Buffaloed: Special Teams Breakdowns, Questionable Calls Cost Flyers First Win

Buffaloed: Special Teams Breakdowns, Questionable Calls Cost Flyers First Win

The Flyers had a lot to overcome in order to pick up their
first points in the standings of the season on Sunday. They had to play on the
road roughly 18 hours removed from their first game of the season. They had
another flat first period that found them behind 1-0 coming out of the
intermission.

Then there were the six power plays they gave the Sabres, of
which they scored on three of to key a 5-2 victory in their home opener. Philadelphia drops to 0-2-0.

There is no doubt that the Flyers’ penalty killing unit share a lot
of the responsibility in both losses, as they have allowed opponents to convert
on five of nine chances (55.6%). However, one must wonder what might have been
in Buffalo were it not for a series of downright terrible calls by the officiating
crew, specifically the two that wiped goals off the board.

The first bad call came late in the opening frame, right as
the Flyers were finally starting to get their legs in under them. Down 1-0,
Luke Schenn ripped a wicked slapper off of netminder Ryan Miller, who left the
puck sitting right on his front porch. As Miller tried to poke it away, Ruslan
Fedotenko came crashing into the play, sending the disk wobbling through the
air and into the goal.

But Fedotenko bumped Miller ever so slightly in performing
this action, while the goalie – whether out of embellishment or desperation –
slid backward into his own net. This apparently was enough to warrant a
goaltender interference call, and the score was waved off.

It was an obviously blown call upon second look. Miller was
barely breathed on, let alone interfered with, and Fedotenko wasn’t even in the crease or anything like that,
yet a goal was erased.

It would not be the last.

The Flyers did take a 2-1 lead
early in the second period, but were unable to stay out of the penalty box, and
eventually the game started to get away from them. It was 4-2 with under two
minutes remaining in the third when head coach Peter Laviolette pulled Ilya
Bryzgalov for an extra skater – also when the men in the striped shirts would
strike again.

Sean Couturier won the faceoff, and the Flyers succeeded in generating some instant pressure with an extra man. After a couple quick passes to create some space, Claude Giroux snapped the puck on net, it hit Scott Hartnell in front, and Wayne Simmonds sort of jabbed it toward the goal.

Once again Miller was unable to control, only
this time he wasn’t exactly sure of where it was. He thought the puck was
covered, but it was actually trickling into the net as chaos ensued in front of
him. This was all too much for the referee, who from a far side angle –
his vision blocked – whistled the play dead just as the biscuit was crossing
the goal line.

What could’ve been a 4-3 or even 4-4 game heading to
overtime remained a hopeless two-goal deficit, which seconds later grew to
three on an empty netter.

There were other plays where we could perhaps be critical of
the officials, though those might be nitpicking. There is absolutely no denying
they had a direct role in costing the Flyers tallies on these two particular plays
however.

As we mentioned at the top, the loss can’t entirely be
blamed on those non-goals. Bryzgalov had practically no chance on two of the
three power-play goals, one of which appeared to deflect off of Kimmo Timonen’s
skate. Another occurred when a shift change went awry leading to a breakaway at the end of a 5-on-3. Schenn was notably in the box for two of
these, as well as a 4-on-4.

That said, in a short season where every point matters that
much more, it’s hard to watch one slip away in part because a third
party got involved. Would have been nice to see how things played out had every goal actually
been counted.

(Videos courtesy CBS Sports via Puck Daddy)

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

Twenty-five of the Union’s 34 games in 2017 will be featured on CSN and TCN, as Jim Curtin’s club vies for a second straight playoff berth.

Twenty matches will air on TCN, while five can be seen on CSN. The nine others will be appear across 6ABC, ESPN and FOX Sports 1.

The Union’s season opener on March 5 at the Vancouver Whitecaps will broadcast on TCN and the team’s home opener on March 11 against Toronto FC will air on CSN. The next three games — March 18 at Orlando City SC, April 1 at D.C. United and April 8 vs. the Portland Timbers — will be shown on TCN.

The Union are coming off an 11-14-9 season and their second-ever trip to the MLS playoffs in which they suffered a first-round exit to Toronto FC.

For the Union’s full 2017 schedule, click here.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).