Wrapup: Flyers Top Sens in Shootout, 3-2; Quick Hits
WRAPUP: FLYERS TOP SENS, 3-2, VIA SHOOTOUT
The Philadelphia Flyers, needing a lot of outside help to try to pull off a miracle in the Eastern Conference wildcard chase, at least took care of their own business on Tuesday night. The team erased a pair of one-goal deficits to skate off with a 3-2 shootout win over the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center.
However, the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes both won their games on Tuesday night as well. As a result the Flyers are still seven points out of the final wildcard spot (factoring a tiebreaker disadvantage) with just six games left to play in the 2016-17 season. The idle Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Islanders and Carolina are all the Bruins' closest pursuers and all have seven games remaining on their schedules.
With Tuesday's win, the Flyers improved their home record to 22-11-4 (representing 48 of their 78 total points) and raised their record in shootouts to 7-4. The Senators, who had been 21-14-0 in away games, lost for the first time on the road beyond regulation this season. All three games of the Flyers' season series with the Senators this season went past regulation, and all three were 3-2 finals. The Flyers prevailed twice.
Jordan Weal continued to make a strong case for himself to stay in the NHL for the long haul, scoring his sixth goal in 18 games since his recall from the American Hockey League to force overtime after the Sens took a 2-1 lead in the third period. He then notched the game-winner with a five-hole goal in the top of the first round of the skills competition; the only goal for either team.
“I think from the start, from the first practice I had, it just felt a little differently than it did last year. I was in Allentown playing every night and comfortable. My mojo was gone I guess you could say. Coming up here just felt like I could get right in the mix. The first game in San Jose and then in Calgary just felt different. I was able to do a lot of things I knew I could do," Weal said.
The rookie grinned when asked if he had a game-plan in mind for his shootout attempt, sheepishly admitting that the way he scored was not what he'd intended.
"Well, I had a plan in mind and it maybe didn’t go exactly as planned but, it found the back of the net and we got a big win," Weal said.
In the first period, Brayden Schenn tallied his 16th power play goal of the season (23rd goal overall) to square the game after the Senators took a 1-0 lead on a 5-on-3 power play goal by Erik Karlsson. Kyle Turris, who assisted on the Karlsson goal, put Ottawa ahead again in the third period on an even-strength tally.
Steve Mason played a strong game in goal for the Flyers, stopping 26 of 28 shots. Craig Anderson played a tremendous overall game for the Senators (33 saves on 35 shots) but committed a horrific giveaway that led to Weal scoring into a vacated net to tie the game. Mason went 3-for-3 in the shootout. Anderson went 2-for-3 but got lucky on a Jakub Voracek attempt that had him beaten upstairs in the third round.
“You’ve got to be sharp. You have to be prepared from the first drop of the puck whether the game is going your way early or not, and you have to find ways to stick with it. Even tonight we came back from a goal down twice. So these are the types of games that we’re going to have to win down the stretch," Mason said.
The Flyers went 1-for-4 on the power play, snapping an 0-for-16 spell with Schenn's goal on their third opportunity of the first period. Philly went 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Both the Sean Couturier line with Schenn and Dale Weise and the Valtteri Filppula unit with Wayne Simmonds and Weal generated some very strong shifts. Since these two lines were assembled, they've added balance to the lineup.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of the Flippula line, "Those three guys have been good together. I think right now Wayne Simmons is playing some of his best hockey of the year in terms of a power forward game. He is just a straight forward, power forward right now. He is very tough to handle down low and I think that is adding an element for Fil and Weal there. They seem to have some chemistry here in the very short amount of time that they have been together.”
He also praised the Couturier trio, saying, "That whole line has [excelled]. I think Coots has been really down the middle of the rink. He has been a backbone as a centerman up and down. I think both Brayden and Weise have done a good job. That line if you look over our last six or seven games has been effective. They have made plays. They seem to have grown in confidence over that time period.”
Playing his 650th regular season game, Flyers captain Claude Giroux passed John LeClair for 11th on the franchise's all-time games list.
A pair of Flyers shot attempts in the opening 90 seconds got blocked by Ottawa. Kyle Turris had good scoring chance, going to the net off the rush for the game's first shot at the 1:52 mark. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare shot wide from close range at 2:46.
