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Flyers-Stars Wrapup, Flyers Gameday: 10/21/15 @ BOS

October 21, 2015, 12:13 AM ET [1127 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Playing in Philadelphia for the first time since Game Six of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, Dallas Stars goaltender Antti Niemi cranked out a 34-save gem in a 2-1 regulation victory at the Wells Fargo Center. Eleven saves came with the Flyers on the power play.

Dallas improved to 3-0-0 on its current four-game road trip, which wraps up on Thursday in Pittsburgh. Philadelphia lost for the first time on home ice this season, falling to 2-2-1 overall. The Flyers are right back in action on Tuesday, traveling to TD Garden to play the Boston Bruins.

“I thought [Niemi] played great, especially against their power play," Stars head coach Lindy Ruff said. "Their power play has been together for so long they move it around pretty good and [Wayne] Simmonds is one of the best offensive guys. He made a couple of the second opportunity saves that kept us where we were at and that’s what you need out of your goaltender.”

A pair of first-period power plays for Philadelphia produced some good looks at the net but no goals. Ultimately, it was a momentum-turner as Dallas finished the first period strong and also controlled much of the second period. For long segments of the game, the Flyers struggled to handle the Stars' speed in moving the puck up the ice and starting transitional plays.

“We’re a confident group in here and we know when we play the right way and we do the right things we’re going to be successful. Some nights aren’t going to be as pretty as others, but it’s a matter of getting the two points in the end," said Stars captain Jamie Benn.

With 51.8 secons left in the opening period, Tyler Seguin turned a bouncing puck into his fourth goal of the season.Seguin made it 1-0 seconds after the puck hopped over Brandon Manning's stick. Seguin chipped a fluttering and partially deflected (by Manning) knuckleball over Mason's shoulder to the short side. Jamie Benn and John Klingberg got the assists. The goal came on the Stars' 14th shot of the period.

Just 11 seconds into the second period, the Stars got a quick 2-on-1 and Jamie Benn snapped a left circle shot high to the short side after freezing Mason by feigning as if he was going to pass. Seguin got the primary assist, Alex Goligoski had the secondary helper. On the sequence, Simmonds turned the puck over high in the offensive zone, Sean Couturier skated past the puck at the blueline and Manning got caught flat-footed in the neutral zone to create the odd-man rush.

"The first one was kind of a weird play bouncing around Manning. Unfortunately he wasn't able to corral it. Even when it got to Seguin it was still bouncing and kind of batted in while it was in the air a little bit. It was a tough play. Second one, the two on one, Benn was kind of looking me off for the majority of it. We had a shot but obviously you would like to make the saves," said Flyers goaltender Steve Mason.

Mason stopped 30 of 32 shots in a losing cause. He settled in as the game went along and did a good job of keeping the deficit manageable until the Flyers finally got their legs going. In the third period, the Flyers put on heavy pressure, generating 15 shots on goal.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol felt that it took his team a little too long -- after starting out the game well early in the first period -- to match the Stars' execution and speed.

" thought it took us some time to find our energy and you can use whatever term you want. The speed of the game, whatever term you want to put on it but we had our moments. We had our spurts. But they also had some sustained pushes in the first and second periods until I thought we got going a little bit more in the third," Hakstol said.

The Flyers drew back within a goal at 8:57 of the third period. A Simmonds rebound bounced in off Couturier's skate. After a short review to see in Couturier kicked the puck into the net, the goal was allowed. Matt Read got the secondary assist.

"I was just going to the net trying to stop at the net and it hit my skate. Next thing I know it was floating in the air. I tried to bat it with my stick but it hit me and bounced in," Couturier said.

The Flyers pressed for a tying goal but could not solve Niemi for an equalizer. At one point, Vernon Fiddler helped out his goalie as a puck inched toward the goal line.

The Flyers finished the game 0-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill. Late in regulation, with Matt Read in the penalty box for a stick slashing penalty with just 2:08 left on the clock, the Flyers pulled Mason for an extra attacker to make it 5-on-5 manpower.

Prior to the game, Flyers fourth line center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said that the chance to play against French countryman Antoine Roussel made the game "spicier." Roussel, one of the NHL's most agitating players, certainly cranked up the heat, enraging the Flyers multiple times.

At 4:55 of the second period, Roussel hit Brayden Schenn -- who did not have the puck -- in the neutral zone. Flyers forward Sam Gagner went after Roussel and got rag-dolled. The Flyers got their third power play of the game out of it.

At 12:55 of the frame, Roussel took an extra chop near the Flyers net that touched off an after-the-whistle scrum. This time, Roussel succeeed in drawing a power play for his own side, as he went off for slashing but Ryan White received a double roughing minor.

