Flyers

Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Senators 2

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Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Senators 2

BOX SCORE

They may have lost their win streak, but there’s still one left that counts.

The Flyers stretched their point streak to five games Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Center with a 5-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Sean Couturier broke a 25-game goal skid (going back to last season) early in the game and Kimmo Timonen broke a 21-game overall slide late, as the Flyers scored two goals just 23 seconds apart to break a 2-2 tie.

One-goal games heading into the third period have become the norm for the Flyers most of the season. A goal up or a goal behind most of the time.

Ill-timed penalties have killed them. Like Steve Downie’s penalty that tied the game in the third period at Winnipeg last week.

And like Zac Rinaldo’s hook between the legs of Zack Smith that allowed the Senators to tie the game, 2-2. It was only close because of goalie Steve Mason, who was again spectacular with 34 saves.

Soon after, Nick Grossmann had a skate save on Kyle Turris in the paint. The Flyers then came out and scored twice to take the edge off the game.

The Mason
He had a number of terrific saves in this game, including a highlight reel one on Clarke MacArthur in the final minute of the second period with the Flyers clutching a shaky 2-1 lead.

The entire sequence began as a turnover from Jakub Voracek went to MacArthur. He dished to Bobby Ryan, who gave him a spinarama return pass in the slot for a tip-in attempt.

Mason stopped Turris on a penalty shot in the final minutes, as well.

Over .500
With the win, the Flyers improved to 8-7-2 under coach Craig Berube. Overall, the Flyers sit at 8-10-2.

Poor start
The Flyers, besides looking a tad lethargic, took a penalty in the first minute of play and more or less waded into the game instead of diving into it. They were fortunate that Mason was on his game. He has solid kicks save on Cory Conacher during that power play and got help from the post on Jason Spezza’s slapper. Later, Mason stopped Ryan, who simply snail-darted around Sean Couturier for a lane to the net.

Where’s the juice?
The opening period was frightfully dull, unlike the three-goal, quick-skating first period at Winnipeg last Friday night when the Flyers last played.

Open net
Couturier had the puck on his stick and stared down an open net in the first period. The net won. His shot was wide of the far post. Couturier came into the game without a goal this season but …

He got it … finally
Couturier scored along the left goal line near the corner from a ridiculous angle shortside on goalie Robin Lehner to make it 2-0 in the second period. That was his first goal in 20 games this season.

Penalties
Thanks to back-to-back Flyer delay of game penalties, the Senators enjoyed a brief two-man advantage that the Flyers were able to survive.

They say your best penalty killer should be your goalie, and Mason looked sharp that first period. Ottawa’s crisp puck movement during the end of that five-on-four saw Mason make a nice cradle save on Turris’ shot from the left circle. The Flyers had three delay of game penalties on the night.

Power play
Four straight games now the Flyers have scored on the power play. Claude Giroux ripped a shot off some fine passing from Voracek to the captain in the left circle for the only goal of the opening period. Giroux is on pace for just 20 power-play points this season, well below his career-high of 38 two years ago. He has to pick it up if the power play is going to get its act together.

Penalty kill
Things are different on the penalty kill. Ottawa’s MacArthur scored a power-play goal to make it 2-1 in the second period off a screen shot (Luke Schenn). Ottawa also got a power-play goal from Turris in the third period. The Flyers’ PK units have now given up five power-play goals in the last three games.

Fights
Colin Greening and Schenn threw down with 1:02 left in the second period. A lot of throws in a draw.

Scratches
Defensemen Hal Gill and Andrej Meszaros and forward Michael Raffl.

Loose pucks
Did we mention this marked the first time all season the Flyers gave up two power-play goals in consecutive games? ... There was a nifty takeaway at the blue line off Couturier by Spezza in the second period for an excellent scoring chance by Milan Michalek, whose backhander was wide of the right post, ... Luke Schenn has three fights this season … TSN’s Darren Dreger reported that the Flyers have quietly let it be known that Brayden Schenn could be available in a trade involving larger pieces. The Flyers denied it. ... Adam Hall’s shorthanded goal ended his goal drought, as well.

With new identity, Flyers need to use Leafs win as home turning point

With new identity, Flyers need to use Leafs win as home turning point

When the Flyers last skated off the ice at the Wells Fargo Center 11 days ago, they did so while being serenaded with boos from above, after losing their 10th straight game. This time, to the Bruins with another lethargic effort. The game prior, on Nov. 28 against the Sharks, the fans, like the angry mob from The Simpsons, were calling for the firing of the head coach with “Fire Hakstol” chants. The only thing missing were the pitchforks. (Public service announcement: Leave the pitchforks at home.)

