Flyers

Flyers 5, Maple Leafs 4: Living to see another day after shootout win

Flyers 5, Maple Leafs 4: Living to see another day after shootout win

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The Flyers are still alive. 

Hardly alive, but for now at least.

By virtue of tiebreakers, the Flyers would have been eliminated from playoff contention Wednesday night with a regulation loss.

They avoided such a scenario by picking up a 5-4 shootout win over the Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center. Sean Couturier was the only player to score in the skills competition, while Carter Hart stopped all five attempts he faced (kind of), along with converting 38 saves.

Still, after a 2-5-0 stretch, the Flyers (37-32-8) entered Wednesday with a 0.0 percent chance to make the playoffs by Hockey-Reference.com and SportsClubStats.com.

If the Canadiens beat the Blue Jackets Thursday night, the Flyers will be knocked out for good with five games remaining.

With the victory, the Flyers avoided a season sweep to the Maple Leafs (45-25-7), improving to 1-7-2 this season against contenders Toronto, Washington and Tampa Bay.

• It was nice to see the Flyers exhibit some fight in the second period. Nobody wants to be booted out of the playoff race in front of the home fans. The Flyers erased a 2-0 deficit in the middle stanza with goals from Travis Konecny, Radko Gudas and Couturier.

The goal by Couturier gave him a new career high of 32. He does so much and has been the team's most valuable player — and he's only 26.

• How about Auston Matthews? This play was unreal and tied the game early in the third period.

Things went back and forth afterward, with Ryan Hartman regaining the lead for the Flyers before William Nylander tied it back up 2:33 later.

• A few notes about the Travis boys.

For Travis Sanheim, he finished with two assists after going scoreless in his last eight games.

For Konecny, he scored his first goal in the last nine games. The biggest area in which the 22-year-old can improve next season is consistency.

• Samuel Morin, who had been recovering from a torn ACL suffered in May 2018, made his season debut and played in his first NHL game since Nov. 24, 2017.

With Morin entering the lineup, the Flyers rolled with seven defensemen and 11 forwards. Morin, a 2013 first-round pick, finished with 8:09 ice time, three hits and three blocked shots. He'll see more audition time over the final five games.

Shayne Gostisbehere played only 12:59 and was a minus-2.

• Nolan Patrick made an excellent play to intercept a pass in front during the second period of a 2-2 game, preventing a possible goal. Patrick's defensive responsibilities are always there if the offense isn't, which is important for the 20-year-old. Not long after, the Flyers went ahead on Couturier's goal.

• The Maple Leafs showed off their speed and skill in the opening period to hand the Flyers a 2-0 deficit.

The first goal was a product of great offense. Tyler Ennis made a superb reverse pass behind the net to Connor Brown, catching Gostisbehere and Hartman off-guard in coverage.

The second goal, Toronto was hungrier for the puck as the Flyers failed to break out and the Maple Leafs pounced with Nazem Kadri scoring.

• Phillies outfielder Odubel Herrera was in the house. The Phillies' anticipated 2019 opener is Thursday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

• The Flyers play three of their final five games on the road, starting Saturday in Carolina against the Hurricanes (1:30 p.m./NBCSP).

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German Rubtsov continues roster push, Carter Hart sharp, more from Flyers' OT preseason loss

German Rubtsov continues roster push, Carter Hart sharp, more from Flyers' OT preseason loss

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The Flyers couldn't get one back against the Islanders.

Alain Vigneault's team dropped consecutive preseason games to New York after losing, 3-2, in overtime Tuesday night at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Flyers never trailed until the Islanders' OT winner.

They have five exhibition games remaining. Big names like Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Travis Konecny, Ivan Provorov and Matt Niskanen have yet to dress for the Flyers.

Let's get into some observations:

• German Rubtsov came into the action as one of the most notable roster hopefuls on Tuesday night's game roster. He has played a lot. He competed in rookie camp, scored two goals in the prospects game, performed well in Monday night's preseason opener and was back in the lineup Tuesday.

The Flyers are challenging him.

"That's one of the reasons he's playing tonight," Vigneault said after morning skate. "There are some decisions to be made and some of the things we're going to do is put some players in a tougher spot to see how they react to it."

Rubtsov once again did some positive things. During the second period, he stripped the puck in a battle along the boards and rung the post, nearly giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead. However, he lost 10 faceoffs.

But he really showed himself when he raced out of the chute with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley last season before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury. He's healthy, strong and is looking more and more like an NHL center.

