Flyers

Flyers-Sabres 10 observations: Gudas' game, Weal's speed, Giroux's goal and more

Flyers-Sabres 10 observations: Gudas' game, Weal's speed, Giroux's goal and more

Without stating the obvious, the Flyers' current four-game road trip figures to be the most pivotal of the season given the team went into Tuesday's game at Buffalo three points out of the wild card.

No one knows what the damage might be at the trip's conclusion on Saturday evening, but things really do have to pick up for Dave Hakstol's group if there are going to be playoffs this April at the Wells Fargo Center.

With apologies to former Inquirer colleague Bill Lyon, here are 10 things I think I think about the Flyers' 6-3 rout of the Sabres, who have lost seven of their last eight games (see Instant Replay).

The only minus Flyers were Ivan Provorov, Brayden Schenn, Andrew MacDonald and Valtteri Filppula.

The Flyers scored three goals in the second period to break a 1-1 tie (see game story). Their 68 goals in the middle stanza is nearly double (35) what they have scored in the first period this season.

1. Doug Allen sounded like he lost a little juice during the singing of the national anthems of both Canada and the U.S. Didn't even entice the crowd to join him like he usually does.

2. When was the last time Sean Couturier stripped a player of a puck and linemate Matt Read scored as a result? That's what transpired early when Couturier stunned Jack Eichel and Read redirected a Radko Gudas point shot for a goal. Cherish it. Could be a while before it happens again. It was Read's first goal in 12 games.

3. What a goal from Travis Konecny in the third period to make it 6-2. His last goal came in January before a lengthy injury. What was interesting was he went into the zone alone off the wing against four Sabres, who gave him space to skate and then scored to the far side of the net.

4. Michael Del Zotto had a nice setup at the right post on the second-unit power play in the opening period and failed to beat Robin Lehner. Del Zotto has not scored a goal since Dec. 14 at Colorado -- the final win for the Flyers in their 10-game win streak. Yes, he missed 10 games with a bone bruise, but this is the time of the season when setups like that matter greatly and Del Zotto is an offensive defenseman. Del Zotto and partner Gudas were both plus-5 in the game, a season first. Del Zotto lost a goal late to Chris VandeVelde on a scoring change.

5. Buffalo came into the game tied for first overall in power-play efficiency (22.9 percent) and made mincemeat of the Flyers on its first two chances with Evander Kane scoring to make it a 1-1 game and then Eichel scoring later.

6. Gudas was part of yet another Sabres turnover in the second period and shot one up high off the underside of the crossbar to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. Gudas deserves credit for having turned his game around this season since beginning it on a suspension. He has found a way to play physical, cause havoc and turnovers without taking a bad penalty and is no longer actively on the referees' radar every game.

7. The Flyers' PK units were not very good. Eichel scored on the Sabres' second power play just three seconds after the drop of the puck. The Flyers have given up three power-play goals over their last two games.

8. Jordan Weal's go-ahead goal late in the second period at 3-2 was the result of a transition line created out of the Flyers' coming off the penalty kill with Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Weal has two goals in eight games, which puts him among the Flyers' top six scorers at the moment. His speed added an element to this game.

9. If you blinked late in the second period, you missed Claude Giroux's first goal in 13 games and 13th marker overall to give the Flyers a two-goal advantage. More significantly, Giroux has just three goals over his last 30 games. If the Flyers don't make the playoffs, that stat that will likely stand out.

10. It probably doesn't get enough credit but Couturier's unit with Read and the ever-irascible Nick Cousins did a superb job of applying defensive pressure to Eichel's line in this game.

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).

Flyers' win streak gone in a New York minute

Flyers' win streak gone in a New York minute

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The Flyers looked lost on Broadway while the Rangers put on a show.

A four-game win streak vanished into the New York night for the Flyers, who lost badly to the Rangers, 5-1, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

Not long after Jordan Weal handed the Flyers a 1-0 lead just over two minutes into the game, things went south and never got better.

Dave Hakstol's club was slipshod in all phases, from the power play (which had been terrific) to neutral-zone coverage. You name the area and the Flyers were not sharp. They allowed three breakaway goals, one of which was a shorthanded marker.

