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Flyers Go 0-for-California, Lose 2-1 in LA, WJC Update, Phantoms, Alumni

January 3, 2016, 8:38 AM ET [292 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

For the second straight year, the Philadelphia Flyers took a hot streak into the NHL's Christmas break only to stumble repeatedly in a post-break road trip. On Saturday night at the Staples Center, the Flyers got dominated for 40 minutes and then put on a heavy push in the third period that fell just short in a 2-1 regulation loss to the Los Angeles Kings.

The Flyers, who had gone 10-4-4 over 18 games heading into the break, finished their Califoria road trip with three straight regulation losses to the Anaheim Ducks, San Jose Sharks and Kings. The bright side for the Flyers: They are now done for the season with their annual western Canada (1-2-2) and California trips and their two-game season series are now finished with the Kings (0-1-1), Sharks (0-1-1), Dallas Stars (0-2-0), St. Louis Blues (2-0-0) and Vancouver Canucks (1-1-0).

On Saturday, the Flyers dug themselves a 2-0 deficit with a horrendous first period marked by frequent turnovers and another penalty killing letdown on what was a disastrous road trip on the PK. Dwight King cashed in a 3-on-1 counterattack on a Radko Gudas turnover at the Philadelphia blueline. Drew Doughty blasted a left circle one-timer high to the long side for a power play goal.

Flyers goaltender Michal Neuvirth had little to no chance to stop either LA goal. The Czech netminder was outstanding in turning back 30 of 32 shots. He made numerous tough stops along the way, including a 10-bell diving save on Anze Kopitar that was one of the most spectacular saves in the NHL this season.

In the third period, LA goaltender Jonathan Quick made 15 of his 29 saves for the game to nail down the regulation victory. The Flyers cut the gap to 2-1 on a power play goal by Brayden Schenn at 7:50 of the final stanza. Philly pushed heavily the rest of the way, including during a late-game power play, but could not get another puck past Quick.

On the Schenn goal, Schenn re-directed the puck home from the door step after Wayne Simmonds put it in front from the right side of the net. Initial shooter Jakub Voracek got the secondary assist. The goal was Schenn's eighth of the season (fourth on the power play) and snapped a five-game pointless streak. Voracek's secondary helper was his team-leading 21st of the season.

With Michael Del Zotto rejoining the Flyers' lineup after missing two games with a wrist injury, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol dressed seven defenseman. Matt Read was the odd man out among the forwards, sitting out as a healthy scratch.

Claude Giroux was held off the scoresheet for the sixth time in the last seven games but had a half dozen shots on goal (on eight attempts) against LA. Voracek put five shots on goal in seven shot attempts. Rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere, who has hit first NHL rough spell in recent games, managed three shots on goal in five attempts. Overall, the Fyers had 56 shot attempts to 55 for Los Angeles.

The Flyers have an off-day on Sunday. The team will resume practice on Monday at 10:30 a.m. at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ in preparation to host the Montreal Canadiens at the Wells Fargo Center the next night.



The semifinal matchups are set for the 2015-16 IIHF Under-20 World Championship: Russia will take on USA, while Sweden will play arch-rival Finland. Both games will take place on Monday.

USA and Sweden cruised into the semis with easy quarterfinal victories on Saturday against the Czech Republic (7-0 USA) and Slovakia (6-0 Sweden). Finland won a 6-5 seesaw thriller in regulation against disappointing Canada, while the Russians survived a major scare to earn a 4-3 comeback victory in overtime over Denmark.

In the Sweden-Slovakia quarterfinal match, Flyers wing prospect Oskar Lindblom played another strong all-around game and bagged his third goal of the tournament on a mid-first period power play goal. Lindblom had six shots on goal in the first period and also set up a pair of scoring chances for his linemates. Flyers goaltending prospect Felix Sandström was the backup goaltender to Islanders' prospect Linus Söderström (17-save shutout). The Swedes outshot the Slovaks by a 55-17 margin.

Flyers 2015 first-round pick Ivan Provorov was a dominating presence with and without the puck in the Russia-Denmark game. It was Provorov who triggered the beginning of a sequence that led to Vladislav Kamenev's game-tying goal with 44 seconds left in regulation and then Provorov who made a smart pinch and directly fed Kamenev with a perfect pass for the game-winner in overtime. The Danes played a very strong game until late in the second period but, thereafter, the ice was tilted in Russia's favor. Flyers forward prospect Radel Fazleev had two shots, a good scoring chance and an assist on the Artur Lauta goal that tied the game at 2-2 in the third period.

Canada suffered from questionable coaching and spotty execution throughout the tournament and finished with one of their worst WJC showings in recent memory. In the 6-5 loss to Finland on Saturday, Flyers 2014 first-round pick Travis Sanheim continued to be relegated to a sixth defenseman's role, but set up the early third period power play goal sequence that enabled Mitch Marner to briefly tie the game at 4-4. Earlier in the game, Flyers 2015 first-round pick Travis Konecny opened the scoring in the first period as Canada built a 2-0 lead before falling apart until a spirited third period. Finland dominated the second period. The Finnish top line of Jesse Pulujärvi (three assists), Patrik Laine (two goals, one assist) and Sebastian Aho (one goal, two assists) proved to the difference in the game.

The USA-Czech Republic game was anticlimactic, as the Americans got off to a 3-0 lead within the game's first 25 minutes. Ater a wide-open second frame that saw the Czechs outshoot them by a 17-14 margin, the Americans slammed the door with authority in the final period as USA outshot the Czechs, 11-2, and Auston Matthews completed a hat trick early in the frame. Flyers forward prospect David Kase had two shots on goal in the second period and was minus-one at even strength.



The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have taken six of a possible eight points thus far in the first four matches of a five-game post-Christmas road trip. On Saturday, Scott Gordon's club settled for one point in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Portland Pirates. The teams will rematch in Portland on Sunday in a 4 p.m. game.

Petr Straka (17th goal of the season), Mark Alt (third) and Aaron Palushaj (eighth) scored for the Phantoms. Anthony Stolarz stopped 28 of 32 shots in a losing cause. Kyle Rau's 15th goal of the season ended the three-on-three overtime at the 1:46 mark. Straka's line rush goal was scored just 15 seconds after the game's opening faceoff; the third-year pro leads the American Hockey League in goal scoring. Taylor Leier had a would-be goal disallowed for goaltender interference in the first period but later triggered a Palushaj breakaway goal in the middle stanza.

The Phantoms have points in 15 of their last 23 games (12-8-3) and sit at 16-16-3 overall on the season.


Bringing the Decades Together: Flyers Alumni to Play in Reading

 photo Alumni game.jpg

In celebration of nearly a half-century of Flyers hockey, the Flyers Alumni Association is bringing together players representing every decade of franchise history for a special Orange vs. Black intrasquad Alumni game on Feb. 5, 2016 at 7 p.m. ET. The game will be held at the Santander Arena in Reading, PA, home of the Philadelphia Flyers' ECHL affiliate, the Reading Royals.

Confirmed participants to date include the legendary Bob Clarke, Danny Briere, Kimmo Timonen, Flyers Hall of Fame inductees Brian Propp and Joe Watson, Bill Clement, Bob "the Hound" Kelly, Paul Holmgren, Dave Poulin and Brad Marsh. Full rosters of the Alumni will be announced at a later date.

Tickets for the Alumni game start at $12 and are on sale now. For more information on the game, click here.
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