Flyers

Devils' Kurtis Gabriel receives 1-game suspension from NHL for boarding Nolan Patrick

Devils' Kurtis Gabriel receives 1-game suspension from NHL for boarding Nolan Patrick

Kurtis Gabriel's reckless hit on Nolan Patrick didn't fly with the Flyers.

And it didn't fly with the NHL, either.

The NHL's Department of Player Safety handed the Devils' forward a one-game suspension on Saturday for boarding Patrick during the first period of the Flyers' 6-3 win Friday at the Prudential Center.

Frankly, the play was dirty and dangerous.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Flyers analyst Chris Therien called it the "dumbest hit" he's seen all year.

On the broadcast, color analyst Bill Clement let out a "what is that?"

Since the 25-year-old Gabriel has played only 30 games in his NHL career and has no history of fines or suspensions, he was given just one game. If not for that, the punishment could have been much worse.

Here was the review from the NHL's Department of Player Safety:

It is important to note that while Patrick does turn to face the boards to compete for the puck, this is not a case of a player turning immediately prior to contact in a way that turns a legal hit into an illegal one. 

Although Patrick does shift slightly as Gabriel approaches, he is in a defenseless position before Gabriel initiates the check and was not in a position to recognize that Gabriel was approaching for contact and brace himself appropriately.

Having entered the zone from across the ice, Gabriel has plenty of time and space to make a better decision. The onus is on Gabriel to deliver this hit in a legal fashion, minimize the force of the contact or avoid this hit entirely, which he fails to do.

Tension only boiled from there as Travis Konecny came to Patrick's defense throughout the game and was seen shouting at Damon Severson and Sami Vatanen in the penalty box during the third period after the Devils' two defensemen tried scuffling with the Flyers' forwards.

"It was just a matter of trying to protect ourselves," Konecny said after the game (see story). "Patty is one of my good buddies and I'm going to stick up for him any time someone is messing with him. That's what it is. Everyone's just sticking together and we're a close team. It's not going to fly with us."

It's probably good that the Flyers and Devils don't meet again this season.

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Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

Subpar start leads to Flyers loss vs. Lightning but doesn't hurt spot in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers didn't bring their A-game to a game they needed it.

There would be no giant killing Saturday as the Flyers lost to the Lightning, 5-3, at Amalie Arena.

Goals from Ivan Provorov, James van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux weren't enough for the Flyers (32-20-7), who are 6-3-2 against the Bruins, Lightning, Capitals, Penguins and Blues, the league's top five clubs.

Tampa Bay is the only one the Flyers haven't beaten. They'll get a final crack at the Lightning on March 12 in the same building.

The Lightning (39-15-5) have won 10 straight games.

• This really wasn't a bad loss for the Flyers.

They were at the end of a road trip and playing the NHL's hottest team. Tampa Bay is 22-2-1 over its last 25 games and hasn't lost at home since Dec. 19.

The Flyers entered Saturday with a 66.9 percent chance to make the playoffs, according to Hockey-Reference.com, and still hold an Eastern Conference wild-card spot (see standings).

Alain Vigneault's team just needs to recharge and be ready for a big home-and-home set against the Blue Jackets next week.

• Things got chippy in the second period. Travis Konecny was right in the middle of it all.

Steven Stamkos appeared to trip Giroux before a faceoff. Giroux didn't even look to be that mad about it.

During the final 6:09 of the middle frame, 22 penalty minutes were accrued.

• Brayden Point (10-game point streak) is good at hockey.

• Carter Hart, who was coming off his first road victory since Nov. 10, allowed four goals on 23 shots.

The 21-year-old wasn't the problem.

The first goal was a fluky one by Alex Killorn. On the second, Provorov was sloppy with the puck in the defensive zone and Tampa Bay capitalized to take a 2-0 lead into first intermission.

In the middle stanza, the Lightning beat Hart on a 3-on-2 to grab a commanding 3-0 advantage. Tampa Bay improved to 33-4-3 when it scores three or more goals.

Not only are the Lightning really good, but the Flyers also didn't play their typical forechecking, possession-based game until it was too late.

• Outside of the van Riemsdyk's third-period goal, Lightning netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy was strong with 30 saves, 15 of which came in the final stanza. 

Vasilevskiy improved to 18-0-1 with a 1.83 goals-against average and .940 save percentage over his last 19 starts.

• Provorov was far from his best against Tampa Bay but he did score the Flyers' first goal to trim the Lightning's lead to 3-1 in the second period. He also had an assist.

The 23-year-old has grown into a power play quarterback this season. He leads all NHL defensemen with seven man advantage goals after scoring only two over his first three NHL seasons.

• Travis Sanheim played 19:43 minutes Saturday after missing almost the entire third period of Thursday's 6-2 win over the Panthers because of a lower-body issue.

• The Flyers are off Sunday, practice at 11:30 a.m. Monday in Voorhees, New Jersey and host the Blue Jackets Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Flyers, Lightning have 4 p.m. start on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Saturday's game should be a good one.

The Flyers and Lightning are two of the hottest teams in the NHL. Since Jan. 8, the Flyers have the league's most goals (52) and only one team has more points (21) — the Lightning (27).

Tampa Bay is also on a nine-game winning streak and 21-2-1 over its last 24 games.

The big showdown comes a little earlier than usual. Puck drop will be shortly after 4 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Philadelphia, with Flyers Pregame Live set for 3:30 p.m. ET.

The matchup finishes off a three-game road trip for the Flyers, who then play four of their next five games at the Wells Fargo Center.

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