Flyers

Flyers 2, Stars 1: Eight-game losing streak finally ends

Flyers 2, Stars 1: Eight-game losing streak finally ends

BOX SCORE

Carter Hart gave the Flyers a five-star performance Thursday night.

The rookie goaltender made 37 saves to help the Flyers snap an eight-game winless streak with a 2-1 victory over the Stars at Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers were clearly outplayed, but Hart was the difference maker over the final 20 minutes of regulation.

• One good sign in the opening period was that the Flyers didn’t fall apart despite little offensive zone time. The Flyers went just over 12 minutes between shots on net. To their credit, they didn’t give up very much either. During their eight-game losing streak, they've been solid in the opening period with an even goal differential (4-4).

• As strange as it may sound, the Flyers' most consistent defenseman has been Radko Gudas. It was Gudas with a strong play to jump on a loose puck in the offensive zone that eventually led to the 1-0 goal. Gudas fired a heavy shot that led to a big rebound and from there, James van Riemsdyk had a beautiful no-look pass to Travis Konecny for the goal. Scott Gordon spoke with JVR about improving his play after he was bumped to the fourth line in the game at Washington. Van Riemsdyk certainly responded with a goal and an assist.

• While Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier receive attention when the top two draft picks square off, in this game, it was Nos. 2 vs. 3 with Patrick and Stars 19-year-old phenom defenseman Miro Heiskanen, who plays and sees the game like his teammate John Klingberg. Heiskanen showed off his speed Thursday, but you can tell he’s still learning the defensive aspect of the game.

• Patrick, on the other hand, has a more polished defensive aspect to his game but needs to be more assertive and aggressive on the offensive end. At the end of the first period, Patrick displayed a rare burst that we’ve rarely seen this season to only fire a shot high and wide of the net.

• As much as the Flyers' power play has been struggling, Stars defenseman Esa Lindell gave it a prime opportunity to score when he flubbed a clearing attempt. Jakub Voracek pounced on the turnover and fed Shayne Gostisbehere, who missed the net entirely from the slot. That’s an attempt that Ghost has to bury and is more of a product of his lack of confidence with his shot that has been very erratic this season.

• The Flyers surrendered too many shots and chances to the Stars in the second period. Thankfully, Hart brought his A-game, including a five-star save on a cutting Klingberg from his right defense position. Hart had very little time to react on the play instead of relying on his ability to adjust quickly and position himself squarely to Klingberg’s shot.

• In the third period, it quickly became the Carter Hart show with some big-time saves on the Stars' power play. How long has it been since a Flyers goalie stole a game for his team? Hart arguably had his best NHL start since his last victory, a 2-1 win over Nashville.

• Somehow, the Flyers blew three odd-man rushes during a two-minute span in the third period. Two of those came shorthanded with Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier failing to convert. The other came on a 2-on-0 with van Riemsdyk and Konecny failing to beat Anton Khudobin on the doorstep.

• The always controversial goaltender interference ruling was put to the test with Voracek scoring with 1:03 remaining in regulation, which would have given the Flyers a 3-1 lead. But this was a clear-cut call as Voracek plowed over Khudobin to slide a backhand shot over the goal line.

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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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