Flyers don't show enough fight in loss to Rangers

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Flyers don't show enough fight in loss to Rangers

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK – Their coach, Craig Berube, put it best: The Flyers didn’t have enough fight.

Up against their divisional rivals the New York Rangers, in a building in which they haven’t won in more than three years, the Flyers simply didn’t have the necessary passion and energy to win a critical game.

They paid the price, losing one of their most important games of the season, 3-1 (see Instant Replay).

“Every game means a lot,” Berube said. “Teams are going to battle hard and we need to battle harder. We need everybody going, doing the right things out there. Tonight we didn’t have it. We didn’t have our best players playing tonight.”

Instead, the Flyers saw the Rangers’ Metropolitan Division lead over them grow to three points. The Flyers, after the loss, remained in third place. They’ve now lost back-to-back games after winning five in a row.

It’s the Rangers, in fact, who now lay claim to a five-game winning streak.

“They do the same thing every time,” Wayne Simmonds said, “The D got the puck, they sent three guys to the far blue line, and it is what it is. We didn’t reload well enough. We didn’t support the puck well enough. We didn’t bear down when we got our chances on [Henrik] Lundqvist.”

The Flyers will have to settle for a season series tie with the Rangers. They won two at home, but lost both games at the Garden, a building in which they’ve now lost eight in a row.

It didn’t have to turn out that way, though. The Flyers actually kept pace with the Rangers early, even outshooting them 15-6 in the first period. Though they trailed 1-0 thanks to Rangers winger Derek Dorsett’s first-period goal, it was after the first 20 minutes that things really started to go downhill for the Flyers.

“I thought the first period, we were good,” Berube said. “I think we played a pretty smart period in the first, did a lot of smart things. I thought we got outworked in the second period, especially on the walls. We weren’t very good on the walls.”

But right from the get-go in the second period, the Flyers were flat, Berube said. Defenseman Ryan McDonagh gave the Rangers a two-goal lead early in the period, and what little momentum the Flyers had seemed to dissipate entirely.

The Flyers went a stretch in the middle of the second during which they were outshot, 6-0.

“We got away from what was making us successful,” Steve Mason said. “You look at the intensity that we brought in games against Pittsburgh, and I just feel that it wasn’t there tonight. These are huge games for us, and for us to not come out with our best effort, we need better.”

Mason stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced. Across the ice, Lundqvist stopped 30 of 31. The Rangers’ defense proved to be too much for the Flyers. They struggled to hold on to the puck, turning it over far too much in the neutral zone especially.

The Rangers took a 3-0 lead midway through the third period on Dominic Moore’s goal that Mason never saw coming. And though Jakub Voracek saved the Flyers from being shut out -- on his 100th NHL career goal -- the little fight he showed wasn’t enough.

“We didn’t play our game,” Claude Giroux said. “It’s like we didn’t have any energy. Some lines did play well, did the right things. Our line wasn’t doing the right things out there, we were doing a lot of bad things.

“We’ve got to do a better job of getting ready and play better games.”

Best of NHL: Lightning capture OT win over Red Wings

Best of NHL: Lightning capture OT win over Red Wings

DETROIT -- Nikita Kucherov scored 3:28 into overtime to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Friday night.

Situated on the edge of the crease, Kucherov redirected a hard pass from Brayden Point into the net.

The Lightning are one point behind the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild card.

Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg opened the scoring 8:03 into the second period. Taking a backhand pass from Gustav Nyquist, Zetterberg flipped a knuckling wrist shot toward the goal and over the stick-side shoulder of goalie Andrei Vasilievskiy, who struggled to find the puck through the screen of teammate Point (see full recap).

Islanders notch shootout win over Penguins
PITTSBURGH -- John Tavares and Anthony Beauvillier scored in the shootout to lead the New York Islanders over the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on Friday night.

Beauvillier opened the shootout with a goal, and Tavares snapped a wrist shot past Marc-Andre Fleury in the next round. Sidney Crosby scored in the shootout for Pittsburgh, but Jaroslav Halak, making his first start since Dec. 29, stopped Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino.

Anders Lee scored his 28th goal of the season, while Brock Nelson got his 17th and Casey Cizikas his eighth for the Islanders, who moved into the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. New York is tied with Boston at 82 points, but the Islanders have a game in hand on the Bruins. The Islanders have 18 wins in 31 games since Doug Weight was named interim coach on Jan. 17, replacing Jack Capuano.

Halak, a former All-Star, made 37 saves (see full recap).

