Flyers

Blue Jackets 4, Flyers 3: Flyers come back to earth

Blue Jackets 4, Flyers 3: Flyers come back to earth

BOX SCORE 

It was bound to happen. The Flyers were going to lose a game with Carter Hart in net.

The Flyers on Saturday afternoon were crippled by defensive breakdowns and tortured by Columbus' first line in a 4-3 loss to the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Pierre-Luc Dubois, Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson were responsible for Columbus' four goals and had a combined eight points Saturday. Dubois and Panarin each had three points.

The Flyers closed out their 2018 home portion of the 2018-19 season 7-8-2. They embark on a five-game road swing Sunday in Manhattan against the Rangers before the Christmas break.

• Hart made his third straight start and this was certainly the shakiest he's looked. Hart's biggest issue was controlling rebounds. On Columbus' second goal, Hart made a spectacular save on Atkinson but the Blue Jackets' winger buried the rebound.

There was nothing Hart could have done on that one, though. The defense wasn't there — Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim allowed three Blue Jackets behind them on that sequence.

But generally speaking, rebounds were an issue Saturday for Hart. Hart allowed four goals on 19 shots. His fourth goal was the first bad one he's allowed yet.

• Provorov's confidence with the puck remains a huge concern. On Columbus' first goal, Provorov circled back into his own zone to successfully create space but lost control of the puck as Atkinson entered to apply pressure. That led to a tic-tac-toe sequence, resulting in a Zach Werenski goal. Provorov has to play a more simple game.

• The overall story of this game can be summed up in two parts. One, the defensive breakdowns were inexcusable and left a young goalie in tough positions. And two, the Blue Jackets' first line had a field day with the Sean Couturier line as they were responsible for all four goals.

Couturier was on the ice for all four Columbus goals, which doesn't happen often. He wasn't completely to blame as the defense was leaky and Jakub Voracek was careless.

• The Flyers' power play came into Saturday dead last in the NHL at 12.1 percent, was 7 for 79 since Oct. 13 and was 0 for its last 13. That skid ended with 22.4 seconds left in the first period when Couturier's second-effort backhand beat Sergei Bobrovsky.

Couturier's goal came from some luck — it wasn't an especially strong shot. But it came off a faceoff win from Claude Giroux and it counts.

• Speaking of Giroux, this dude has consistently been elite this season, just as he was last year. Giroux's assist was his 20th point in his past 15 games, and he now has 28 points over his last 20 games. He now has 42 points in 34 games. I'd be shocked if Giroux doesn't end up as the Flyers' second all-time leading scorer. Heck, it's not completely out of the question he can pass Bobby Clarke's 1,210 points — he's 491 points away.

• If there is one player who has been drastically different in the short three-game sample size under interim head coach Scott Gordon, it's Nolan Patrick. The second-year center has looked more assertive and has taken better routes both with and without the puck. That continued Saturday, and his line with Laughton and Michael Raffl generated some solid offensive-zone play. The coaching change certainly appears to have resonated with Patrick.

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Flyers vs. Senators: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers vs. Senators: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

For just the fifth time in the last 23 games, the Flyers failed to pick up at least a point when they lost to the Coyotes, 3-1, Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Before a three-game road trip, the Flyers (16-8-5) will look to get back into the points business Saturday as they host the Senators (12-16-1).

Let's get into the essentials:

When: 1 p.m. ET with Flyers Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center
Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• For the most part, the Flyers were pleased with their game Thursday despite leaving the night empty-handed. Their points were valid, though.

The Flyers held the Coyotes to only 18 shots while putting up 29 themselves. On the season, the Flyers have recorded the NHL's 10th-most shots per game (32.8) and have allowed the fourth fewest (28.9). They own 10 wins when outshooting their opponent, tied for second most in the league.

What's most important is they're playing head coach Alain Vigneault's preferred style, which, more often than not, will result in points. It's a big reason why they're 14-5-4 since Oct. 21.

