Flyers can't finish another comeback in SO loss

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Flyers can't finish another comeback in SO loss

BOX SCORE

The Flyers did exactly what had been asked of them for the first period of Thursday’s game. They hit the ice with energy, dictated the play and even took an early lead.

The problem, though, is that it didn’t last. In their 4-3 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators (see Instant Replay, the Flyers took control of the game early only to watch it slip out of their grasp.

And though they managed to claw their way back and force overtime and an eventual shootout, it wasn’t enough.

“It kind of felt like we started watching, standing around and watching, after the first 10 minutes,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We played solid, and then they kept going and going and going, and they never let up and they had a solid back half of the first period, they played well. It was unfortunate.”

Brayden Schenn scored just 1:26 after the opening faceoff and the Flyers took a commanding lead in shots that they carried through most of the first period.

“We were talking about to have a good start,” Andrej Meszaros said. “I think we did, maybe the first 10 minutes. Then we started kind of backing out, and it wasn’t the same. They had a good forecheck and cycle game, and we couldn’t handle that.”

But winger Eric Nystrom tied the game during an ill-timed five-on-three just after the midpoint of the first period, and things largely went downhill for the Flyers after that. David Legwand’s goal moments later put the Predators up 2-1 -- that one was scored on the man advantage, too.

Penalties, in fact, interrupted the Flyers’ momentum all night.

“I think penalties kind of killed us,” Simmonds said. “We got that other penalty on the five-on-four, made it a five-on-three. It obviously sucks that that happened, but most likely they’re going to score and that’s what happened.”

The Flyers gave up two shorthanded goals after having entered the game on a stretch during which they killed 30 of their last 31 penalties.

But going just 1 for 4 on their own power-play chances obviously didn’t help either.

“They had a couple cycle shifts, then we took a couple penalties,” coach Craig Berube said. “They scored. Even before that, though, they had some cycles that I thought we didn’t do a very good job of eliminating. Too much time in our end. And I thought the same thing in the second period at times, where they had the puck too much in our end, we didn’t stop the cycle and it kind of sucks the life out of us a little bit.”

The “Comeback Kids” as they’ve played like lately didn’t fall back entirely on their heels, however, despite playing a rather disorganized brand of hockey all night. Andrej Meszaros tied the game at 2 with just five seconds left in the second period, and Simmonds forced overtime when he scored with just 1:24 left in regulation.

“The way the game was going, we had our chances,” Steve Mason said. “And we were able capitalize with about a minute to go, but we just weren’t able to get the second point.”

The shootout went seven rounds, with only Schenn and Sean Couturier besting Nashville goalie Carter Hutton. Matt Cullen, Ryan Ellis and Roman Josi scored for the Predators.

The strong start is something to build off of, the Flyers know. As is the fact that they fought past a third-period deficit once again -- something that’s becoming routine these days.

And though they were so close to earning two points they could almost taste it, the Flyers know Thursday’s end result could have been much worse.

“At least we got one point,” Simmonds said. “Obviously you want to get two points, that’s the ideal situation. But when you’re coming from behind like that, which we shouldn’t have been, it happens. It’s better to get one point than nothing.”

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

WASHINGTON -- Phil Kessel scored twice, Sidney Crosby set up more goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins chased Braden Holtby on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 Saturday night that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant again in stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced for Pittsburgh, which also got goals by Matt Cullen, Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins scored three goals on 14 shots on Holtby, who was pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer after the second period.

Grubauer didn't fare much better, allowing two goals on nine shots. Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who outshot the Penguins 36-23 but still face an uphill task of trying to become just the 19th team to win a series after losing the first two games at home.

Guentzel added an empty-net goal to seal it for the Penguins, his playoff-best seventh (see full recap).