• Michael Raffl opened the game's scoring with a first period goal on a deflection. He and Scott Laughton were the only forwards in the lineup that played regularly for the Flyers last season.

Raffl will be a quietly reliable guy for the Flyers in 2019-20. Expect to see him on the fourth line and the penalty kill. The 30-year-old played a career-low 11:25 per game in 2018-19 and his minutes should be in that ballpark this season. Those lesser minutes are important, though, when they come on the PK and against the opposition's better lines to give the Flyers' top-six guys a blow.

• Carter Hart made his preseason debut and stopped all 14 shots he faced in 30 minutes.

He has been sharp in camp and the anticipation is there for his first full NHL season.

"For me, I'm here and I'm ready to play," Hart said last weekend. "I put in a lot of work this summer, on and off the ice. I added some muscle, added some durability and I feel really healthy in net, really strong."

Jean-Francois Berube allowed three goals in relief, including the OT winner, when he couldn't locate the puck after making the initial save.

• After a recent camp practice, Maksim Sushko spent a lot of time deflecting pucks at the net. He did about four or five rounds of redirecting shots.

The practice paid off as Sushko screened the goalie on a Chris Bigras goal in the third period. Sushko may have gotten a piece of it. Those role forwards understand that scoring chances will come from effort in limited minutes. Sushko is a 2017 fourth-round pick with speed and entering his first season with the Phantoms.

• Kurtis Gabriel got involved in the action. Flyers fans may recall the name. He's a big guy that likes to be physical and the former Devil is trying to get in the conversation for the Flyers' bottom six. Emotions boiled over between Gabriel and Ross Johnston during the second. In the third, captain Anders Lee laid a big hit on Gabriel, who was banged up and forced to leave momentarily.

Gabriel returned to the game for a short stint, but if anything lingers, it will obviously impact his roster chances with five exhibition games left.

• Bigras was signed on July 1 to a two-way deal. The 2012 second-round pick has 46 NHL games under his belt and enjoyed a career year in the AHL last season, scoring 22 points in 52 games. He had a nice game Tuesday night with two points and a plus-1 rating. The 24-year-old will be good for Lehigh Valley.

Nate Prosser, another defenseman, had an assist but was beat on the Islanders' second goal and was slow to react on New York's first goal. He played under general manager Chuck Fletcher from 2009 to 2018.

• Roster hopeful Andy Andreoff, who has shown a blend of toughness and skill in camp, was not very noticeable during his 15 minutes.

• The Flyers are off from practice Wednesday before welcoming the Bruins Thursday for the their third preseason game (7 p.m./NBCSP).

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Flyers at Islanders preseason: Storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Islanders preseason: Storylines, game time and more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers and Islanders are back at it Tuesday night.

Alain Vigneault's team travels to New York for its second exhibition game.

Let's get into the essentials:

• When: 7 p.m. ET
• Where: Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
• Broadcast: NBC Sports Philadelphia+

• A roster hopeful to keep an eye on will be German Rubtsov. He scored two goals in the rookie game, played well Monday night and he's right back out there Tuesday night. It appears like the Flyers could test his endurance and consistency with plenty of looks during the exhibition slate after an injury-shortened 2018-19 season.

"That's one of the reasons he's playing tonight," Vigneault said. "There are some decisions to be made and some of things we're going to do is put some players in a tougher spot to see how they react to it."

Rubtsov does a lot of things that profile well for a bottom-six role.

"I liked his game," Vigneault said. "I thought we put him in penalty killing situations, I thought with his linemates he was good and I liked his pace.

"When I watched him in the rookie game, you could see the skill. … He has to continue to improve. There seems to be a lot of upside there."

• Connor Bunnaman has had an underrated camp. The 2016 fourth-round pick scored 19 goals in his first year of pro last season with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. He has good size and some sneaky speed.

The 21-year-old did not play in the rookie game or the Flyers' preseason opener, so this will be our first look at him in game action.

• Many players did not partake in morning skate, so the Flyers' projected lineup is to be announced. Below is the game roster:

Forwards

Andy Andreoff
Michael Raffl
Scott Laughton
Mikhail Vorobyev
Kurtis Gabriel
Chris Stewart
German Rubtsov
Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Maksim Sushko
David Kase
Matthew Strome
Carsen Twarynski
Connor Bunnaman

Defense

Travis Sanheim
Robert Hagg
Chris Bigras
Tyler Wotherspoon
Nate Prosser
T.J. Brennan
Mark Friedman

Goalies

Carter Hart
Jean-Francois Berube

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