Flyers

Flyers 2, Penguins 1: Stunning the rival in final seconds of regulation, overtime

Flyers 2, Penguins 1: Stunning the rival in final seconds of regulation, overtime

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH — The Flyers love last-minute comebacks against the Penguins.

James van Riemsdyk scored with 18.8 seconds remaining in regulation that earned the Flyers a point before Sean Couturier won it in overtime, 2-1, Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

The Flyers took their regular-season series against the Pens, 3-1, while also pulling within six points of the second wild-card team, Columbus.

Here are my observations from PPG Paints Arena:

• JVR has 10 goals in his last 11 games, including the goal that may have saved the Flyers' slim playoff chances.

• After the disaster Friday in Toronto, I thought it was vitally important for the Flyers to establish a strong defensive presence and tighten up their play in the middle of the ice. They were able to do that, limiting the Penguins' chances in the first period while keeping shots to the outside.

• However, the second period was a Pittsburgh shooting gallery as it had the Flyers pinned into their zone. Nick Bjugstad raced by Travis Sanheim, who may played the longest shift (2:37) in his professional career as the Flyers' defenseman simply couldn’t get off the ice and was almost paralyzed out there.

Leave it to Carter Hart to come up with his best period since his personal eight-game winning streak. Pittsburgh had 31 shot attempts (18 on net) in that second period.

Hart finished with 41 saves, tying his career high.

• Teddy Blueger is no Evgeni Malkin, but with the Penguins' star center out with an injury, it was Blueger filling in as the Penguins' second-line center. Sometimes Malkin can go dormant at even strength, but you have to be completely aware of where he is on the power play.

Without Malkin, the Pens' power play didn’t have that lethal look to it. Coming into this game, Pittsburgh’s power play had scored five goals over the last three games.

• Of course, I wrote this earlier in the game and it’s Blueger who scored the game’s first goal. The Penguins' center had done absolutely nothing up to that point and was the recipient of a rebound that fell right to his stick.

Scott Laughton had Blueger pinned against the boards, lost him for just a split second and was victimized by the rebound goal. 

• Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon appeared to be conserving Claude Giroux in this game. The Flyers' captain was a game-time decision, feeling under the weather, and he played just 4:40 in the first period, but 7:29 in the second and a whopping 9:38 in the third.

• What a weird sequence of events to start the second period with the Flyers successfully challenging the initial call of goaltender interference. I thought the off-ice officials made the right determination in ruling it a good goal, and the on-ice officials also made the easy review in determining the play was offsides.

However, the on-ice officials actually erred twice. I’ve never seen two successful challenges on the same play. Very bizarre.

• Defensively, playing without their No. 1 defenseman Kris Letang, the Pens' blue line was a major difference in this game as it negated the Flyers' chances with excellent coverage and some very good breakout passes that didn’t allow the Flyers to set up their neutral-zone defense. 

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Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

Travis Konecny sets new career high as Flyers beat Blue Jackets to climb in NHL playoff race

BOX SCORE

The Flyers picked up a huge win in their playoff push with a 5-1 decision Tuesday night over the Blue Jackets at the Wells Fargo Center.

Kevin Hayes, Sean Couturier, Philippe Myers, Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek all scored goals for the Flyers (33-20-7), who notched their 20th home win of 2019-20. They won only 19 games in Philly last season.

More impressively, the Flyers improved to 7-0-2 against the Capitals, Hurricanes and Blue Jackets. In 2018-19, they were 0-10-2 against those divisional foes.

Major improvements.

The Flyers also rebounded from another defeat as they haven't dropped consecutive outings since Jan. 4-7. In games after their last seven losses, the Flyers are 7-0-0 and have outscored the opposition 36-16.

The Blue Jackets (30-19-12) have allowed 15 goals to the Flyers through three matchups.

• Big, big win for the Flyers.

They’ve now jumped the Blue Jackets and Islanders to take over third place in the Metropolitan Division, although New York has two games in hand on the Flyers.

One of the more noticeable aspects of this win was the contributions from players who were not here in 2018-19. Hayes got things started, Myers (played only 21 games last season) was strong, Joel Farabee added two assists and Nicolas Aube-Kubel was reliable yet again.

• Thanks to a goal and two assists, Konecny set a new career high in points as he now has 51.

There are 22 games left in the Flyers’ season and the 22-year-old forward has already delivered in the first year of his six-year, $33 million deal.

• An impressive franchise record for captain Claude Giroux.

• Carter Hart improved to 15-2-2 with a 1.62 goals-against average at home.

Columbus goalie Elvis Merzlikins, who came in leading the NHL with five shutouts, was pulled during the third period after allowing four goals on 12 shots.

• During the second period, everyone saw why there’s so much potential and excitement behind the Travis Sanheim-Myers defensive pairing.

Some serious size, skating and skill — and both are only 23 years old.

• The Flyers’ 200-foot forces set the tone.

During the first period, Hayes and Couturier jumped on the Blue Jackets, who were allowing the NHL's second-fewest goals per game at 2.45.

From a crazy angle, Hayes scored his 18th goal of the season. The 27-year-old center has a great chance to break his career high of 25 goals set in 2017-18.

Couturier might finish the season as the Flyers’ leading scorer. He has 48 points and a plus-27 rating over his last 50 games.

• The Flyers fly to Columbus Wednesday afternoon ahead of another matchup with the Blue Jackets Thursday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

The Flyers then play three straight games at home against teams not in playoff position — Jets on Saturday (1 p.m. ET/NBCSP), Sharks next Tuesday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Rangers next Friday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

NHL trade rumors: Jeff Carter, Flyers buzz is picking back up

The Jeff Carter-Flyers buzz is back.

It started humming in January when Carter and the Kings visited the Flyers. It picked back up Tuesday with the latest 31 Thoughts article from Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman, always a must-read.

Per Friedman:

It might come down to Nolan Patrick’s health, but I think Philadelphia is considering Jeff Carter.

That would not be terribly surprising, as we noted in January. The Kings are at the bottom of the Western Conference and selling with Monday's NHL trade deadline on the horizon. As they retool, being open to moving an older player like Carter would make sense. The 35-year-old has a cap hit of $5,272,727, according to CapFriendly.com, and is under contract for 2020-21 and 2021-22.

That is most significant as it relates to the possibility of the Flyers adding Carter for their playoff push. The Flyers have just over $2 million in cap space. Even with Los Angeles retaining 50 percent of Carter's cap hit, the Flyers would have to do some juggling. And then the fact that Carter has two more years left on his deal might make things less appealing for the Flyers.

However, there are reasons why the Flyers are probably peeking in at Carter's availability. The center is a two-time Stanley Cup champion, four-time 30-plus goal-scorer and understands the pressure of playing in Philly. Returning to the city during a playoff race would only rejuvenate Carter, who could help the Flyers' depth down the middle and be a positive influence on the team's younger bottom-six forwards. Not to mention the former Flyer has 17 goals this season and is projected to finish with 24.

The Flyers could interest the Kings with a prospect and/or a draft pick. But what would they be willing to give up from a prospect pool that will build the future? And how do they make it work for the roster moving forward?

Those are big questions for a 35-year-old center with a big contract.

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