Flyers fall into 2-1 series hole with loss to Rangers

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Flyers fall into 2-1 series hole with loss to Rangers

Very little went right for the Flyers on Tuesday night in Game 3 of their Metropolitan Division semifinal playoff series against the Rangers.

Ray Emery, as usual, got little goal support. At the same time, he didn’t give his team much help with clutch saves.

The Flyers had zone time and 32 shots. Far too many were from the outside and didn’t represent any real threat to goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

And then there’s the matter of shot blocking. For the second time in three games, the Rangers frustrated the Flyers with their sticks. This time, they had 28 blocked shots.

It all added up to a 4-1 defeat, giving New York a 2-1 series lead while setting up a crucial Game 4 Friday for Craig Berube’s group (see Instant Replay).

“Everybody realizes it’s either 2-2 or 3-1 so, obviously, we want to win that game and move on,” Kimmo Timonen said.

“Disappointed, but that is playoff hockey. You lose a game, but you take the things you did good and the bad things and try to correct them and move on.”

For all that went wrong, there was a spell three minutes into the third period with the Flyers trailing 3-1 when Scott Hartnell got a brief look at the open left side of the Rangers' net and blasted a shot off of Lundqvist's stick and then the post with the puck ricocheting off the crossbar.

If Hartnell connects there, maybe the Flyers’ fate changes.

Competitively, the Flyers were not in it the remainder of the way and once Dan Carcillo, of all ex-Flyers, scored coming out of the penalty box, Berube yanked Emery for backup Steve Mason, who got 7:15 of time -- his first game action in 10 days.

Mason (whiplash/concussion) figures to start on Friday in Game 4 “if” he feels good enough.

“It’s been a while since I had some game action,” Mason said. “You can practice as much as you want but once the game rolls around, things happen quickly. You can’t control everything out there. It was pretty normal game out there.”

He said he’s ready for Game 4, too.

Question is, will the Flyers' power play be ready? After getting two goals in Game 2, it went 0 for 5 on Tuesday. On one man advantage, with the Flyers trailing 3-1, the Rangers blocked four shots and heads sagged.

They had four power-play shots overall. Special teams win a series and the Flyers aren’t getting consistency on their power play.

“They block a lot of shots, they’re pretty tight in front of the net and Lundqvist made a few good saves,” said Mark Streit, who had the Flyers' lone goal in the opening period after they again fell behind 2-0.

“We need to get pucks through. They’re good at blocking shots and it’s something we need to work on.”

Berube said his club did a better job getting pucks to Lundqvist, but not on the power play. Given how many there were in this game, it was a decisive factor in not taking advantage.

“The power play has got to get shots through and they didn’t,” Berube said.

Claude Giroux finally got his first two shots of the series, but the Flyers' top line with Hartnell and Jakub Voracek was outplayed and outscored by the Rangers' best unit of Derek Stepan, Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis. Stepan and St. Louis each have two goals in the series.

“We had a couple of good looks and just couldn’t bury them,” Voracek said. “They’re a very good team. When it’s 2-0, it’s very hard to come back. We did it last game but Lundqvist is one of the best goalies in the NHL and they are a very good road team.”

One of the things the Flyers were again unable to do is make East/West passes for one-timers, especially on the power play.

The Rangers just seem to have their sticks everywhere, cutting down passes, intercepting them, or at the very least, blocking them.

“We got to make sure the puck goes through,” Giroux said. “They did a very good job of blocking shots.”

Falling behind early twice now in the series is making things very difficult for the Flyers, while the Rangers have had far more dominant periods of play than them.

“That team plays really tight defense and blocks shot, so we would obviously like to have the first goal or even two,” Timonen said. “Sometimes it happens and we’ve come back 2-0 the last game. Obviously, we can’t do that every game.”

Best of NHL: Capitals blow lead, rebound for OT win over Bruins

Best of NHL: Capitals blow lead, rebound for OT win over Bruins

WASHINGTON -- Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:36 into overtime, helping the Washington Capitals beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 after blowing a three-goal lead Wednesday night.

Justin Williams scored twice and Daniel Winnik also had a goal to put Washington ahead 3-0 about six minutes into the second period.

After Winnik's tally, Washington went over 26 minutes without a shot on goal. Boston dominated the final five minutes of the second period, when Dominic Moore and David Pastrnak beat goaltender Braden Holtby. Colin Miller's power-play score 8:19 into third tied it at 3.