Shots in the second period ended up 13-12 in the Flyers' favor. In the third, Philly generated a 15-6 shot advantage.They had one final power play at 13:51 of the final period on a Jason Spezza hooking penalty but were unable to finish off a sequence where both Simmonds and Michael Raffl had good chances.

"I have to give him credit, Niemi played a good game," said Simmonds. "I thought we had second opportunities, sometimes third opportunities and he was stopping the puck; he was seeing things well tonight. We tried to get as much on net as we could and I think we just have to get a little more hungry in front of the net and put a couple more of those back."

The Flyers' top line trio of Jakub Voracek (six shots, nine attempts), Claude Giroux (eight shots, nine attempts) and Raffl (three shots, six attempts) put plenty of rubber at the net but most were either from the perimeter or not placed quite where they wanted them to go.

Niemi had excellent rebound control throughout the game. Mason boxed some pucks early but found a rhythm as the game moved along.



Playing the second half of their first back-to-back set of the year, Dave Hakstol's Philadelphia Flyers (2-2-1) are in Beantown on Wednesday night to take on Claude Julien's Boston Bruins (2-3-0). Game time at TD Garden is 8:00 p.m. ET. The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network as its Wednesday Night Rivalry game.

This is the first of three meetings this season between the teams, and the Flyers' lone visit to Boston. The teams will rematch in Philadelphia on January 13 and 25. The Flyers are 0-4-2 in their last six games against Boston; 0-3-2 in their last five games at TD Garden.

After this game, the Flyers are off until hosting the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Bruins are in Brooklyn on Friday to take on the New York Islanders.

Flyers Outlook

The Flyers have scored just eight goals through their first five games of the regular season. Despite some good scoring chances on the power play, they are 3-for-20 -- including 1-for-13 over the last three games -- on the man advantage.

With Wednesday's game being the second half of a back-to-back, it is likely that Michal Neuvirth will get the start in goal. Neuvirth has recorded back-to-back shutouts; the first Flyers goaltender since Jeff Hackett to accomplish the feat in his first two starts in a Flyers' uniform.

R.J. Umberger, a healthy scratch against the Stars after missing the previous two games due to an upper-body injury, may get back into the lineup. If he re-enters the lineup, Sam Gagner may return to the scratch list by process of elimination.

On defense, it is possible that Luke Schenn, a healthy scratch in each of the last three games, re-enters the lineup. Brandon Manning or Radko Gudas are the most likely candidates to sit. Gudas had a game-high seven credited hits plus two blocks against Dallas but also turned over some pucks (three charged giveaways) and plays a similar role to Schenn. Manning was on the ice for both of Dallas' goals.

Projected lineups will be updated on Wedesday after the Flyers' morning skate in Dallas.

Bruins outlook

After losing their first three games of the season on home ice and giving up 16 goals in the process, the Bruins won back-to-back games on the road heading into a three-night schedule break.

In their most recent game, the Bruins overcame an early deficit to the Arizona Coyotes and skate off with a 5-3 victory. Patrice Bergeron score a pair of late power play goals to decide the game. Boston also got a power play goal by David Krejci and an even strength goal by Tyler Randell. Overall, Boston went 3-for-6 on the power play and 3-for-4 on the penalty kill. Tuukka Rask stopped 20 of 23 shots to earn the win.

Projected lines (mostly based off last game, subject to change)


12 Michael Raffl - 28 Claude Giroux - 93 Jakub Voracek
24 Matt Read - 14 Sean Couturier - 17 Wayne Simmonds
20 R.J. Umberger - 21 Scott Laughton - 10 Brayden Schenn
76 Chris VandeVelde - 78 Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - 25 Ryan White

55 Nick Schultz - 32 Mark Streit
15 Michael Del Zotto - 22 Luke Schenn
82 Evgeny Medvedev - 3 Radko Gudas

30 Michal Neuvirth
[35 Steve Mason]

Scratches: Sam Gagner (healthy), Vincent Lecavalier (healthy), Brandon Manning (healthy).


63 Brad Marchand - 37 Patrice Bergeron - 21 Loui Eriksson
39 Matt Beleskey - 46 David Krejci - 88 David Pastrnak
23 Chris Kelly - 51 Ryan Spooner - 11 Jimmy Hayes
36 Zac Rinaldo - 41 Joonas Kemppainen - 64 Tyler Randell

33 Zdeno Chara - 86 Kevan Miller
47 Torey Krug - 54 Adam McQuaid
56 Tommy Cross - 86 Colin Miller

40 Tuukka Rask
[50 Jonas Gustavsson]

Scratches: Joe Morrow (questionable, illness), Brett Connolly (healthy), Max Talbot (healthy),
Zach Trotman (healthy), Dennis Seidenberg (IR).
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