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Flyers Gameday: 2/22/20 vs. WPG; Phantoms Update

February 22, 2020, 8:35 AM ET [229 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT
GAME 62: FLYERS vs. JETS

In their final game before the NHL trade deadline, Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (34-20-7 overall, 20-5-4 home) host Paul Maurice's Winnipeg Jets (32-25-5 overall, 16-11-2 away) on Saturday afternoon. Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 1:00 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 the Flyers Radio 24/7 component of the Flyers Broadcast Network.

This is the second and final meeting of the season between the interconference teams. The Flyers are 0-1-0 against the Jets this season. Concluding a rough road trip that saw them lose three straight games in regulation, the Philadelphia Flyers fell, 7-3, to the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Dec. 15.

Goals by Nikolaj Ehlers (14th) and Luca Sbisa (2nd) staked the Jets to a 2-0 lead in the first period. Matt Niskanen (power play, 4th) got the Flyers back to within 2-1 before a costly Joel Farabee interference major against Mathieu Perrault opened the floodgates for Winnipeg. Farabee later received a three-game suspension from the NHL.

In rapid succession, power play goals by Blake Wheeler (9th) and Mark Scheifele (15th) were followed by even strength tallies by Logan Shaw (1st) and Patrik Laine (10th) to break the game open. James van Riemsdyk (8th) made it a 6-2 deficit heading to the third period.

On a double deflection Kyle Connor (power play, 14th) added a power play goal in the third period. Nicolas Aube-Kubel picked up his first NHL point as he set up a goal for Shayne Gostisbehere (5th) joining the attack.

Brian Elliott went two periods, stopping 11 of 17 shots. Carter Hart finished the game, stopping 5 of 6 shots in the third period. Connor Hellebuyck earned the win, denying 29 of 32 Flyers shots.

Entering Saturday, the battle for playoff spots in the Eastern Conference shapes up as follows:

Metro 3rd Place -- Flyers (61 GP, 75 PTS, 24 RW, 29 ROW)
Upper Wildcard -- Islanders (60 GP, 74 PTS, 23 RW, 30 ROW)
Lower Widcard -- Blue Jackets (62 GP, 73 PTS, 23 ROW, 30 ROW)
Out of Playoffs -- Hurricanes (60 GP, 72 PTS, 24 RW, 29 ROW)

The Hurricanes, who lost in regulation to the New York Rangers on Friday night, are in Toronto on Saturday evening to play the Maple Leafs. The Blue Jackets are on the road to play the Nashville Predators. The Islanders, who took care of business at home on Friday against the lowly Detroit Red Wings, are idle on Saturday before hosting the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.

FLYERS OUTLOOK

The Flyers earned a home-and-home and season series sweep of Columbus, which they completed on Thursday with a 4-3 overtime win after trailing by scores of 2-0 in the first period and 3-1 early in the middle frame.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux has been scorching hot ever since being moved back from center to left wing and reunited with Sean Couturier. Giroux brings a seven-game point streak into Saturday's tilt, and has compiled four goals, eight assists and 12 points in that span.

Carter Hart will get the start in goal for the Flyers on Saturday afternoon. He has started four of the team's last six games.

Defenseman Justin Braun missed Thursday's game with the flu. He felt better on Friday and is expected to be back in the lineup against Winnipeg. Mark Friedman started in Columbus and practiced with the team on Friday but Vigneault indicated that he was uncertain if Friedman would be on Saturday's game roster or would be sent back to the AHL's Lehigh Valley Phantoms (who have a road game in Syracuse on Saturday evening).

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, on a rehab assignment with the Phantoms as he recovers from post-arthroscopy discomfort in his right knee, played in the Phantoms' 3-2 overtime loss in Rochester on Friday. See "Phantoms Update" below for more information.

JETS OUTLOOK

Winnipeg enters Saturday in the upper wildcard spot in the Western Conferenced, one point ahead of both the Calgary Flames and Arizona Coyotes. On Friday, the the Jets acquired veteran center/winger Cody Eakin from the Vegas Golden Knights.

On Thursday, the Jets dispatched the host Ottawa Senators by a 5-1 count. Mark Scheifele led the way with a hat trick (goals No. 24, 25 and 26) and an assist. Kyle Connor (30th) and Nikolaj Ehlers (22nd) also scored for Winnipeg. The Jets went 3-for-6 on the power play, and 4-for-4 on the PK. Laurent Brossoit (29 saves on 30 shots) earned the win in goal.

Perrault is not available for this game. He has been on injured reserve since suffering an upper body injury on Jan. 30.

PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS (subject to change, will be updated)

FLYERS

28 Claude Giroux - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
49 Joel Farabee - 13 Kevin Hayes - 11 Travis Konecny
25 James van Riemsdyk - 21 Scott Laughton - 18 Tyler Pitlick
12 Michael Raffl - 82 Connor Bunnaman - 62 Nicolas Aube-Kubel

9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
6 Travis Sanheim -5 Phil Myers
8 Robert Hägg - 61 Justin Braun

79 Carter Hart
[37 Brian Elliott]

Power Play 1: Giroux, Couturier, Konecny, Voracek, Provorov.
Power Play 2: JVR, Hayes, Farabee, Sanheim, Niskanen.

Scratches: 53 Shayne Gostisbehere (AHL conditioning assigment), 59 Mark Friedman (healthy).

LTIR: 55 Sam Morin (torn ACL, out for season), 23 Oskar Lindblom (Ewing sarcoma, out for season), 19 Nolan Patrick (migraines).

