Flyers

Flyers cap off crucial weekend with win over Washington

Flyers cap off crucial weekend with win over Washington

BOX SCORE

A three-goal second period highlighted by Oskar Lindblom's first career NHL goal propelled the Flyers past the Capitals, 6-3, Sunday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

Lindblom's first career goal came one night after picking up his first NHL point, an assist in Carolina.

The Flyers have regained their scoring touch with 13 goals over their last three games after managing just 11 in the five previous games.

Claude Giroux picked up an assist, tying him with Eric Lindros for fifth place on the franchise’s all-time scoring list.

Petr Mrazek stopped 25 shots, winning his fifth game since joining the Flyers. If the Flyers reach the postseason, then the conditional pick to Detroit would become a third-round selection.

In a potential first-round playoff preview, the Flyers won their season series against the Capitals, improving to 3-1-0.

• The Flyers struck first after winning a key offensive-zone faceoff. Giroux pushed the puck behind him to Shayne Gostisbehere, who ripped a perfectly placed slapper about two feet off the ice, forcing Philipp Grubauer to change the angle of his glove.

• Alex Ovechkin can sneak up on you at a moment’s notice and he doesn’t always need to uncork that 100-mph slap shot as evidenced by his 43rd goal of the season. Ovechkin snuck behind the Flyers' defense and redirected a puck past Mrazek. It was just his second goal in his last eight games against the Flyers, and he was unnoticeable until that moment.

• The Flyers quickly responded just 3 minutes, 11 seconds after Ovechkin's goal. In his 14th game, Lindblom ripped a shot high blocker side from the right circle. Credit Lindblom for applying a good forecheck that led to Michal Kempny’s errant pass that led to a 2-1 Flyers lead.

“The kid is getting some confidence right now and you can really tell,” Gostisbehere said. “He’s really going and Jake’s (Voracek) been really building him up there.”

• Interesting to see rookie Robert Hagg paired with Radko Gudas in his first game back from injury. I expected Hagg to be back with Andrew MacDonald, who he’s been with for much of the season. For the most part, Hagg looked good with Gudas, although he pinched and no forward picked him up on the back side leading to another Capitals odd-man rush. 

• Sean Couturier can’t buy a goal right now. He’s been stuck on 29 goals for over a month and he had a pair of prime chances in the same sequence Sunday. His first attempt came on a backhand pass from MacDonald that he tried to slide under Grubauer’s five hole. However, over the past three games he’s been contributing offensively with an assist in all three games. I feel it’s only a matter of time before Couturier gets No. 30.   

• The Flyers' three-goal second period was one of the best all around 20 minutes in a while. Constant pressure offensively with a flurry of prime scoring chances. They were also able to eliminate some of the defensive breakdowns from the first period as Mrazek didn’t have to produce any top-notch saves.

• Coming off a disappointing game in Carolina, Gostisbehere was bumped off the puck at the Caps' blue line and as he stumbled to the ice, it led to a 3-on-2 and a nice sprawling save from Mrazek to keep the game scoreless. If you’ve watched him closely, Ghost’s performance has dipped a little over the past several games.

Flyers at Capitals: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Flyers at Capitals: Live stream, storylines, game time and more

Can the Flyers avoid their first sweep to the Capitals since the 2006-07 season?

The Philadelphia Flyers (36-31-8, 80 points) will face the Washington Capitals (43-24-8, 94 points) for the fourth and final time this season. 

The Flyers enter Sunday seven points out of the wild card chase behind the Montreal Canadiens with seven games remaining in the regular season for both teams.

Other games vital to the Flyers’ playoff chances:

• Montreal at Carolina, 7 p.m.
• Columbus at Vancouver, 10 p.m.

Let's take a look at today's essentials:

When: 12:30 p.m. EST
Where: Capital One Center
Broadcast: NBC
Live stream: NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports MyTeams app

• After Saturday’s 4-2 loss to the Islanders, head coach Scott Gordon now has the same number of regulation losses (15) and overtime losses (4) as Dave Hakstol had this season. However, Gordon has amassed twice as many wins (24 to Hakstol’s 12).

Gordon mentioned that an element of fatigue has set in with a bug spreading its way throughout the locker room, coupled with the Flyers’ high level of play since mid-January.

