Flyers lose third-period lead, shootout to Sens

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Flyers lose third-period lead, shootout to Sens

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA -- They had a lead.

A third-period lead against a bad hockey club.

A club that had only won twice in 16 games when trailing after two periods.

And the Flyers couldn’t hold, folding 5-4 to the Senators in a shootout that left them 2-2-1 on this six-game road trip (see Instant Replay).

“We sat back too much [that period]," said Michael Raffl, who scored his first NHL goal in the loss. "They came out flying and really wanted it.

“We did a lot of positive stuff out there, but we didn’t manage to come up with a win.”

Claude Giroux seemed to have the game in his hands late in regulation when goalie Craig Anderson, bad as he was, made a stop on the Flyer captain’s backhander.

Giroux said he thought he had that one.

“I fanned on it and it was a backhander I wanted to get up as quick as possible,” he said. “He was out of his net and I just fanned on it.”

The Flyers led 3-2 going into the third period.

“Anytime you have a lead, you want to keep it and make everyone accountable for what they do,” Giroux said. “They got a couple goals, we fought back and got a point, but I don’t know, I think it’s tough to lose in the shootout.”

Anderson made a save on Giroux in the shootout, too. Sean Couturier could have extended the shootout and hit the crossbar (see highlights).

“Going into a third period and giving up the lead is tough,” said goalie Steve Mason, who wasn’t as sharp in this one, making 30 saves and giving up four goals for the second consecutive game.

“I thought we did a good job of coming back and tying it, but it’s difficult to give up the lead. It’s not something you want to do.”

The Flyers are 1-2 this season in shootouts.

“That’s where I wanted to go,” Couturier said of his shot off the crossbar. “A half-inch lower and I think it was in. I had him.

“We had the lead and were in control and two lucky bounces and now we’re down a goal. But we fought back. We got a big point. It would have been nice to get two points.”

Defensively, the Flyers were far too loose in coverage for parts of the game.

“When you get a lead in the third, you got to be able to lock it down,” said Luke Schenn, whose long shot from the right boards in the second period had given the Flyers that 3-2 lead going into the third.

“When you give a team life by letting up a goal early in the [third] period there, it’s tough to bounce back. You got to lock those down.”

The game-winner in the shootout came from Sens captain Jason Spezza, who deked, stopped and scored.

“It’s something we saw in the pre-scout,” Mason said. “I thought I held my ground there. Great hands on him and a good move.”

Flyers coach Craig Berube wanted something more but liked the effort.

“I thought the guys battled hard the entire game,” Berube said. “It was kind of a back-and-forth game but a competitive game.

“Some funny goals tonight. I didn’t think we generated enough early on but we picked it up as it went on. Any time you are not generating offense or shots, you are too much in your own end and we were too much in our end the first half.”

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."