At first intermission, the Flyers trailed 3-1. By second intermission, it was 5-1 and all but over. Goalie Brian Elliott was pulled ahead of the third period as Michal Neuvirth finished off the ugly loss.

The Flyers (20-16-8) are now 1-5-2 in their last eight games against New York.

The Rangers (23-17-5), who had lost two straight out of the bye week by a combined score of 12-4, regrouped rather impressively.

The defeat was also not the way the Flyers wanted to kick off their four-game regular-season series with the Rangers. They missed an opportunity to catapult past New York in the Metropolitan Division standings as a regulation win would have done the trick. Instead, the Flyers (48 points) remain behind the Rangers (51) and Islanders (50).

With that said, let's get into the observations:

• Over the four-game winning streak, Sean Couturier had four goals and nine points, Claude Giroux seven assists and eight points, and Jakub Voracek seven assists. Those three were neutralized as the trio went scoreless and had only four shots on goal.

Voracek had an ugly sequence of events in the second period, resulting in the Flyers' deficit ballooning to 4-1. Voracek committed a questionable hooking penalty (he visibly disagreed with the call) and when he left the box after the Flyers had killed off his infraction, the right winger was stripped of the puck by Michael Grabner, who netted his 20th of the season on a semi-breakaway look. The goal felt like a dagger in the fashion it was scored halfway through the middle stanza.

• Third-pair defenseman Brandon Manning had a rough first period. New York scored a pair of breakaway goals (Rick Nash at even strength, Paul Carey at shorthanded) and Manning was on the ice for both in which a Ranger snuck behind the defense for broad daylight. On the first, Nash beat both Manning and Radko Gudas. On the second, Manning was seeing some power-play time and a miscue by the Flyers resulted in a rush for the Rangers as a lead pass beat Manning.

The 27-year-old undrafted Manning hasn't been as bad as the criticism he receives, but he'll have to be better than Tuesday's performance if he wants to keep 21-year-old Travis Sanheim in the press box.

• The Flyers' power play was out of sync on its first chance late in the first period. The first unit nearly allowed a shorthanded marker before the second unit actually did. Overall, the man advantage looked passive at times and went 0 for 3. In its defense, the power play was 7 for 14 over the team's four-game winning streak with the NHL's best percentage since Jan. 4, the start of its run. Meanwhile, the Rangers' power play was 3 for its last 31 but went 1 for 2.

• Weal likes to play with speed and shiftiness, but when things haven't gone his way, he's worked his tail off around the net, where he's found production. He did it just over two minutes into Tuesday's game by standing right on Henrik Lundqvist's doorstep and deflecting a shot for the 1-0 lead. Give the 5-foot-10, 179-pounder credit for his willingness to adjust styles in order to make an impact as he has three goals and five points in his last six games. That was one of few positives on Tuesday for the Flyers.

• The NHL's sixth-ranked power play of the Flyers was going up against the league's third-ranked penalty kill of the Rangers. New York clearly won the matchup of this special teams battle.

• Travis Konecny, now on the first line, entered with six points (two goals, four assists) in his previous seven games, but went scoreless against New York.

• Elliott, making his 18th start in the last 19 games, did not have much help from his defense. The Rangers also got a power-play tally in which two bodies lined up in front Elliott, with J.T. Miller redirecting a point shot by Ryan McDonagh. Elliott's final goal allowed was one he'd like to have had back as Nash beat him on a straight shot from the circle late in the second period for the 5-1 hole.

• Lundqvist, who turns 36 years old on March 2, is now 35-14-4 in 55 career games against the Flyers. He made 25 saves on 26 shots.

• Since their 10-game losing streak, the Flyers were 12-4-1 with a plus-15 goal differential, outscoring the opposition, 58-43, coming into Tuesday. This was a clunker but the Flyers can't afford to keep this up against divisional opponents because that's the majority of the remaining schedule. The Flyers are 3-2-4 against Metropolitan competition thus far.

• The Flyers practice Wednesday and then host the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday (7 p.m./NBCSP). Before puck drop, the Flyers will hold a special ceremony honoring Eric Lindros, who is having his No. 88 retired by the club (see story).