Craig Anderson

Frustrated Flyers on wrong end of reviews in loss to Senators

Frustrated Flyers on wrong end of reviews in loss to Senators

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA, Ontario — Wayne Simmonds described playing the Ottawa Senators as similar to working your way through a maze.

The Flyers almost got that piece of cheese at the end, only to lose, 5-4, Thursday night at the Canadian Tire Centre (see observations).

In what appeared to be the Flyers’ game-tying goal with 56 seconds remaining in regulation, Sean Couturier pushed the puck across the line and into the webbing of Craig Anderson’s glove just before referee Steve Kozari had blown the whistle. 

As Dave Hakstol came out of the coach’s room to address the media, he had just viewed the play from the overhead angle that provided conclusive evidence.

“We tied it up,” Hakstol said. “It’s there. I just watched it on our own video in the coach’s room and it’s clear as day. I watched the puck go over the line. It’s 100 percent a goal.

“I don’t know how that’s missed. That bothers me because the guys fought their rear ends off to get back into this game and tie this thing up.”

Hakstol said he was provided no explanation, but the NHL handed down this ruling from the NHL’s situation room in Toronto

“The referee informed the Situation Room that he was in the process of blowing his whistle to stop play when he lost sight of the puck under Craig Anderson’s skate. According to Rule 78.5 section (xii) apparent goals shall be disallowed ‘when the referee deems the play has been stopped, even if he had not physically had the opportunity stop play by blowing the whistle.’ This is not a reviewable play, therefore, the referee’s call on the ice stands — no goal Philadelphia.” 

“I didn’t even know it went in,” Couturier said. “I tried to jam it and I didn’t really know where it was. When I found out it was in his glove I thought maybe it was in, but I don’t know. I don’t know what the explanation was.”

That was the first of two goals that went against the Flyers in the third period. The first one came with 10:22 remaining in the game when Brandon Manning blasted a shot past Ottawa’s Anderson, which would have cut the Senators’ lead to 4-3. 

However, Sens coach Guy Boucher challenged the marker on account of goaltender’s interference. Flyers forward Jordan Weal backed his way into the crease, but it was Anderson who initiated contact. Weal had left the crease as Manning was firing off the shot. 

After further review, the NHL’s situation room had determined the contact was worth waving off the goal.

“(Valtteri) Filppula had the puck and I realized I was a little close and he kind of shoved me,” Weal said. “I got out of the way as the shot was coming in and I guess in their eyes they saw something different. We got a couple of tough calls against us there. It seems like we’re getting that every couple of games — a couple of tough calls against us. We played strong and sometimes those things happen.”    

“The first overturned goal — those are judgement calls,” Hakstol said. “I don’t get involved in second-guessing them. I thought it was a goal, but they’ve got to make that call when they watch it. But that’s a judgement call.”

Roughly a minute later, the Senators converted a 2-on-1 when Tom Pyatt wristed a shot far post to beat Flyers netminder Michal Neuvirth blocker side. In the span of 57 seconds, the Flyers went from possibly being a goal down to staring at a 5-2 Ottawa lead.

“We dug ourselves a hole, but the big thing is we dug out of that hole. Yeah, it’s frustrating,” Hakstol said.   

“It always sucks getting the goal called off, but I think we responded pretty well,” Couturier said. “We kept going. We scored two goals and almost the tying goal. We battled hard to get back but we need to have a better start.”

For a second straight road game, the Flyers trailed 3-0 in the opening period. It took all of 91 seconds for the Senators to jump on the board as Dion Phaneuf’s wrist shot from just inside the blue line found its way through a line of players to the top right corner of the net.

“I didn’t see it. I’ve got to watch the replay, but I don’t think it was a hard shot,” Neuvirth said. “But we’ve got to block those on the PK.”

After giving up two or fewer goals in his first three starts, Neuvirth had his toughest night of the season as the Senators touched him up for five goals on 28 shots.

“It was a tough game,” Neuvirth said. “Five goals against is way too much. Got to be better.”

The Flyers were well aware of Ottawa’s 1-3-1 neutral zone play that clogs up the middle of the ice, and yet Hakstol’s club was turnover-prone in the first 15 minutes of the game, which led to the 3-0 deficit.

