Flyers

Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Finding meaning in the season finale

Flyers-Hurricanes 5 things: Finding meaning in the season finale

Flyers vs. Hurricanes
7 p.m. on CSN, streaming live on CSNPhilly.com and the NBC Sports app. Pregame Live begins at 6:30.

And so we've reached the final curtain.

The Flyers will cap off an underwhelming campaign when they host the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday evening in the season finale for both Metropolitan Division clubs.

But just because this is the final game of the year for two teams out of the playoff picture doesn't mean we're without things to keep an eye on.

Let's take a closer look at the final NHL game in Philadelphia until October.

1. Remember the name
Players taking part in Sunday's finale have pride to play for. Some have more than that to play for -- they have jobs on the line, whether here in Philadelphia or in another NHL city.

Sunday marks the Flyers' last chance to make an impression on Ron Hextall and prove they should still be wearing orange and black by the time next season rolls around.

After the final buzzer hits Sunday night, five Flyers are set to be restricted free agents and five more are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. The RFAs include Nick Cousins, Roman Lyubimov, Mike Vecchione, Shayne Gostisbehere and Anthony Stolarz. The UFA group includes Chris VandeVelde, Jordan Weal, Michael Del Zotto, Nick Schultz and Steve Mason.

With the way the Flyers underperformed this year and with another season of experience under the belts of talented prospects, change will be inevitable over the summer. And don't forget about that pesky expansion draft for Vegas, either.

There are 60 minutes left to make a lasting mark in the boss' mind for the summer.

2. Another Stolie audition?
Mason started and beat the Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon. With the back-to-back set, Mason's swan song with the Flyers may have already come and gone as all signs point to Anthony Stolarz getting the starting nod against the 'Canes. Michal Neuvirth is out with an upper-body injury.

In six appearances (three starts) this season, the 23-year-old is 2-1-0 with a 1.93 goals-against average, .932 save percentage and a shutout. He last played last Sunday against the Rangers, when he took his first NHL loss on the chin in a 4-3 defeat that officially booted the Flyers from the playoff picture.

The Flyers' goaltending picture is currently in a state of flux as Mason will be a UFA, Stolarz will be an RFA and Neuvirth, who recently inked a two-year extension, is eligible for the expansion draft. Remember, Vegas GM George McPhee was Washington's GM when the Capitals selected Neuvirth in the second round of the 2006 entry draft.

So if Stolarz does indeed get the start Sunday evening, it's a big chance to show he's worthy of being a part of the Flyers' plans next year and into the future.

3. Principal Skinner
The 'Canes aren't going to the playoffs, but that doesn't mean Jeff Skinner still can't torch the Flyers.

Skinner has owned the Flyers to the tune of 13 goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 25 career games against the Flyers.

Even worse news for the Flyers is that Skinner comes into Philadelphia riding high off a two-goal performance in Saturday's shootout loss to St. Louis. The 24-year old now has a career-high 37 goals and a team-high 63 points. Three points on Sunday and he'll set a new career mark.

Oh, and by the way, he's got 14 goals in his last 13 games.

4. Keep an eye on
Flyers: Has any Flyer looked more dynamic over the last month or so than Shayne Gostisbehere? Ghost has once again looked like the play-making, impact defenseman who took the league by storm and finished second in Calder Trophy voting last season. His shiftiness and booming, on-target slapper from the point have both shown up on a consistent basis over the last several weeks as he's shaken off whatever lingered from that offseason hip and abdomen surgery. And remember, he's haunted the Hurricanes with four goals and four assists in eight career games against them.

Hurricanes: Skinner's been so good he deserved his own section in these game notes. But how about 19-year-old rookie winger Sebastian Aho? He's had an excellent rookie campaign with 23 goals and 25 assists while playing in all 81 of the games on the schedule. You may recall the hat trick he recorded on Jan. 31 when the 'Canes routed the Flyers in Raleigh in the first game back from the All-Star break. He's a key piece of what looks like a bright future in Carolina.

5. This and that
• Defensive prospect Robert Hagg has been called up and is available to make his NHL debut against the ‘Canes. For more on Hagg’s call up, click here.

• The Hurricanes have now missed the playoffs for eight straight seasons, the longest active drought in the NHL. The Edmonton Oilers qualified this season for the first time in 10 years, passing the torch to the ‘Canes.

• Sunday marks the fifth meeting of the season between the Flyers and Hurricanes. The Flyers own a 3-1 advantage this season. The Flyers own a 7-2-1 record in the last 10 meetings with Carolina at the Wells Fargo Center.

• Coming into Sunday, six Flyers have played all 81 games so far this season -- Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ivan Provorov and VandeVelde

• In their history, the Flyers are 22-18-8 in regular-season finales.

Best of NHL: Red-hot Devils storm back to beat Senators in overtime

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Best of NHL: Red-hot Devils storm back to beat Senators in overtime

OTTAWA, Ontario -- John Moore scored 1:20 into overtime and the New Jersey Devils used three unanswered goals to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in overtime Thursday night.

This year's No. 1 draft pick Nico Hischier scored twice for New Jersey. The Swiss center's opening goal was the first of his NHL career.

Kyle Palmieri and Marcus Johansson also scored for the Devils, who improved to 4-0-0 on the road and 6-1-0 overall. Cory Schneider allowed four goals on 24 shots before leaving with a lower-body injury. Keith Kinkaid started the third period and stopped nine shots. Taylor Hall chipped in with four assists.

