Flyers Fall as Shutout Turns to Shootout

Flyers Fall as Shutout Turns to Shootout

It's often said that a tie is like kissing your sister. I'm not sure who came up with that nor what his relationship with his sister was, nor what simile he'd come up with for a shootout loss. Personally, I think I've gone numb to them.

The Flyers are so amazingly bad at both ends of them that once the overtime horn has sounded, they might as well send the Mites on Ice back out there. Tuesday night was no different, with Ilya Bryzgalov and Evgeni Nabokov posting dueling shutouts through regulation and the OT, after which Bryz surrendered goals on back-to-back Isles attempts and his shooters were unable to score even one.

Who's up for a recap of a scoreless hockey game…? Right this way, Miranda Kerr and colleagues…

After a pair of weekend losses, the Flyers came out firing early and often. They outplayed the Islanders for much of the night, able to do everything but beat Nabokov (admittedly an important shortcoming). In terms of what they could change or improve upon from this one, I'm not sure there was much. Despite the loss, this was their best effort in four games against the Isles this season.

They did have some sloppy play requiring goaltending bailout, and Bryz was up to the challenge throughout. Despite the OTL/SOL (and a poor shootout showing), Bryz did notch a shutout on the night, his second of the season and 25th of his career.

He didn't have to face nearly as much rubber as Nabokov though. Nabby turned aside 45 shots, and he's now let up only one goal in 85 shots over the Isles' last two games against the Flyers. Bryz only had to stop 18, but some were pretty dangerous.

Claude Giroux played an excellent game, but his stick remains snakebitten. He failed to get good wood on a few golden opportunities, continuing a stretch that has seen him miss some open nets as well. The good news is, a player that good won't stay cold for long, and these opportunities will go his way soon. G's effort was undoubtedly where it needs to be, never more evident than in his forechecking throughout.

Comfort Zone
One area the Flyers may need to work on is taking away the opposing goalie's comfort zone. They took 86 shots, 45 finding the net, but Nabokov seemed to have plenty of room to make almost all of them. As it became increasingly clear that Nabby wasn't going to let anything straightforward in, I was surprised the Flyers didn't do more crease crashing or at least crowding. In a close game, I guess they just didn't want to give up any power plays to the league's 6th best unit.

Unrelated: Remember when the Flyers were hot after Nabokov?

The PECO Penalty Kill?
How about that PK unit? They came to play tonight, at times looking more dangerous than a well-oiled power play. Giroux and Max Talbot would have notched the game-winner while down a man had it not been for a huge Nabokov save.

Shootouts Only Count in Horseshoes and the Regular Season
Yes the Flyers absolutely suck in the shootout, but unless they miss the playoffs entirely, which doesn't seem likely, it's really not a big deal. They do away with this bullshit when the postseason begins, so contrary to popular belief, maybe they shouldn't be spending that much time and energy trying to improve on their performance in it. It's not like they don't already practice breakaways, both shooters and goalies… I'm not sure what else they can do. Some fans are starting to blame Lavvy, but what can he do? Switch to a cold Sergei Bobrovsky? Put on Bryz's Winter Classic pads during the OT and take over?

Tonight, he tried to switch things up to no avail, electing to shoot second and having Wayne Simmonds go before Giroux. Simmonds has been hot lately, and G's battling a forcefield in front of the opposing net. His goalie overcommitted on the first Isles attempt, and both of his shooters did the same.

Raise and Reward
Before the game, Frans Nielsen agreed to an extension to stay with the Islanders. Fitting that he scored the winner in the shootout…

Highlights

Streaks…
The Isles have now won back-to-back games in Philly after having gone winless here since April 2007.

Simmonds saw his scoring streak snapped at three games, during which he posted four goals. That may have factored into Lavvy's decision to use Simmonds as his second skater, even before Giroux. Simmonds doing his best #hartnelldown may see him watching the next one.

The Flyers have lost three games in a row for the first time this season.

Instant Replay: No. 22 Butler 74, No. 2 Villanova 66

Instant Replay: No. 22 Butler 74, No. 2 Villanova 66

BOX SCORE

VILLANOVA, Pa. – No. 22 Butler scored 18 straight points down the stretch and stunned No. 2 Villanova 74-66 Wednesday night at the Pavilion.

The loss was the third this year for the defending national champs and the second to Butler. It was also Villanova’s first loss on campus in more than four years.

Villanova led by as many as eight points early in the second half and by seven at 49-42 with 9½ minutes left before Butler scored 18 straight points over a 5½-minute span to take a 60-49 lead with four minutes left.

Villanova went scoreless from 10:35 left in the game to 4:05, a span of 6½ minutes.

Villanova cut the lead from 11 to four in the final minute but Butler made its final eight foul shots to secure its first win ever on the road against the Wildcats.

The loss was the first ever on campus for Villanova’s seniors. Villanova hadn’t lost at the Pavilion since February of 2013.

Sophomore Jalen Brunson shot 9 for 13 after his 7 for 7 against Seton Hall Saturday and finished with 24 points.

