Sidney Crosby

Flyers take another gut punch in OT, drop to Penguins for 8th straight loss

Flyers take another gut punch in OT, drop to Penguins for 8th straight loss

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PITTSBURGH — Any Flyers lead right now has the stability of an awkward-leaning Jenga tower, and all it takes is the slightest miscalculation for the whole structure to come crumbling down.

Monday night’s game at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh was another epic collapse, as the Penguins rallied to beat the Flyers, 5-4, in overtime (see observations). First, the Pens wiped out the Flyers' 3-1 lead in the opening 1:46 of the third period, then erased the Flyers' 4-3 advantage with 1:04 remaining in regulation.

And who other than Sidney Crosby to punctuate the Flyers' misery? He scored the game-winner in the extra session (see highlights).

It's the fourth time in the last six games the Flyers have blown a two-goal lead at some point of a contest, while extending their losing streak to eight straight games, five of those coming after regulation.

“We’ve got to finish one of these,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “There’s not much more to be said other than that. We’ve got to finish one of these. We’re in position, night after night, and we were in position again tonight.”

“I think they just came at us,” goaltender Brian Elliott said. “They had a good push and it took all of two minutes to tie it up. We talked about it — try to keep our game going and be aggressive. They come out and get a power play and it puts an end to that.”

Confidence is frail right now and it won’t be restored until the Flyers earn that much-needed victory. However, it’s the same recurring problems that continue to plague this team. The Flyers' penalty kill gave up a goal for the sixth straight game, which now brings the total to 10 power-play goals allowed over that six-game span.

Combine that with a team that appears to have taken on the personality of its coach, who doesn’t appear to show emotion in those moments of desperation.

“I understand from a player’s standpoint the frustration level that comes tonight right into this point in time,” Hakstol said. “Again, we have to have a short memory because we have to turn around and play again Tuesday night. Bottom line, you can overthink it and put any terminology you want on it, bottom line is we have to go out and play another good hockey game and push to complete a win.”

The Flyers believed this time would be different. Michael Raffl’s one-man effort late in the game looked to be enough to break the team’s bad luck. Raffl stripped defenseman Matt Hunwick and then outmuscled Phil Kessel before breaking in on goaltender Tristan Jarry, beating the rookie with a backhand shot. At that moment, the Flyers appeared to have weathered the Pittsburgh storm.

“It’s hard because we’re playing really good hockey games,” Travis Konecny, who scored his first goal in a month, said. “We’re giving ourselves a chance to win hockey games. Maybe we just let our guard down for a couple of minutes and teams are taking advantage of those couple of minutes that we’re sitting back.”

That’s when it all started in the opening minute of the third period.

With Andrew MacDonald in the box for tripping, Patric Hornqvist ignited the Penguins' comeback when he batted a puck out of the air and right in front of Elliott’s glove. The Flyers' goaltender appeared as if he was on the verge of snagging the puck before Hornqvist beat him to it. Hakstol elected to review the play for goaltender interference, but the officials determined Hornqvist was not in the crease.

“It’s so gray that I don’t understand what’s a call and what’s not a call, even when you see replays throughout the league,” Elliott said. “I don’t know what’s what. I put my hand out to try and catch that puck. [Hornqvist] is coming in and bumps my hand. They say he’s not in the crease, but I don’t know if that matters if you can’t make a play on the puck.”

Elliott faced a barrage of shots and the Flyers had to feel fortunate they were able to force the game past regulation as Conor Sheary rang a shot off the post with a second to play in the third period. 

This was the first time in 355 career starts that Elliott saw 50 shots in a game, as the Flyers were under siege throughout the final period. As a result, Elliott was forced to make a career-high 47 saves, while the Flyers were outshot, 52-32.

“You see it all year. They’re good at just getting to the net and showing for bodies and just getting ugly ones like that,” Elliott said. “That’s how they get a lot of their stuff — shooting off bodies and guys standing at the posts and having those little deflections.”

Perhaps the biggest sting from this game was watching Crosby celebrate his game-winner. With three more points, the Flyers' killer now has 87 in 60 career games against the orange and black.

Watching that has been a frustration over the past decade.

NHL Notes: Sidney Crosby hangs with rookies as Penguins prep for Cup defense

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NHL Notes: Sidney Crosby hangs with rookies as Penguins prep for Cup defense

CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Sidney Crosby likes his summers short. Really short. Short summers for Crosby means long playoff runs for the Pittsburgh Penguins, ones that usually end with parades through the city in mid-June, the Penguins captain holding the Stanley Cup aloft.

