Flyers can't overcome 2nd period in Game 7 loss

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Flyers can't overcome 2nd period in Game 7 loss

NEW YORK – With their backs against the wall a day ago at the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers came alive in the second period, scoring three goals and commanding control of the game to keep their playoff hopes alive.

But Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden, it was the second period that lost them the game. They all but fell apart entirely in the middle stanza of Game 7, giving up the only two goals the New York Rangers needed to win the game 2-1 (see story).

Largely because of what transpired in those 20 minutes, it is the Rangers, and not the Flyers, who will move on in the playoffs to face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

What a difference 24 hours can make.

“You look at the 60 minutes of the game, and the second period was what really cost us,” Steve Mason said.

The Flyers entered the period holding tight to the game’s momentum. They had a solid start in the first period -- stronger than any of the series’ preceding six games. They just couldn’t keep it going long enough.

The were outshot by the Rangers, 18-5, in the second period. Their overwhelming lead in faceoff wins evaporated. They had looked so strong during 5-on-5 play for the first time all series early on, but right from the start of the second period, they suddenly were outplayed at even strength.

“In the second period, they took it to us,” Mason said. “We had trouble breaking out of our own zone, they had odd-man rushes and we seemed to be spinning our legs and nothing was happening.”

The Flyers failed twice in the period to capitalize on power-play opportunities. But more than that, they actually gave the Rangers shorthanded chances and seemed to fall flat when each man advantage expired.

That was certainly the case on Dan Carcillo’s goal that gave the Rangers the 1-0 lead.

“When they got that goal, it was after a power play that wasn’t very good,” coach Craig Berube said. “They ended up getting a chance shorthanded off it, and we kind of went back on our heels.

“We didn’t do a very good job in the second period of making plays and getting the puck out of our end and we let them win the game in the second period.”

The Rangers’ second goal, knocked home by Benoit Pouliot about eight minutes later, all but solidified the end of the Flyers’ season. It was as simple as that, Jakub Voracek said.

“They had a couple chances, they buried two goals,” he said. “They had a couple chances, we didn’t. It was a big difference.”

The Flyers’ second-period frustrations were perhaps best exemplified by the one solid chance they had to beat Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist with about four minutes left.

Claude Giroux had a perfect chance to best the Rangers’ goalie, teed up his shot … and sent the puck over the net.

“I was just trying to get away from the D,” Giroux said. “Not sure if he got his stick on it. Just trying to put it high because the goalie was low. I tried to shoot it high.”

He missed. The Rangers carried their 2-0 lead into the third period.

The Flyers’ late-game efforts weren’t enough. Though they were “positive” they would be able to tie the game up and force overtime in the third period, Giroux said, they simply couldn’t work past the 20 minutes of the game they threw away.

Rookie Jason Akeson scored a few minutes intp the third, but the Rangers clamped down on their lead, and the Flyers could do nothing but watch their season come to a premature end.

“We get a pretty big goal in the third early,” Voracek said. “We had a very good third period, we had a good push.

“But it was too late.”

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

Best of NHL: Trocheck's last-second goal lifts Panthers past Blues

ST. LOUIS -- Vincent Trocheck scored with just under 5 seconds remaining to lift the Florida Panthers to a 2-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday night.

Jonathan Marchessault also scored and James Reimer stopped 26 shots to help the Panthers complete a 5-0 road trip -- their first perfect trip of at least that many games in franchise history.

Reimer has won five straight decisions and has not lost in regulation since Jan. 7 against Boston, going 6-0-1 since.

The Panthers moved into a tie with Boston for third place in the Atlantic Division, but have the edge because they have a game in hand on the Bruins.

Kyle Brodziak, playing for the second time after missing 10 games due to a broken foot, scored for the Blues and Jake Allen finished with 31 saves. St. Louis lost its second straight since winning six in a row (see full recap).

Coyotes use three-goal 1st period to beat Ducks
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Radim Vrbata capped Arizona's three-goal first period and the Coyotes held on for 3-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night.

Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun also scored for Arizona, and starting goalie Mike Smith had 27 saves before leaving about 4 1/2 minutes into the third period after a collision in the net. Marek Langhamer helped kill a power play after being pressed into action for his NHL debut and stopped six of the seven shots he faced.

The Coyotes have won four of their last six.

Langhamer gave up Ryan Getzlaf's second goal of the night with 26.8 seconds to play, but thwarted two quality shots in the final seconds.

Jonathan Bernier gave up three goals on six shots in the first period for the Ducks. John Gibson came on to start the second and stopped all 14 shots he faced (see full recap).

Playing with 'swagger,' Gostisbehere flashes glimpse of rookie self vs. Canucks

Playing with 'swagger,' Gostisbehere flashes glimpse of rookie self vs. Canucks

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Flyers’ “Ghost” headed home Monday on a high note — for a change.

Defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere recorded three assists for the first three-point night of his NHL career Sunday as the Flyers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in the final game of a three-game Western Canada road trip (see story). In one night, he matched his offensive output of his previous 10 games played. 

He was a healthy scratch for three games in the meantime. On many other occasions, he has struggled while dealing with the NHL’s proverbial sophomore jinx following a standout rookie season. 

“It’s been a while coming,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s good to get some points, but I thought it was more important to get two points for our team.”

The win moved the Flyers (28-24-7) within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently held by Toronto, in the Eastern Conference. With considerable thanks to Gostisbehere, the club’s much maligned power play scored on two of three man-advantage opportunities. 

“He played great,” Wayne Simmonds said of Gostisbehere. “He had his confidence and a little bit of swagger.”

Gostisbehere’s first assist enabled the Flyers to get off to a quick start offensively as Simmonds deflected in his point shot only 1:11 into the game. On the Flyers’ second goal, Gostisbehere head-manned the puck to Sean Couturier on a rush. Jakub Voracek easily put Couturier’s big rebound into a gaping net with Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller caught out of position.

One minute and 27 seconds later, Brayden Schenn took Gostisbehere’s pass and put in a shot from the slot. Altogether, Gostisbehere’s assists enabled the Flyers to build an insurmountable 3-0 lead in the game’s first 23 minutes.

“Ghost has had his ups and downs this year, but he's a heck of a player and has unbeliveable skill,” Simmonds said. “He can be a catalyst offensively for us, that’s for sure.”

Gostisbehere now has four goals and 18 assists on the season. Until Sunday, the 23-year-old had seemed like an apparition of his former self. 

He had a less-than-ideal recovery period from offseason hip (labrum) and abdominal surgeries, due to his participation with Team North America in the World Cup. Then he suffered a facial cut in the Flyers’ season opener and took a bruise on his right hand in December.

He also struggled defensively to the point where he was scratched — for the first time in his NHL career — in November and was later benched and pulled out of the lineup again. Heading into Sunday’s game, he had a woeful minus-22 mark, but he was only on the ice for one Canucks' goal.

He helped the Flyers shut out the Canucks in the first and third periods. 

“We don’t like how they came back, but we held the lead and, like I said, we got the two points,” Gostisbehere said.

Ghost’s offensive showing evoked memories of his seemingly other-worldly 2015-16 season. In 64 games last season, he notched 17 goals, the most by an NHL rookie defenseman since Dion Phaneuf, then with Calgary, who scored 20 over a full 82-game schedule in 2005-06. Gostisbehere also enjoyed a historic 15-game point streak in 2015-16, the longest ever for a first-year rearguard, and he was a runnerup for the league’s Rookie of the Year award.

His return to form Sunday bodes well as the Flyers face two Metropolitan Division rivals this week, first Washington at home on Wednesday and then the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Saturday in an outdoor game that will pack plenty of hype and pressure. 

After those games, the Flyers face a more compressed schedule than they have lately. The Feb.12-27 portion of their calendar contains only five games. But starting Feb. 28, they will play their final 21 games of the regular season over 41 days as they push to make the playoffs.

“We definitely know we’re a playoff team, for sure,” Gostisbehere said. “It shows. It’s a big test for us (this) week, playing these really good teams.”