Flyers Notes: Gustafsson takes shot off shin

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Flyers Notes: Gustafsson takes shot off shin

Erik Gustafsson’s hard-luck season continued Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals.
 
The 24-year-old defenseman blocked a shot from Caps winger Eric Fehr at the 7:00 mark of the second period and didn't return.

“He hit me on the [left] shin pad. It’s OK, just a lower-body injury,” Gustafsson said.
 
Asked if he can play Saturday against Ottawa, he replied, “We’ll see. It got treated and we’ll see how fast it goes. I’ll be back sooner than later.”
 
As for pain, he said, “It’s not great, but it could definitely be worse.”
 
He knows worse. Gustafsson previously blocked a shot while playing with the Adirondack Phantoms on Dec. 15, 2012 and missed six weeks with a fracture in his lower right leg.
 
He was finally healthy enough to be called up by the Flyers on Feb. 16.

In seven games now, Gustafsson is averaging 18:47 of ice time and has two assists.
 
“It’s part of the game, stuff happens,” he said.
 
Head hunting
Danny Briere was very unhappy after the game because there was no call on Alex Ovechkin’s attempted elbow to his head midway into the final period.
 
It didn’t land entirely.
 
“Ovechkin, that was a dangerous hit to my head,” Briere said. “I braced to take the hit and he came flying at me.”
 
The Flyers will want that hit reviewed by the league office, especially in light of Harry Zolnierczyk's possible suspension for his five-minute kneeing penalty to Mathieu Perreault that drew a game misconduct in the final 25 seconds.
 
Caps coach Adam Oates said he did not think Harry Z’s hit was dirty.
 
“I think it’s a product of our whole game,” Oates said. “There is 30 seconds left, the game's over and Matty thought he could stick handle through the team.
 
“It’s not what we do, all of us tonight, and guys are sitting there waiting for you and you get hit.”
 
Laviolette agreed.
 
“I think it was a clean, hockey hit,” he said.
 
Stick throwing 'for fun'
It’s becoming something of a habit. Ilya Bryzgalov threw his stick again during the morning skate on Wednesday.
 
He did the same thing three times in a two-day period last week. After the Flyers beat the Capitals, Bryzgalov was asked why.
 
“For fun,” Bryzgalov said simply.
 
Has there been a little frustration?
 
“No, it was for fun,” Bryzgalov said. “I just wanted to.”
 
Do you generally throw the stick for fun?
 
“Oh, once in a while,” Bryzgalov continued. “Sometimes you want something, right? Sometimes you wake up in the morning and you want something badly.”
 
We should point out Laviolette was not amused on Wednesday and let Bryz know that when he skated to the bench after the morning skate.
 
When Bryzgalov finished talking to the media, Scott Hartnell took his place in the locker room. When the subject of the goalie and his stick came up, Hartnell smirked.
 
“He can throw a stick all he wants if he plays like that,” Hartnell said. 
 
Shelley update
Forward Jody Shelley underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to repair a damaged left hip.
 
“His surgery went well,” general manager Paul Holmgren said, adding Shelley is out indefinitely.
 
Shelley is currently on long-term injury, which allowed the Flyers to trade for Simon Gagne on Tuesday.
 
Loose pucks
Among the scouts at the game, three were from Edmonton, including Craig MacTavish and Kevin Lowe, the Oilers' hockey operations president. ... Mike Knuble was a healthy scratch for the game. ... Nick Grossmann blocked a shot late in the first period but was back on the ice for the end of it. Grossmann recorded seven blocked shots to increase his league-leading season total to 61. ... Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett attended the game. ... The Flyers'  power play was 1 for 6 against Toronto. It rebounded nicely against Washington, going 2 for 3. ... Luke Schenn led the Flyers in ice time (24:36), hits (six), and shots (five). ... Claude Giroux extended his points streak to six games with a goal and an assist. He has four goals and eight assists for 12 points during the streak. He recorded his third consecutive multi-point game and has multiple points in five of the Flyers’ last six games overall. ... Gagne’s goal was his 260th career Flyers goal (regular season).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).

Changes coming? Ron Hextall says Flyers 'not very happy right now'

Changes coming? Ron Hextall says Flyers 'not very happy right now'

WASHINGTON — As the Flyers filed into the visiting locker room of the Verizon Center, no temper tantrums were thrown, nor were any chairs.
 
