Flyers start fast, but fail to hold off Devils

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Flyers start fast, but fail to hold off Devils

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. – Ilya Bryzgalov watched the entire game unfold from the ice. But like his teammates and undoubtedly their fans, the Flyers’ goaltender didn’t know where things went wrong Friday night against the New Jersey Devils.

“I don’t know,” said an obviously frustrated Bryzgalov. “You’ve got to ask the coach. He makes the statements.”

The Flyers sat back and watched a 3-1 first-period lead turn into an eventual 5-3 loss, bringing their record against Atlantic Division opponents to a dismal 1-4.

And as for the coach’s statement, Peter Laviolette didn’t have much to say other than what was immediately apparent to anyone who watched more than the first 20 minutes of Friday’s affair at the Prudential Center.

“We came out and played a good first period,” Peter Laviolette said. “The second period and the third period were not as strong for us offensively. We made a mistake and it ended up in our net.”

The game actually started off poorly for the Flyers, who gave up a goal to Travis Zajac on the very first Devils shot just 40 seconds after the first puck dropped. But instead of deflating and falling back on their heels after the early deficit, the Flyers responded.

Winger Wayne Simmonds kicked off an impressive first-period rebound with a backhanded shot from the slot on the power play that tied the game at 1. Less than two minutes later, Mike Knuble swept a shot up through a crowd of skaters and past Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

Forty-eight seconds after that, Matt Read added to the tally, giving the Flyers the 3-1 lead they simply weren’t able to hold onto. The three goals, scored in just 2:36, are the fastest the Flyers have ever scored against Brodeur – 23 seconds faster than their previous record against the veteran goaltender, set in 2002.

“It seemed like every shift we had that period, we were down there cycling pretty good,” Knuble said. “We had a couple of really good shifts right away.”

But once the second period kicked off, those strong shifts became a thing of the past. The Flyers allowed another early goal 26 seconds into the second period to Alexei Ponikarovsky, playing in his first game since returning to the Devils. Patrik Elias capitalized on an ugly turnover by Kimmo Timonen to tie the game at 3.

“In the first period, we were on the attack offensively,” Laviolette said. “The second and third period, not quite as much. They picked up their game a little bit. They had their chances in the second and the third – and they scored on them.

“That’s pretty much it.”

The Flyers managed to hold the Devils to just 19 shots (compared to their 28), which should have resulted in a better outcome. Bryzgalov played a solid game once again, but turnovers were once again a problem. Too many times, the Flyers missed passes or got just a bit too sloppy with the puck.

And when they did, the Devils were able to capitalize.

“We probably had a few too many turnovers in the neutral zone and they were quality chances that we gave up,” Luke Schenn said. “We kept them to a low shot amount, but a lot of those were too quality chances.”

As rough as the Flyers’ final period felt, they held the Devils to just three shots. David Clarkson’s goal with just about nine minutes left in the game felt like the final blow needed. The Devils added to it, though, with an empty-netter from Steve Bernier with less than two minutes to play.

The Flyers have now lost four of their last five regular-season games against the Devils, and their last six including the postseason. It’s a tough pill to swallow, especially after the way Friday’s game looked after the first period.

“Guys were skating hard today,” Claude Giroux said. “It’s a hard rink to play in, but when you got a 3-1 lead, I think you need to find a way to get it done. We’re going to learn from this, obviously.”

The good news? The Flyers won’t have long to dwell on the loss. They’re back at it Saturday evening in Montreal, where they’ll face the Canadiens in less than 24 hours.

“You’ve got to forget about what happened tonight and try to win tomorrow night’s game,” Bryzgalov said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Flyers-Blackhawks 10 observations: Have yourself a day, Ivan Provorov

Flyers-Blackhawks 10 observations: Have yourself a day, Ivan Provorov

It was the Ivan Provorov show at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon when the Flyers took down the NHL-leading Blackhawks, 3-1 (see Instant Replay).
 
The orange and black are now on a season-best four-game winning spree and have climbed past the Capitals for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.
 
Let’s delve into the game with 10 observations.
 
1. Remember this? When Provorov tripped over his own two skates in Chicago? It was a bit of an embarrassing moment for the 19-year-old. It resulted in an easy Blackhawks goal and, in many ways, served as Provorov’s rookie initiation as he finished a minus-5. Well, you can forget all that. The Flyers’ young, prized blueliner, who entered with one goal in 25 games, showed Chicago his true colors Saturday by ripping off two markers in 31 seconds of the second period. Good for him.
 
2. Brayden Schenn was extra demonstrative after extending the Flyers’ lead to 3-1 in the second period. Can you blame him? The 25-year-old had just one goal in his last 17 games. Schenn has been up and down the lineup, playing on all four lines and at both wing and center. He looked good here with Travis Konecny, who delivered a surgical pass to set up Schenn.
 
