Los Angeles Kings

Flyers' 6-game reign comes to an end

Flyers' 6-game reign comes to an end


The Los Angeles Kings snapped the Flyers’ six-game winning streak on Monday night with a 4-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center.

Alec Martinez, Trevor Lewis, Adrian Kempe and Tyler Toffoli all scored for the Kings.

Although the Flyers outshot L.A., 37-25, the Kings did an excellent job of keeping them out of the middle of the ice.

The game marked a homecoming for Kings coach John Stevens, who still owns a home in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. Stevens was behind the bench as a head coach at the Wells Fargo Center for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009. 

Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers’ only goal, which came on the power play.

Monday’s game also marked Brian Elliott’s eighth straight start as he stopped 21 of 25 shots.

• Travis Konecny tried to run a pick play on Kings defenseman Oscar Fantenberg, a clear interference. The Flyers had been very disciplined regarding their lack of penalties over the six-game winning streak. That was not a good way to start.

• There was a heads-up play from defenseman Robert Hagg as he swiped the puck that was laying on the crease after Fantanberg’s shot hit the post and dropped straight down behind Elliott.

• The Kings scored first as Torrey Mitchell won the offensive-zone faceoff and Martinez uncorked a bullet of a slap shot past Elliott that beat him blocker high. Elliott dropped into his butterfly pretty quickly and once it deflected off Taylor Leier between the circles, Elliott had no chance of stopping the shot.

• Dave Hakstol likes to refer to the Kings as a “heavy” team. There may not be a more aggressive forechecking team than L.A., a club that gets sticks on bodies and makes you work extremely hard in those board battles. 

• Once again, the Flyers’ power play showed some different looks. Shayne Gostisbehere moved from the point to the right circle as he essentially swapped spots with Voracek.

• I didn’t like how the Flyers played the Kings’ second goal. As Gostisbehere stepped up to play the forward along the bench, it allowed Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin to make a breakout pass to Nick Shore. Shore then dropped it off for Lewis, who beat Elliott short side on the glove hand. Hagg didn’t pick up the coverage, which allowed Lewis to fire an uncontested shot. However, it’s also a shot that Elliott typically stops.

• The Flyers won a crucial faceoff in the offensive zone during their second power-play attempt. Claude Giroux wristed a shot that deflected off Drew Doughty cross ice right to Voracek, who one-timed a shot past Jonathan Quick. The goalie couldn’t go post to post quick enough to stop the shot. A fortuitous bounce for Voracek and the Flyers.

• The Flyers drew a third power play in the opening minute of the second period when Derek Forbort ran Sean Couturier into the boards for interference. The best chance came when Valtteri Filppula centered a pass that Konecny tried to redirect past Quick through the five-hole.  

• With each team’s top line on the ice, the Flyers were caught with a terrible gap with Wayne Simmonds, Giroux and Couturier at the goal line and the defense back at the blue line. The result was an easy 3-on-2, but Elliott robbed Marion Gaborik on a point-blank shot from the slot.

• Elliott came up big again as Alex Iafallo tried to take the puck around Elliott, who extended his right pad to deny the would-be goal. Six and a half minutes later, Elliott stoned Shore on the backdoor. You don’t think of Elliott as an overly athletic goaltender, but he displayed some athleticism in this game — with his glove and his pads.

• Through 40 minutes, the Flyers outshot the Kings, 22-19. However, most of those shots were low-percentage chances. According to the website NaturalStatTrick.com that tracks shot selection, the Flyers had just one high-danger scoring chance to make it a pretty easy night for Quick.

• Gostisbehere made an excellent play to break up L.A.’s 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity when he peeled off the shooter and then broke up the pass. However, the Kings converted as Kempe jumped out of the box just as the Flyers’ power play expired. Kempe beat Elliott in the same spot as Lewis. Elliott appeared to take a swipe with his glove but just came up empty.