JETS

81 Kyle Connor - 26 Blake Wheeler - 29 Patrik Laine
27 Nikolaj Ehlers - 55 Mark Scheifele - 9 Andrew Copp
58 Jansen Harkins - 28 Jack Roslovic - 82 Mason Appleton
57 Gabriel Bourque - 21 Nicholas Shore - 38 Logan Shaw ​

44 Josh Morrissey - 3 Tucker Poolman
7 Dmitry Kulikov - 4 Neal Pionk
88 Nathan Beaulieu -12 Dylan DeMelo ​

37 Connor Hellebuyck
[30 Laurent Brossoit​]

Power Play 1: Connor, Wheeler, Scheifele, Laine, Pionk
Power Play 2: Ehlers, Copp, Roslovic, Morrissey, Poolman

Scratches: 20 Cody Eakin (acquired Fri), 2 Anthony Bitetto (healthy), 8 Sami Niku (healthy),

IR: 5 Luca Sbisa (upper body, Feb. 17), 17 Adam Lowry (upper body, Jan. 18), 18 Bryan Little (concussion, Nov. 4), 22 Mark Letestu (heart isssue, Oct. 14), 23 Carl Dahlström (broken hand, Jan. 13), 85 Mathieu Perreault (upper body, Jan, 30)

*********

Phantoms Update

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms salvaged a point on Friday night after seeming to be on the brink of losing in regulation to the host Rochester Americans. The reprieve was short-lived, however, as the Amerks scored on the first shift of overtime to send the Phantoms down to a 3-2 loss.

Entering the final minute of play, the game was deadlocked at 1-1. With 52 seconds left on the clock, the Americans won a battle along the boards and Sean Malone (11th goal) fired a shot over Alex Lyon from the deep slot after Andrew Oglevie found him with a pass.

There was a false draw at center ice after the Malone goal and play was immediately stopped to reset and drop the puck again. Nevertheless, a whopping six seconds ticked off the clock -- time that was never restored. The clock snafu, thankfully, did not come into play.

With Lyon pulled for an extra attacker, Andy Andreoff centered a puck from behind the net. Morgan Frost tipped it to Mikhail Vorobyev, who buried his 11th goal of the season to knot the score at 2-2 with 32 seconds left in the clock.

In the first half-minute of overtime, the Amerks brought the puck up the ice. Vorobyev attempted a stick check just outside the defensive blueline -- had he succeeded, the Russian center would have had a breakaway -- and Rochester gained entry on the rush. Casey Middelstadt put the puck toward the net. Kyle Criscuolo attempted to direct the loose puck with his skate, but stumbled into Lyon. Jacob Bryson (2nd goal) claimed it and stashed it home to end the game at the 35-second mark.

During the OT sequence, forwards Criscuolo and Vorobyev ended up as the low men in the D-zone and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was the high man. Gostisbehere ended up minus-two in the plus-minus column. He was also part of the battle on the walls that eventually resulted in Malone's go-ahead goal in the final minute of the third period. He wasn't individually to blame for either goal, as both were collective cases of lines getting outplayed.

Overall, Gostisbehere had a decent first rehab game for the Phantoms. He skated well, moved pucks up the ice himself and played on the power play. At one third period juncture, with the game tied at 1-1, Gostisbehere passed up an open shot but created an even better scoring chance for Frost with Rochester goalie Andrew Hammond seemingly down and out. Frost had a little more time and space that he thought, albeit with a defenseman scrambling to try to block the shot. It was actually Hammond who got enough to keep it out of the net.

Frost, whose asssist on the Vorobyev goal gave the rookie center a four-game point streak (3g, 2a), had a strong all-around game on Friday after an uneven performance in Wednesday's wild 8-5 win in Bridgeport. Frost set up three glorious scoring chances -- a point blank chance for Maksim Sushko off the rush in the first period on which Hammond made a 10-bell save, a cross-ice feed to Andreoff for a whiffed one-timer with room to score, and the start of an attempted power play tic-tac-toe sequence in which Greg Carey wasn't able to finish from a tight angle but had room. Frost himself had four shots on goal.

As he has been doing in most recent games, Frost was up on his skates all night in this contest. The result was that he was effective with and without the puck on most of his shift. He didn't have the best of nights in the faceoff department, but the overall body of work was strong.

The Phantoms seemed snakebitten much of the game. Lyon kept them in the game with the club being outplayed in the first period but Lehigh Valley was the better team over the latter 30 minutes of regulation. Neverthless, an early first period goal by C.J. Smith (11th) stood as the game's only tally until 3:35 of the third period.

On the play, Kyle Criscuolo claimed the puck in the defensive zone and moved it himself all the way down the ice. Then he centered a pass to a wide-open Kurtis Gabriel (4th goal of the season), who potted it from point-blank range to knot the score at 1-1.

Rookie Phantoms winger Isaac Ratcliffe had a pair of shots on goal, and one good scoring chance. Second-year pro German Rubtsov had one shot on goal, and created one of Lehigh Valley's power play (0-for-5). The Phantoms came close to scoring on a 5-on-3 (that was where the Frost scoring opportunity happened) but were turned away.

The power play has been a sore spot for the Phantoms pretty much all season. The Phantoms are just 11.4 percent on the man advantage in 2019-20.

On Saturday, the Phantoms (23-24-8) wrap up their road trip. They will play the Syracuse Crunch (25-22-8) at 7 p.m. ET. Kirill Ustimenko is likely to get his second AHL start. It was undecided as to whether Gostisbehere would be tested yet in a back-to-back game scenario.
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