Flyers give up lead in shootout loss to Panthers


Flyers give up lead in shootout loss to Panthers


A listless start.

And two wasted power-play chances in the third period in which the best the Flyers could muster was one puny shot.

Twice now, the Flyers have had a chance to piece together a three-game winning streak.

Twice they’ve failed.

All the good vibes from Tuesday’s thrilling victory over Tampa Bay faded into the cold air Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center against a far lesser opponent, as the Florida Panthers won 3-2 in a shootout.

“We need to find a way to show up, especially at home in the first period. It’s huge,” Flyer captain Claude Giroux said.

“We need those points right now and we’re a desperate team at the start of the season, so we need those points.”

They need to stockpile some points before heading to Canada for back-to-back games next week against Toronto and Winnipeg. So picking up at least one was important.

Yet, you don’t want to be looking back in April and seeing how you threw points away against Buffalo, Washington and Florida when they were there for the taking.

Panther rookie Jonathan Huberdeau, age 19, won it during the shootout, the only part of Ilya Bryzgalov’s game that remains poor from a year ago.

“Sometimes guys, you gotta give them credit,” Bryzgalov said of Huberdeau’s backhand/forehand move. “They are skilled and working on some moves.”

Most of the Flyers placed the blame on a tepid opening period.

“I think that has been the story all year,” Matt Read said. “I don’t know what it is or how to fix it, but we have been coming out flat every game.

“Against Tampa Bay it was the first time we came out and we took control after the opening faceoff and we have to learn from that and take it to teams right away.”

Danny Briere said the leadership group talked specifically about building off the Tampa win and not allowing an early letdown against the Panthers, especially in the first period.

“We were a little slow out of the game and gave them the momentum they needed,” Briere said. “Instead of being on the offense, we were on our heels. Maybe if we come out better we jump to a 1-0 lead instead of playing from behind. The first period I’d like to have back.”

How does it happen after such a competitive game two days earlier?

“You play such a high-tempo game with a lot of emotion, it’s tough to come back right away with the same kind of effort,” Briere said. “You see it all the time, everywhere.

“We tried to warn about it -- everybody was talking about it today. Tough to find that jump in emotion.”

The Flyers had some untimely penalties in this one. Like a tripping call on Bruno Gervais near the mid-point of the third period, leading 2-1.

Steven Weiss used what appeared to be a partial screen to go top shelf and tie it. The Flyers had killed off 17 of 18 power plays until that point.

Even then, the Flyers had two power plays in the final nine minutes, yet failed to mount a really serious challenge on Jose Theodore.

That, too, was pivotal.

“We just couldn’t get the pucks to settle down,” Read said. “Both units out there … too much of the puck going along the wall and we couldn’t get it set up. When we did get it set up we weren’t just making the simple plays and getting pucks to the net.

“I think at a time like that when it’s a tie game, late in the game, we’ve got to get pucks to the net and look for rebounds, a dirty goal. It just didn’t happen for us tonight and we have to keep working on that and learn how to close out games.”

Mike Knuble felt the same way.

“The guys on the second unit, myself included, we couldn’t quite get a handle on it, but when things are going your way that’s how you improve your spot in the standings, capitalizing right there, being timely, like a timely goal,” he said.

“Real timely situation for us to score and pull out a win with five or six minutes left. It’s frustrating to not be able to manufacture more. We’ve manufactured a lot in the overtime and had a great overtime and probably deserved a little bit better in that.”

The Panthers had more bite this time as Weiss and Kris Versteeg were back in their lineup. Both were injured during the 7-1 loss to the Flyers on Jan. 26.

Peter Laviolette talked about a carryover of an excellent all-around game, yet that didn’t happen. No energy, no jam, no nothing at the start.

So which was worse? The start or two, wasted third-period power plays?

“Well, I don’t think you want either one of them,” Laviolette said. “You know you want your power play to be effective and there were some good looks, not the ones in the third period.

“And certainly I don’t think it had the same tempo as the second period, parts of the third period and the overtime. The first period in general just seemed quiet. Both sides.”

Jack Skille made it 1-0 at 10:52 on a shot that bounced under Bryzgalov -- a soft goal.