Cracknell nets first hat trick in Stars' win
DALLAS -- Adam Cracknell got his first hat trick in seven NHL seasons and the Dallas Stars handed the San Jose Sharks their fifth straight loss, 6-1 on Friday night.

Cracknell opened the scoring in the first period, capped a three-goal flurry in the second and beat goalie Aaron Dell on a short-handed breakaway in the third for his career-high 10th goal of the season.

The Sharks entered two points ahead of Anaheim and Edmonton in the Pacific Division despite their longest losing streak of the season. San Jose has been outscored 16-5 during the stretch.

Brett Ritchie, Jamie Benn and John Klingberg also scored for the Stars.

Joe Thornton scored for San Jose on the power play in the second period. Dell had 23 saves.

Dallas' Kari Lehtonen made 20 saves four nights after shutting out San Jose (see full recap).

Flyers-Wild 10 observations: Sean Couturier shows flash, Matt Read answers call & more

Flyers-Wild 10 observations: Sean Couturier shows flash, Matt Read answers call & more

You know Dave Hakstol has reached crisis measures when he takes a skill player in Travis Konecny and throws him onto the fourth line while promoting Matt Read to the top line.

This was risk-taking at its craziest to generate some enthusiasm and life into a Flyers squad that didn't show much of a pulse a few nights earlier in Winnipeg.

Guess what?

It worked during a 3-1 victory on Thursday, the Flyers' fifth straight win over the Wild going back a few years (see Instant Replay).

Their playoff hopes still flicker.

As much as the fan base hated the lineup moves, consider this: general manager Ron Hextall was very explicit this week in saying that the roster Hakstol has right now is what it is. Hextall is not going to promote any young Phantoms into a bad situation when they are headed for what could be a decent playoff run in the AHL.

Therefore, as my former colleague Bill Lyon would say, here are 10 things I think, I think …

1. The Flyers began the game as they have so often this season with yet another turnover and scoring chance against them. Rinse and repeat. The Flyers had three turnovers in less than five minutes to start the game.

2. Minutes later, Steve Mason coughed up a bad rebound off his stick and Zach Parise burned him with a gimme goal for a 1-0 lead. Mason had issues in this one with rebounds that were looking like grenades, but he settled down with a strong final two periods with 24 saves. This was Mason's 100th win as a Flyer (see game story).

3. You had to see it to believe it. Sean Couturier with a nice backhand shot through Devan Dubnyk's five-hole to make it a 1-1 game near the end of the opening period (see feature highlight). I haven't seen that kind of offensive move from Couturier in quite some time. Question is, why can't he do that nightly instead of semiannually? That's the offensive spark you know Couturier is capable of providing.

4. The Wild were very aggressive in this one as they were trying to clinch a playoff spot, so the Flyers had to match that intensity. The Flyers more than matched it. This was far, far better than what Hakstol's team brought to the ice in Winnipeg. Not even close, as the Flyers dominated.

5. Matt Read had a quick stick -- no other way to explain it -- on his goal in the second period off a series of Wild turnovers that came about because of a play set up by Jakub Voracek. That goal seemingly stunned Dubnyk. It was Read's second goal in the last two games. He was all over the ice in this one. Many nights this season, Read was invisible. Not this game.

6. The Flyers had some genuine scoring chances in this game. You had to wonder where this desire to skate, create and score was all through the month of February and into March. The Flyers had strong forecheck pressure and a rebound-attack mentality the entire second period. If that had happened with regularity down the stretch, this team would be sitting in the wild card right now.

7. While the shake-up of the lines obviously benefited Read, it did little for Konecny and actually set him back. He was invisible. No shots. No hits. Invisible with little ice time. Really can't figure this move out but obviously, Hakstol is upset with him for some reason.

8. Minnesota went all in at the NHL trade deadline to get Martin Hanzal and Ryan White, forking over four draft picks, including a first-rounder. The Wild were leading the Central Division before losing six straight (and eight of nine) that allowed Chicago to regain the top spot in the division. The Wild don't look like the same confident, surging team it was a month ago in the Western Conference.

9. Minnesota had a strong push in the final five minutes and the Flyers had some initial difficulty answering that until the final minute when Wayne Simmonds picked up his 300th point as a Flyer on Voracek's empty-net goal to seal the deal. A nice way to finish off a complete effort by everyone involved.

10. The Flyers picked up two points on Boston, which lost to Tampa Bay, and are six behind the Bruins in the wild card. They still remain a l-o-n-g shot to make the playoffs, given the sheer number of teams ahead of them that they need to climb over.