On Tuesday night, the Flyers returned home from a three-game Western Canada road gauntlet with their fortunes changed and beginning a five-game homestand. They had won their previous three games and entered Tuesday’s showdown with the NHL’s hottest team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, six points behind the New York Rangers for the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.

For a team in a competitive rebuild that, at times, looked like one waiting for its coach to get fired, the Flyers returned home having stopped the bleeding away from their own building. Now, they had to bandage it there.

The Flyers did just that, with one of their most complete, 60-minute efforts of the season (see story). They dispatched the Maple Leafs, 4-2, to win their fourth straight and end a six-game home losing streak. It was their first home win since Nov. 9.

They took one penalty, albeit a costly one that would have sunk this team 11 days ago.

They outshot Toronto, 39-22, and threw 32 shots on net in the final 40 minutes.

They dominated puck possession and every metric proves it.

“We were playing some good hockey and I think our identity changed a little bit with that road trip,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “We’re excited right now in the room. We played a lot of good hockey games when we lost, but we didn’t get the results and now we're playing some good hockey and we’re getting the results so we gotta keep building on this."

Now they’re getting the results.

The Flyers are on their longest winning streak of the season. They twice faced adversity Tuesday against the Maple Leafs and didn’t buckle.

Giroux scored the game’s first goal at 9:21 of the first period, but Patrick Marleau answered back for the Leafs just 27 seconds later. Eleven days ago, that would be game over.

Instead, the Flyers kept playing and closed out the period strong. Then, after dominating the second period, Jakub Voracek was whistled for a tripping penalty at 16:11, and James van Riemsdyk tallied his 15th goal of the season to give the Leafs a 2-1 lead. It was a potential killer goal, one that would have deflated the Flyers 11 days ago, no questions asked. It came late in a period that they dominated. It felt like typical Flyers.

But the Flyers survived it. They escaped the period, went into the locker room and came back out in the third period right where they left off. Travis Konecny, who played just 7:20 through two periods, tied it at 2-2 at 5:36. The Flyers kept pushing and pushing. They were rewarded too. Sean Couturier tied his career-high with his 15th goal at 17:05 for the game-winner and then Scott Laughton iced it with an empty-netter at 19:44. It was the Flyers’ first third-period comeback of the season.

“We’re working hard and we haven’t stopped working hard,” Konecny, who scored his second goal in his last 20 games, said, “even through [that] tough stretch of games and it’s finally paying off.”

This Flyers team is a lot looser right now. Winning does that. During their 10-game freefall into irrelevance, they swore they weren't playing poorly.

And once more, they echoed that Tuesday night, even after a win. Now, they're just taking advantage of the breaks, getting the bounces, insert tired cliché here.

“I don’t think there’s much difference at all,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “If you want to look back, I thought there were one or two nights where we looked tight. I thought on the last night here at home, I thought we looked like a tired and a little bit tight hockey team.

“We've taken advantage of a break or two, but I think most importantly, guys just kept their foot on the gas and found ways to win games here over the past few games."

Credit goes to the Flyers, the coaching staff and general manager Ron Hextall. They didn't panic when things were falling apart. Hakstol remained positive, harped on the positives. He promised they would get through it.

Hextall did the same. The GM, on several occasions, praised the way the Flyers were playing during their losing streak. For as much heat as Hakstol and Hextall caught at the time, they deserve recognition for their managing styles in times of dismay.

The Flyers' win Tuesday kicked off a five-game homestand that features three games against Eastern Conference opponents, and perhaps set the tone for the home swing.

The homestand continues Thursday when the Buffalo Sabres visit. If the Flyers play with the same effort they did Tuesday, the winning streak will reach five.

They’re taking fewer penalties, averaging 1.75 penalties during their current four-game winning streak. That’s a good thing for a team that’s penalty kill ranks 29th.

But what might matters most, is they're not chasing the game anymore. They're owning the puck and they're spending more time on the attack, and that’s a recipe for success.

“We’ve had the puck a little bit more,” Hakstol said,” and that’s probably the first place to look. We had a stretch there where stick penalties were getting us.

“Those kinds of penalties happen when you’re chasing a game when you’re defending a little bit too much. It’s not necessarily the discipline side of it. We’ve had the puck a little bit more. We haven’t had to defend as much in our own zone.”

Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

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Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

CALGARY, Alberta — Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.

Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and the Flyers from 1987 to 2000.

He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.

"We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family," Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.

"This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family."

Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League's Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.

He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.