“I think we were just sloppy,” Jakub Voracek said. “There’s no way around it. Bad start and they score right away. Second goal was a blown coverage by me. We played better from the second period, but sometimes it’s not good enough. We just didn’t skate and if you don’t skate, you don’t have the openings. You don’t skate, you get scored on and there goes the first period.”

The Flyers can only hope whatever maze they navigate in Toronto Saturday night doesn’t have quite the same steep, uphill climb.

NHL Notes: Penguins, Senators have chance at history in Game 7

NHL Notes: Penguins, Senators have chance at history in Game 7

PITTSBURGH -- Craig Anderson is a realist, the byproduct of 15 years playing the most demanding position in the NHL.

The Ottawa goaltender would like to chalk his 45-save masterpiece in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh up to his own brilliance. He knows that's not exactly the case.

"I think you need to be a little bit lucky to be good at times," Anderson said.

Ottawa has relied on a bit of both during its deepest playoff run in a decade and Anderson helped force Game 7 Thursday night. Yet here the Senators are, alive and still skating with a chance to eliminate the deeper, more experienced and more explosive Stanley Cup champions.

So much for the series being over after the Penguins destroyed Ottawa 7-0 in Game 5.

"I think, if you believe you're beaten, you're done already," Anderson said. "If you believe that you can win, there's always a chance."

All the Senators have to do to reach the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in franchise history is take down one of the league's marquee franchises on the road in a building where they were beaten by a touchdown last time out.

No pressure or anything. Really. The Senators weren't supposed to be here. Then again, in a way neither were the Penguins. No team has repeated in nearly two decades and at times during the season and even during the playoffs this group was too beat up. Too tired from last spring's Cup run. The bullseye on their backs too big.

Yet they've survived behind the brilliance of stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, coach Mike Sullivan's impeccable decisions and a resiliency that has them one game from being the first Cup champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009.

Those Red Wings, by the way, fell to the Penguins in seven games. There have been several Game 7s for Pittsburgh in the interim on both sides of the ledger, though the Penguins are 2-0 in Game 7s under Sullivan. They edged Tampa Bay in Game 7 of last year's East finals and clinically disposed of Presidents' Trophy winner Washington in Game 7 of the second round earlier this month (see full story).

Predators: Goalie Rinne on smothering run
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Knocking the smile off Pekka Rinne's face right now is nearly impossible.

The longest-tenured player with the Nashville Predators, the 34-year-old goaltender finally will play in his first Stanley Cup Final in his ninth full NHL season.

"As a player, I feel like I've had a fairly long career and never had this opportunity," Rinne said. "So very fortunate and really appreciate this opportunity. I guess as a player you just enjoy being in this position. Enjoy the chance that you get, and you put your body on the line every night and give everything you have."

Teammates call the 6-foot-5 Finn the backbone of the Predators, and he's probably the best goalie in the world at the moment. He handles the puck like an extra defenseman. He foils the dump-and-chase efforts of opponents. And, oh, is he good in front of the net, aggressive with forwards in the crease, seeing seemingly everything and occasionally making saves with a Dominik Hasek-like contortion.

Not only is Rinne a playoff-best 12-4, his .945 save percentage ranks third all-time for a single postseason behind a pair of Conn Smythe Trophy winners in Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Anaheim in 2003 and Jonathan Quick for Los Angeles in 2012, according to HockeyReference.com. Rinne's 1.70 goals-against average is 10th all-time for one postseason.

"What he does every night, you can't put into words," Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said (see full story).

Blues: Sydor returns to Blues as assistant
ST. LOUIS -- Darryl Sydor has returned to the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach under mentor Mike Yeo.

Sydor agreed to a three-year deal Wednesday.

The 45-year-old Sydor finished his 18-year NHL playing career with the Blues in 2009-10, then broke into coaching as Yeo's assistant the next season with the American Hockey League's Houston Aeros. Sydor went with Yeo to Minnesota and spent five years with the Wild before working as an assistant last season with the Blues' then-Chicago affiliate in the AHL.

Sydor was a defenseman for Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, winning Stanley Cup titles with Dallas and Tampa Bay.

