GAME 22: FLYERS @ HURRICANES
Completing a two-game southern road trip, Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (10-7-4) are in Raleigh on Thursday to take on Rod Brind'Amour's Carolina Hurricanes (13-7-1). Game time at PNC Arena is 7:00 p.m. ET.
The game will be televised on NBCSP. The radio broadcast will be on 97.5 The Fanatic with an online simulcast on Flyers Radio 24/7
This is the second of four meetings this season between the teams. They will rematch in Raleigh on Jan. 7 before the season series concludes at the Wells Fargo Center on March 5.
On Nov. 5 at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers were largely outplayed for two periods but were buoyed by excellent goaltending from Carter Hart and a strong third period in a 4-1 victory. Hart made 32 saves on 33 shots. His toughest period was the first, where he was severely tested in making 14 stops.
Sean Couturier (power play), Travis Konecny, Joel Farabee and Claude Giroux scored for the Flyers. Matt Niskanen, who played a strong all-around game and had a pair of primary assists on shots that were either deflected home (Couturier) or rebounded to the goal scorer (Konency). Shayne Gostisbehere, Couturier, Giroux, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Pitlick and Phil Myers collected one assist apiece.
Lucas Wallmark tallied the lone goal for Carolina, assisted by Trevor van Riemsdyk and Martin Necas. Petr Mrazek took the loss in goal for Carolina. The former Flyers' goalie stopped 24 of 28 shots.
After starting out November in a 5-0-1 run and feeling pretty good about gritting out a point in a 2-1 shootout loss to Washington (which was also largely courtesy of a great game in goal by Hart), the Flyers haven't had much to be happy about in going 0-2-1 over the next three games. Now winless in four, the Flyers will need a step-up performance to end that skid against a very good Hurricanes team.
Six of the Flyers' seven regulation losses this season have come on the road. Overall, the team is 4-6-1 away from the Wells Fargo Center. However, the team does own road shootout wins over (struggling) Toronto and (scorching hot) Boston that now seem distant.
On Tuesday night in Florida, a first period goal by Travis Sanheim (2nd of the season) gave the Flyers a short-lived early lead. The Florida Panthers led 2-1 at the first period intermission and then 4-1 in the second period. It was an uneven game for Hart, who started out with a series of excellent saves and then gave up four goals -- one he couldn't have stopped, a fluky one he needed to stop, a bad rebound after a bad giveaway by rookie Joel Farabee, and then a sniper's goal -- that ended his night midway through regulation. Hart stopped 14 of 18 shots. Brian Elliott entered the game and stopped 7 of 7.
The Flyers most memorable highlight from Tuesday saw debuting rookie Morgan Frost step out from behind the net and, from in tight on two-time Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovosky, elevate a backhander into the net on the short side. Frost, playing with all sorts of adrenaline, had an earlier prime scoring chance and also, with Travis Konecny, helped set up one for Claude Giroux that missed the net. In the third period, Frost was rewarded with a power play shift on Giroux's unit.
The Flyers got no closer that 4-2. Playing 6-on-5 with Elliott pulled for an extra attacker, Kevin Hayes had his pocket picked in the neutral zone, and it turned rapidly into an empty net goal that sealed a 5-2 final.
One day prior to the game in Florida, Vigneault placed struggling veterans Hayes, Jakub Voracek and James van Riemsdyk on the same line. The coach challenged them again to step up, saying, "I love the people, but I need more from the hockey players." Hayes did pick up a secondary assist on the broken play that ended up in Sanheim's goal -- ending a 10-game pointless spell for Hayes -- but not much else went their way.
By the third period, Vigneault was juggling line combinations again. Frost remained with Giroux and Konecny. However, Voracek replaced Farabee on Sean Couturier's line with Oskar Lindblom, which had started out like a house on fire in the first period, creating chances galore but couldn't pot one on that night. Farabee spent shifts on a line with Michael Raffl and Tyler Pitlick.
Entering Tuesday, the Flyers have averaged 2.86 goals per game with allowing 2.90 per game (the GAA rose by 1/10th goal after yielding five in Florida). The power play has dropped to 20.3 percent and the penalty kill is back up to 85.2 percent. The team has won faceoffs at a 53.4 percent clip. Couturier, who had been nursing a shoulder issue, went back to taking more regular draws in the Florida game; a big-picture positive from that night.
When the Flyers played the Hurricanes in Philadelphia earlier this month, Philly caught Carolina at a time when the team had started to hit a small bump in the road in their play. The ship has since been righted again, and the Hurricanes bring a four-game winning streak into this tilt.
The Canes completed a three-game road trip sweep on Tuesday with a 4-1 win in Chicago. Brind'Amour was not particularly happy with how his team played in the previous two games, but they found ways to win. In Chicago, it was a much more complete performance, and the Hurricanes won with relative ease despite Chicago mustering a push in the third period that cut a 3-0 deficit to 3-2 in a 70-second span. From there, Mrazek and company slammed the door and winning by two.
Defenseman Dougie Hamilton (9g, 14a) and winger Andrei Svechnikov (10g, 13a) are tied for the team lead with 23 points apiece. Hamilton brings a six-game, seven-point (3g, 4a) streak into Thursday's game against the Flyers. Svechnikov has racked up eight points (4g, 4a) over the last five games.
Entering this game, the Panthers have averaged 3.48 goals per game and allowed 2.90 per game. The power play comes in at 23.4 percent and the penalty kill is also solid at 84.0 percent. The Canes have won 50.9 percent of their faceoffs.
