Ralph Long

Guess what … the Flyers got a point and they're lucky to have one

Guess what … the Flyers got a point and they're lucky to have one

BOX SCORE

TAMPA, Fla. — The Flyers put up six goals on 43 shots and had two two-goal leads, including a 5-3 lead in the third period, Saturday afternoon.

But all they could manage was one point in a wild 7-6 loss to the Lightning at Amalie Arena (see observations)

For the time being, that point will put the Flyers in a tie with the Washington Capitals for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Lightning scored three consecutive goals in the third to take a 6-5 lead, but Claude Giroux had the equalizer with 2 minutes and 53 seconds remaining in regulation that sent the game to overtime and guaranteed the point.

"It's tough to be satisfied when you lose," Giroux said. "But they played a good game on the other side. Their goalie is pretty good, if he's not the best in the league, he's one of them. He made a lot of key saves.

"It's definitely frustrating not to get the win, but we have to move on."

Giroux had a goal and an assist in a whopping 25:57 of ice time as plenty of Flyers got on the score sheet. Ivan Provorov (goal, two assists), Nolan Patrick (goal, assist), Jakub Voracek (goal, assist), Robert Hagg (goal), Jori Lehtera (goal) and Valtteri Filppula (two assists) joined in on the scoring frenzy.

"We know we didn't play well a couple of nights ago," coach Dave Hakstol said. "It's not just about losses, it's about the overall performance. That wasn't us the other night and we knew we had to raise our level from where it was the other night. I thought our guys did that."

In the shootout, Sean Couturier and Patrick came up empty while Brayden Point and Steven Stamkos scored for the Lightning to end the game.

The Flyers jumped on the Lightning early with three goals in the first period, as Patrick continued to raise his game at the right time, scoring on a power play and forcing a turnover to set up Voracek's goal.

After the Lightning tied it 3-3 in the second period, Lehtera scored on a turnaround shot from the left circle and Provorov added a goal on the Flyers' first shot in the third to take another two-goal lead.

In overtime, the Flyers had a 4-on-3 power play when Nikita Kucherov was called for hooking but Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy came up with some big saves, including a robbery on Shayne Gostisbehere.

"I had an empty net there and he made an unbelievable save," Gostisbehere said. "That's why they are where they are. They have some great goaltending and great players. Obviously, we wanted the two points but not bad to get one."

Goalie Petr Mrazek fell to 1-8-2 against the Lightning, but he’s 3-1-1 since being traded to the Flyers. Hakstol said he hasn’t made a decision on whether Mrazek or Alex Lyon will start Sunday against the Florida Panthers.

Phillies working hard with Andrew Knapp at first base

Phillies working hard with Andrew Knapp at first base

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Every day is a new learning experience for Andrew Knapp as a first baseman.

Knapp, who is trying to make the Phillies as a backup catcher and first baseman, has had his moments, both good and bad, in the field this spring.

He made a start at first base last Thursday with mixed results. He failed to come down with a pop-up foul ball in a swirling wind and later in the game didn't close his glove on a throw from Freddy Galvis after the shortstop made a dynamic play to get a ball deep in the hole.

However, he was back at catcher last Saturday and threw out Kevin Pillar by a couple of steps when the Blue Jays outfielder tried to steal second base.

It's all part of the learning process.

"I think first base is definitely a work in progress," Knapp said recently. "I think I needed more experience over there and just continue to work and take ground balls before the game.

"I feel really good behind the plate. My catching feels good."

Knapp is spending extra time with bench coach Larry Bowa at first base. And with each day, he said he's finding more familiarity with what he needs to do there.

"I think I'm pretty confident in the positioning," Knapp said. "It's just the in-game stuff, like where there's a runner on base and how far I am getting off the bag. Proper double-play depth, stuff like that. And getting reads off the bat. I mean, taking ground balls is fine, but nothing can simulate a live at-bat."

Manager Pete Mackanin believes that in time Knapp could be a reliable option at first.

"He's athletic, he needs work and we're going to continue to work on his play over there," Mackanin said. "He's going to continue to get the work and get better. Larry Bowa won't allow [mistakes]."