In the end, “What good does that do?” head coach Dave Hakstol asked.
 
Instead, the Flyers’ dressing area Sunday felt like a morgue. Players quietly and somberly stuffed their gear away. Once all dispersed, in walked Ron Hextall — and none too pleased.
 
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for us,” he said softly, “and quite honestly, we’re not very happy right now.”
 
For a man that loathes losing more than anyone, nobody expected him to be. That much was already understood during the third-period catastrophe of his team’s demoralizing 5-0 defeat to the Capitals.
 
What wasn’t known was what follows? The Flyers have gone from 10 consecutive victories — the franchise’s longest winning streak in 31 years — to 11 losses over the following 14 games and a state of dismay.
 
As the Flyers limp into their NHL mandated five-day bye week, do players sense an imminent shakeup within the roster?
 
“It’s a good question,” Claude Giroux said, “but I don’t know.”
 
Despite never losing his sense of prudence, Hextall ruled nothing out.
 
“Obviously we always keep an eye on the big club and the Phantoms, as well,” Hextall said. “Right now, we’re going to stick with what we’ve got here and move forward. But on a day-to-day basis, I always look at how we can make our club better and, if there’s something that we think makes our club better, we’ll do it."
 
If Hextall wants to add some fresh blood from within, the organization is not lacking for young and spry prospects full of energy down at Lehigh Valley, where the Phantoms are 24-10-2 and third among the entire AHL entering Monday.
 
For the Flyers, who have surrendered a league-worst 144 goals, could defensemen T.J. Brennan, Travis Sanheim or Robert Hagg be options? Brennan owns NHL experience, has 30 points and is a plus-10 with Lehigh Valley. Sanheim, a big and touted prospect, is also a plus-10 to go along with seven goals and 11 assists. And Hagg, a seasoned 21-year-old, is “just about NHL-ready,” according to Flyers assistant general manager Chris Pryor, via ESPN’s Craig Custance (see Future Flyers Report).
 
“The worst thing you can do is overreact when things aren’t going right and that’s not going to happen,” Hextall said. “But if we can find a way to make ourselves better, we will.”
 
Hextall’s biggest gripe with his current team is its dearth of mental fortitude.
 
“Right now we’re making a lot of mental mistakes and it’s killing us,” he said.
 
And then it snowballs, Hextall said, which good teams prevent from happening.
 
“When things are going wrong, all of a sudden something happens and things tend to really go wrong,” he said. “That’s where we have to get better. Mentally we have to be better, have to be better. If something goes wrong, let’s move on. It happened a lot earlier in the year where things go wrong and we fought through it. Right now, the negative energy seems to be a landslide.”
 
Following the meltdown in Washington, players didn’t question the effort.
 
“We care,” Michael Del Zotto said. “No one likes losing. It’s not fun for anyone. But sometimes effort's not enough. Everyone wants to win in this league. It's a matter of execution. Whether it's offensively or defensively in all situations, we're not doing it.”
 
Hextall believes the effort has been “sufficient.”
 
“Again, the mental mistakes,” he said. “It seems like when something goes against us, it goes against us hard and that’s something we’ve got to battle through. You can’t let a little bit of adversity turn into a lot of adversity. You’ve got to nip it in the bud and we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
 
As for the leadership structure and coaching, Hextall defended both.
 
“Our leaders haven’t been good enough. Neither have our lesser guys,” Hextall said. “Nobody’s been good enough right now. You don’t win 10 and then go through a stretch like this without responsibility being everywhere.
 
“Line changes, different D combinations, flipping [Steve Mason] and [Michal Neuvirth]. Everything that’s there, Hak has tried. In the end, it comes down to our whole group just being better and not reacting the way we do when something negative happens. That’s the game of sports, right?”
 
The game goes away for the Flyers this week (see 10 observations). When it returns, who knows which team we’ll see.
 
“We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror, hold ourselves accountable,” Del Zotto said. “As far as changes and personnel moves, that's out of our control.”
 
That, of course, is up to Hextall.
 
“We’ve got to keep our heads now,” the GM said. “Nobody’s going to get us out of this. It’s the whole group. This isn’t about one thing or one move or one player not playing or one player playing. This is about our whole group.”