Flyers

Flyers sign goalie prospect Kirill Ustimenko to entry-level contract

Flyers sign goalie prospect Kirill Ustimenko to entry-level contract

You can never have enough goalies.

The Flyers learned that the hard way in 2018-19, when they played an NHL-record eight netminders during the season.

In good news, the Flyers will be adding another young goalie to the picture in 2019-20 as they signed Kirill Ustimenko to his entry-level contract Wednesday.

The 20-year-old was selected by the Flyers in the third round of the 2017 draft. Last season, for MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg in the MHL (Russian junior hockey), Ustimenko went 30-12-3 with a 1.78 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and a league-record 12 shutouts. In his MHL career, he finished 83-28-12 with a 1.79 goals-against average and .930 save percentage over three seasons.

The 6-foot-3, 187-pounder will start the season with either AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley or ECHL affiliate Reading. Fellow goalie prospects Alex Lyon and Felix Sandstrom are expected to be with the Phantoms. Lyon, 26, has played three seasons in Lehigh Valley and 11 games with the Flyers, while Sandstrom, 22, will be over from Sweden. He was a third-round pick in 2015.

Carter Hart, who turns 21 in August, proved during the 2018-19 season that he's the Flyers' No. 1 goalie of the future, while the team makes offseason decisions on his backup.

"We'll talk about Lehigh Valley and players we want to bring back," Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said about the goalie situation on April 8. "We'll have our final pro meetings in early June, so from the time the organizational meetings are over to June, have the guys really go through everybody, try to look for solutions and really narrow it down in June."

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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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