Flyers hit new low with another head-scratching loss to Devils

Flyers hit new low with another head-scratching loss to Devils

BOX SCORE

NEWARK, N.J. -- Call it "The Nightmare in Newark."

A film directed by the Flyers and one you've already seen before.

Needing just about every game left on the regular-season slate, the Flyers walked into the Prudential Center on Thursday in favorable position, at least one would think on this specific night.

After all, the Devils had lost 10 straight games and were virtually playing for nothing, unlike the Flyers, clinging for dear life onto their playoff hopes.

In actuality, none of that meant a darn thing. The Flyers were manhandled, yet again, by New Jersey, this version a 6-2 embarrassing loss (see Instant Replay). For Dave Hakstol's team, that's now three losses in three tries against the Devils this season by a combined score of 14-3.

What gives?

"For whatever reason, we don't perform to our capabilities in this arena," Brayden Schenn said. "I don’t know what it is. They were hungrier right from the start tonight and they deserve this win."

How can the Flyers fall so badly in such dire circumstances?

The scary thing is no one really had an answer.

"We were flat," Jakub Voracek said. "No idea why. We knew it was another big game for us."

The Flyers scored first with three minutes left in the opening stanza when Claude Giroux and Voracek created a wide-open shot for Michael Del Zotto.

From there, it was all downhill as the plot turned ugly.

New Jersey scored the next three goals to grab a commanding 3-1 lead in the second period. The Flyers got one back, but then allowed a bad breakaway tally to Taylor Hall early in the third that resulted in Steve Mason's exit because of an injury sustained on the play (see story).

The Flyers went quietly into the final buzzer while the Devils never let off the gas.

It was a listless finish by the Flyers, who had four shots in the third period of which their effort was questioned afterward.

"No, I don't think anybody's giving up," Giroux responded.

"That doesn't mean we're giving up. No one is going to give up here until the end of the season. We're going to keep working and keep working on our game."

Can they be angrier?

"Yeah, we're angry," Giroux said. "We know we're a better team, we know we can be in a better position. That's not the case and we need to keep working, keep working to be a better team."

Hakstol didn't see quit in the third period.

"No, the team didn't give up.

"We didn't win enough of the races and battles tonight. That's the bottom line."

When asked for reasons why that was, why the Flyers were so thoroughly outplayed and slower, Hakstol wouldn't expand.

"I'm not going to get into it," he said. "We're on the second night of a back-to-back, but at this time of year, none of us are going to make excuses for that. It's a fact of life.

"The fourth goal against early in the third period kind of took the wind out of the sails. … Not a real push once we got down by two."

The Flyers are now further down and nearly out in the Eastern Conference playoff race. On Thursday, the Maple Leafs (78 points) beat the Lightning (77) to jump them and the Islanders (77) -- who lost to the Jets -- for the current grip of the second wild-card bid.

The Flyers, at 72 points, have 12 games remaining -- including two more against these Devils.

"We're in a bad position," Voracek said. "Every game we go into, we have to win.

"We just didn't have it today, which is weird battling for the playoffs."

Puzzling, indeed.

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

WASHINGTON -- Phil Kessel scored twice, Sidney Crosby set up more goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins chased Braden Holtby on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 Saturday night that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant again in stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced for Pittsburgh, which also got goals by Matt Cullen, Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins scored three goals on 14 shots on Holtby, who was pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer after the second period.

Grubauer didn't fare much better, allowing two goals on nine shots. Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who outshot the Penguins 36-23 but still face an uphill task of trying to become just the 19th team to win a series after losing the first two games at home.

Guentzel added an empty-net goal to seal it for the Penguins, his playoff-best seventh (see full recap).

Pageau gets 4th goal in 2OT to lift Sens over Rangers
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau got his fourth goal of the game in the second overtime after scoring twice late in regulation, lifting the Ottawa Senators over the New York Rangers 6-5 Saturday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ottawa leads the series 2-0 despite trailing by two goals after Brady Skjei's score with 14:50 left in the third. Pageau cut it to 5-4 with 3:19 left in the period, then tied it with 1:02 remaining.