Another reason the Phillies want the Knapp experiment to work is because of his history as a solid hitter. Knapp hit .360 with 11 home runs and 56 RBIs in 2015 with Double-A Reading and posted a slash line of .266/.330/.390 in Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season.

With Knapp focusing so much time on his defensive development, the numbers at the plate this spring haven't been what he's used to. He struck out in his only at-bat Monday against the Orioles and is batting .056 (1 for 18). 

However, he's been happy with the contact he's made at the plate and believes his offense will come around.

"I'm hitting the ball real hard, but just hitting it right at people," Knapp said. "But they know what I can do offensively, it's just getting the reps over at first."

Although first base isn't a new position to Knapp (he played there some at the University of California), it's still raw to the longtime catcher. However, he's beginning to figure out how to mend the positions and use his knowledge as a catcher to speed up his development as a first baseman.

"When you are catching, you can get a feel for the game and what guys are trying to do, so I think I can take that experience to first," Knapp said. "When holding a runner on at first base, a lot of guys are trying hitting in that four hole, so I am ready for that. Each and every day I'm starting to figure it out more and feel more comfortable."

Orioles 6, Phillies 4: Nick Williams wows with glove, bat

Orioles 6, Phillies 4: Nick Williams wows with glove, bat

BOX SCORE

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Outfielder Nick Williams has been playing in the spring like he's on a mission to make the big leagues, according to manager Pete Mackanin.

Williams took one step closer Monday as he showed he can generate runs with his bat and take them away with his glove.

Brock Stassi and Williams hit solo home runs but starter Jeremy Hellickson gave up five runs in the Phillies' 6-4 loss to the Orioles.

Williams' catch, however, was the story of the game as he robbed Logan Schafer of a sure home run in the bottom of the eighth inning. Williams made a full extension and reached his glove over the wall to bring the ball back in.

"That play was, 'Wow,'" Mackanin gushed.

Williams said it was an adrenaline rush as he tried to track the ball to the right field wall and it felt better than any walk-off home run he's ever hit.

"I took off with my head down expecting it to be a close play at the wall," Williams said. "I saw where the wall was and jumped. It was going over. I felt it in my glove, I saw myself catch it. I came down and I think I looked like, 'All right, I did it.' It felt like a wide receiver going for a jump ball."

It was a tough offseason for Williams after he failed to get called up following a rough finish to his season in Triple A. His slash line in Lehigh Valley of .258/.287/.427 was disappointing, as were the 136 strikeouts and only 20 walks.

He admits he may have tried too hard last season (see story) and this year he's more focused on being consistent and showing up to the park ready to play.

"Last year, I tried to make the majors so bad and it didn't work out for me," Williams said. "This year, I just wanted to polish up on everything -- offense, defense and just be a consistent player."

Williams is hitting .364 (8 for 22) in the spring with a double and a home run. He's struck out five times but also has managed a couple of walks.

"I think he was probably disappointed in himself last year, having a bad month the last month," Mackanin said. "He's really been playing with energy and a positive attitude, so showing he's put [last year] behind him."

Hellickson starts strong, fades
Hellickson struck out six of the first eight batters he faced but ran into some trouble in the third inning when he gave up a solo shot to Caleb Joseph.

In the fourth inning, the Orioles tagged him for four runs, including a three-run homer from Joey Rickard.

Hellickson gave up four hits and five runs in four innings. He also walked two and threw 76 pitches in the outing.

"He was fine, he was cruising a bit," Mackanin said. "He just hung a changeup for the first one and on the three-run home run, he tried to throw a sinker in to a right-hander and left it out over the plate.

"[He] changed speeds well, located well, just made two mistakes that hurt him, especially the one with a couple of men on."

Hellickson is ahead of schedule at this point with four starts under his belt and three weeks of spring remaining. He said he'll probably take at least one extra day off between starts and finish his spring with a three-inning stint.

Phillies option 5 more
Right-handers Drew Anderson, Alberto Tirado and Victor Arano, left-hander Elniery Garcia and outfielder Dylan Cozens were all optioned to minor-league camp. The Phillies have 53 players remaining in major-league camp.

Up next
Right-hander Jerad Eickhoff will look to improve on his 7.88 ERA this spring against the Braves on Tuesday. Atlanta will start Aaron Blair. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. on TCN.