When you look at all the numbers after tonight, we’ll be double in possession, double in shots, double in everything. But we couldn't find a way to beat their goaltender. I like the way we worked, but execution-wise with the puck, we were a little off. A lot of people say they defended well, we had the puck all night. So that's what happened.

- Vigneault after loss to Coyotes

• Carter Hart is 7-2-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in his last 11 starts. The 21-year-old has allowed more than two goals in only two of those 11 outings.

• The Flyers have only two regulation losses at home (9-2-4) and haven't gone back-to-back games without a point since Oct. 27-29.

• The Senators are 1-5-0 in their last six games, a stretch in which they've scored 1.83 goals per game.

Projected lineup

Forwards

Claude Giroux-Morgan Frost-Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Scott Laughton-Kevin Hayes-Joel Farabee
James van Riemsdyk-Mikhail Vorobyev-Tyler Pitlick

Defensemen

Ivan Provorov-Matt Niskanen
Travis Sanheim-Justin Braun
Shayne Gostisbehere-Philippe Myers

Goalies

Carter Hart
Brian Elliott

 

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Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

Flyers brought back to earth by Coyotes, suffer a first since Oct. 19

BOX SCORE

Despite putting up 21 goals over their five-game winning streak, the Flyers had a propensity to score them in bunches when an opponent started derailing.

On Thursday night, the Flyers never got going and were pulled back to earth in a 3-1 loss to the Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was the biggest difference. The 6-foot-5 netminder who brought an NHL-best 1.97 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to Philly stopped 28 shots.

With 4:43 left, Matt Niskanen scored the Flyers' lone goal and it ricocheted off a Coyote. Arizona iced the game with an empty-netter (see highlights).

The Flyers (16-8-5) suffered just their second regulation loss at home (9-2-4). The last time they failed to pick up a point at home was Oct. 19 when they lost to the Stars, 4-1.

Thursday night's defeat halted the Flyers' winning streak at five games and their point streak at seven. The Flyers had earned at least a point in 18 of their previous 22 games.

The Coyotes (17-9-4), who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.31, improved to 10-3-3 on the road.

• The Flyers went on two power plays in the final six minutes of the second period but could not solve Kuemper.

During those two man advantage opportunities, the Flyers put five shots on Kuemper and also misfired three times.

James van Riemsdyk found Morgan Frost with a slick backhanded pass from behind the net but the 20-year-old missed wide.

• Speaking of Frost, he had a tough game. The rookie had a turnover and some difficulty making plays.

He has gone scoreless over his last seven games following his loud start in which he scored three points in his first two games.

Maybe head coach Alain Vigneault takes him off the first line to relieve some pressure.

"Young player, in my estimation, has got a lot of confidence in himself, which is real good," Vigneault said postgame. "Tonight, there were a couple of plays with the puck, like some of our other guys, that the execution might have been a little bit off. But I think overall, the young man is working hard and trying to get better."

Will he stay on the top line?

"I'm going to watch the game and make [changes], if I have some changes to make, [Friday]," Vigneault said. "I like what the young man can bring to the game."

• Vigneault opted to play seven defensemen instead of slotting call-up Mikhail Vorobyev in at fourth-line center.

It's not a bad approach when you have seven healthy blueliners playing well. It also could mean the Flyers aren't ready to trust Vorobyev on the fourth line again.

The Senators game on Saturday looks like a better matchup for Vorobyev, who is in his fifth stint with the club since the start of last season.

• Brian Elliott hadn't lost in regulation since Oct. 29. The Flyers' backup goalie finished with 15 saves.

He allowed a first-period power play goal to Phil Kessel after Claude Giroux was whistled for a ticky-tacky slashing penalty. He then yielded a backbreaking third-period goal to Conor Garland with 7:03 left in the game.

The goalie was not the problem, though.

Sean Couturier was not a problem, either.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game homestand Saturday when they welcome the Senators (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

Next week, the team opens a three-game road trip, which features matchups with the Avalanche on Wednesday (9:30 p.m. ET/NBCSN), the Wild on Saturday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and the Jets on Sunday (5 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

 

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