Flyers

Flyers at a loss after more goalie interference drama mars 1st defeat of 2018-19

Flyers at a loss after more goalie interference drama mars 1st defeat of 2018-19

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Here we are two games into a new season and the crucial, subjective calls are already working against the Flyers.

Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog positioned himself firmly in Brian Elliott’s crease and redirected a pass from Nathan MacKinnon that the goalie never had a chance at stopping.

The pressing question surrounding the 3-2 go-ahead goal was whether Landeskog’s right leg prevented Elliott from making the save as his stick was hooked around Landeskog’s shin. Head coach Dave Hakstol seemed almost certain at the time that the goal would be reversed.

“I wouldn’t have called it unless I knew it was goalie interference,” Hakstol said after the Flyers' eventual 5-2 loss Saturday to the Avalanche (see observations). “I don’t know what is or what isn’t. I think we’ve probably said that before. Their player was in the crease and took away our goaltender’s stick and did not fight to get out. That’s what I saw and that’s why I called it. I believe that’s goalie interference.”

For a team that was victimized last season by the goaltender interference call, whether it was goals disallowed offensively or seemingly allowed to stand after challenging the play, the Flyers can’t seem to wrap their hands around the standard of what defines the goaltender interference rule. 

“That’s another one of the rules I don’t really understand right now,” Elliott said. “I was talking to the ref. He’s in my crease, he impedes my arm coming across and that was interference I thought in the rulebook.”

“There’s a pretty high standard for goaltender interference that the league wants to hold,” Hakstol said. “That wasn’t good enough I guess.” 

What’s apparently clear to Elliott and Hakstol after that play is that referees who may see an obvious goalie interference have been instructed to defer to the war room in Toronto. 

“They said they don’t call it anymore, so it’s Toronto calling it,” Elliott said. “I’ve got to work to find out the rules this year.” 

Even when the calls don’t go the Flyers' way, Saturday’s game in Colorado was a prime example of trying to find a way to overcome it. An early third-period Avalanche penalty allowed the Flyers' power play one more opportunity to come away with the game-tying goal. Spending an entire two minutes in the Avalanche zone with the extra attacker, the Flyers managed five shots on net and two more that were blocked. 

And no goal when they desperately needed one.

“I think we’re one little play away, one pass away from making something happen,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We got our chances. The goalie stood on his head and made some saves. We were really moving it. I think we could have gotten a little hungrier at the net.”  

One way to cure those power-play hunger pains would be to make life uncomfortable in the crease.

After all, who knows what the new standard is 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).

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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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.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Flyers