Flyers observations

Voracek vaporizes late deficit for rolling Flyers

Voracek vaporizes late deficit for rolling Flyers

BOX SCORE

Jakub Voracek did it all Tuesday night against the Montreal Canadiens.

The NHL’s assist leader decided to let his goals do the talking as the Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens, 3-2, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center.

Voracek scored the game-tying goal with 1:25 remaining in regulation and then won it in overtime to extend the Flyers’ point streak to nine games.

Replacing the injured Wayne Simmonds on the top power-play unit, Nolan Patrick scored the Flyers’ first goal. Patrick now has seven points (four goals, three assists) over his last 11 games.

Alex Lyon stopped 25 of 27 shots, earning back-to-back victories.

The Flyers also became the second team in NHL history to not allow an opponent a power-play opportunity in three straight games. 

• With Simmonds missing his first game since April 2015, it was interesting to see who would take his place on the Flyers’ power play. Once again, Dave Hakstol pushed the right buttons by utilizing the rookie Patrick. One of Patrick’s attributes are his incredibly soft hands, which he put on display as he redirected Claude Giroux’s pass. Patrick positioned his stick beautifully and ramped the puck top shelf that Carey Price had no chance at stopping. 

• The Canadiens scored the go-ahead goal with 11 minutes remaining in the third period. Paul Byron was left all alone in front of the goal mouth as the Flyers attempted to recover from a defensive breakdown with Brandon Manning and Radko Gudas out there with the Patrick line. To make matters worse, Lyon attempted unsuccessfully to poke check the puck away, which took him completely out of position to make a save.

• As Lyon came off the bench, the Flyers promptly converted with the extra man as Voracek scored the game-tying goal from the top of the right circle. Clearly Voracek, with a low shot, was attempting to create a rebound opportunity. However, replays showed the Canadiens got a stick on the puck, which was redirected past Price and through the five-hole.

• After some sloppy and sluggish starts this season, the Flyers brought some jump and energy from the opening faceoff. They outshot the Devils, 6-0, in last week’s game against New Jersey, and the Flyers dominated the first six minutes as they didn’t allow the Canadiens a shot on net.

• Making his NHL debut, Oskar Lindblom produced a solid opening period as he played just over four minutes at even strength. Lindblom complemented the Scott Laughton line well and most of their shifts were spent in the Canadiens’ side of the ice. He may not be considered a fast skater, but he has a quick burst that allows him to close on pucks. 

• After the first intermission, Lindblom told Flyers radio, “I was a little nervous there in the beginning, but after a couple of shifts it felt like normal again. It’s a good time.”

• Unlike the previous game against Montreal on Feb. 8, Canadiens goalie Price looked much more confident in net. Price allowed five goals in the previous game, his positioning was awful and he was all over the place. Price looked supremely confident with his glove hand in the opening 20 minutes.

• I liked Lyon’s demeanor, structure and body language in the first period, and you can’t blame him for Jeff Petry’s deflected shot goal. So hard to tell what part of Petry deflected the puck, but it threw Lyon off the original shot angle. 

• The Canadiens led, 1-0, which marked the first time in eight games the Flyers trailed after the opening period.

• Lyon built on his solid first period with a pair of saves on Canadiens sniper Max Pacioretty, including the second save he snagged up high with his glove hand.

• While the Flyers defensively weren't as loose as they were in New York on Sunday, they still gave up too many quality scoring chances that the Canadiens were unable to convert.

• The Flyers had a golden opportunity to take a 2-1 lead into the second intermission as Giroux and Voracek couldn’t stuff home a prime opportunity. Voracek passed up a chance to beat Price and elected to pass back to Giroux, who didn’t have much open net to look at. Simply one too many passes, but Voracek made up for it later.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Jakub Voracek-Nolan Patrick-Jordan Weal
Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl
Jori Lehtera-Valtteri Filppula-Dale Weise

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Andrew MacDonald-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Alex Lyon
Petr Mrazek

Scratches: Forwards Wayne Simmonds (upper-body injury) and Taylor Leier (healthy), and defenseman Mark Alt (healthy).

Alex Lyon saves Flyers' day at MSG

Alex Lyon saves Flyers' day at MSG

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Sunday’s game at Madison Square Garden turned into the off-Broadway performance of “Lyon King.” 

While it may not qualify for a Tony award, the Flyers' 7-4 victory over the New York Rangers had plenty of entertainment value.

Rookie Alex Lyon replaced Michal Neuvirth to begin the second period and stopped 25 shots to earn his first-career NHL victory, beating Henrik Lundqvist at MSG. Neuvirth appeared to have sustained an injury on Mats Zuccarello’s goal late in the first period that tied the game at 3-3. The Flyers later announced Neuvirth did indeed suffer a lower-body injury and would not return to the contest. Enter Lyon, who performed brilliantly in the spotlight.