28 Claude Giroux - 48 Morgan Frost - 11 Travis Konecny
23 Oskar Lindblom - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
49 Joel Farabee - 13 Kevin Hayes - 18 Tyler Pitlick
25 James van Riemsdyk - 12 Michael Raffl - [7D]
9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
53 Shayne Gostisbehere - 61 Justin Braun
6 Travis Sanheim - 5 Phil Myers
8 Robert Hägg
37 Brian Elliott
[79 Carter Hart]
Power Play 1: Giroux, JVR, Konecny, Provorov, Voracek
Power Play 2: Couturier, Lindblom, Farabee, Gostisbehere, Niskanen
Scratches: 44 Chris Stewart (healthy), 10 Andy Andreoff (healthy), 55 Sam Morin (torn ACL).
Injured reserve: 21 Scott Laughton (broken right index finger)
Injured non-roster: 19 Nolan Patrick (migraines)
37 Andrei Svechnikov - 20 Sebastian Aho - 86 Teuvo Teräväinen
18 Ryan Dzingel - 11 Jordan Staal - 13 Warren Foegele
21 Nino Niederreiter - 71 Lucas Wallmark - 88 Martin Necas
23 Brock McGinn - 43 Eetu Luostarinen - 48 Jordan Martinook
74 Jaccob Slavin - 19 Dougie Hamilton
6 Joel Edmundson - 22 Brett Pesce
51 Jake Gardiner - 57 Trevor van Riemsdyk
34 Petr Mrazek
[47 James Reimer]
Power Play 1: Svechnikov, Aho, Dzingel, Teräväinen, Hamilton
Power Play 2: Niederreiter, Staal, Wallmark, Gardiner, Necas
Scratches: 4 Haydn Fleury (healthy), 56 Erik Haula (knee, Nov. 17)
Injury-Riddled Phantoms Defeat Charlotte, 3-2
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms put an end to their own four-game winless skid with a 3-2 win over the Charlotte Checkers (the Carolina Hurricanes' AHL farm club) at the PPL Center on Wednesday. The Phantoms improved to 7-5-5 and Charlotte dropped to 6-7-2. The same two teams will meet again in Allentown on Friday.
An early goal off the rush by second-year pro Pascal Laberge (1st) gave the Phantoms a quick 1-0 lead at 3:37 of the first period. The assists went to Mikhail Vorobyev (4th) and Matthew Strome (1st assist and point of the season). Laberge, who was recalled from the ECHL's Reading Royals later this week later had two subsequent above-average scoring chances.
The 1-0 lead held until 7:16 of the second period. Vorobyev put one in from the left side of the net for his 5th goal and 9th point of the season. Defensemen Tyler Wotherspoon (5th assist) and Andy Welinski (who has been an all-around bright spot since returning from a preseason injury in the Flyers camp, and picked up his 6th assist and 9th point in 11 games).
The Phantoms, who mustered a modest 22 shots for the game and whose attack was pretty sporadic for the game (including an 0-for-3 night on the power play), were unable to nurse their two-goal lead to the second intermission. Casey Bailey narrowed the deficit to one in the final minute of the second period.
At 4:09 of the third period, former Vancouver Canucks 2013 first-round pick Hunter Shinkaruk knotted the game at 2-2. Shinkaruk, who has bounced around to three different NHL organizations and was previously demoted to the Charlotte fourth line, had also assisted on the earlier goal by Bailey.
For much of the third period, the game seemed headed to overtime. But former Iowa Wild center Gerry Fitzgerald sent the Phantoms home as the regulation victors after breaking the tie with 2:40 left in regulation. It was his first goal as a Phantom. Fellow former Minnesota/Iowa player Nate Prosser picked up his first Phantoms assist, and Wotherspoon collected his second helper of the game.
On the shift immediately following Fitzgerald's goal, the Checkers thought they had scored the tying goal. However, it was ruled no-goal on the ice and the call was upheld upon replay. The same thing had happened back in the first period when it was 1-0 Phantoms, although the earlier one looked like it might have actually been a goal but lacked a conclusive angle.
Goaltender Alex Lyon stepped up for his Phantoms team, which got outshot in every period (13-8, 11-7, 10-7). Lyon stopped 32 of 34 shots and outdueled Alex Nedeljkovic (19 saves on 22 shots) on this night.
Due to a wave of injuries and forward callups to the NHL (Joel Farabee, Morgan Frost, and Andy Andreoff), the Phantoms had to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen for this game. Carsen Twarynski, loaned to the Phantoms on Monday to make an NHL roster space for Frost, suffered an undisclosed injury at practice for Lehigh Valley on Tuesday. Kyle Criscuolo also had to exit the Phantoms lineup for Wednesday's game due to injury. Already sidelined with respective injuries were Connor Bunnaman and Isaac Ratcliffe.
Unfortunately, the injury situation worsened for the Phantoms during Wednesday's game. About 1:45 into the second period, second-year center German Rubtsov took an innocuous hit just inside the attack zone from Charlotte's Kyle Wood. It was a totally routine and clean hit, and not even a forceful one (more of a momentary pin to the glass than a hit), but Rubtsov immediately left the ice favoring his left shoulder and did not return to the game. There was only one replay angle available, and not an ideal one, but it looked like Rubtsov was not up against the boards and had his shoulder dipped.
Hopefully, it is not a serious injury. The concern is that Rubtsov, the Flyers' first-round pick in 2016, missed the rest of last season after needing shoulder surgery to repair an injury suffered in the 14th game of the 2018-19 season on a somewhat similar play along the boards.
On the brighter side for the Phantoms, defenseman Mark Friedman was back in the Lehigh Valley lineup. He had been sorely missed from the lineup last weekend while out with an injury.