“I think that we just need to dig down and we all have more, we all have better, and including myself. I think we just all need to dig down deeper.” - Flyers goaltender Carter Hart.

• Over their past five games the Flyers have allowed an average of 42 shots per game. It’s their most allowed over a five-game stretch this season.

• Claude Giroux comes into Sunday’s game with a five-game point streak after adding an assist in a 4-2 loss to the Islanders Saturday.

With that point, Giroux topped 60 assists for the third time and hit the 80-point mark for the fourth time in his 12-year career.

Since 2011-12, only Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby has more 80-point seasons (6) than Giroux, who’s tied with Toronto’s John Tavares.

• With his goal on Saturday, defenseman Robert Hägg extended his career-best season with five goals and 19 points, more than double his rookie season total of eight points.

• Over the Flyers last eight games the penalty kill has successfully killed off 22 of 23 power play opportunities. Against the Islanders, it was exceptionally good, successfully killing all five chances including 2:35 of a 5-on-3 advantage.

• For winning the 2018 Stanley Cup Championship, the Washington Capitals will visit the White House Monday. Goaltender Braden Holtby and forward Brett Connolly have declined the invitation and will not join their teammates.

Projected lineup

Forwards
Oskar Lindblom - Sean Couturier - Claude Giroux
James van Riemsdyk - Nolan Patrick - Jake Voracek
Ryan Hartman - Scott Laughton - Travis Konecny
Michael Raffl - Corban Knight - Justin Bailey

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov - Travis Sanheim
Shayne Gostisbehere - Philippe Myers
Robert Hägg- Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Carter Hart

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No Johnny Boychuk drama, but Jakub Voracek, Flyers honest about their reality

No Johnny Boychuk drama, but Jakub Voracek, Flyers honest about their reality

The Flyers aren't fooling themselves.

There's a sense of reality setting in with the Flyers that they're running out of lives and postgame lines. They've lost four of their last six games after making a furious run from Jan. 14 to March 11, going 18-4-2 with a plus-22 goal differential.

To sustain such a pace over the final 13 games of the regular season would have been awfully difficult and the Flyers are noticing it, with another nail being hammered into the coffin Saturday afternoon courtesy of a 4-2 loss to the Islanders (see observations).

Inconsistency has reared its ugly over this 2-4-0 stretch, which has the Flyers seven points out of the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot with seven games to go (see standings). In particular Saturday, the inconsistency bit the Flyers during the second period. They were outshot 15-5 and the Islanders pinned the Flyers in the defensive zone while taking a 2-1 lead.

Too often have the Flyers been burned by a poor period of play. Saturday was no different despite the Flyers tying the game early in the final stanza.

"Especially today, we were god-awful, oh my God in the second," Jakub Voracek said of the middle period. "I don't think we had a shot in the first 10 minutes. When they get zone time, they do a great job cycling us and keep the puck away from their net. I don't think we were moving well enough in the second period to give ourselves a chance to create something."

The Flyers have tried wiping the slate and turning the page after each difficult loss, but players are human and realistic, as well. Saturday marked the Flyers' third straight loss at the Wells Fargo Center, which this team simply could not afford.

"It sucks, that's the feeling right now, they played better than we did the whole game," Robert Hagg said. "We didn't deserve to win today, so, right now, yes, I have a terrible feeling."

The Islanders stayed away from the drama and decided to instead get the best of the Flyers on the scoreboard. Johnny Boychuk and New York didn't seek retaliation for Voracek's interference two weeks ago, a play that didn't really warrant retaliation anyway.

But when Boychuk angrily called out Voracek after the collision during the third period of the March 9 game, an attempt at payback was possible Saturday.

"There was no talking about the Voracek thing," Islanders head coach Barry Trotz said. "Those two will figure it out down the road, but Johnny is one of those ultimate team guys. He knows how important what we're trying to do is, he knows how important this game was. There was no 'me' in his thought process, it was all about 'we.'"

Boychuk was back in the lineup for the first time since the incident with Voracek. He had been mostly a healthy scratch, so it seemed like a not-so-coincidental return.

"I expected something was going to happen," Voracek. "It didn't. I'm not going to say I was unhappy about that. He played a great game.

"We just blew it."

No sugarcoating it, not with where the Flyers are now.

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