A rout at the hands of a rival for Flyers

A rout at the hands of a rival for Flyers


The Penguins rolled into the Wells Fargo Center for the first time this season and buried the Flyers, 5-1, to keep the orange and black in last place in the Metropolitan Division.

After the Flyers tied the game at 1-1, the Pens ripped off three goals in a span of two minutes and 17 seconds. Pittsburgh’s fourth line did much of the damage with Ryan Reaves and Tom Kuhnhackl each scoring for the Penguins.

It was the first time this season the Flyers have allowed four goals in a single period.

Jordan Weal scored his fourth goal of the season and the Flyers’ only goal of the night.

Michal Neuvirth saw his first action since Nov. 28 once Brian Elliott was pulled after allowing four goals on 14 shots. 

The Penguins are now 13-6-2 in their last 21 games at the Wells Fargo Center. 

The two divisional rivals won’t face each other again until March 7 in Philadelphia.

• There was solid defensive hockey played over the opening seven minutes. I thought the Flyers needed to get off to a good start considering how poorly and inconsistent their first periods have been at times. There was tight checking and very little operating room for both teams. 

• The Flyers appeared to be aiming low on their shots in an attempt to catch rookie Tristan Jarry out of position for a rebound. Both Travis Konecny and Brandon Manning created shots that led to nice rebounds.

• The game started to open up midway through the first period with the Flyers on a 2-on-1 rush and a handful of 3-on-2s. However, their passing was all over the place for a team that hasn’t played in four days.

• Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere broke up a number of odd-man rushes. “Ghost” has stepped up his defense over the past four to five games.

• A terrific cross-ice pass from Konecny to a streaking Claude Giroux down the left side for the Flyers’ best scoring chance in the opening period. Giroux’s initial shot was saved but he got the puck back and attempted a centering pass from behind the goal line that was just missed by Jakub Voracek.

• The Flyers drew the first penalty of the night as Kris Letang got caught with a high-sticking on Sean Couturier. 

• The Flyers’ power play was unable to generate much. On top of that, it nearly gave up a shorthanded goal as Ivan Provorov had a bad turnover that led to Jake Guentzel’s scoring chance that caught Elliott’s left pad. Moments later, there was good, sustained pressure from the Flyers’ second line as the unit was able to keep play in the offensive zone for nearly its entire shift. 

• The Flyers’ PK couldn’t contain the Penguins on their first power play of the night. The Pens perfectly executed a zone entry in the second period with Evgeni Malkin throwing a cross-ice pass to Phil Kessel, who pulled off a perfect give-and-go to Sidney Crosby and then snapped a shot past Elliott. The Flyers can’t give up the blue line that way.

• However, the Flyers struck right back — 1:06 later — as Radko Gudas did a solid job of opening up a shooting lane by backpedaling the blue line and throwing a shot on net. Weal did a great job of battling down low with Pens defenseman Letang before setting up in the high slot and redirecting Gudas’ shot from the point.

• The Penguins didn’t wait long to regain the edge. Actually, a span of 40 seconds. The first came when Pittsburgh’s fourth line just overpowered the Flyers’ fourth line as Reaves carved out territory in front of Elliott and banged home a shot just in front of the crease. Credit Reaves, who carved up Provorov to gain space in front of the net. Then on the next shift, the puck was held up along the boards, which led to a Conor Sheary breakaway. Robert Hagg was caught completely out of position, which allowed Sheary to outrace Andrew MacDonald to the puck and snipe a shot blocker side past Elliott.

• It was a rough period for Provorov, who had coverage on Kuhnhackl in the middle of the ice. As soon as the puck came out to Provorov, Kuhnhackl — in a microsecond — lifted his stick, gained possession of the puck and sniped a shot top shelf on Elliott. It was a very impressive goal and a rough night for Provorov, who was on the ice for both goals scored by the Pens’ fourth line.

• The Flyers had a multitude of opportunities to close the gap. Michael Raffl had a clear breakaway on a sprawling Jarry, but his backhand attempt slid completely across the crease and missed the net by inches. Late in the period, the Flyers’ power play came close as Gostisbehere’s slap shot hit the post and Valtteri Filppula had a shot from the right post.

• With four days in a six-game stretch, it only made sense that Dave Hakstol pulled Elliott after two periods and gave Neuvirth some time in the crease.

• Neuvirth was tested right away as he turned back five shots in his first six minutes. Not surprisingly, Neuvirth looked good considering it was a very low-pressure situation. Still, give him credit. It’s been five weeks since his last game action.

Lineups, pairings and scratches

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

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

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forward Taylor Leier and defenseman Travis Sanheim.

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway

Flyers not surprised, but look it on Broadway


NEW YORK — Flyers players lifted their massive equipment bags onto carts outside the visiting locker room of Madison Square Garden.

There wasn't much energy or zealousness to such a mundane task.

Shortly before doing so, the Flyers made skating in the world's most famous arena seem just as mundane, allowing the New York Rangers to turn Broadway into breakaway on Tuesday night to the tune of a 5-1 loss (see observations).

"We just made too many mistakes that cost us," Jakub Voracek said. "Four goals out of five came off our mistakes, so it's tough."

The Rangers, not once, but twice during the first period, bolted behind the Flyers' slow-reacting coverage for nothing but open ice and Brian Elliott to beat. On both occasions, New York scored easily and took control of the evening.

It was a full exploitation of a Flyers team that had won four straight but wasn't "engaged in this game enough," as head coach Dave Hakstol put it.

With the Flyers holding a 1-0 lead just over six minutes into the contest, Pavel Buchnevich fed a stretch pass to Rick Nash streaking up the middle of the ice, leaving defensemen Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning in the dust. Both the delivery from Buchnevich and the speed of Nash appeared to catch Gudas and Manning by surprise.