The rest of the Wildcats shot a combined 16 for 44.

Josh Hart scored 18 points on 7 for 18 shooting.

Kris Jenkins shot just 1 for 8 and 1 for 5 from three for three points, and Mikal Bridges also had three points on just 1 for 3 from the field.

Butler led 8-0 after 3½ minutes before Villanova outscored the Bulldogs 44-28 over the next 22½ minutes to take their biggest lead, 44-36, with 13 minutes left.

What it means 
Butler, which beat Villanova 66-58 on Jan. 4 in Indianapolis, completed a season sweep of Villanova. Butler was 0-7 before this year against the Wildcats.

Villanova fell to 26-3 and 13-3 in the Big East. Butler improved to 22-6 and 11-5, keeping alive its hopes of winning the Big East regular-season title.

One more Villanova win or Butler loss and Creighton loss would deliver the conference title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament to the Wildcats.

The loss ended Villanova’s record 48-game winning streak at the Pavilion. The Wildcats’ last loss on campus was by a 55-52 score to Providence on Feb. 3, 2013.

Stat of the day
Hart, a 79 percent foul shooter, was 0 for 4 from the foul line and missed two front ends of one-and-ones.  

Turning point
The Wildcats led by six when Kelan Martin and Tyler Lewis made threes 45 seconds apart to tie the game at 49 and start that 18-0 run. Villanova never got the momentum back.

By the numbers
• Martin led Butler with 16 points and Kamar Baldwin added 15 before fouling out.

• Butler shot 7 for 13 from three in the second half and 10 for 25 overall.

• Villanova was just 5 for 19 from three.

• Villanova committed 10 of its 15 turnovers in the first half 

• Villanova shot just 10 for 16 from the foul line, with seven of the 10 makes coming in the final 79 seconds 

• Butler had 21 assists on 27 baskets, Villanova had eight assists on 23 baskets 

• Villanova scored 17 points in the game’s final 4:05 

• Senior post Darryl Reynolds, Villanova’s second-leading rebounder at 5.5 per game, sat out a fourth straight game with a rib injury. He’s considered day to day.

What’s next
On Saturday afternoon, Villanova plays its final game at the Pavilion until November of 2018, facing Creighton at 3 p.m.

Villanova will play most of its home games at the Wells Fargo Center next year.

The Wildcats finish the regular season at Georgetown on March 4 and open play in the Big East Tournament five days later.

Instant Replay: Capitals 4, Flyers 1

Instant Replay: Capitals 4, Flyers 1

BOX SCORE

Fresh off their poor Western Canada road trip, the Flyers faced the top team in the NHL for a Wednesday Night Rivalry tilt at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
The last time the Washington Capitals met the Flyers in mid-January, the Caps humiliated them, 5-0, in D.C.
 
No rout this time, but the Caps still defeated the Flyers, 4-1, as more precious points slipped away in the search for a wild card. 
 
Evgeny Kuznetsov had two goals for the Caps. His second was a crusher, coming in the final 2:01 of the second period to give Washington a 3-1 lead.
 
The Flyers are 3-6-1 since coming out of the All-Star break and 9-15-4 since their 10-game win streak.
 
Coach’s challenge
Barry Trotz challenged Jakub Voracek’s goal 23 seconds into the game for goaltender interference. It was an easy goal to overturn, too, as Dale Weise clearly pushed Braden Holtby aside before Voracek scored.
 
No goal
Trailing 2-0, Flyers rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov thought he scored in the opening minute of the second period. The game stopped and the Flyers celebrated while the officials huddled. Replays showed the puck hit the crossbar.
 
Points
Nick Backstrom’s first-period goal was his fifth goal and 15th point in his last 10 games.
 
Notable goals
Kuznetsov’s power-play goal went in and out of the net so quickly, no one was really certain it was a goal. That is why Sean Couturier remained in the box a good 30 seconds after it was scored.
 
Goalie report
Michal Neuvirth was making his fifth straight in goal.

Holtby had an excellent stop on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s backhander at the right post with 6:18 left in the first period.
 
Power play
The Flyers were 0-for-2. They mixed up their first unit and changed the personnel back to its former self, even putting Shayne Gostisbehere back on the point and Voracek back at the half-wall. Their second power play had several passes just a hair off for a clean shot.
 
Penalty kill
The Caps had the Flyers chasing their passes all over the ice on their power play. They were 1-for-2 in the game.
 
Injuries
The Caps lost defenseman Matt Niskanen in second period with a lower-body injury.
 
Fights
There were several scrums on one board play in the second period but no fights.
 
Scratches
Forwards Jordan Weal (concussion) and Travis Konecny (left ankle and knee), defensemen Nick Schultz (healthy) and Michael Del Zotto (healthy).
 
Up next
The Flyers practice on Thursday 11 a.m. at Skate Zone. They leave later that day for Pittsburgh and will practice Friday at 5 p.m. at Heinz Field for the Stadium Series outdoor game against the Penguins on Saturday.