Kyle Turris, Derick Brassard, Alex Burrows and Tom Pyatt scored for the Senators, and Craig Anderson made 41 saves (see full recap).

Bergeron sparks Bruins’ win over Canucks
BOSTON -- Patrice Bergeron had a goal and three assists in his season debut, moving up to seventh on Boston's career scoring list as the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-3 on Thursday night.

Anders Bjork scored twice for Boston, Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists and David Pastrnak added a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who scored five straight goals after falling behind 1-0 early in the first period.

Anton Khudobin made 26 saves for Boston while starting in place of Tuukka Rask, who is out indefinitely with a concussion he suffered in practice Wednesday.

Derek Dorsett, Bo Horvat and Thomas Vanek scored for the Canucks, and Michael Del Zotto had two assists (see full recap).

Sergachev, Vasilevskiy help Lightning blank Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mikhail Sergachev scored his first two NHL goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 43 saves for his fifth career shutout in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 2-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Nikita Kucherov assisted on both goals to push his NHL-leading points total to 14. His goals streak was stopped at seven games.

The Lightning took advantage of the few openings offered by Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 19 shots for the Blue Jackets and lost for the first time this season. Columbus had won four straight.

The Lightning, coming off an overtime loss to New Jersey on Tuesday night, improved to 6-1-1 for their best start opening 7-0-1 in their Stanley Cup-winning 2003-04 season.

Columbus dropped to 5-2-0, hurt by uncharacteristic sloppy passing and continued power-play problems in its first shutout loss of the season (see full recap).

Flyers fail to get revenge as offense quiet in loss to Predators

Flyers fail to get revenge as offense quiet in loss to Predators

BOX SCORE

No questionable penalty calls. No need to use a challenge. No last-minute heartbreak this time.

A furious nature was replaced with frustration after the Predators scored the lone goal at the Wells Fargo Center to beat the Flyers, 1-0, Thursday night (see observations).

Predators third-line center Colton Sissons, who missed the first meeting between the two teams nine days ago, connected on the only goal of the game 3:49 into the third period as he blasted a shot that beat Michal Neuvirth to the far post (see highlights).

“I’ve got to watch the replay to see if I was on the right angle, but it’s a tough play 2-on-1,” Neuvirth said. “Usually when it’s a tight game like that, it’s about one mistake and you've got to move on.”

The Flyers appeared to have the play covered. However, when Kevin Fiala took control of the loose puck, Wayne Simmonds reached for it and that kick-started the Predators’ rush for what ultimately proved to be the game-winning goal.

“It’s a tough play,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “You see the puck and you want to go get that loose puck. It’s a 0-0 game. It was a real good play on the cycle, and there’s scrum on the hash marks there. It’s a tough play and, unfortunately, the puck got past Simmer and now it’s a race back up ice and they got a pretty good quality shot away.”

For a high-octane offensive team ranked second in goals scored, the Flyers are still looking to prove they can win the tight-checking, low-scoring games.

Overall, it was also a tough night for the Flyers' leading scorer Simmonds. He was dealing with a lower-body injury, and at times, appeared to be laboring on the ice. Simmonds also took a stick to his lip that required stitches, which essentially excused him from making any postgame comments.

The 1-0 loss marked the second time in the first seven games the Flyers have been shut out this season, and on both occasions Neuvirth has been the victim of the lack of offense.

“It’s tough to say,” Neuvirth said. “We had really good chances, but we couldn’t get one behind him. It was frustrating to see that, but we've got to move on and we've got another big game on Saturday.”

Once again, the Flyers could have been bailed out by their power play. However, the two units collectively finished 0 for 5 for the third time this season. That’s because 6-foot-5 Pekka Rinne, who’s mobile for his size with one of the best glove hands in the league, stopped all 28 shots.

“That was a lot of battle,” Rinne said. “I was able to see the puck for the most part and make the first save always and a lot of times guys were bailing me out, too.”

Outside the Wells Fargo Center earlier on Thursday, the Flyers organization unveiled a nine-foot statue of founder and chairman Ed Snider prior to faceoff with almost every member of the team’s Hall of Fame in attendance (see story).

Unfortunately for the club, it was the only moment worth celebrating.

Notes, quotes and tidbits
• Filling in for the injured Jordan Weal (upper body), forward Jori Lehtera saw his first action of the season. He played on a line with Valtteri Filppula and Simmonds. Lehtera played 12:06 and finished the game without a shot on net. If Weal is unable to go Saturday afternoon, it will be interesting to see if Hakstol goes back to Lehtera or gives the quicker Matt Read a shot against a speedy Oilers team.

“Lehts did a good job,” Hakstol said. “To step in in game No. 7, not having played, I thought Lehts went out and played a real rock solid game. Lehts has been here. Lehts has done the work. You guys don’t see behind the scenes the kind of effort and what that takes as a teammate every day to stay ready.”

• The 1-0 loss comes exactly 50 years to the day the Flyers beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, 1-0, in their first-ever home game at The Spectrum. The last time the Flyers were shut out 1-0 on home ice was March 31, 2011, by the Atlanta Thrashers.

• Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere played a career-high 25:23. Not only has he regained his offensive form from his rookie season, but he’s also refined his defensive game by using more body and less stick to gain position on his man.