Flyers falter in third period of shutout loss


Flyers falter in third period of shutout loss


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.

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.”

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

The kid finally has his first NHL goal.

Travis Konecny scored at 4:30 of the third period (see video) during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo on Tuesday night (see story).  

His was the first of three power-play goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and get the Flyers into overtime.

First markers are always that much more special when they make a difference in a comeback victory, such as this one with the Flyers in a brutal stretch of six games in nine days.

“I am just excited that it happened,” Konecny said. “But the thing for me that was more exciting was coming back after that 3-0 [deficit] and an overall exciting night for us.”

The three power-play goals were a season high for the Flyers.

“We got going those two power plays ... our power plays set a tone,” Konecny said. “When that gets going, it makes it hard for the other team to stop us.

“It’s awesome because we know what they can do [on the top power-play unit]. They have been sticking with it and fighting the puck, whatever it’s been the past couple of games, but you know what they are capable of — you can see it the past couple of years. 

“You knew it was coming and tonight is the perfect night to get it going and I am sure that they are going to keep rolling with it.”

Schultz sits
The decision to sit 15-year veteran blueliner Nick Schultz to get Radko Gudas back into the lineup wasn’t easy but it made sense on several levels. Gudas had been suspended for six games.

First, Schultz doesn’t play on the power play, whereas Andrew MacDonald carries heavy minutes with the power play and penalty kill.

Brandon Manning? Not happening. He’s been the Flyers' best defenseman this season. Mark Streit? Doesn’t work because he quarterbacks the second-unit PP and is essentially teaching that duty to rookie Ivan Provorov.

“It’s real tough,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s part of the business and [Schultz has] done an excellent job. He’s always very well-prepared.

“We talked about what’s best for our team and we feel like Gudy going in, especially on a back-to-back, gives us fresh legs and a fresh body coming back into the lineup.”

Hakstol recently has had to switch around his defensive pairs to get more defensive coverage and consistency on the ice. For instance, moving Provorov from Streit to Manning.

He discounted Schultz’s age (34) as a true factor in the decision.

“I think the more flexibility you have, the better, whether it be for rest or for the injury situations,” Hakstol said. “First and foremost, I think we’re still looking for the true consistency that we need through our entire team, but certainly your D pairs are a big part of that. 

“Before we start getting to a comfort level of guys playing with different people, first we have to find true consistency. We’ve been pretty good, but we’ve had stretches where the consistency needs to improve, as well.”