"The first one, probably a better read by me and Gudy," Manning said. "We talked before the game, we knew that's what they were going to do, they were going to try and stretch us out. That one we can probably eliminate."

The second was deflating in every way imaginable. As the Flyers sputtered through their first man advantage, a pass behind Jordan Weal bounced off the side boards and right to Peter Holland. With most of the Flyers' second power-play unit pinching on the attack, New York rushed up ice and beat Manning in retreat as Holland hit Paul Carey for a shorthanded marker.

Whatever life the Flyers still had, it was sucked out of them.

At the time, before it unfolded, they seemed to be in OK position. The Flyers were down, 2-1, but vying for an equalizer by turning to their power play, which had been 7 for 14 over the four-game winning streak. However, what transpired was New York taking a surprising 3-1 lead with 10 seconds remaining in the opening frame.

"Those are ones we can prevent," Hakstol said. "They're a good transition team, so when you give them opportunities, whether it's a turnover out of their defensive zone or a turnover entering the zone, they're a good transition team. But our awareness on those plays was not what it needs to be.

"I just thought in the first half of the game, in all the areas of the game that mattered, they were the quicker and hungrier team."

The Rangers showed it some more when they went on another semi-breakaway, this time midway through the second period for a 4-1 edge. Michael Grabner came swooping in to pick Voracek's pocket before quickly flicking a shot past Elliott, who watched another blue jersey barrel down untouched toward his crease.

"We put him in pretty tough spots tonight with the opportunities that we gave up in the first 30 minutes of the game," Hakstol said.

The goalie making his 18th start in the last 19 games still took blame.

"It's not the easiest way, but that's my job," Elliott, who was yanked ahead of the third period, said. "I didn't have them tonight. Go back to work and try to feel good about my game. That's not where I wanted to be tonight. I didn't really give ourselves a chance to win and I've got to own a lot of that."

Tuesday marked the Flyers' first outing against the Rangers this season.

Were they surprised by the opposition's transition game?

"No," Hakstol said.

Manning sounded like he will be far more ready when the Flyers come back to Madison Square Garden on Feb. 18 for the second of four meetings.

"I don't know if surprising is the right word, they have some guys who can skate and I think we were expecting that," Manning said. "We haven't played them this year, it's the first time. When you see it for the first time, it's something a little different."

The Flyers on Thursday night will see the Maple Leafs for the third time. The previous two matchups were won by the Flyers. Interestingly enough, Manning had his best game of the season with a goal, an assist and three hits in the October victory, while rookie blueliner Travis Sanheim played in the December win.

Hakstol will have to decide between the two for Thursday.

One will be an extra, the other will want to make sure breakaways are at a minimum.

Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

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Devils finally put an end to 6-game skid

NEW YORK -- Damon Severson scored twice 1:26 apart in New Jersey's three-goal second period, and the Devils ended a six-game skid with a 4-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday night.

Kyle Palmieri and Taylor Hall also scored for New Jersey, which was 0-3-3 since beating Detroit at home on Dec. 27. Keith Kinkaid, getting the start after Cory Schneider was a late scratch due to illness, stopped 25 shots.

Anders Lee scored and Jaroslav Halak made 38 saves as the Islanders snapped a three-game winning streak that started with a 5-4 shootout victory over the Devils here on Jan. 7.

New Jersey trailed less than two minutes in but got four straight goals starting with Palmieri's score late in the first period.

Halak, who faced more than 35 shots on goal for his 10th straight start, made nice stops on in-close tries by Brian Boyle and Brian Gibbons with about 7 1/2 minutes left in the middle period to keep the score tied.

However, Severson gave the Devils the lead about 30 seconds later as he got the rebound of a shot by Gibbons and beat Halak from the right circle. It was the defenseman's fifth goal of the season and first in 12 games (see full recap).

Spezza scores 2 after benching in Stars’ win
DETROIT -- Jason Spezza responded to being benched by scoring two tiebreaking goals on power plays, helping the Dallas Stars beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-2 on Tuesday night.

Spezza scored on a lunging, one-timer below the left circle with 5:52 left in the second period. His first goal came on a redirected shot midway through the first.

The 33-year-old forward was a healthy scratch on Monday when Dallas won at Boston in overtime. He bounced back by ending his 14-game goal drought, scoring twice in a game for the first time since March 12, 2016. Spezza scored 33 goals just two years ago and has 323 career goals.

Dallas' Radek Faksa and Martin Hanzal also scored. Ben Bishop stopped 13 shots for the Stars, who have won six of eight.

Trevor Daley put Detroit ahead in the opening minute, but Faksa redirected a shot past Jimmy Howard at 2:48. Andreas Athanasiou pulled the Red Wings into a 2-all tie midway through the second period and Spezza's second goal 2:25 later put Dallas ahead 3-2.

Howard had 22 saves for the Red Wings, who had won five of their previous seven games (see full recap).

Blues rally late for overtime victory
TORONTO -- Alexander Steen tied it with 57 seconds left and Vince Dunn scored 1:43 into overtime, lifting the St. Louis Blues over the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Connor Brown put Toronto ahead on a short-handed breakaway midway through the third period, but Steen scored with goalie Carter Hutton pulled for an extra attacker by backhanding Alex Pieterangelo's rebound past Frederik Andersen.

Dunn snapped a low shot past Andersen after choosing to keep the puck on a 2-on-1.

Andersen stopped 40 shots and Hutton had 30 saves.

It was the Maple Leafs' first game back after the bye week. Their last game was a 4-3 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 10 (see full recap).