Flyers

Top pick Hischier heats up for streaking Devils

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Top pick Hischier heats up for streaking Devils

NEWARK, N.J. -- Top overall draft pick Nico Hischier scored two goals in the first period and the New Jersey Devils extended their season-high winning streak to five games with a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Taylor Hall had two assists, Cory Schneider made 31 saves and the Devils killed off all five Red Wings' power plays in extending Detroit's losing streak to three games. Sami Vatanen scored into an empty net with 23 seconds to play for the final margin.

Justin Abdelkader scored for Detroit, which outshot New Jersey 25-19 in the final two periods. Jimmy Howard made 29 saves.

The two-goal game was the second of the season for the 18-year-old Swiss center and it gave him seven for the season (see full recap).

Crosby, Malkin help give Penguins SO victory
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin scored in the shootout, and the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied past the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4 on Wednesday night.

Crosby and Malkin both beat Sergei Bobrovsky between the legs in the shootout. Matt Murray stopped Pierre-Luc Dubois and then Artemi Panarin to clinch the win.

Crosby thought he had scored the game-winner 23 seconds into overtime, but the goal was overturned because of goaltender interference by Brian Dumoulin.

Four of the last five regular-season meetings between the Penguins and Blue Jackets have gone to overtime. Pittsburgh needed a big third-period rally in this one.

Malkin and Phil Kessel both scored third-period power-play goals for Pittsburgh, while Jake Guentzel netted the equalizer with 1:40 left in regulation. Conor Sheary also scored his 10th for the Penguins, who rallied from three two-goal deficits, including two in the third period. Murray made 29 saves in regulation (see full recap).

Rangers shut down Capitals for 1-0 SO win
NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello and Mika Zibanejad scored in the shootout to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Washington Capitals on Wednesday night.

Ondrej Pavelec stopped all 30 shots he faced through overtime and both Washington skaters in the tiebreaker. His first shutout of the season and the 18th of his career helped the Rangers improve to 4-1-1 in their last six games.

Philipp Grubauer had 37 saves for the Capitals, who have lost three straight (0-1-2) since winning 11 of 13.

After neither team could get anything past the backup goalies through 65 minutes, Zuccarello finally put one past Grubauer on the first shootout attempt as he skated in, moved to the right and beat the Washington goalie with a backhand. Pavelec then stopped T.J. Oshie and, after Zibanejad also beat Grubauer from the right side, the Rangers' goalie denied Alex Ovechkin to secure the win (see full recap).

What are Flyers made of? We're about to find out

What are Flyers made of? We're about to find out

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Penguins have the Flyers on the canvas in a headlock.

The faces of the guys who wear orange and black are turning purple, and unless they put up a courageous fight as they did in Game 2, they will tap out of this best-of-seven series after just five games (see story).

General manager Ron Hextall spoke to the media for the first time since the series started and believes the Flyers have displayed a lack of mental fortitude through the first four games.

“A lot of it is mentality,” Hextall said. “We need to be stronger if a bump goes the other way. We need to be stronger and bounce back and create energy going back our way. The playoffs are a series of momentum (swings) — within a period and within a game. We need to do a better job of bringing the momentum back our way."

So where exactly does that start? The return of Sean Couturier would help considerably.

After sitting out Game 4’s 5-0 loss, the Selke Trophy finalist hasn’t ruled out playing in Game 5 after skating Wednesday and Thursday on his own. Hextall said Couturier would travel to Pittsburgh and nothing more than that.

“I’m feeling better every day, and we’ll see how I feel tomorrow,” Couturier said. “It’s really on me to see how I feel every day and hopefully, it keeps getting better. It’s really up to my body to see how it keeps progressing.”

Dave Hakstol switched up his lines once again Thursday, most notably installing Valtteri Filppula onto the top line with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek and breaking up the top defense pairing of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere.

Robert Hagg is also expected to make his series debut, playing alongside Andrew MacDonald as fellow rookie Travis Sanheim will serve as the healthy scratch.