The seven goals are the most the Flyers have scored against the Rangers since Nov. 11, 1992. The seven goals are also a season-high for the Flyers and the most Lundqvist has allowed in 56 career games against the Orange and Black.

Claude Giroux scored his 200th career goal while his linemate Travis Konecny produced his first career three-point game with a goal and two assists.

The Flyers also received goals from defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Brandon Manning, Nolan Patrick, Scott Laughton and Jori Lehtera.

Observations from the big win at MSG:

• Fifteen seconds into the game, Shayne Gostisbehere engaged in his first career fight when he took exception to Pavel Buchenevich’s check on Konecny that sent Konecny hard into the boards. Ghost held his own and was able to connect with a few right hands.

• Want proof that the Flyers' defense is out of whack when one of their key blueliners is not available? They were a complete mess with Gostisbehere in the box as they gave up a handful of high-quality scoring chances to the Rangers. Defenseman John Gilmour had a terrific look from the left circle, Michael Grabner had a point-blank look from the slot and Jimmy Vesey drove right around Ivan Provorov at one point. The Flyers were fortunate they weren’t down 2-0 early on after the Rangers opened the scoring.

• Just 75 seconds after Gostisbehere’s fight, the Rangers capitalized as Kevin Hayes pulled off a near impossible redirect off Ryan Sproul’s point shot. Not much blame to assign, just an unfortunate and near-impossible shot to defend. Perhaps Neuvirth could have initially played the puck better from behind his own net as opposed to just rimming the puck around the boards.

• Flyers scored a picture-perfect goal that was set up by a face-off win in the defensive zone when they took a 3-2 lead late in the first period. Giroux took off with the puck and the key to the goal was his drop pass to Konecny that pushed the Rangers’ defenseman back near the crease. That opened up a big lane for Brandon Manning, who beat Lundqvist blocker side for the goal. A textbook goal off the rush that gave them their first lead.

• In a wild first period that produced six goals and three fights, the Flyers did a fantastic job of beating Lundqvist on redirected shots. MacDonald received credit for the first goal as Lehtera whiffed on a deflection attempt, but Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo did the Flyers a favor by getting his stick on a shot that beat Lundqvist. The Flyers tied the game at 2-2 with Scott Laughton’s redirecting Provorov’s entry shot. This is a prime example of why the Rangers defensively appear lost without Ryan McDonough and Marc Staal, two of the better defenseman in the league. 

• I have the Flyers winning the first period on the fight card, 10-9 the advantage. Dale Weise wasn’t as fortunate in his scuffle with Cody McLeod. A total of 32 penalty minutes were handed out in the first 20 minutes.

• Just as the Flyers’ power play expired, Peter Holland and Zuccarello caught the Flyers’ defense flat-footed and connected on a 2-on-1 rush. The Flyers had four forwards on the ice plus defenseman MacDonald, and MacDonald left his feet in an unsuccessful attempt to break up the pass. He should have forced Holland to shoot. To make matters worse, Neuvirth appeared to have injured himself on that play moving post to post. Judge for yourself…

• Lyon replaced Neuvirth to begin the second period and the rookie was tested right away as the Rangers converted another bad rebound goal. Radko Gudas and Manning certainly didn’t help out their goaltender as both guys were on their knees in front of Lyon, who made the first two saves, but couldn’t stop Holland’s attempt after falling face forward to the ice.

• In the first period, Neuvirth was in goal for a similar play when MacDonald rode his man up the boards, which left center Sean Couturier forced to play Rick Nash 1-on-1 in front of the crease. Nash was able to maintain inside position and simply curled the puck around Neuvirth’s skate. Through 40 minutes, the Flyers’ defense in front of their goaltender was somewhere between subpar and terrible. 

• Lyon came up with some big saves in that second period - the biggest came when Lyon snared J.T. Miller’s snap shot out of the air with his glove. Lyon finished with 13 saves in the second period coming off the bench cold.

• Konecny continued his red-hot scoring pace with another multi-point game. After passing up a prime opportunity earlier in the second period, Konecny wasn’t about to let another one go by as he sniped a shot under the arm of Lundqvist, who clearly wasn’t having his best game as poor as the defense has played in front of him. Konecny’s tally wound up as the game-winner.

• Lyon was positioned perfectly again on Nick Holden’s wrist shot early in the third period. In his fourth career appearance, this is the best Lyon has looked as he didn’t try to do too much and was square to nearly every shot.  

