Home Sweet Nuthin: Flyers Lose Fifth in a Row at Wells Fargo Center

Home Sweet Nuthin: Flyers Lose Fifth in a Row at Wells Fargo Center

Is it too late for the Flyers to tank their
way out of home ice advantage in the playoffs? I kid, of course, but
the situation in South Philly hasn't been pretty lately. On Thursday
night, the Flyers lost their fifth straight game in the Wells Fargo
Center, a 1-0 shutout at the hands of the soon-to-be-eliminated Atlanta
Thrashers. The folks in the playoff ticket sales department can't be
thrilled. Those OTL points don't sell as well as W's... 

The lone bright spot in the night was another strong performance from
Sergei Bobrovsky. Bob didn't have to face a lot of shots (just 22), but
he managed to stay sharp throughout and stop some tough ones. A puck
directed in off the skate of Nik Antropov was the only "shot" to beat
him. Notes after the jump. 

•The Flyers generated some quality scoring opportunities, but
couldn't solve Thrashers goalie Chris Mason despite piling 43 shots on
him. 

•The importance of shot totals (or lack thereof) was on display
again: Per the postgame notes, it was the 15th time the Flyers have
registered 38 or more shots, and their record in those games is just
7-6-2, with five of the losses being shutouts. Hockey's a sport where
"snakebitten" is a reality, and the goal that beat Bobrovsky being the
sole marker in a game the Flyers dramatically outshot their opponent is a
good illustration. It was mind boggling that some of these shots didn't
go in. It was part bad luck, but there were definitely some
opportunities squandered by not getting the puck over Mason's
outstretched pads. 

•Evander Kane frustrated the Flyers again, and not just by earning
his fourth point in as many games against them this season when
assisting on the game's lone goal. Kane also drew two penalties, with
one in particular involving some flair for the dramatic. Soon after
catching Andrej Meszaros with his butt end while throwing his hands up
to avoid a Big Mesz, cutting Meszaros' nose in the process, Kane would
throw his own head back on a subsequent contact by Meszaros for a
penalty. 

•Great night for the PK unit, which absolutely smothered the
Thrashers over six power plays. Unfortunately, the Flyers' power play
unit was almost as impotent and just as ineffective. 

•Jeff Carter had a great opportunity to tie the game in the waning
seconds, but couldn't get it past Mason after a Mike Richards shot
caught iron. 

The loss wasn't the end of the world, nor cause for ritual sharting,
but it's an exercise in optimism to look for the bright side in getting
shut out. Overall, they outplayed the Thrashers for much of the game,
put a lot of shots on net, and got a very good showing from their rookie
goalie. Fortunately, they won't have to play Atlanta in the playoffs,
because that team just has their number lately. But the Flyers aren't
out of the woods yet, failing to win consecutive games for the fourth
straight opportunity. It's looking likely the they will enter the
playoffs with some questions to answer, and not just the annual one
between the pipes.

In lieu of highlights:

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).