompson’s retaliation. Out of the melee, Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki and Wayne Simmonds earned matching roughing minors, but overall, it was promising to see Ghost display a rare physical side to his game.

•Ghost again stepped up and delivered another shoulder-to-shoulder shot, this time to Sens penalty killer Zack Smith, as Smith attempted to handle the puck between the two benches.  

•Patrick came so close to scoring for the second time in three games as he had a potential give-and-go with Voracek just slide off his stick. If the Flyers score first, the complexion of that first period changes. 

•Prior to the game, the Flyers ran a video montage of their best clips spliced in with clips from the Eagles' season with the phrase “One More Game” on the Wells Fargo Center ice.

•Dave Leonardi, aka “Sign Man”, was inducted into the newly-created Flyers season ticket Hall of Fame, and as a reward for his commitment and dedication, Leonardi dropped the ceremonial first puck at center ice. Saturday’s game also marked season-ticket appreciation night. Afterwards, the players removed their sweaters and gave them to a select number of season-ticket holders.  

Why the Flyers? How Canadians decided to 'bleed orange'

John Boruk/NBCSP

Why the Flyers? How Canadians decided to 'bleed orange'

Aaron Roberts proudly wore his No. 88 Eric Lindros jersey when the Flyers traveled to Edmonton in December. Aaron also owns a John LeClair jersey, a Wayne Simmonds sweater, and at the time, a Claude Giroux that was on order.    

Roberts, like many who attended that game, is an Orange and Black diehard who was born and raised in Canada.

“Growing up when Philly won their Cups I started watching hockey,” Roberts said. “I don’t know. I went with a winner then and I just never, ever veered away from it. Of course, there’s temptation, but it’s always been Philadelphia for me.”

It’s not unusual to see a Philly faithful make their way out of the Canadian woodwork. Their popularity even rivals that of American-based Original Six teams.  

“I find that when I go to games Flyers fans are more friendly, like everyone wants to high five and stuff, which is cool,” said Troy Krechuniak, who lives in Calgary, but grew up in Edmonton. “I had to go through all of that (the Oilers winning the Stanley Cup). That’s the problem going through the (Wayne) Gretzky years, 1985 Game 5, 1987 Game 7.” 

So why this allegiance to a team located hundreds of miles away in another country? 

At one time, the Philadelphia Flyers were as Canadian as the Montreal Canadiens themselves, considering they’re still the last team to win a Stanley Cup with an all-Canadian roster. 

“First off, you choose the identity of a team when you’re probably six-to-nine years old, and at my age, I cheered for the Broad Street Bullies - Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz and so forth,” said Rick LeFort of Saskatchewan. “I moved to Manitoba years later. Manitoba connections are Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach.”

More than 40 years after bringing the city of Philadelphia it’s first Stanley Cup championship, the Broad Street Bullies left behind a legacy that has impacted a region where hockey is indeed a religion.

“Being in Calgary when there was no team, you got to choose which team you wanted to affiliate yourself with,” said Shawn Cochlan of Langdon, Alberta. “I did love that brand of hockey, and yet, a lot of my friends didn’t. I liked Philadelphia better because they were tougher.”

And the allegiance to the Flyers has been passed down from a generation of fans to their children and siblings.  

“My aunt and uncle were big Flyers fans, and I loved being an outsider,” said Ryan Doram of Edmonton. “Every year when the Flyers come to Edmonton we make sure we come to the games. I loved Lindros. I loved the Recchi years, and you always find your new favorites I guess. You always find players you look and gravitate to.”

Giroux has that gravitational pull. As the Flyers hit Ottawa and Montreal one final time this weekend, you’ll see No. 28 jerseys scattered throughout the arenas for the Hearst, Ontario native.

“We haven’t won a cup in a while. We’ve been there four or five times, but we’re getting better. I like what Ron Hextall is doing, and we’re going in the right direction,” said 54-year-old Tom Banks. 

“You cut me in the winter months, I bleed orange.”

Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

USA Today Images

Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pekka Rinne made 33 saves in his 300th career win and the Nashville Predators routed the San Jose Sharks 7-1 on Thursday night.

Nick Bonino, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Hartnell, Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight. The Predators moved within one point of expansion Vegas for the Western Conference lead.

Nashville defensemen Roman Josi and P.K. Subban each had two assists.

All of Rinne's wins have come with Nashville. He tied former Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun for 33rd place in NHL history.

Logan Couture had the San Jose goal. The loss snapped the Sharks' three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Wild use big 2nd period to top Devils
NEWARK, N.J. -- Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart scored in a 39-second span during Minnesota's three-goal second period, and the Wild rallied from two down to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Thursday night.

Wild defenseman Mike Reilly also scored in the second period and Eric Staal iced the game with an empty-net goal, his 900th NHL point. Backup goalie Alex Stalock made 38 saves as the Wild moved into third place in the Central Division after winning for the 11th time in 17 games (11-3-3).

Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen scored for the Devils, who have lost two in a row after a four-game winning streak. Eddie Lack made 21 saves.

Hall's 13-game point streak is the longest in NHL this season, one more than David Pastrnak of Boston.

Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau made the right moves in this one, inserting Reilly and Stewart into the lineup and electing to give No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk a night off (see full recap).

Matthews exits Maple Leafs’ SO victory with injury
TORONTO -- Tyler Bozak scored the shootout winner and the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night.

Auston Matthews tipped in Jake Gardiner's shot to tie it 3-all with 3:29 remaining in the third period, but later left the game favoring his right side after taking a hit from Cal Clutterbuck and did not return. The 20-year-old Toronto star missed six games in December with a concussion and another four games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly had the other Maple Leafs goals, and Frederik Andersen made 32 saves. Toronto (38-20-5) has won eight straight at home.

Ryan Pulock, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle scored for the Islanders (29-26-7), and Jaroslav Halak turned aside 28 shots. New York, one point out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, dropped to 4-6-2 since the All-Star break and 13-15-3 on the road this season.

With his three points, Barzal has a team-leading 65 and a 14-point lead over Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL's rookie scoring race (see full recap).