The only redeeming part of the period came at 11:44 when Jakub Voracek tied it with a power-play goal.

He faked ever so short from the right circle, then unloaded into the net off an assist from Kimmo Timonen, who agreed to a one-year contract extension for $6 million on Thursday (see story).

Other than that, nothing that period.

The overall intensity on both sides picked up in the second period as did Bryzgalov’s play. He faced eight shots and most of them were quality in nature.

It also helped that the Flyers took the lead at 2:42 on Read’s fourth goal of the season against Florida.

Credit Knuble for doing some tough digging at the net, standing his ground at the right post, trying to tuck it under Theodore.

The puck squirted out near the circle where Read popped it into the net, making it 2-1.

Bryzgalov had several good saves in the second half of that period, including one on Shawn Mattias and two on Brian Campbell. He also had a nifty shorthanded save on Marcel Goc, as well.

“We had opportunities to get the point and we did not find success,” Bryzgalov said. “Bottom line.”

Loose pucks
The Flyers were 4-7 in shootouts last season. Including this loss, they are 23-42 in 65 shootouts all-time.

Steve Mason, Flyers hope to channel emotion in opener

Steve Mason, Flyers hope to channel emotion in opener

Fiftieth anniversary home opener. Electricity in the stands. And a stirring tribute to the late Ed Snider, the founding father of the franchise.

All of that is on tap Thursday night for the Flyers as they welcome the Anaheim Ducks to the Wells Fargo Center.

Steve Mason, who didn’t get the start in Los Angeles for the season opener, gets the nod in the even larger home curtain lift.

“It’s a special night for everybody who is involved with it,” the Flyers’ goalie said. “This organization is rich in history, largely because of Mr. Snider. 

“It will be nice to see him get the respect he most definitely deserves beforehand. It will be an honor to be part of it.”

Fans attending the game will have lighted bracelets hanging off their seats for the on-ice tribute to Snider. His family will be there, as well.

When the Flyers offered a bracelet tribute to Snider last April in their playoff home opener (Game 3) against Washington, fans threw the bracelets on the ice during a 6-1 blowout loss.

“It’s up to us to give them reasons to keep them on their wrists,” Mason said. “They’re cool introduction shows and you hope everyone is respectful.”

Some of the Flyers said they need to channel the emotion of the evening toward getting off to a better start in the game. The Flyers had poor starts in their recent three-game road trip out west.

“Most guys are pretty excited, it’s going to be a full house and there’s nothing like opening at home,” said Nick Cousins, who is back in the lineup (Roman Lyubimov is out). “I’m looking forward to it. There will be a lot of emotion in the building. 

“Mr. Snider was the heart and soul of the Flyers. Very passionate about the hockey team. Like I said, there’s going to be a lot of emotion in the building. Hopefully, we can get this win for him. The boys are looking forward to it.”

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he addressed his club briefly today about channeling their energy off the Snider ceremony into something positive without being consumed by it.

“We discussed it a little bit in a quick team meeting,” Hakstol said. “And really, there’s nothing more to be said. Take that emotion, take that energy and direct in the right way into our game. 

“Sometimes, that’s easier said than done, but our group is veteran enough in here that we will be able to do that.”

On Cousins
Hakstol said he didn’t want to leave Cousins sit “too long.” 

Cousins said the explanation for his benching in Chicago wasn’t punitive and that Hakstol explained to him he wanted to get Lyubimov his first taste of NHL play.

“I really like what Lubey did in his role the other night,” Hakstol said. “I thought he took a step forward. But tonight we got Cuz back in there and the things he brings to the table are important to us.”

Provorov bounce-back
Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov was minus-5 in the 7-4 loss at Chicago. He was responsible, in part, for three goals.

“It happens to the best of us,” Provorov said, sounding like a veteran. “The best players in the world make mistakes. If nobody made mistakes, the game would end 0-0. 

“The thing that separates the better players from average players is they limit those kind of nights. It happens to all of us. You learn from it and move on.” 

Flyers-Ducks 5 things: An extra-meaningful home opener

Flyers-Ducks 5 things: An extra-meaningful home opener

Flyers vs. Ducks
7 p.m. on CSN, Pregame Live at 6

The Wells Fargo Center will be filled with emotion Thursday night.

