Flyers

Thank you, Dave Hakstol, for finally playing Konecny in OT

Thank you, Dave Hakstol, for finally playing Konecny in OT

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DETROIT — Travis Konecny’s second consecutive overtime goal, 27 seconds into the extra period, gave the Flyers a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday night at Little Caesars Arena.

It was the Flyers' eighth win in their last nine games. Jakub Voracek had a goal and an assist while Sean Couturier had two assists.

Konecny also scored 27 seconds into overtime Sunday for a 2-1 victory over the Washington Capitals.

Tuesday, Konecny got the puck away from Detroit’s Dylan Larkin at the Detroit blue line, went in and beat goalie Petr Mrazek on the short side from the right circle. The play was reviewed for offsides, but it was ruled that when the puck came out of the zone along the boards, Konecny got his skate on the blue line before he touched the puck when it came back in.

The fourth straight win gives the Flyers (24-16-8) 56 points, matching the New Jersey Devils for second place in the jam-packed Metropolitan Division.

Meanwhile, the Red Wings (19-20-8) have lost five of their last seven games.

Now, let's get into some observations:

• Andrew MacDonald made a big defensive play seconds after Frans Nielsen had tied the game, 2-2, with 9:16 left in regulation. Tyler Bertuzzi was looking at a wide-open net from the bottom of the left circle, but MacDonald got his stick on the shot and deflected it over the cage.

• The Flyers' big guns were held at bay by the Red Wings until late in the second period when Larkin took a tripping penalty with 49 seconds left and the scored tied at 1-1. It only took the Flyers 26 seconds to convert as Voracek gathered in a rebound in the right circle, moved across the slot and put a shot past a sprawling Mrazek for a 2-1 lead on his ninth goal. The rebound was off a shot by Couturier — who also assisted on Konecny’s winner — and Claude Giroux got the secondary assist.

• The Flyers could have led by more after two periods. Brandon Manning hit the goal post on a shot from the right point 6:15 into the middle period and the Flyers dominated the period, outshooting Detroit, 18-7.

• A big save by Brian Elliott came early in the second period (1:23), just 13 seconds after MacDonald had scored to tie the contest at 1-1. Elliott made a spectacular glove save on Henrik Zetterberg’s one-time backhand shot from point-blank range. Elliott also stopped Bertuzzi point blank with about a minute to go in the second period and foiled Larkin on a breakaway 8:48 into the third period. He finished with 19 saves to pick up his 19th win.

• Nothing much happened in the first 10 minutes. The game’s first shot didn’t come until the 5:01 mark of the first period when Shayne Gostisbehere managed to get off a harmless shot from the left point that Mrazek easily caught and held the puck for a faceoff. The only decent scoring chances in the first half of the first were by the Red Wings. Radko Gudas made an outstanding defensive play to knock the puck off of the stick of Bertuzzi as he was about to get off a shot from the bottom of the right circle, and Larkin shot the puck through the crease behind Elliott from the side of the net.

• The Flyers got a bad break when Detroit took a 1-0 lead with 9:18 remaining in the opening period. Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson’s shot from the left point deflected off of Manning’s leg in front of Elliott and into the net.

• Mrazek knocked away Michael Raffl's shot on a short breakaway in the final 10 seconds of the first period. Other than that, neither team got much of a look at the opponent’s net as the Flyers outshot the Red Wings, 5-4, in the opening period. Raffl later exited the game with a lower-body injury and did not return. He will be reevaluated Wednesday.

• The Flyers come back home to play the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (7 p.m./NBCSP), their final game before the All-Star break this weekend.

Just shoot! Jakub Voracek quiets many with his heroics

Just shoot! Jakub Voracek quiets many with his heroics

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Jakub Voracek had dead aim, at least that’s what the score sheet confirmed Tuesday following the Flyers' 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens (see observations).

Two shots on net. Two shots that found a way past Carey Price.

Even though the NHL’s assist leader has more shots on net than Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Voracek hears the voices that say he passes up on quality scoring opportunities. 

One prime example came with 30 seconds remaining in the second period. Claude Giroux forced a takeaway and fed Voracek on a 2-on-0 prime scoring chance, but it resulted in Voracek sending a pass back to Giroux when perhaps he should have shot.

“It’s always easier to say we’re over-passing things,” Voracek said. “If you’re on the ice, the actual situation looks completely different. I hear ‘shoot the puck’ every single time I touch it. If I listened to all the people who say shoot the puck, I’d have 500 shots at the end of the season.”

However, Voracek shot the puck when it mattered most. With the Flyers trailing, 2-1, Dave Hakstol pulled goaltender Alex Lyon for the extra attacker Voracek, who took a shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off the stick of Max Pacioretty and past Price for the game-tying goal, and then buried the game-winner 1:26 into overtime (see highlights).

When asked if he caught Price by surprise on the equalizer, Voracek responded: “Me shooting? 100 percent. I just tried to hide behind the D and I got lucky and it went in.”