• Giroux was given a grade-A chance when Doughty committed a deadly giveaway at the Kings’ blue line to allow him to skate in and fire a shot from the high slot that went just wide of the net. However, L.A. defenseman Muzzin was called for interference on Giroux, which set up the Flyers’ fifth power-play opportunity.

• The Kings forced a neutral-zone turnover and Toffoli easily converted as he broke in all alone on Elliott and snapped a shot high glove.   

Lineups, pairings and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Dale Weise
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Travis Konecny

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

Scratches: Forward Jori Lehtera (healthy) and defenseman Mark Alt (healthy).

Finish-them-off mindset fueling Flyers' surge

AP Images

Finish-them-off mindset fueling Flyers' surge

From the upbeat music blaring when you first walk in the locker room to the jovial tones the players on the team speak with, it's clear times have changed drastically from a few weeks ago for the Flyers.

Just over two weeks ago, the music would have been shut off and a straight-laced attitude of needing to play better would have been blatantly evident during the 10-game skid.

Wins cure all, don't they?

And the Flyers will be going for their seventh consecutive win when they host the Los Angeles Kings Monday night at Wells Fargo Center.

Beside the music and the attitude, what has changed over the last few weeks to ignite this stretch of success? The Flyers feel a massive key has been their play in tight games, specifically in the third period. Where they would have crumbled weeks ago, they are excelling now.

"We've come to the conclusion that, obviously, we have to be on the same page to win games," Wayne Simmonds said Monday after morning skate. "We've done the exact same thing every single third period. To win games, you have to be consistent and do the same things every night.

"[Saturday vs. Dallas] in the third period, I think everyone thought we were actually winning the game 2-1 instead of being tied. That sets our expectations high. That's what we expect of ourselves. It was a good feeling and we kind of knew we were going to win that game, whether it was going to take 65 minutes or a shootout. ... We've kept it simple. I think that's the main thing for our team — we've kept it simple and everyone is on the exact same page."

The proof is in the pudding of Simmonds' words.

During the miserable 10-game losing streak, the Flyers were outscored 10-2 in third periods. Five of those games wound up as one-goal defeats decided in either OT or a shootout. Leads were held at one point or another in six of those contests. 

Moral of the story? Points were there for the taking and the Flyers left them dangling on the table for the opponent to grab.

Now, during this six-game win streak, the Flyers are outscoring the opposition 7-1 in third periods.

"We've been going into the third period and we've been on the same page," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "We're excited to go out there and win that game. I think we're doing a lot of good things. We were doing a lot of good things when we weren't winning. But now it's more good things, doing the right things. 

"We go into the third period and it's a tight game or we're up a goal, we feel confident. If we play our game, we're going to give ourselves a chance to win. But we have to keep that mindset."

Much like Giroux, head coach Dave Hakstol feels the Flyers were doing good things during the skid, but now they're putting them all together and the wins are the result of just that.

"We obviously went through a stretch where we didn't have good third periods and at times we were our own worst enemy," Hakstol said. "Yet even within those periods we were playing pretty good hockey. But we had a tendency to try a little hard or look for a play that wasn't there that comes back to haunt you pretty quickly. 

"I think that's probably the biggest thing that has been different for us here over the last short stretch — just staying with the game."

Facing a defensively sound and structured Kings team that has a plus-22 goal differential and features a world-class goalie in Jonathan Quick, it likely means the Flyers are in for another close game Monday night.

And unlike two weeks ago, that's a welcomed situation. Because it's never too close for comfort now.

Twisted history
The Flyers on Monday can tie a weird, crazy, bizarre and whatever else you want to call it NHL record. They can tie the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs for the longest winning streak immediately after losing 10 games in a row. Those Leafs lost 11 in a row before storming back to win seven straight. Those Leafs also went on to win the Stanley Cup. 

Hey, who knows anything anymore, right?