Coyotes: Cunningham hired as pro scout
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have hired Craig Cunningham as a pro scout and say he will assist with player development.

General manager John Chayka announced the two-year contract Wednesday that allows Cunningham to remain in hockey.

Cunningham collapsed on the ice with a cardiac disturbance prior to a game Nov. 19 while playing for the American Hockey League's Tucson Roadrunners and required emergency life-saving care. He had part of his left leg amputated and saw his playing career end.

But the 26-year-old who was captain of the Roadrunners last season says he's excited to start the next chapter of his hockey career in the Coyotes' front office. Chayka called Cunningham a "smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game" that he believes will translate to his new job.

Flyers-Senators 10 observations: Jordan Weal provides finishing touch

Flyers-Senators 10 observations: Jordan Weal provides finishing touch

Thanks to Jordan Weal and more shootout magic -- yes, you read that correctly -- the Flyers captured a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

Weal netted a game-tying marker and the only tally of the skills competition in which the Flyers are now 7-4 this season.

Here are 10 observations from the victory:

1. Weal made a heady play by skating hard to the net as Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson left the crease to play a puck. He intercepted Anderson's pass and quickly buried the shot to knot the score, 2-2, with 5:59 left in the third period. The rookie has five goals in his last 11 games and has turned into a serious catalyst for a team that has struggled to score goals since mid-December.

2. The Flyers have back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 28-March 2. Still, they have only six games left, all against Metropolitan Division opponents. Their record against the remaining clubs on the schedule is 6-9-1. The Flyers stayed put Tuesday -- six points out of the second wild-card spot as both the Bruins and Maple Leafs won.

3. Brayden Schenn snapped the Flyers' 0-for-17 power-play skid on a deflection of Shayne Gostisbehere's shot with 1:26 left in the first period. The Flyers were 3 for 46 on the man advantage in March until Schenn's tally. With the current state of the Flyers' season, Schenn's production has gone somewhat unnoticed. Coming off a four-year contract extension this offseason, the 25-year-old forward has 23 goals, three from tying his career high set last season. Sure, he's been reliant on the power play (like many of his teammates), but Schenn has shown up after being rewarded.

4. Good effort by the Flyers after beating the Penguins, 6-2. They had struggled in sustaining any semblance of consistency and finally did for consecutive games -- and it came on fan appreciation night.

5. Steve Mason made his 13th start in the last 15 games and did his part. It looked like he didn't see Kyle Turris' shot in the third period that handed Ottawa a 2-1 lead. Overall, though, Mason once again gave the Flyers a chance. He entered with a 2.12 goals-against average over his last 12 games, while making 26 saves and three stops in the shootout Tuesday. The other goal allowed was gift-wrapped by Flyers penalties, resulting in a 5-on-3 and Erik Karlsson blast.

6. The Senators did what they do: aggressive and disruptive play on the puck-handler and making the opposition work for everything. Ottawa thrives on close, grind-it-out games, which has been a recipe for success as the Senators vie for the Atlantic Division crown.

7. Anderson has just been a wonderful story this season. He's taken some time away from the team to be alongside his wife, Nicholle, who is battling cancer. And even through that, he's having one heck of a season at 35 years old for a team destined for the playoffs.

8. Stick tap to Radko Gudas for jumping on the opportunity to stand up for a teammate late in the first period. Weal, not of much size at 5-foot-10, 179 pounds, was on the receiving end of two hits from 6-foot-1, 216-pound defenseman Mark Borowiecki. The second check was to the back and put Weal headfirst into the boards. Gudas saw it perfectly and swooped in to send a message.

9. More on Weal -- the rookie forward has shown he can help the Flyers in the future. With him playing well in a top-six role, Ottawa looked like it put a concerted effort on being physical with Weal. Similar to Travis Konecny, that's something Weal will have to overcome as more defensive focus is shifted to him.

10. A little inside the box score …
• With his assist, Gostisbehere has three points in his last two games. He's been active offensively with nine shots in those two outings.

• The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play, making them 4 for 48 this month.

• The Flyers outshot the Senators, 35-28, and blocked more shots, 20-17.