Floundering Devils 'want it more' in win over Flyers

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Floundering Devils 'want it more' in win over Flyers

BOX SCORE

It was almost like men playing against kids.
 
Those are Scott Hartnell’s words after a numbing 3-0 loss by the Flyers on Thursday night to the New Jersey Devils. The defeat reduced the Flyers' elimination number to two points.
 
A Rangers’ victory Friday at Buffalo will officially knock the Flyers out of playoff contention.
 
“There have been other nights like this,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I have always said that after the game, you come into the locker room and you sit here, you come in the next morning ... and the players care.
 
“The organization cares. It’s not a comfortable spot. There have been other nights like this as well, but you’ve gotta keep pushing forward.”
 
All the more reason why there should have been a little more urgency in the second period when the Devils won every battle in sight and gained control of the game.
 
“If you want to look at puck battles and who wanted it more, the second and third period, they totally took over the game,” Hartnell said.
 
“It was almost like men playing against kids. We pretty much lost every battle. You do that, you’re not going to win games.”
 
When you’ve reached the end of the regular season, you don’t seek many comparisons to previous games, but this had a familiar look about it.
 
Tight defense. Some big saves. Lack of scoring -- both ways. For a period, anyway.
 
Sort of like the 1-0 loss the Flyers suffered in Buffalo last weekend except the Flyers battled hard all the way through.
 
Not this one.
 
“They’re frustrating to play against,” Hartnell said. “And when you get frustrated, you start doing things that aren’t in the game plan.
 
“Whether it’s a turnover or one try to make a play other than chipping it in, not supporting each other on the breakout, they come hard. They skate hard. They want it more.
 
“It’s always a frustrating game to play the Devils. They probably circle every time they play us and say, ‘This is gonna be a fun game.’ They’re winning and we’re not.”
 
Since Game 2 of last year's playoffs against the Devils, the Flyers have just 14 goals in nine games against New Jersey to go with a 1-8 record. The Rangers aren't the only team that owns the Flyers these days.
 
The Flyers were the Devils’ tonic to end a 10-game losing streak (0-6-4) in which they had just 14 goals to show for it.
 
New Jersey made the most of a 1-0 lead earned early in the second period.
 
Soon after Marty Brodeur denied Claude Giroux off the rush, Jacob Josefson stole a puck off Flyer rookie defenseman Oliver Lauridsen for a breakaway goal by Matt D’Agostini that iced it.
 
The first period was very competitive with neither team having anything to show for it.
 
As usual, New Jersey’s tenacious forecheck caused the Flyers problems on the breakout, while Brodeur continually thwarted dump-ins by playing pucks up the forwards quickly and catching the Flyers in transition.
 
The Flyers’ best chance in the period came with eight minutes left when Mike Knuble briefly was alone in the slot with the puck on his stick and no one but Brodeur in front of him.
 
Devils defenseman Peter Harrold, however, blocked Knuble’s shot.
 
While the Flyers were getting some chances off the rush, Brodeur was either making routine saves or the Devils' defense was stifling the play.
 
A three-on-one into the Devils' end saw it turned right around as New Jersey mounted a two-on-one the other way off a turnover.
 
The play culminated with Ryan Carter’s wrister from the left circle that beat Ilya Bryzgalov high short side for a 1-0 lead at 5:36.
 
Two of the Devils' goals came off turnovers.
 
“The second period there was a little bit of a letdown on our part,” Danny Briere said. “The biggest problem is we don’t know how to play a patient game. The last two years, we have struggled against the Devils because they’re patient.
 
“They wait for their chance. We didn’t give them much. You look at the two goals we gave up five-on-five, they were bad turnovers in the neutral zone where we had complete control of the puck.
 
“They don’t make those mistakes. Whenever they get in that position, they just make a safe play and wait to live another day. That’s what we need to learn.”
 
Carter’s goal broke the Devils' scoreless streak at 146:13. Also, New Jersey had not enjoyed a lead in a game since the final 30 seconds against Florida on March 30.
 
Talk about droughts.
 
If that goal didn’t hurt the Flyers enough, Jakub Voracek’s 20th of the season was disallowed four minutes later because of a “distinct kicking motion.”
 
Voracek did just that and it was denied on review, too.
 
Some time around 10 p.m. Friday, the Flyers' season will likely officially end.
 
“Well you know what, it’s a disappointing season ... still a couple games left, but it’s frustrating the way we played this game,” Giroux said.
 
“They won more battles than us, that’s the thing.”
 
It's been like this most of the season, too.

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Jason Chimera and Scott Mayfield also scored at the Barclays Center to help the last-place Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 28 saves. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in regulation in their last eight games.

Halak beat Lundqvist for the ninth time in their last 10 matchups. Halak had won eight straight -- including the last five after joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season -- before Lundqvist ended the streak in the Rangers' 5-3 win in the season opener Oct. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is now 1-6-1 in his last eight against the Islanders (see full recap).

