Jonathan Quick

Flyers' win streak runs into the wrong team

Flyers' win streak runs into the wrong team

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There are certain NHL teams in which establishing a lead against is almost imperative.

The Los Angeles Kings are definitely one of those teams.

On Monday, L.A. swept its two-game season series against the Flyers with a 4-1 win at the Wells Fargo Center, snapping the orange and black's six-game winning streak (see observations).

In a matchup of two of the stingiest even-strength teams in the league, the Kings jumped on top early with a pair of first-period goals. Alec Martinez scored the first on a slap shot that deflected off the Flyers' Taylor Leier, and Kings forward Trevor Lewis followed up with a snap shot that beat Brian Elliott following a poor line change and a mix-up in coverage (see highlights).

“The first [goal], he just beat me with the shot,” Elliott, who lost for the first time in seven starts, said. “It was kind of a line change where we lost our coverage.”

 “I didn’t think we were sharp enough,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We start off by giving up a faceoff goal. The second goal is through the neutral zone on a line change. I didn’t think we made them work hard enough for the opportunities that they scored their goals on.”

According to the website NaturalStatTrick.com, the Flyers generated 16 scoring chances at even strength but only a season-low two from the high-danger areas, where the Kings controlled the middle of the ice and pushed the play to the perimeter.

“It was a tight. Tight game,” Flyers forward Jakub Voracek said. “They didn’t make any mistakes. We had to make a big push to create something 5-on-5. We had a few looks, in the second period especially. We've just got to recover and focus on Wednesday.”

The Flyers had the upper hand with six power-play opportunities to the Kings' one, but they couldn’t break through and score more than once against the NHL’s No. 1-ranked penalty kill.

“We couldn’t score on the power play,” Voracek said. “The power play lost the game. Unfortunately, we only got one [goal]. Give them credit, they played a good road game. I think (Jonathan) Quick was outstanding in net. We just couldn’t find a way to score more than one.”

Impressively, the Flyers had not allowed more than one goal in any period throughout their six-game winning streak. The Kings, the best third-period team in hockey with a 46-21 goal differential, bucked that trend and touched up the Flyers for two goals in the closing period to seal the win.

“They have a lot of experience,” Sean Couturier said. “They have won in the past and they know how to win. When you’re down early in the game and you can’t back in it early, it gets tougher and tougher. They kind of know how to close games.”

Returning to Philadelphia brought back fond memories for Kings head coach John Stevens, who won a Calder Trophy with the Phantoms as well as coached the Flyers from October 2006 to December 2009.

“That was brought up earlier, playing back in Philly,” Stevens said. “I’ll be totally honest, it’s nice to be where my kids grew up. It’s home for them. This was a big game for us on this trip. We really wanted to take two points home for us, so it’s just a nice win against a quality hockey team.”

With a win, the Flyers were hoping to match the dubious record held by the 1967 Toronto Maple Leafs, who won seven straight games immediately following a 10-game winless streak. The Flyers feel they can shake off this loss and recapture their winning ways when they close out their five-game homestand against the Red Wings on Wednesday.

“I thought our guys did a really good job, six in a row after not winning 10,” Elliott said. “I think we have to really look at the positive and stop this at one game and move onto the next game. I don’t think we need to hang our heads too low here.” 

Flyers' 6-game reign comes to an end

Flyers' 6-game reign comes to an end

BOX SCORE

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

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

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

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

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

Flyers-Kings observations: Nothing gets past Jonathan Quick in shutout

Flyers-Kings observations: Nothing gets past Jonathan Quick in shutout

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings redeemed last year’s home-opening loss to the Flyers with a 2-0 victory Thursday night at the STAPLES Center.

The Kings didn’t require a spectacular effort from Jonathan Quick, who was solid and steady as he stopped all 35 shots and survived an early third-period wave. 

Michal Neuvirth made his first start of the season and stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced in the defeat.

• The Flyers (1-1-0) could not match Los Angeles' energy and speed in the opening nine minutes, as the Kings (1-0-0) had a considerable amount of zone time. The first period was one that Travis Konecny would rather forget. First, he failed to cover his man coming down center ice, which resulted in a hooking penalty. As Konecny exited the box, he was immediately stripped of the puck, and as he scrambled back into the Flyers’ zone, he committed another turnover that led to a Kings’ shot.

• Jakub Voracek mentioned how he didn’t like the way the top line played defensively in the game against San Jose. Early on, the unit struggled again to get back with its coverages against the Anze Kopitar line.

• However, the trio of Voracek, Sean Couturier and Claude Giroux produced some prime scoring chances in the second period. Voracek had all sorts of time but was completely undecided on what to do in one instance. 

Later in the second, Giroux came out of the box and made a nice move to cut to the middle of the ice. Quick made the initial stop and Giroux had a second opportunity to put back his own rebound. 

In the same period, Couturier glided across the front of the crease but couldn’t get off a quality shot. Three prime opportunities, but the Flyers were just unable to convert.

• Part of the reason the Flyers didn’t generate some early speed like we saw in San Jose was that the Kings made life rough in the neutral zone. In fact, the Kings capitalized on one of those neutral-zone turnovers when Scott Laughton coughed it up. 

The Flyers’ defense fell out of position with Radko Gudas on the left side and Travis Sanheim on the right. Trevor Lewis slipped around Sanheim, who probably didn’t know he was there, for the easy one-timer off a pass from Nick Shore.

• Making his NHL debut (see story), Sanheim played 4:48 in the first period, all at even strength. 

“I felt good out there,” Sanheim said. “It was nice to get through those first couple of shifts. Obviously, there were some nerves at the start of the game, but I felt good.”

However, Sanheim was careless during the second period in getting his stick too high as he clipped Lewis in the face and drew blood, which resulted in a four-minute double minor. The Flyers’ PK killed off the full four minutes.

• The Flyers' best stretch of hockey came in the third period as they outshot L.A., 11-1, in the first nine minutes of the final stanza, but they simply couldn’t capitalize with a game-tying goal. Then, with 2:21 left, Tyler Toffoli scored off an assist from Jeff Carter to extend the Kings' lead.

• With 1:19 remaining in the first period, Neuvirth came up with the save of the night as he robbed Kings captain Kopitar with a fully-extended glove save. Neuvirth’s stop saved his defense after a turnover that led to L.A.'s quality scoring chance.

Based on his starts in the preseason and Thursday night, Neuvirth is showing early signs of the goaltender who came to Philadelphia in 2015-16.

• A night after the Flyers’ power play exploded by converting 3 of 5 opportunities, the team came up empty against the Kings with an 0-for-5 performance.

• Going back to the end of last season, the Flyers have started two rookies on defense in three of their last four games with three different combinations (Ivan Provorov-Sam Morin, Provorov-Robert Hagg, Sanheim-Hagg).

• The biggest franchise-altering trade between the Flyers and Kings took place on June 23, 2011, when Mike Richards was sent to L.A. for Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick that was used to acquire Nicklas Grossmann. With the trade of Schenn this past offseason to St. Louis for two first-round selections and a potential third, we may not know the overall value of that trade for another five to 10 years.

Lines, pairings and scratches

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

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

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth                                
Brian Elliott

Scratches: Jori Lehtera, Brandon Manning, Sam Morin.