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


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.”

Flyers' defense continues to abandon team through 1-2-1 start

Flyers' defense continues to abandon team through 1-2-1 start

It was the home opener Thursday night and his team went 1 for 7 on the man advantage with five such opportunities in the second period alone.

However, Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol remembers one play more than any other in his team’s 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks at the Wells Fargo Center (see game recap).

The Flyers had swung and missed on their final power play of the middle stanza, when the Ducks came pushing up ice with post-kill energy. Somehow, Anaheim came barreling down on the Flyers with a four-on-two rush seconds after the orange and black just had the benefit of an extra player.

Center Ryan Getzlaf dumped a pass back to winger Corey Perry, who had all the time in the world to wind up and blast one home thanks to 6-foot-4 Getzlaf’s screening of 6-foot defenseman Ivan Provorov.

Just like that, the game was tied when it looked like the Flyers would add cushion and cruise into the third period with a lead to protect.

“Our power play was OK,” Hakstol said. “The bigger thing for me is the goal that we gave up a few seconds after the last power play in the second period. Those are the type of goals as a team that we can’t give up.”

The rookie Provorov couldn’t find his way around the veteran Getzlaf, while defenseman Brandon Manning stayed in retreat, allowing Perry to unleash a slap shot.

“It’s the best league in the world, the best players play here,” Provorov said. “Even a little mistake can cost you, slightly out of position can cost you. I’m still learning.”

Provorov has endured his rookie lumps through the Flyers’ 1-2-1 start. A game after finishing with a minus-5 rating against the Blackhawks, the 19-year-old committed two giveaways and a cross-checking penalty for a minus-1 mark Thursday.

Nonetheless, the Flyers went from a man up to two down in a matter of seconds to relinquish the lead.

“We didn’t handle that well,” Hakstol said. “When you give up a four-on-two after you’ve had those kind of opportunities, it’s going to change the momentum of the game.”

Were the defensemen in a bad spot?

“Yes,” Hakstol said.

Poor defensive coverage cost the Flyers momentum in the second and the game in the third.

About midway through the period, Ducks defenseman Korbinian Holzer carried the puck behind goalie Steve Mason before adeptly finding Ryan Garbutt uncovered with a reverse pass. The Anaheim center scored easily top shelf as Flyers defensemen Andrew MacDonald and Shayne Gostisbehere were caught standing in front of the net without seeing Garbutt.

“We had a little bit of tired legs,” Hakstol said. “We lost coverage on that play. There was a switch. We didn’t lose coverage for long. We had communication, we had talked, but we lost coverage for a split second and that allowed them to make the play to the same side on the backdoor.”

Gostisbehere had trouble working his power-play magic and played big minutes with 22:58 of ice time.

“They’re a big-bodied team,” Gostisbehere said. “We just have to make our plays a little quicker.”

Even on the Ducks’ first-period marker, an outlet pass found its way behind the defense of Provorov and Gostisbehere. Over the first four games, the Flyers have allowed 16 goals, tied for the NHL’s most.

“You’re playing against a heavy team and they put a lot of pressure on the group back there when they’re able to get pucks deep,” Hakstol said. “So, I don’t think it was particular to one or two guys. When you let them gain the zone with some speed and get in on pucks, they’re a heavy team to handle.”

Facing a heavy team or not, the Flyers know defensive execution must be cleaned up.

“I think that from everyone’s personal standpoint we can all be better,” Mason said. “When you lose three games in a row, we can’t worry about what other people are doing, you just have to focus on your own job. From a goaltender’s perspective, personally, I have to find ways to come out and get a win here.”

Flyers' celebratory home opener spoiled by 'big-bodied' Ducks

Flyers' celebratory home opener spoiled by 'big-bodied' Ducks


It should have been a grand evening of celebrating 50 years of hockey in Philadelphia and Ed Snider’s legacy.
Instead, it evaporated into the Flyers' third straight loss, 3-2, at the hands of the Anahiem Ducks (see Instant Replay).
Coach Dave Hakstol could blame his power play for failing six times in seven chances, but even five-on-five, the Flyers lacked. The Ducks take teams to the net and make you pay, as the players on their roster average a 13-pound advantage than the average Flyer.
“You’re playing against a heavy team and they put a lot of pressure on the group back there when they are able to get pucks deep,” Hakstol said.
“You got to try and create gaps and that doesn’t start in your own zone, it starts up ice as a five-man unit. You got to carry good gaps through the neutral zone into your zone to defend some of those plays.”
Anaheim leaves teams black and blue as the Flyers no doubt will discover Friday morning.
“That's just the way Anaheim plays,” Wayne Simmonds said. “They play a rough style, but we're not going to back down from them. This is our building.”
While the Flyers didn’t back down, between turnovers and misreads and players failing to get back up ice, a lot of things went wrong in this one.
The turning point in the game came late in the second period when the Flyers were coming off their fifth power play of the period. The forwards – Travis Konecny, Sean Couturier and Dale Weise – were slow getting back up ice.
That left rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov to handle Ryan Getzlaf one-on-one with Corey Perry behind him near Brandon Manning on a four-on-two rush.
There was a drop pass to Perry and he fired from the circle to tie the game, 2-2.
“They do a good job, killing off three in a row and come down and score,” Simmonds said. “If we put one in on the power play there, it’s probably a different story.
“We’re turning pucks over in the neutral zone. Make sure we’re bearing down on it. We gotta be better at it.”
Among the issues in this one, both young defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (minus-2) and  Provorov (minus-1) struggled on the offensive and defensive side of the puck.
"Ghost" is having too many shots blocked and fumbling pucks. Provorov is having difficulty making quick reads and pucks are ending up in the net.
Aside from rookie mistakes, some of that has to do with the forwards not backchecking and the Ducks’ overall size.
“They’re a big-bodied team. They pinch hard and they cut down time and space,” Gostisbehere said. “We have to make our plays quicker.”
While the Flyers talked about feeding off the energy of the night, it just didn’t materialize. They got an early power play and produced just one shot with Gostisbehere hitting the post.
The Ducks produced an early goal after a Flyers power play ended with Sami Vatanen’s stretch pass to Jared Boll for a two-on-one.
Boll went to the net, screened out Steve Mason and left a drop pass that Chris Wagner buried. On top of that, a bad line change, as well.
Mason had to defend quite a bit of net in this one without much defensive support.
“From everyone’s personal standpoint, we can all be better,” Mason said. “When you lose three games in a row, you can’t be worrying about what other people are doing.”
“It’s a tough go in the second period. They kill off [four power plays] and then Perry comes down and scores a goal there. We can’t dwell on that. I have to find ways to get back on top here.”
Anaheim’s winning goal midway into the third came when Korbinian Holzer ripped a pass from behind the net into the slot for Ryan Garbutt. He one-timed the puck before Mason knew it was there. There was no coverage on him, either.
“You focus on your own job,” Mason said. “From a goaltender’s perspective, personally, I have to find ways to come out and get a win here.”