Shots were 3-0 Senators through the first four minutes.
Dale Weise made a nice play to collect a puck high in the offensive zone. He found Brayden Schenn near the right post. Anderson made a tough save, getting over quickly to deny Schenn.
Erik Karlsson intercepted a bad clearing pass attempt by Wayne Simmonds. Fortunately for the Flyers, Karlsson shot high and wide of the left post as he skated untouched into the high slot.
Shots were 3-3 as the Flyers were guilty of icing at 7:37. On subsequent back-to-back shifts, Weise put a good body check on Mark Borowiecki then Chris VandeVelde landed a solid hit on Bobby Ryan.
The Flyers got the game's first power play at 9:03 as Karlsson was sent off for hooking VandeVelde at the in the defensive zone. The first unit generated good pressure and a lot of offensive zone time, including a Shayne Gostisbehere center point shot that Anderson found through a Simmonds screen and, earlier, Jakub Voracek breaking his stick on an open one-timer look. The Flyers did not score, though, falling to 0-for-15 in the last six-plus games. Shots for the period were now 8-3 at the expiration of the power play.
Voracek was tripped up at the defensive blueline by Borowiecki at 12:29. After a TV timeout, the Flyers headed to their second power play of the game. Giroux had a great scoring chance right off the hop and Simmonds hearly scored on a rebound. Late in the advantage, a Del Zotto point shot and a side-angle rebound try by Valtteri Filppula were stopped as shots climbed to 12-4 in the Flyers' favor but the power play drought went to 0-for-16.
As the penalty expired, there was a delayed penalty called on Sean Couturier with the puck being cleared down the ice. The Senators went to their first power play after touch up at 14:32 and a TV timeout. The call was for a cross-check of Tommy Wingels in front of the Ottawa net.
Early in the kill, Mason fought off a pair of shots with Ryan screening in front of him. A rebound attempt by Mark Stone on the first went just wide. With 27 seconds left, a shot got through Mason and hit the post. Alexandre Burrows got to it from a side angle and put it into Mason as Burrows was shoved into the goal post by Brandon Manning. Somewhere amid the bodies crashing the crease and the net well off the moorings, the puck went over the goal line. The would-be goal was disallowed.
Just four seconds after play resumed, Andrew MacDonald took a hooking penalty off the faceoff. The Senators went to a 23-second five-on-three power play. Mason stopped a Karlsson one-time with 13 seconds left on the two-man disadvantage. Karlsson didn't miss the second time, though, after Turris cleanly won a left circle faceoff. Karlsson moved over the middle and wristed a rising shot through a partial Stone screen and past Mason for a 1-0 Sens lead.
The 5-on-4 got washed out with 1:21 left on a Chris Wideman high stick on Manning in the Philadelphia zone at 16:48. During the abbreviated Flyers power play, Philly tied the game at 1-1 and ended the power play drought at the 18:34 mark. Schenn did the scoring honors, stationing himself in the high left slot and deflecting home a Gostisbehere shot for his 23rd goal of the season (16th power play goal). Giroux, who sent the puck around the wall to Gostisbehere, got the secondary helper.
With 58.8 seconds left, Radko Gudas dropped the gloves with Borowiecki. Gudas landed a good shot at the end of the short bout.
Shots in the very active first period were 13-10 in the Flyers' favor.
Anderson made easy work of a side-angle Giroux slap shot 14 seconds in the period. The Flyers eventually controlled the puck off the next draw but didn't score. Voracek had a chance as he ended his shift.
Couturier set up a momentarily promising chance for Weise in the left slot but the puck eluded him. The Senators took an icing. On the next shift, Filppula made a clever little play to Simmonds after lifting a defender's stick but the puck hopped on its edge.
Mason made his first stop of the period as he denied Burrows from just below the left circle at 3:52. Shots for the period were 2-1 Flyers (15-11 Flyers overall) at a TV timeout at the 6:57 mark of the middle stanza.
The Couturier line generated good pressure and Weise credited with a shot on a centering attempt that bounced off an Ottawa skate on goal but the shift ended with a Flyers icing at 7:32. The Senators controlled as Derick Brassard won a draw against Couturier, and Mason had to make tough stops on Karlsson and Zack Smith. The Sens pressured again off the next faceoff.
