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.”

Flyers-Oilers 10 observations: Two big rallies and the win streak pushes forward

Flyers-Oilers 10 observations: Two big rallies and the win streak pushes forward

Ten observations from the Flyers' 6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night, their seventh straight win and longest win streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011 (see Instant Replay).

1. And the Flyers (somehow) did it. They won their seventh straight game on a night Steve Mason wasn't his best — five goals allowed for the third time this season — and the team defense was largely atrocious. Michael Raffl scored a beautiful goal for the game-winner at 18:31 of the third period and the Flyers held on. This game had a 1980s feel to it. Lots of scoring. Highly entertaining. And the Flyers found a way to win it. This team is on a roll.

2. From the Flyers' perspective, the most entertaining moment of the opening 20 minutes came with 5:31 left in the first period, when Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning and Oilers center Connor McDavid exchanged words post-whistle in the Philadelphia zone.

Manning broke McDavid's collarbone last season, which forced McDavid to miss a chunk of his rookie season. Nothing more than a little pushing and shoving with some trash talk.

Still, the sequence brought the most excitement in the first period. Speaking of which …

3. For a team that entered on a six-game winning streak, the Flyers' first-period effort was disheartening. They needed more than nine minutes to get their first shot on goal, and had more shots in the final two minutes — five — than they did the first 18 minutes.

No real scoring chances, either, out of the nine first-period shots. Raffl had a nice chance, but Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson was able to make the stop.

That's two straight games the Flyers have had poor first periods. Tuesday, they were tied, 1-1, with the Panthers, but faced a 1-0 deficit Thursday. Better first periods are needed.

4. Boy, the Flyers woke up quick after the 10-minute mark of the second period.

Down 2-0, the Flyers scored three goals in one minute and 12 seconds in the second period — 12:31, 13:24 and 13:43 — to get the Wells Fargo Center jumping.

Mark Streit started it off with a power-play goal, followed by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and then Claude Giroux. Bellamare beat Gustavsson with a well-placed wrist shot, which may have been the fourth-liner's best shot of his NHL career, for his first of the year.

Giroux's diving slapper gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead 19 seconds later. The loudest the building may have been this season. It had a playoff atmosphere after Giroux's goal.

5. Let's talk about McDavid. We hear about how fast he is, how skilled he is, how special he is, and he is every bit as advertised. You see it more when you see him in person.

McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season at 4:35 of the second period, his 12th goal of the campaign. He rocketed home a one-timer from Leon Draisaitl off a rebound.

The 19-year-old kid leads the NHL in scoring and just scored his first PPG. The kid is special. Very special. Side note, McDavid chirped Manning after his PPG.

6. And, of course, McDavid was a factor in another Oilers goal. After the Flyers took momentum with their three goals in just over a minute, McDavid took it right back.

While the Oilers were shorthanded, McDavid was double-teamed in the corner left of Mason by Andrew MacDonald and Bellamare, but he was able to shovel the puck to Mark Letestu, who then found Andrej Sekera for a blast by Mason to make it 3-3 at 16:15 of the second period.

The credit for that goal goes all to McDavid. Tremendous strength by a 19-year-old who was being pinned against the boards by a 30-year-old and 31-year-old, respectively.

Sekera's goal was the seventh shorthanded goal allowed by the Flyers — most in the NHL.

7. I was skeptical of using the Bellemare line against McDavid, but at 5-on-5, Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov did a decent job against McDavid. Still, the Oilers' captain finished with a goal and assist. The Flyers held McDavid without a breakaway.

The Bellemare line did a tremendous job at 5-on-5.

8. The fans grew restless with the referees in the third period. First, Brayden Schenn put a loose puck into the net, but Gustavsson had covered it and the whistle had blown quickly. And then, McDavid tackled Ivan Provorov on a break. Should have been a penalty.

9. We hear about McDavid all the time, but Edmonton has another young star in Draisaitl, who found himself off the McDavid line against the Flyers.

No problem for the 2014 No. 3 overall pick. Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and displayed an uncanny ability to find open players and get them the puck.

In a game featuring McDavid, it was Draisaitl who stole the show. Wow.

10. It was Goaltender Heritage Night at the Wells Fargo Center, but there were no special ceremonies. The honorees, voted by the fans, were Bernie Parent, Ron Hextall, Pelle Lindberg, Pete Peeters and Brian Boucher. Outside of some interviews during stoppages and a cool, little presentation during introductions, there was nothing to write home about. There was an uptick in goalie jerseys in the crowd.

Personal favorite? A Brian Boucher No. 1 Philadelphia Phantoms sweater.

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Oilers 5

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Oilers 5

BOX SCORE

It wasn’t so much about Connor McDavid on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center as it was that the last goal wins.

And it wasn't McDavid who scored last, either. 

The Flyers extended their winning streak to seven games with a 6-5 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. 

Michael Raffl's brilliant move off the boards broke a 5-5 tie with 1:29 left in regulation. The Flyers scored three times in both the second and third periods.
 
Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Flyers ripped off three goals in 1:12 to take a shocking 3-2 lead on the Oilers.
 
They then got a power play, but McDavid negated it with a brilliant play to set up the tying goal going into the third period.
 
The Flyers trailed by two early in that stanza, but tied it 5-5 on goals from Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux. 

Road kill
Edmonton came into the game with the best road record in the NHL: 8-4-3. These guys aren’t road kill for the home team by any stretch. In case you’re wondering, the Islanders have the worst road record: 2-6-1.
 
Notable goals
How about McDavid kicking the puck to teammate Mark Letestu after being tied up on the boards by Andrew MacDonald and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare for a goal that tied the game a 3-3 minutes after Flyers scored their three?
 
Goalie report
Leon Draisaitl’s goal in the opening five minutes was Mr. Softie material on Steve Mason. Not much he could do on some others in this one. The same could be said for the Oilers’ Jonas Gustavsson.
 
Power play
Voracek had the lone goal on the PP in the third period. Mark Streit’s goal that ignited three straight in the second period came after a power play had ended. However, the Flyers also gave up another shorthanded goal.
 
Shorthanded goal
Andrej Sekera’s shortie late in the second period made it 3-3. The Flyers have given up a league-high seven shorthanded goals.
 
Penalty kill
McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season in the second period to make it a 2-0 game on a one-timer from the circle. Hard to believe, Harry, that the league’s stop scorer didn’t have a power-play goal until now. Oscar Klefbom had a PPG in the third period that gave the Oilers a 5-3 lead.
 
No goal
The Flyers thought they scored with 11:54 left in third. They were trailing, 5-4, but the whistle and play had been blown dead several seconds prior.
 
Fights
McDavid and Brandon Manning mixed it up a bit in the first period but no fight.
 
Scratches
Defensemen Nick Schultz (healthy) and Michael Del Zotto (illness), forwards Boyd Gordon (healthy), Sean Couturier (left knee) and Matt Read (oblique pull), goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee). 
 
Up next
The Flyers practice at Skate Zone on Friday at 11 a.m. They host the Dallas Stars at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday at 1 p.m.