Schwartz lifts Blues over Canadiens in OT
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz got his second goal of the game in overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis, which has won four of five. The Blues rallied from a 2-0 deficit and have a point in their last 13 home games.

Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron scored for Montreal, which completed a five-game trip 2-3.

Goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves to improve to 13-3-3.

Schwartz lifted a backhander past goalie Al Montoya with 1:22 left in overtime.

Stastny and Schwartz scored in a 2:51 span in the third period to tie it at 2 (see full recap).

Blackhawks blank Coyotes to snap modest skid
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.

Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help Chicago maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn't heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game -- surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests (see full recap).

Confident Flyers extend winning streak to 6 straight games

Confident Flyers extend winning streak to 6 straight games

BOX SCORE

They’ll admit it was choppy, sloppy hockey much of the night.

They didn’t bring their “A” game. Or “B” for that matter.
 
What the Flyers did have, however, was the confidence of a winning streak. And a hot goaltender in Steve Mason.
 
That was all they needed Tuesday to nudge the injury-riddled Florida Panthers, 3-2, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
That’s six wins in succession for the Flyers, who moved to within two points of the Rangers and Penguins, both atop the Metropolitan Division. This equals the Flyers’ longest winning streak in five seasons, going back to December 2011.
 
“That's part of it, but the biggest thing was the saves we got,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “No doubt about that throughout the game. One of those nights where Mase was our best player.”
 
Mason had 42 saves, including a game-saver on Aaron Ekblad in overtime (see highlights).
 
Meanwhile, Wayne Simmonds continued his personal tear with another two-goal effort to give him 15 tallies on the season. One of the goals came on the power play as Simmonds now leads the NHL with eight power-play goals and 14 power-play points.
 
“I’m playing with great linemates and trying to give pucks up and get to the net,” Simmonds said. “It’s not all on me. It has a lot to do with my teammates.”
 
During the Flyers’ winning streak, Simmonds has seven points (five goals) as does Jakub Voracek, who nailed the game-winner with 8.6 seconds left in OT.
 
“Sometimes, it’s important for us if we don’t necessarily play great hockey, to win the game or get at least a point,” Voracek said. “That’s how you make it to the playoffs. Mase was outstanding with a lot of big saves. And we scored when we needed [to].”
 
Voracek notched the winner off a broken play from Claude Giroux.
 
“I was tired,” Voracek said. “It was a long hockey game. Three [games] in four [nights]. I lost the puck, G made the turnover happen and I knew if I turned around and shot it quick, he (goalie James Reimer) wouldn’t be able to get down.”
 
You’d never know this was a tired Panthers squad finishing up a six-game road trip given the way it out-skated and out-hustled the Flyers throughout the night.
 
“I think Florida played a great game. They played an outstanding game and they might have deserved better, but so many times this year we played teams and lost a game,” Voracek said. “So, it’s kind of good to get out of it [with a win].”
 
Florida outshot the Flyers, 14-3, at one point in the first period and led, 1-0, on Aleksander Barkov’s third goal in four games. He had a sweet give-and-go with Mark Pysyk across the high slot.
 
With less than three minutes remaining in the period, Reimer looked like a shortstop muffing a ground-ball hop as he fanned on Simmonds’ shot from 45 feet to tie the game. That was Simmonds’ first goal of the evening.
 
“I think the puck hit the top of their defenseman’s stick,” Simmonds said. “It was a lucky goal.”
 
Reimer made up for it during the second period with a sensational glove stab of Michael Raffl’s tip that was headed under the crossbar.
 
Yet he couldn’t do anything to stop Simmonds’ tip of Giroux’s shot from the high slot during a second-period power play.
 
Florida was energized for the third period while the Flyers tried to sit on that 2-1 lead. Mason stood on his head as he faced 17 shots.
 
“We have to change our mindset,” Simmonds said. “That’s the first time we’ve done that in a while.”
 
Mason had an incredible stop on Jussi Jokinen, but Jokinen got the tying goal nonetheless with 4:48 left in regulation to force overtime.
 
“It was a game where you had to come up with big saves,” Mason said. “Good game to come out with two points, but we all understand we have to be better.”
 
Speaking of better, rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov, evoking memories of Chris Therien, did a number on Jaromir Jagr to hold the all-time great without a point.
 
Also, that’s five games in a row now the Flyers haven’t allowed more than two goals. Don’t think that isn’t huge in their surge in the standings, as well as climbing out of their team goals-against hole.
 
“That’s unbelievable for us,” Simmonds said. “At the beginning of the year, to say we’d have five straight without giving up more than two would be a stretch.
 
“We’ve locked it down defensively and Mase has played unbelievable. We’ve been pretty good as five-man units.”