The Pierre-Edouard Bellemare line had a strong forechecking shift with particularly good work by VandeVelde behind the Ottawa net, but Travis Konecny wrapped the puck too hard around the boards and the puck exited the zone. At 10:32, Mason cleanly stopped a side-angle blast by Wingels and held on for a stoppage and TV timeout. Shots for the period were 7-4 in Ottawa's favor (17-17 overall).
Ottawa's Turris missed a mostly open net at the 11:28 mark, as the game stayed 1-1. After a dangerous giveaway by Voracek, Mason denied Stone. With time ticking down to six minutes left, Bellemare sacrificed his body for a key shot block to erase a developing Wideman scoring chance. Manning blocked a Wingels shot on the next shift.
Matt Read had a good look but missed the net at 15:57. After a stoppage, a TV timeout ensued. The Flyers were still stuck on four shots for the period. When play resumed, Filppula line pressured and generated shots from up high by Provorov and Filppula with Simmonds setting up in front.
Couturier had a great look at the net, receiving a pass at the left hash marks. He missed the net at 13:02. Two shifts later, the Giroux line generated a heavy forecheck and cycle, eventually drawing a Chris Kelly stick-hold penalty on Manning at 19:02. The Flyers got little going in the remaining second period time, with Gostisbehere dangerously turning the puck over in the neutral zone. The Flyers took 1:03 of carryover power play time into the third period.
Second period shots were eight for Ottawa, seven for the Flyers (20-18 Flyers overall).
Just nine seconds into the period, the Flyers' remaining power play came to an end. Voracek was called for tripping in the neutral zone. Play moved to 4-on-4 for 54 seconds. Couturier made a nice defensive play and Mason authored a glove save on Karlsson two seconds before the Voracek penalty expired.
Anderson absorbed a left circle shot by Schenn off a good initial stretch pass to send him in on a one-on-one. With 16:21 left, Konecny whirled out of the corner with the puck cut across in front and was denied by Anderson on his 23rd save of the game and fourth of the period. With 15:33 left, after Read was knocked off the puck on the half boards and Ottawa claimed possession, Mason stopped Turris from the right circle for his 20th save.
An Ottawa defender fell and a pinching Manning was able to move into the left circle but missed the short side on a shot attempt. Shots were 5-4 for the period (25-22 Flyers for the game) during the ensuing TV timeout at 6:02.
The Couturier line kept Ottawa hemmed in deep on a very strong shift. On the next shift, Konecny, skating on the Giroux line, was hauled down behind the Ottawa net without a call moments after Voracek nearly scored on the rush. Philly seemed to have the momentum.
With 7:25 left, however, Ottawa took a 2-1 lead. Del Zotto and Manning, both on the same side and going to the ice in trying to block a shot (a sliding Del Zotto took Manning's feet out), left only forwards to defend in front. Cody Ceci fed Turris and Turris rifled a shot home from the deep right slot. Fredrik Claesson got the secondary assist on Turris' 26th goal of the season.
Anderson, who had been rock solid all game, gave the Flyers a gift at 14:01. Playing the puck in the trapezoid, he put it right onto Weal's stick. From there, Weal had an easy goal into a wide open net to tie the game at 2-2 on his sixth goal since his AHL recall. The Senators challenged, claiming Simmonds interfered with Anderson's desperate attempt to get back in his net. The challenge was very quickly overturned on replay.
Weise had a chance to put the Flyers ahead, cutting in hard to the net but was denied by Anderson. With 4:53 left, after the Senators hit the Flyers' blueline with speed, Mason had to make a tough stop on Zack Smith after an initial block by Provorov to keep the game at 2-2.
With 3:37 left and the Bellemare line hemmed in deep, Del Zotto iced the puck. The Sens won the draw and Mason absorbed a point shot cleanly. allowing a line change to the Couturier line. Couturier won the draw but the Flyers ended up icing the puck again in the neutral zone. The Flyers had to work hard, but cleared the zone without allowing a shot or chance.
Third period shots were 11-7 in the Flyers' favor (32-25 Flyers through regulation).