Forwards
Giroux-Couturier-Konecny
Voracek-Patrick-Simmonds
Raffl-Laughton-Weal
Lehtera-Filppula-Weise

Defense
Provorov-Gostisbehere
Hägg-MacDonald
Manning-Gudas

Goalies
Neuvirth
Lyon

Flyers finally break a 13-year hex

Flyers finally break a 13-year hex

BOX SCORE

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The curse of Nationwide Arena is finally over. Sean Couturier's overtime goal Friday lifted the visiting Flyers over the Columbus Blue Jackets, 2-1, snapping an 11-game losing streak in the Blue Jackets' home building.

On the heels of three consecutive games in which the Blue Jackets recorded 50-plus shots, the Flyers were able to halt that streak, but were still outshot in regulation, 36-25. Entering overtime for the seventh time in their last 13 meetings with the Blue Jackets, the Flyers were able to add to their point total, which now stands at 68 (see standings).

Facing their nemesis Sergei Bobrovsky in net, the Flyers looked to remove the Nationwide hex with Michal Neuvirth in net. After a scoreless first period that played out like an opening round of a boxing match, with both teams feeling each other out, the pace picked up in the second, with Wayne Simmonds depositing the game’s first goal between Bobrovsky’s five-hole — a tip-in goal off the stick of Shayne Gostisbehere. Cam Atkinson’s third-period goal would get the host Blue Jackets to overtime, but it wasn't enough to collect the extra point.

• With his 20th goal of the campaign, Simmonds became the team’s second 20-goal scorer, trailing only Couturier (29) for the team lead. Gostisbehere and Nolan Patrick were credited with helpers on the tally.

• The lead would hold until the 16:32 mark of the third period, when Atkinson found the back of the net after the Flyers iced the puck.

• As per the norm, Bobrovsky was terrific in net. The former Flyer demonstrated his prowess with ridiculous saves throughout the contest, denying Jordan Weal and Couturier, and later sniffing out a one-timer attempt off the stick of Claude Giroux in the first period alone.

• Neuvirth kept the puck out of his own net in the first stanza as well, although in a more unconventional way. The interim starting goalie was able to disrupt a shot by Atkinson, but was unable to secure the rebound. With the puck sitting next to the net, a chaotic scene made for an interesting clear for the Flyers. Despite throwing 11 shots on goal in the first, Dave Hakstol’s team provided help for the goalie by picking off pucks in the neutral zone and serving as a shield for Neuvirth in its own zone.

• After switching ends for the second period, Neuvirth was able to stave off a close-range attempt from Lukas Sedlak, who nearly potted the game’s first goal in the first on a midair one-timer attempt.

• With the Flyers entering the third period holding a rare lead (in Columbus), the Blue Jackets upped the pressure with an aggressive forecheck early in the period before teeing off on Neuvirth in the latter half. The barrage of shots, of course, resulted in Atkinson’s game-tying goal late in the third.

• Referees Jon McIsaac and Wes McCauley were spectators on skates in the early going, as both teams played 5-on-5 for the entire first period. That’s not to say linesmen Tim Nowak and Jonny Murray weren’t active, as they whistled multiple offside violations on the Flyers, and several icing stoppages on Columbus.

• The clean play would ensue until the 13:07 mark of the second, when offsetting penalties to Dale Weise and Sedlak left the contest at 4-on-4 for a pair of minutes. Despite each participant’s penalties, neither team was given a man-advantage through the first 40 minutes.

• In the third, the orange and black were granted the game’s first power play thanks to a too many men on the ice penalty. The Flyers were unable to capitalize on the power play, though, Jakub Voracek was denied by the post with Bobrovsky moving side to side.

• Leading goal scorer Couturier demonstrated slick puck distribution through the early portion of the contest. The 25-year-old showed creativity in slinging centering passes to the slot, generating early scoring chances for his teammates. Couturier’s career year especially made for a scary moment in the second, as the Arizona-born center briefly left the bench area after taking a skate from Pierre-Luc Dubois to his groin area. Couturier would return, though, as fans both in attendance and back home breathed a sigh of relief.

• Despite owning the status of the team’s career-leading point-getter against Columbus (6-13-19), Giroux remains one goal shy of career goal No. 200, and three assists shy of the seventh on the team’s all-time assist list.

• With an assist on Simmonds’ second-period goal, Gostisbehere now needs four assists to reach career assist No. 100.

• The Flyers will return to action on Sunday when they visit the Rangers for a matinee at Madison Square Garden. Sunday’s divisional matchup will mark the first of six games with a single day off between each game to finish out the month, which also includes two showdowns against Montreal, and single games against Columbus and Ottawa.