More honors for Elliott
Flyers netminder Brian Elliott was honored by the NHL for the second straight week. This time, he was named the league's second star of the week after posting a 3-0-0 record, 1.31 goals-against average and .943 save percentage as the Flyers extended their win streak. His best performance last week came Saturday against the Stars when he stopped 27 shots in the 2-1 OT victory. Elliott, who will start Monday vs. the Kings and sports a 12-6-6 record, 2.61 goals-against average and .915 save percentage this season, was the third star the previous week.

No lineup changes are expected for the Flyers Monday. Injured goalie Michal Neuvirth, whose missed almost the last two weeks with a lower-body injury, took part in morning skate again, but still isn't ready to go. Alex Lyon will again back up Elliott.

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Dale Weise
Travis Konecny-Scott Laughton-Taylor Leier

Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Robert Hagg-Shayne Gostisbehere
Radko Gudas-Travis Sanheim

Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

Best of NHL: Devils snap Kings' 8-game win streak

USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Devils snap Kings' 8-game win streak

NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall scored twice and the New Jersey Devils ended the Los Angeles Kings' eight-game winning streak with a 5-1 victory Tuesday night.

Travis Zajac, Brian Boyle and Brian Gibbons also scored for the Devils, who snapped a two-game skid. Cory Schneider made 13 saves.

The Kings were beaten for the first time since losing 3-2 in overtime to Arizona on Nov. 24. Their winning streak was the longest in the NHL this season.

It was Los Angeles' first defeat in regulation since a 2-1 loss to Winnipeg on Nov. 22.

Jonathan Quick made 20 saves for the Kings, and Torrey Mitchell's goal with 7:56 left prevented Los Angeles from being shut out for the first time this season (see full recap).

Vasilevskiy, Lightning shut out Blues
ST. LOUIS -- Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point scored, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 32 shots and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the St. Louis Blues 3-0 on Tuesday night in a matchup of the NHL's top two teams.

Tyler Johnson added an empty netter as Tampa Bay (22-6-2) earned its fifth straight win. It was Vasilevskiy's third shutout of the season and the seventh of his career.

Jake Allen made 22 saves for St. Louis, which had won four in a row. The Blues (21-9-2) were shut out for the third time at home this season.

Point put Tampa Bay in front when he lifted in a rebound of his own shot at 19:15 of the first period. From the side of the net, Johnson fed Point in the slot. His shot hit the crossbar and caromed to the right. Point alertly followed the puck and extended his point streak to five games, setting a career high.

Vasilevskiy had several nice saves, turning away Vladimir Tarasenko on a 2-on-1 breakaway in the second period. Vasilevskiy leads the league in wins with 20, and Allen is second with 17 (see full recap).

Granlund lifts Wild to shootout win
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund scored the winning goal in a shootout and the Minnesota Wild defeated the Calgary Flames 2-1 on Tuesday night.

The shootout reached the fifth round before Granlund beat Mike Smith. Alex Stalock stopped Michael Ferland to give Minnesota its third straight victory, the first two coming in overtime.

Ferland and Minnesota's Matt Cullen scored in regulation. Smith made 21 saves for Calgary, while Stalock stopped 16 shots in two periods plus overtime for the Wild. He replaced injured goalie Devan Dubnyk after the first.

Calgary dominated the puck throughout the first period and carried a 10-1 advantage in shots on goal 17 minutes in. But after the Wild killed off the second Flames power play of the frame, their second and third shots on net produced the game's first goal.

Ryan Suter took a shot from the top of the left circle that Smith turned aside. Joel Eriksson Ek took a whack at the rebound before Cullen poked it in to put Minnesota on top 1-0.

The Flames tied it with just more than a minute left in the second period on Ferland's 12th goal of the season. Ferland fired a slap shot from center point that deflected off Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin and beat Stalock over his left shoulder.

Stalock entered at the start of the second period in place of Dubnyk, who stopped all 10 shots he saw in the first but was removed after aggravating a lower-body injury (see full recap).