Flyers falter in third period of shutout loss

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Flyers falter in third period of shutout loss

BOX SCORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- They had their chances in the third period on two power plays that could have seen the Flyers erase a 2-0 deficit.

Jakub Voracek took a pass from Wayne Simmonds in the right slot, and for what must have seemed like an eternity to Voracek, the net was empty.

“It’s got to go in,” Voracek said, sounding frustrated after the Flyers eventually fell, 2-0 (see Instant Replay). “It’s a big play from Simmer. The first power play was pretty good. [Claude Giroux] hit the post. But there is no reason for me not to score from there.”

Out of nowhere, Wild goalie Josh Harding made an incredible save.

Score a goal there, it’s a one-goal affair and the Wild are feeling some pressure with plenty of time left in the game.

Also, the Flyers' success rate on the power play away from home is much better -- 22.5 percent -- than their overall power-play success (15.2 percent), which tends to build confidence -- if you score.

They didn't. 

The Wild scored twice in less than a minute early in the third period to put it away.

Jason Pominville broke the scoreless tie by putting home an incredible behind-the-back blind pass from Mikko Koivu before Charlie Coyle scored off a rebound seconds later to make it 2-0.

Voracek sat at his locker awhile after the game contemplating that chance on Harding.

Did he think he had it?

“Well, with me, you never know,” he quipped. “This year, so many chances. I’ve hit a couple posts, couple saves.”

It’s been a bizarre season for Voracek. He had a team-high 22 goals last season and 46 points in just 48 games.

“Last year, everything went under the bar,” Voracek said. “This year? I think I am thinking too much when I get that chance and see the puck there, laying.

“OK, well it’s got to go in and then something happens. If I score there, it could be a different game.”

Indeed, although the Flyers had 21 shots on Harding with a handful generated in the final 10 minutes of the game, the really good ones of the night came on the power play.

Giroux has hit at least six posts or crossbars this season.

“Our first power play we had a couple chances and I hit a post,” he said. “I’m not sure what happened with Jake there. He had a pretty good chance. When we have chances we need to bury them.”

Goalie Ray Emery deserved better.

“We tried to move our feet and draw penalties,” Emery said. “[The Wild] play good defensively and play within the rules for the most part. We didn’t get much of an opportunity on the power plays.”

Just enough that it could have made a difference if the Flyers had scored.

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Derek Stepan also scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots to help New York get past the first round for the fifth time in six years. The Rangers won three straight after falling behind 2-1 to beat Montreal for the ninth time in 16 postseason series.

The Rangers will face the winner of the Ottawa-Boston series, which the Senators lead 3-2.

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal and Carey Price finished with 20 saves. The Canadiens, winners of the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs last year, were bounced from the postseason by the Rangers for the second time in four years. In 2014, it was in the conference finals (see full recap).

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild.

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round.

Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.

Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago.

Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period (see full recap).

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

As the Flyers packed up for the offseason much earlier than they had hoped, the focus started shifting to the outlook for 2017-18.

There was some optimism provided by Valtteri Filppula.

It wasn't anything he said. Instead, it was what he did in 20 games.

Make that a full sample size and the Flyers are excited about the possibilities.

Filppula, a well-rounded, 33-year-old center, was acquired at the March 1 trade deadline in the Mark Streit deal. He added five goals and three assists in his 20 games.

"I felt like later in the year, we had more bullets in our gun," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week as the team held exit interviews and cleanout day. "(Jordan) Weal comes in and does a good job. Filppula comes in and really gives us stability. Really upgraded our top nine. So when you're talking 5-on-5 play, just to depend on five or six guys, all of a sudden you have nine guys you can count on."

The Flyers were 27th in the NHL with 128 goals at 5-on-5 -- a significant factor in their postseason absence.

But Filppula should bring more than simply a 5-on-5 boost.

The Flyers desperately needed depth at the center position to relieve some pressure from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Filppula, who came from the Lightning and played seven seasons with the Red Wings -- winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 -- is a sound matchup center and plays on the penalty kill, too.

"I think with Fil coming in this year, it really helped our depth," Giroux said. "He brings a lot to the team. He kills penalties, power plays, very good defensively and he's a smart player. When you bring a guy in like that, you kind of get excited a little bit."

From Filppula's first game on March 2 to the end of the regular season, the Flyers scored 56 goals, 12th most in the NHL over that span and 2.80 per game -- both improvements from their ranking of 21th on the full season and 2.59 per game.

"Now that we feel like we have nine guys that are legit top-nine forwards," Hextall said, "we've got good balance."

Couturier saw immediate benefits when the Flyers acquired Filppula. Couturier started playing with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn, which turned out to be the team's best line combination to finish the regular season.

"I think it just brought some depth to our lineup," Couturier said of Filppula acquisition. "I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well."

It provided head coach Dave Hakstol greater flexibility.

"The addition of Val Filppula to our group up front made our group of forwards better," Hakstol said. "Not just his presence, which I think he's an outstanding hockey player, a good hockey player and a real good veteran, but it just allowed some of the others to come together. I think there's real substance there."

The Flyers hope it shows with a full season of Filppula.

"I think when Filppula came in, the balance that seemed to come with him entering our lineup helped us both with and without the puck," Hakstol said. "Will that cohesion help us generate more offensively on an 82-game basis, not just a short-term basis? I think the answers to those things are yes."