Giroux, Voracek and Gostisbehere started the 3-on-3. Couturier, Schenn and Provorov were next. Turris beat Provorov off the rush and hit the post. Mason blockered away a side-angle shot by Mark Stone. After Weal took a drop pass from Schenn and nearly snuck a shot in the short side when Anderson was anticipating a pass, Mason denied Brassard from the right circle.
With 2:15 left, Voracek badly missed the net on a promising rush and triangular passing sequence. A Bellemare shot attempt from the deep slot off a Simmonds drop pass was blocked out of play with 1:45 left.
Filppula, Provorov and Weal controlled the puck for an extended time, bobbing and weaving. On the next shift, Anderson made a good stop on Del Zotto and then Mason denied Turris. Schenn came within a whisker of winning the game on a strong shift with Couturier and Gostisbehere.
Overtime shots were 4-3 Flyers (35-28 Flyers overall).
Weal shot first. He cut in from the left circle and wristed a shot through the five-hole.
Turris was stopped by Mason's skate in the bottom of the first.
Giroux appeared to lose control of the puck but the puck nearly trickled over.
Bobby Ryan had nothing to shoot at as Mason stayed with him and shot wide.
Voracek had Anderson beaten but could not quite finish a backhander upstairs.
Mason stoned Tom Pyatt's five-hole try moving left to end the shootout, 1-0 in Philly's favor.
The Flyers will hold an 11 a.m. practice in Voorhees on Wednesday. On Thursday they will host the New York Islanders.
QUICK HITS: MARCH 28, 2017
* Wayne Simmonds, jokingly asked if he taught Gudas that spin move the D-man tried, said, "I don't do spin moves. Train stays on the tracks."
* Over his last 14 games, Steve Mason has posted a 8-5-1 record, 2.17 GAA, .924 save percentage and a pair of shutouts.
* A sad note: Former Philadelphia Phantoms trainer Chris "Cat" Felix passed away on Monday at the age of 47. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, Kim, and sons Colin and Colby.
* Per Elliotte Friedman, free agent forward Mike Vecchione could make a decision on his NHL destination within the next day. According to Eric Engels, the highly sought 24-year-old Union College center and Hobey Baker Award candidate has narrowed his list down to the New York Rangers, Flyers, Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning.
* Flyers left wing prospect Oskar Lindblom notched a goal and an assist as Brynäs IF Gävle closed out its SHL quarterfinal series in six games with a 6-0 home win over Linköpings HC. Lindblom had five points in the series (one goal, four assists) and actually played into tough puck luck, including hitting a crossbar and a goal post. He was also very strong along the walls. Despite being a winger, he took faceoffs due an apparent upper body injury to his line's center. Lindblom won 43 of 70 (61.4 percent) of his draws during the series. On the ice for just one LHC goal the entire series, he was plus-five (+6, -1) at even strength.
* The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies took a two games to one lead in their first-round QMJHL playoff series with a 2-0 road win on Tuesday night. Flyers defense prospect Philippe Myers was plus-one with two shots on goal. He also took roughing and cross-checking penalties in a whistle-happy contest in general that saw the Huskies go 10-for-10 on the penalty kill and 0-for-5 on the power play.
* Flyers 2016 first-round pick German Rubtsov has not appeared yet in the Chicoutimi Sagueneens first-round QMJHL playoff series against the Victoriaville Tigers. He is also out for Game 4. However, the injured center is traveling with the team. In Game 3 in Victoriaville on Tuesday, Chicoutimi grabbed a 5-2 win to take a commanding three games to zero lead in the series. Flyers 2016 second round pick Pascal Laberge did not record a point, had three shots on goal, one credited hit and was minus-three. He has one point (a goal) in the series to date.
* Flyers goaltending prospect Carter Hart recorded a 25-save shutout on Tuesday night. His Everett Silvertips team took a two games to one series lead in their first-round meeting witht the Victoria Royals
* In the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, the Kitchener Rangers trail the Owen Sound attack, two games to one. Flyers forward prospect Connor Bunnaman sat out games two and three after being suspended two games for a slew-footing match penalty in Game One. He will be eligible to return for Game 4 in Kitchener.