Pageau scored again 2:54 into the second OT, snapping in a shot during a 2-on-1 rush alongside Tommy Wingels. Pageau is the first Senator ever with four goals in a playoff game.

Marc Methot and Mark Stone also scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson had 43 saves.

Skjei had two goals for New York and Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan also scored. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots.

The series heads to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday night (see full recap).

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

You remember the 2007 NHL draft?

The Flyers were robbed that year in the draft lottery and were forced to settle for the No. 2 overall pick later that June.

They chose James van Riemsdyk and the Chicago Blackhawks — drafting first — tabbed Patrick Kane.

Well, the Flyers got some needed payback Saturday night in Toronto at the 2017 draft lottery.
 
While the Flyers didn't win the top overall pick in this year's draft, they pretty much won the lottery just the same, moving from 13th overall to the No. 2 selection (see story).

"This is a big day for our franchise," said general manager Ron Hextall, who was an assistant general manager with Los Angeles in 2007 when it was Paul Holmgren's team in Philadelphia.

"When the 13th pick went by there and we knew we were one, two or three, that was a huge move for our franchise. We couldn't be more excited."

New Jersey will pick No. 1 and Dallas will pick third. Neither Colorado, the worst team in the NHL, nor Vegas, the newcomer to the NHL, made the top three.

The Flyers bucked enormous odds to advance from 13th to No. 2. They had a 2.4 percent chance of pulling it off. They were nearly 89 percent certain to remain at 13.

Maybe their luck is changing.

"We had a lot of bad luck this year," Hextall said. "I'm hoping this is a turning point for some of that to be turned around. This is a big point for our franchise. We're obviously going to get a very good player and hopefully in years, we'll look back on this as a turning point for us."

Depending on what the Devils do, the Flyers, who need offensive pop, are expected to select either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, both promising forwards who are considered impact players.

While this draft is nowhere near as deep as last year's with Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine, it still holds quality in the first round and the Flyers are guaranteed a player who should make a difference.

"This isn't as bad as a draft as people say it is," Hextall said. "We felt with the 13th pick, we would get a good player. It's probably an average draft.

"The last couple drafts have been bumper but this is a good draft. Obviously, moving up to No. 2, we're going to get an even better player."

Patrick, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League and was named the top skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau despite missing parts of the season with a lingering groin/abdominal injury.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound center had 20 goals and 46 points in 33 games and still was a consensus No. 1 or 2 player by most scouts. His lineage is excellent, as his uncle, James Patrick, played 1,280 games.

Hischier is trying to become the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history. Nino Niederreiter was taken fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2010.

The 6-foot, 176-pound Hischier led the QMJHL rookie class with 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games this season.

Can either Patrick or Hischier play right now?

"I don't know who that player is going to be," Hextall said. "Any player, as you know from my history, they've got to come in and earn it.

"If we draft a player at No. 2 and he comes in and earns it, then he'll be on our team. If he needs more time, he needs more time."

That said, Hextall admitted his scouting staff had paid attention to pick anywhere from No. 1 to 13th or worse, especially after things started going south for the Flyers in late winter and the playoffs began slipping away.

Hextall would not compare this year's draft-eligible players, talk about them individually or indicate which player he felt might be available at No. 2.

For now, Hextall envisions keeping the second pick but wouldn't rule out trading down if the right offer was there.

"You can't say no to anything because you don't know what will come your way," Hextall said.

The Avalanche, who had the best shot at winning the No. 1 pick, will draft fourth. Vancouver is fifth and Vegas will pick sixth.

Hextall watched the draft lottery on TV after returning home from Finland.

"Sometimes you get some good luck and sometimes you get some bad luck," Hextall said. "This was a fortunate day for our franchise. This was a big one."