There is no other feeling like it. So the question isn't why would Crosby want to cut the celebration short, but why would he want to put off starting the process all over again?

So just 88 days after Pittsburgh closed out Nashville in six games to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as Stanley Cup champions, Crosby found himself out on the ice with assorted prospects, many of whom have little chance of making it to the NHL this season.

That didn't stop Crosby and his familiar No. 87 jersey serving as perhaps the most decorated "welcome wagon" in professional sports. For the better part of an hour the face of the game skated with the newcomers. Later in the afternoon the more established players went through a workout of their own, well aware of the message Crosby's appearance in the building earlier in the day sent (see full story).

Predators: Ellis out 4-6 months after knee surgery
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis will need a full six months to recover from offseason knee surgery, and general manager David Poile says they don't expect him back until possibly 2018.

Poile gave an update on injuries Thursday to Ellis and new center Nick Bonino after a rookies' practice. Both were hurt during the Stanley Cup Final that Nashville lost in six games to Pittsburgh , and Bonino was playing for the Penguins.

"The discussion with our doctors at this time, they would like to take it a little bit slower with his recovery," Poile said of Ellis.

The original timetable called for a recovery of four to six months. Poile said the Predators and doctors feel Ellis will need the full six months to recover.

"Ryan is not skating yet, probably will be skating in approximately another three weeks and the recovery will go from there," Poile said. "We don't expect him back until at the end of the year, maybe the New Year, maybe right around Christmas time" (see full story).

Jets: Coach Maurice, GM Cheveldayoff get extensions
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Winnipeg Jets co-owner Mark Chipman had no doubt general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff and coach Paul Maurice deserved the contract extensions that were announced Thursday.

The team has only made the playoffs once since relocating to Winnipeg in 2011 with Cheveldayoff as a rookie NHL GM. Maurice, who replaced Claude Noel in January 2014, was behind the bench for the first-round sweep at the hands of the Anaheim Ducks in 2015.

"I'm just very happy that we can give Kevin and Paul the opportunity to move this group forward," Chipman said. "They deserve that and I'm excited to watch it move on from here."

Chipman wouldn't reveal the length of the contracts, but described Maurice's as "medium" term and Cheveldayoff's as longer. Both were entering the final year of their contracts.

"(Cheveldayoff) is exactly what we thought we were hiring six years ago," Chipman said. "He has that rare combination of a high degree of competence and a very high degree of character" (see full story)

Capitals: Ovechkin sees his effect on Washington
SPRINGFIELD, Va. -- Even though Alex Ovechkin doesn't want to talk about the upcoming season just yet, he got a chance Thursday to survey evidence of his 12 seasons with the Washington Capitals.

Another pair of NHL-sized rinks is set to go up in the suburbs next year, a testament to the so-called Ovechkin effect on the growth of hockey in the area.

"I don't think it's an `Ovechkin effect,'" Ovechkin said. "But it is nice to be part of it. It's nice to be involved. And it's nice to see how fast it grows. It's just an unbelievable feeling when you see the place gets crazy. It's amazing."

Ovechkin talked in front of a construction site for The St. James, a planned sports complex that will focus on hockey and other athletic opportunities for children. Hockey has taken hold significantly in the D.C. area since Ovechkin arrived as a precocious teenager in 2005 who barely spoke English.

"It was very interesting for me when I just came here from Russia to find a new world, a new place," Ovechkin said. "It was kind of hard decision for me and my family to come to D.C. because I was 19 years old. It was a different world for me. Different culture, different people, different atmosphere. But as soon as I get in here I start to feel like everybody love me, everybody can't wait to see me on the ice" (see full story).

Even Sidney Crosby's little sister pokes fun at him

Even Sidney Crosby's little sister pokes fun at him

Sibling rivalries never fade — at least not in the Crosby family, that is.

Yes, Sidney Crosby is not the only kid in his family to play hockey. His younger sister, Taylor, is a junior at St. Cloud State and was one of two reserve goalies for the Huskies last season.

You'd think that she would want to brag about her brother, especially since he's a two-time NHL MVP, winner of three Stanley Cups, a two-time Conn Smythe Trophy winner and a guy with six NHL All-Star appearances to boot.

Nope.

Pretty solid burn.

Maybe "Older brother" will catch on as a chant the next time the Penguins come to the Wells Fargo Center.