“It’s one of those nights when you had a lot of really good scoring opportunities and we weren’t able to cash in on them,” Hakstol said. “It’s nice to get a bounce like that with a minute and a half to go to tie it up.”

For the game, the Flyers had 79 shot attempts to Montreal’s 55. Thankfully for the Flyers, No. 79 was Voracek’s game-winner, which came at the end of his 56-second shift. Had he missed the net and been forced to play defense at the other end of the ice, there may not have been much left in the tank.     

“I was pretty tired,” Voracek said. “I’d rather have it like that. If I had missed the net, I’d have to stay on the ice and try to backcheck after, so I got lucky.”

Voracek became the second player in franchise history to score a game-tying goal in the final two minutes of regulation, and then follow it up with an overtime game-winner. Moving forward, the Flyers may need Voracek to shoot and score more with the recent injury to Wayne Simmonds, who will miss the next two to three weeks with an upper-body injury (see story).

To make matters worse, Flyers top-line winger Travis Konecny may have suffered a foot injury after taking a shot off his skate in the opening period (see video). Konecny never left the game but labored playing short, limited shifts, and wasn’t on the ice with Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov to begin the overtime session.

“He obviously got hit with the puck there, but he finished the game and that’s part of the game,” Hakstol said. “He was obviously sore through the rest of the game, but I give him credit, he continued to battle through to do everything that he could.”

Less than 24 hours after the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings to solidify the goaltending position, Alex Lyon turned in another solid effort with 25 saves on 27 shots, beating perennial All-Stars Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price in back-to-back victories.

“Yeah, it’s cool obviously to play against those guys,” Lyon said. “You watch them and you try to model your game after them. Obviously, they’re fantastic. In the same breath, you've got to go out there and say, ‘I’m coming out here to be better than you today.’”  

“It’s always nice to have some clarity,” Hakstol said. “I think Alex said it best after the game in New York the other day — it’s an ever-changing business. You just have to be ready and prepared for what the next day brings. He pretty much lived by his words.”

Notables
• Simmonds' streak of 223 consecutive games played ended Tuesday night. It marked the first game Simmonds has missed dating back to April 11, 2015.

• For the third straight game, the Flyers weren’t forced to utilize their penalty kill at any point, becoming the second team in NHL history to go three games without allowing a power-play opportunity.

• Forward Oskar Lindblom made his NHL debut Tuesday night, replacing the injured Simmonds in the Flyers' lineup. Lindblom finished the game with 15:11 of ice time and one shot on net.  

Blue Jackets snap skid on rare Harrington goal

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Blue Jackets snap skid on rare Harrington goal

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman Scott Harrington broke a second-period tie with his second goal of the season, and the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets snapped a three-game losing streak and ended the New Jersey Devils' four-game winning streak with a 2-1 decision on Tuesday night.

Boone Jenner also scored as the Blue Jackets moved into the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference with 65 points, one ahead of Carolina and the Islanders. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves in helping the Blue Jackets win for the fifth time in 15 games (5-9-2).

Taylor Hall scored for the Devils to extend his point-scoring streak to 12 games, tying David Pastrnak of the Bruins for the league-high this season. He also pushed his personal point-scoring streak to 19 games. He missed three games with a thumb injury, so the league does not consider that to be part of his current streak.

Keith Kinkaid had 17 saves for New Jersey, which holds the first wild-card spot in the conference (see full recap).

Point helps Lightning beat Capitals in showdown
WASHINGTON -- Brayden Point scored two first-period goals, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 shots to earn his NHL-leading 35th victory and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 Tuesday night in a matchup between division leaders.

Chris Kunitz also scored in the opening period, which ended with Tampa Bay up 3-0. That was enough of a cushion for Vasilevskiy, an All-Star who came in with a 2.34 goals-against average.

After Alex Ovechkin notched his NHL-high 36th goal for Washington to make it 3-2 at 11:02 of the third period, Nikita Kucherov clinched it with a breakaway goal with 7:02 remaining.

The victory improved Tampa Bay's NHL-best record to 40-17-3 and kept the Lightning ahead of surging Boston in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

Lars Eller scored a power-play goal for the Capitals, who lead Pittsburgh by one point in the Metropolitan Division (see full recap).

Andersen makes 40 saves in Maple Leafs’ shutout
TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen made 40 saves and James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal as the surging Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Tuesday night.

The shutout was Andersen's career-best fifth of the season. The 28-year-old goalie has reached 30 wins for the third time.

Toronto (37-20-5) has won 11 of 12 and improved to 14-4-2 since Jan. 4.

The Panthers (26-25-6) have dropped back-to-back games after opening their five-game road trip with three straight wins. Florida entered the night six points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Florida threatened in the third with goaltender Roberto Luongo pulled for an extra attacker, but Andersen managed to thwart the Panthers' best chance -- a point shot from Keith Yandle with 23 seconds remaining.

Luongo stopped 30 shots in the loss (see full recap).