Nino Niederreiter

Flyers-Wild observations: On the wrong end of another shutout

Flyers-Wild observations: On the wrong end of another shutout

BOX SCORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. — The Devan made me do it.

That could serve as the Flyers’ excuse for being swept in their home-and-home series with the Minnesota Wild. The Flyers were shut out once again, this time with a 3-0 final at the Xcel Energy Center Tuesday night.

Devan Dubnyk stopped all 30 shots for his third straight shutout to extend his scoreless streak to 195:05. He blanked the Flyers in both games.

For the first time in franchise history, the Flyers have been shut out in five of their first 18 games.

Nino Niederreiter scored Minnesota’s first goal just 12 seconds into the game. It was the first goal in four games scored by a Wild player other than Jason Zucker, who had the team’s previous six goals over that span. Eric Staal and Zucker added empty-netters over the final 1:09.

Brian Elliott was solid once again in a losing effort as he turned aside 17 of 18 shots. 

• Minnesota should have had a 2-0 lead with 6:30 remaining when Marcus Foligno got in behind the Flyers’ defense. His backhand attempt was stopped by Elliott and it appeared Chris Stewart missed a wide-open net.

• The short and speedy Tyler Ennis had a clear breakaway on Elliott, who didn’t give up his ground and stoned Ennis blocker side. 

• Minnesota is like a vacuum in the defensive zone. Robert Hagg appeared to have some open ice on a Flyers’ breakout, but he was snuffed out by four players by the time he got to the top of the circles. Then Dale Weise got behind the defense but couldn’t put any sort of move on Dubnyk as he elected to test the five-hole. However, Dubnyk had it closed off.

• Once again, Minnesota’s top line of Staal, Niederreiter and Zucker was buzzing on its first shift of the second period. There were a couple of good chances down low from Zucker and Niederreiter. Ivan Provorov and Hagg have had their hands full containing that trio down in the trenches.

• Minnesota had a solid 30- to 40-second shift when Travis Konecny broke his stick, which left Jordan Weal and Weise working even harder to clear the zone. The Flyers were also left with Travis Sanheim and Radko Gudas defending and neither player could corral the puck and work it to a Flyers forward.  

• Scott Laughton provided the Flyers with their best opportunity of the game with a pair of shots from close range that Dubnyk was able to deny with his left pad. It’s about as close as the Flyers have been able to penetrating Minnesota’s defense.

• The Flyers started to regain the possession edge over the final 10 minutes of the second period. Claude Giroux had a tip-in attempt that Dubnyk was able to glove, but for the most part, the Flyers haven’t been able to clog the area in front of the crease and make life miserable for the goalie.

• Did you catch Matt Dumba’s move from behind his own net? He banked a pass off the net and spun around Jori Lehtera to get out of danger. Dumba has a huge slap shot and big offensive upside. However, in these two games he’s played very sound defensively. 

• Taylor Leier gave the Flyers two good looks in the final 90 seconds of the second period, including one that rang off the post. Dubnyk saved the other, and through six periods, he stopped all 62 shots he faced from the Flyers.

• Just an ugly start for the Flyers. Twelve seconds into the game, Staal stripped Provorov along the boards and fed Niederreiter for the one-timer goal over the shoulder of Elliott. It tied the record for the fastest goal on home ice in franchise history. 

• After they started the game on the ice for that unforgettable first goal, the new-look second line of Weise, Weal and Wayne Simmonds had a strong shift. That stretch included Weal’s high-percentage scoring chance in the slot on the feed from Simmonds. Their puck possession also included drawing a penalty that led to the Flyers’ first power play. 

• Elliott kept the deficit to 1-0 with a big pad save on Mikko Koivu from the left circle during the first. In consecutive shifts, Minnesota’s top three lines had good pressure in the Flyers’ zone. That included a clear path for Luke Kunin, who reversed his way from beyond the goal line to get a clear look but the puck was poked away. 

• Later, Brandon Manning committed a turnover as he skated deep into his own end that saw Joel Ericsson have a free look at Elliott, who came up with a glove save.

• The Wild’s Ryan Suter may be one of the best rebound-clearing defenseman in the NHL. Suter seems to always know where the low-traffic area is on the ice. He was outstanding in the game at the Wells Fargo Center and he has such quick wrists that he’s capable of knocking the puck away before a Flyers’ stick can get to it.

• Ticky-tack holding call on Simmonds as he grabbed Ennis’ jersey for a brief moment when the puck was on the other side of the ice. The Wild got a couple of early shots, but credit the forwards who did a solid job of keeping Minnesota’s PP on the perimeter.

Lines, pairings and scratches

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Defenseman Mark Alt (healthy) and forward Matt Read (healthy).

NHL Notes: Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella gets 1-year extension

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NHL Notes: Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella gets 1-year extension

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- John Tortorella of the Columbus Blue Jackets is getting a one-year contract extension following a season in which he was the NHL's Coach of the Year.

General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen announced the move Monday. Financial terms were not released.

Tortorella was entering the last year of a five-year, $10 million deal he signed with Vancouver in 2013.

Since joining Columbus on Oct. 21, 2015, Tortorella has led the Blue Jackets to an 84-57-16 record and .586 winning percentage.

Columbus had a 50-24-8 record and 108 points last year, the NHL's fourth-best record. This was a 32-point turnaround from 2015-16.

Sabres: Beaulieu avoids arbitration with 2-year, $4.8M deal 
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Newly acquired Buffalo Sabres defenseman Nathan Beaulieu has agreed to a two-year, $4.8 million deal in foregoing the opportunity to have his contract determined at an arbitration hearing.

The Sabres announced the agreement on Monday, five days before both sides were scheduled to present their case before an NHL arbitrator. Beaulieu was a restricted free agent.

Buffalo gave up a third-round draft pick to acquire Beaulieu in a trade with Montreal on June 17 after the Canadiens were prepared to expose the player in the expansion draft.

The 24-year-old Beaulieu had a career-best four goals and 24 points in 74 games in his third full NHL season. Overall, he has seven goals and 53 assists in 225 career games.

Beaulieu is a puck-moving defenseman who is regarded to be a good fit under newly hired head coach Phil Housley.

Wild: With long-term deal, Niederreiter can finally relax
Nino Niederreiter has been bold enough with his hobbies to ride on the outside of an airplane . On the ice, he plays a fearless game with a thick frame that's tough to knock off the puck around the net.

The last few months, though, he found himself feeling a little anxious.

Niederreiter was a restricted free agent who filed for salary arbitration, and the long-term contract he expected with the Minnesota Wild, a deal they spoke openly of desiring to complete, had not yet come together. The arbitration hearing scheduled in Toronto was coming closer and closer.

"I wouldn't say I wasn't worried. Obviously the longer the summer went, the more you start thinking," Niederreiter said, adding: "All of a sudden you have to make plans for Toronto and all that stuff. Obviously you get a little nervous. You never want to go to Toronto and make a deal there."

He didn't have to. The Wild and Niederreiter agreed to terms on a five-year contract worth $26.25 million on Sunday night, keeping him under the team's control through the 2021-22 season. His average annual salary is $5.25 million, which is what the hit will be against the Wild's cap.

"He's grown into his role as one of the offensive leaders of this group, and his shot and net-front presence will continue to play a major role in our team's success," general manager Chuck Fletcher said in announcing the deal. "Nino has a great attitude and personality, and we know our fans will be as happy as we are" (see full story).