3. Patrick Kane had a secondary assist but that was all as the Flyers kept him mostly quiet. Kane, a four-time All-Star and last season’s Hart Memorial Trophy winner for NHL MVP, had 24 points coming in, good for seventh in the league.
 
4. Steve Mason was good in net. He’s now won three straight, a span in which he’s stopped 90 of 95 shots.
 
5. Aside from a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty by Nick Cousins in the third period, the Flyers played with great discipline. Chicago wasn’t awarded any power plays until there was 6:31 left in the game. The Flyers forced the Blackhawks to beat them at full strength and they couldn’t.
 
6. Cousins, Chris VandeVelde and Michael Raffl all tallied an assist apiece. The Flyers outshot Chicago, 30-27, and had just seven giveaways.
 
7. The Blackhawks’ opening goal was a nice one. Artem Anisimov adeptly eluded a sliding Provorov in front of the crease and fed Artemi Panarin for a one-timer. Mason had no chance. Panarin, as you may know, beat out Shayne Gostisbehere for last season’s Calder Memorial Trophy given to the NHL’s top rookie. The 25-year-old has nine goals and 22 points this season.
 
8. Unexpectedly, Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford underwent an appendectomy at a Philadelphia hospital Saturday, putting Chicago in bind. Second-string netminder Scott Darling received the start, but the Blackhawks needed an emergency backup. Enter the pride of Temple, Eric Semborski, a 23-year-old from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, who played club hockey for the Owls. Chicago inked him to an amateur tryout, essentially for one day. He was seen in warmups wearing a Temple mask, which sported “Philly Proud” and “Temple Tuff.”
 
 9. Chicago came in 13-3-2 since Oct. 28. However, the Blackhawks overall are 6-6-1 on the road compared to 10-1-2 at home. The Flyers did catch a break as Chicago was without Crawford and three-time All-Star Jonathan Toews (back). Still, a really good win for the Flyers against a team that was atop the NHL.
 
10. Wondering if there were any “woo” chants in the first home game since Jakub Voracek blasted fans for it? Well, only a select few had the audacity to try it but the woos never gained steam. Fans are past it.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Blackhawks 1

BOX SCORE

The Flyers now have a legitimate win streak going.
 
They defeated the Chicago Blackhawks, 3-1, in a Saturday afternoon matinee at the Wells Fargo Center for their fourth straight victory (see 10 observations).
 
It’s the longest win streak of the season for Dave Hakstol’s club.
 
Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov scored twice in the second period just 31 seconds apart to erase a 1-0 deficit and put the Flyers ahead. The Flyers scored three goals on their first four shots that period.
 
Chicago has now lost 13 consecutive regular-season games in Philadelphia. The Hawks last won here in 1996-97, when the building opened as CoreStates Center.

Steve Mason (26 Saves) made his third straight start in goal for the Flyers, while Scott Darling was a late sub in goal for Chicago given Corey Crawford’s emergency appendectomy surgery. 
 
Notable goals
Artemi Panarin’s one-timer from the left circle in the first period saw all five Flyers on the opposite side of the ice. 
 
Twice is nice
Provorov’s first goal was high shot above the left circle. His second goal came from the high slot low toward the left post on Darling.
 
What-a-pass
Travis Konecny threaded a puck between two Blackhawks to Brayden Schenn’s stick to set up the Flyers' third goal in the second period.
 
Inconclusive
In an effort to help Mason, Provorov had his glove hand over the puck in the Flyers' net and cleared it out. Replays were inconclusive. All you could see is Provorov moving his glove hand and the puck squirting out … but from where? It should have been a goal, but if the video doesn’t show the puck in the net, even if logic suggests otherwise, it’s not a goal. 
 
Goalie report
Mason didn’t face the kind of shot challenges that Darling did, but he did a very good job of slowing things down and forcing faceoffs by covering up shots in the paint rather than attempt to keep pucks alive.
 
Power play
The Flyers had their pickings on their first opportunity and the Hawks’ lowly 30th-ranked PK units did nothing but rely on Darling to make saves.
 
Penalty kill
Chicago didn’t have a full power play. It got an abbreviated one in the third period, when the Flyers were called for too many men on the ice during a power play, which is rather incongruous when you think about it.
 
Father and sons
The Flyers' annual event began Saturday, as players’ fathers watched the game here at the Wells Fargo Center. The fathers will travel with the team to Nashville for Sunday’s game as well.
 
Scratches
Defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy) and Radko Gudas (ill); forwards Boyd Gordon (back spasms), Sean Couturier (left knee) and Scott Laughton (healthy); goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee).
 
Up next
This is a back-to-back situation for the Flyers. They leave after the game for Nashville, where they will meet the Predators on Sunday at a rare playing time of 6 p.m.