“About time,” Hagg said. “I’m looking forward to it tomorrow. Hopefully, I can bring something to the team, some energy. I think it’s perfect and I can’t wait to go in and show what I can bring to the team.”

“He brings a different element than a couple of guys in the lineup if we’re so inclined to make that change,” Hakstol said. “We haven’t generated very much over the last five periods, but at the same time, we’ve given up quite a bit in some of the harder areas.”

Toward the end of Thursday’s 45-minute practice, Giroux gathered his teammates around and delivered a speech he hopes can galvanize the Flyers for Game 5 and bring the series back to Philadelphia for Game 6.

“I think it’s believing in ourselves," Giroux said. "All year we’ve done that, and we’ve talked about it before. You lose 10 in a row and find a way to make the playoffs. Tomorrow’s a big game for us, and if we’re going to go down, we’re going to go down swinging.”

Quick hits
• Speaking on the collision with Radko Gudas, Couturier said, "We've done this drill all year. It was bad timing and a fluke accident. There's no one to really blame, and I should have maybe had my head up there."

• Hextall believes Couturier should be the Selke Trophy frontrunner based on his outstanding 2017-18 season.

"I think he should win it," Hextall said. "I know those other players fairly well, and yes, I watch Coots on a daily basis, but the two-way game that he brings to our team is in my mind, the best in the league this year."

• Penguins forward Patric Hornqvist will miss his second straight game.

Ding dong, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is gone

Ding dong, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is gone

Michal Neuvirth stood by his locker Wednesday night dejected, like the rest of his teammates, after the Flyers’ latest blunder, an embarrassing 5-0 loss on home ice to the Penguins in Game 4.

The Flyers are on the brink of elimination to the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, and Wednesday's defeat was the latest reminder of their current state of affairs.

"Definitely good to get in the mix," said Neuvirth, who replaced Brian Elliott in the second period for his first game action since March 28. "But tough outcome tonight. We lost it to a better team tonight."

With that, Neuvirth perfectly encapsulated exactly where the Flyers stand in this first-round playoff series with Pittsburgh. It's definitely good to be in the mix, and they lost to the better team.

We've heard that before and we'll hear it again, but it doesn't make it any easier to swallow. This Flyers team isn't quite there yet, to compete with the Penguins or in the playoffs.

There are encouraging signs. The postseason experience will pay off in the long run — it's better than not being there. Nolan Patrick, 19, has perhaps been the Flyers' most consistent forward in the series. He was the only player who competed Wednesday.

But goaltending remains an eyesore and rookie mistakes are consistently being made by veterans, and some appear immune to accountability. Game 4 was as ugly as it gets (see story), and that's counting a series that included a 7-0 loss in Game 1.

The Flyers were never really in Wednesday's game outside of about a two-minute stretch in the first period, when they were buzzing in the Pittsburgh zone until a Scott Laughton centering pass turned into a Penguins odd-man rush.

Bang, 2-0 Pittsburgh. Ballgame.

"From our standpoint," Dave Hakstol said, "we have to look from within. There's going to be momentum swings, there are going to be pushes, but we haven't been able to reestablish our game quick enough to give ourselves an opportunity."

Wednesday served as another grim reminder. This Flyers-Penguins rivalry, well, isn't much of a rivalry and hasn't been one in quite some time now.

Coming into this series, we heard the old storylines, about how much these two teams hate each other, how close games are, but the hate hasn't been there for a while and the games, they haven't been close, either.

The Penguins have dominated the Flyers, this season especially. With the 5-0 win Wednesday, the Pens have outscored the Flyers, 38-17, in eight total games and 20-4 in games played at the Wells Fargo Center.

The hype machine was on full blast and we all bought into it. It's the playoffs, different animal, but some things never change no matter the environment.

At some point, it's time to bury the hatchet.

It was fun while it lasted, but for now, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry is no more.