It marks the beginning of the Flyers’ home schedule for the organization’s first season without iconic founder Ed Snider, who died in April. The team is planning a special pregame tribute to commemorate the man who birthed the franchise in 1966.

Building blocks Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov will make their regular-season home debuts as 19-year-olds, another significant shift for the franchise.

And hockey returns to South Philadelphia.

The Flyers (1-1-1) welcome the Anaheim Ducks (0-3-1) for their 2016-17 home opener.

Here are five things to know for the game:

1. Schenn returns
With Brayden Schenn’s return from a three-game suspension, the Flyers now see a full arsenal at the head of their lineup, making for a top six head coach Dave Hakstol and the front office likely envisioned when the decision came to keep Konecny.

Schenn will rejoin Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds on the Flyers’ first line, followed by the fast-starting second unit of Konecny, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, which has produced 10 points over the opening three games.

"Obviously Brayden coming back is going to be big for us," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday. "He's a physical presence, he scores goals, he's good on the power play. So I think Brayden [will make] a big impact, too, so it's nice to get your lines in how Hak foresees them.”

The 25-year-old forward, with a new four-year deal signed this offseason after a career year, is a huge component to the Flyers’ man advantage, on which he scored the team’s second-most goals (11) and tied for the second-most points (22).

Typically a player that heats up in January and February, Schenn is motivated beginning the season in position to replicate his 26-goal, 33-assist campaign in 2015-16.

"I think I continue to get more confident and get better every year,” Schenn said. “I think heading into this year, I start off with a great opportunity to play with great players throughout the start here and try to run with it. I feel confident, I feel good heading into Game 1 for me.

"I'm going to do everything in my power to try and beat my points from last year."

2. The rookie’s response
That would be Provorov, who endured his first game to forget as an NHLer in the Flyers’ 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks on Tuesday.

The blueliner committed a few mistakes, highlighted by a costly blunder, en route to a game-worst minus-5 rating.

Provorov has spoiled fans thus far with his precociousness. For once, he actually looked 19.

It’ll be interesting to see how he answers in a hyped-up environment such as the home opener. The Flyers are not worried, nor should they be.

"Even though there were a couple of mistakes and a couple of things that didn't go right, he just kept playing,” Hakstol said. “He kept trying to make a difference in the game. I think that shows his overall mentality and his care of the team. Those are things that kind of tell you where his maturity level is at."

3. Not-so mighty Ducks
Anaheim is off to a lousy start.

Winless through four contests, the Ducks are 29th among the NHL in both goals per game (1.75) and goal differential (minus-5).

Interestingly, Anaheim was handed a five-game road trip to start the season. The Ducks also started slow in 2015-16, going 1-7-2 over their first 10 games. However, they finished with an overall goal differential of plus-26 and a playoff berth.

They also went 21-15-5 on the road and boasted the league’s No. 1 power play and penalty kill.

The absences of forward Rickard Rakell (abdomen) and defenseman Hampus Lindholm (contract holdout) have not helped.

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: We’ll say Schenn — who’s “chomping at the bit,” according to Hakstol — makes a dent in his first game. Over his past four season debuts, Schenn has two goals and one assist.

Ducks: Skilled center Ryan Getzlaf is a tough matchup with his 6-foot-4 frame. He also owns five goals and 10 assists in 12 career games against the Flyers.

5. This and that
• Steve Mason will start in net for the Flyers after relief duty in Tuesday’s loss. He’s 5-9-2 with a 3.36 goals-against average and .889 save percentage in 17 games lifetime against the Ducks.

• Anaheim goalie John Gibson is 0-2-1 with a 3.07 goals-against average to start the season. He’s faced the Flyers only once in his career, beating them, 4-2, on Dec. 27 of last season with 24 saves.

• Nick Cousins is back in the lineup for Roman Lyubimov. The forwards were swapped on Tuesday as Cousins was scratched and Lyubimov made his NHL debut.

Michael Raffl is out 10 to 14 days with an upper-body injury. Schenn essentially fills his spot in the lineup.

• The Flyers have lost three of their last four home openers.

• Konecny leads all NHL rookies in assists with four.