Pageau gets 4th goal in 2OT to lift Sens over Rangers
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau got his fourth goal of the game in the second overtime after scoring twice late in regulation, lifting the Ottawa Senators over the New York Rangers 6-5 Saturday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ottawa leads the series 2-0 despite trailing by two goals after Brady Skjei's score with 14:50 left in the third. Pageau cut it to 5-4 with 3:19 left in the period, then tied it with 1:02 remaining.

Pageau scored again 2:54 into the second OT, snapping in a shot during a 2-on-1 rush alongside Tommy Wingels. Pageau is the first Senator ever with four goals in a playoff game.

Marc Methot and Mark Stone also scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson had 43 saves.

Skjei had two goals for New York and Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan also scored. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots.

The series heads to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday night (see full recap).

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

You remember the 2007 NHL draft?

The Flyers were robbed that year in the draft lottery and were forced to settle for the No. 2 overall pick later that June.

They chose James van Riemsdyk and the Chicago Blackhawks — drafting first — tabbed Patrick Kane.

Well, the Flyers got some needed payback Saturday night in Toronto at the 2017 draft lottery.
 
While the Flyers didn't win the top overall pick in this year's draft, they pretty much won the lottery just the same, moving from 13th overall to the No. 2 selection (see story).

"This is a big day for our franchise," said general manager Ron Hextall, who was an assistant general manager with Los Angeles in 2007 when it was Paul Holmgren's team in Philadelphia.

"When the 13th pick went by there and we knew we were one, two or three, that was a huge move for our franchise. We couldn't be more excited."

New Jersey will pick No. 1 and Dallas will pick third. Neither Colorado, the worst team in the NHL, nor Vegas, the newcomer to the NHL, made the top three.

The Flyers bucked enormous odds to advance from 13th to No. 2. They had a 2.4 percent chance of pulling it off. They were nearly 89 percent certain to remain at 13.

Maybe their luck is changing.

"We had a lot of bad luck this year," Hextall said. "I'm hoping this is a turning point for some of that to be turned around. This is a big point for our franchise. We're obviously going to get a very good player and hopefully in years, we'll look back on this as a turning point for us."

Depending on what the Devils do, the Flyers, who need offensive pop, are expected to select either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, both promising forwards who are considered impact players.

While this draft is nowhere near as deep as last year's with Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine, it still holds quality in the first round and the Flyers are guaranteed a player who should make a difference.

"This isn't as bad as a draft as people say it is," Hextall said. "We felt with the 13th pick, we would get a good player. It's probably an average draft.

"The last couple drafts have been bumper but this is a good draft. Obviously, moving up to No. 2, we're going to get an even better player."

Patrick, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League and was named the top skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau despite missing parts of the season with a lingering groin/abdominal injury.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound center had 20 goals and 46 points in 33 games and still was a consensus No. 1 or 2 player by most scouts. His lineage is excellent, as his uncle, James Patrick, played 1,280 games.

Hischier is trying to become the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history. Nino Niederreiter was taken fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2010.

The 6-foot, 176-pound Hischier led the QMJHL rookie class with 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games this season.

Can either Patrick or Hischier play right now?

"I don't know who that player is going to be," Hextall said. "Any player, as you know from my history, they've got to come in and earn it.

"If we draft a player at No. 2 and he comes in and earns it, then he'll be on our team. If he needs more time, he needs more time."

That said, Hextall admitted his scouting staff had paid attention to pick anywhere from No. 1 to 13th or worse, especially after things started going south for the Flyers in late winter and the playoffs began slipping away.

Hextall would not compare this year's draft-eligible players, talk about them individually or indicate which player he felt might be available at No. 2.

For now, Hextall envisions keeping the second pick but wouldn't rule out trading down if the right offer was there.

"You can't say no to anything because you don't know what will come your way," Hextall said.

The Avalanche, who had the best shot at winning the No. 1 pick, will draft fourth. Vancouver is fifth and Vegas will pick sixth.

Hextall watched the draft lottery on TV after returning home from Finland.

"Sometimes you get some good luck and sometimes you get some bad luck," Hextall said. "This was a fortunate day for our franchise. This was a big one."