Boston arrived in Washington 4-0-1 over its last five games with three wins in a row, including a 4-3 overtime triumph against Florida on Monday night.

Evgeny Kuznetsov had two assists for the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin got his first point since Nov. 26.

Boston outshot Washington 34-20. The Capitals have won two straight following a three-game losing skid (see full recap).

Staal scores on Leafs again in Wild win
TORONTO -- Eric Staal scored yet another goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs, lifting the Minnesota Wild to a 3-2 victory on Wednesday night.

Staal has 47 points in 43 career games against Toronto, and three of his six goals this season have come against the Leafs.

Jason Zucker and Chris Stewart also scored for the Wild, who wrapped a five-game trip 2-1-2.

Ben Smith and Tyler Bozak had goals for the Maple Leafs, who dropped to 8-4-0 at Air Canada Centre.

Devan Dubnyk made 35 saves for Minnesota and Frederik Andersen stopped 17 shots for Toronto (see full recap).

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

Connor McDavid, Oilers' speed, skill present Flyers with 'real good challenge'

VOORHEES, N.J. — They are among the very best – and highest scoring — lines in the NHL this season.
 
And they’re gunning for the Flyers on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
 
Connor McDavid’s unit with Milan Lucic and Leon Draisaitl have a combined 30 goals and 78 points worth of offense. 
 
Among them, the lightning quick McDavid leads the NHL with 36 points. All 11 of his goals are even strength. 
 
He doesn’t have a single power-play goal, but is tied for the league lead with several players, including Claude Giroux, with 10 power-play assists.
 
You can expect to see Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s unit with Chris VandeVelde and Dale Weise against this line with defenseman Ivan Provorov drawing McDavid for the first time this season.
 
“Speed and skill that Edmonton has up front presents a real good challenge for our team,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. “We have to be better with the puck tomorrow. 
 
“We didn’t do enough when we had the puck. Gave it up a little too easily and because of that, you end up playing defense a lot of the night and that’s what happened last night to us.”
 
Bellemare, who had his share of forward battles with Jaromir Jagr in Tuesday, likes to analyze the matchups against McDavid.
 
“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Bellemare said of the 19-year-old McDavid. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice. That line is an impressive line.”
 
The Flyers better have some bad, choppy ice to slow McDavid down. Edmonton has some of the fastest ice in the league and the Oilers use it to their full advantage. 
 
Asked of McDavid’s tendencies, Bellemare said, “Is that a tendency? To be super fast?”
 
Yes it is. 
 
“When you play against them, he is a kid who is freaky fast right from the start,” Bellemare said. “Against that line, you saw [against Buffalo] that everyone knows how fast he is and he still had two breakaways.”
 
Which means the Flyers need to watch their turnovers, especially in the neutral zone where McDavid can go 60 feet in a flash.
 
“Even blue line to the top of the circle, you can’t turn the puck over,” Bellemare said. “Or he’s gone. This is a tendency we have to be careful of. All of the ice, you can’t give him any time or space. The less time you give him, the bigger chance you have to frustrate a player like this.”
 
Bellemare did some talking with Jagr a couple times in Tuesday’s game. So did Provorov. Bellemare says it helps to add psychology to the mix.
 
“You try to be in his face,” Bellemare said. “If you can win that battle against that line and our first line can win the battle against their fourth line, then it’s a win-win situation. I was trying to be in [Jagr’s] face.”
 
Jagr actually got angrier at Provorov and it showed with his hooking calls. But when Bellemare and Jagr went into the corner, Jagr got testy with his stick there as well.
 
“He was trying to give it to me a little harder,” Bellemare said. “Exactly what I need. If he is less focused on the puck, then maybe I have a chance to win that puck.”
 
McDavid’s focus will be solely on the puck.
 
“McDavid has been playing some pretty good hockey,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “They’re a high-tempo team. A smart team. We’ve got to be ready.”
 
Loose pucks
Boyd Gordon came off long term injured reserve onto the active roster to give the Flyers 13 forwards. In doing that, Matt Read (oblique pull) went on injured reserve. … Defenseman Michael Del Zotto will sit against the Oilers while Radko Gudas returns from an illness. Gudas will be paired with Mark Streit, as Ivan Provorov remains with Andrew MacDonald for now. … Steve Mason, who did not practice Wednesday, will start in goal.