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.”

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers (15-10-3) vs. Oilers (14-10-4)
7 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live at 6:30

The hottest team in the NHL will meet the hottest young star on Thursday night when the Flyers host the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the matchup:

1. McDavid and Co.
The Flyers are going for their seventh consecutive victory, which would tie their longest winning streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011, when they also won seven in a row.

In order to do so, they’ll have to slow down transcendent talent Connor McDavid and the prolific but streaky Oilers.

McDavid, a generational player, has thus far lived up to all the hype surrounding him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. In just his second NHL season — and first with a healthy start after an injured-shortened rookie year (45 games) — the 19-year-old leads all of hockey in points with 36, while no other player has yet to eclipse 30.

His 25 assists also rank atop the NHL, while his 11 goals are among the top 22 and his plus-8 rating is tied for ninth best between all centers.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said Wednesday. “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.”

And he has help.

Linemates Leon Draisaitl (11 goals, 11 assists) and Milan Lucic (eight goals, 12 assists) can do damage, as can Jordan Eberle (eight goals, 13 assists).

2. Defense wins games
The Flyers are playing better and cleaner in front of their goaltender — who has been great (see below) — and the results are showing.

The orange and black have gone five straight games of allowing two or fewer goals.

Why were they so up and down before this run? Well, they had surrendered two or fewer goals in just five of their previous 23 games.

“That’s unbelievable for us,” Wayne Simmonds said after Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Panthers. “At the beginning of the year, to say we’d have five straight without giving up more than two would be a stretch.

“We’ve locked it down defensively and Mase has played unbelievable. We’ve been pretty good as five-man units.”

3. Mase the man
A confident Steve Mason is a dangerous Steve Mason.

Right now, Mason has the net and is gaining steam by the game.

Over his past five outings, the 28-year-old is 5-0-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Just as impressive, since Nov. 12, Mason is 8-3-1 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

“I've said it numerous times, I want to be playing lots of hockey,” Mason said Tuesday. “This is a position that I'm used to being in and where I'm most comfortable. So just have to keep continuing to put my work in and whenever [head coach Dave Hakstol] calls my name, be ready."

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: You always have to watch Simmonds, but especially now with the winger coming off back-to-back two-goal games. Simmonds leads the NHL with eight power-play goals and is second in man-advantage points (13) to only teammate Claude Giroux (14).

Oilers: With all the attention zeroed in on McDavid, we’ll go with the 21-year-old Draisaitl, who has seven goals in his last nine games and 14 points in his past 12. The No. 3 overall pick in 2014 is an intelligent playmaker capable of hurting you.

5. This and that
• Mason is 8-4-0 with just a 3.49 goals-against average and .872 save percentage in 13 career games against Edmonton.

• Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson will make his fourth start of the season. He’s 1-1-1 on the year with 84 saves on 91 shots faced, but is 0-4-1 lifetime against the Flyers with a 3.57 goals-against average and .865 save percentage.

• The Flyers are fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.11), while Edmonton is seventh (2.93).

• The Oilers have lost 10 of their last 15 games (5-7-3).

Wayne Simmonds, power play key to Flyers beating Oilers

Wayne Simmonds, power play key to Flyers beating Oilers

Todd McLellan saw a lot of Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov as a junior player in the Western Hockey League whenever the Brandon Wheat Kings would turn up in Edmonton.

“I watched him play in junior and had a chance to see that Brandon team play in Edmonton twice last year,” said the Edmonton Oilers coach.

“Obviously, a smooth, confident [player] with great vision. He has patience with the puck. Those are his offensive assets. 

“But he also positions himself well, defensively. He accepts that responsibility. For a young d-man, he is ahead of a lot of others because he can play on both sides of the puck.”

Provorov rattled Jaromir Jagr Tuesday when Florida was here (see story). Tonight he gets his first NHL taste of Connor McDavid.

McLellan said the Oilers' biggest challenge against the Flyers will be stopping the NHL’s second-ranked power play. Edmonton has the 11th best penalty kill.

His concern is Wayne Simmonds (8 power play goals) and Claude Giroux (14 power play points). 

“That power play is deadly and it really hasn’t changed — it’s just clicking,” McLellan said. “It has a couple trigger points. Obviously, Simmonds has the most goals in the league  and Giroux has the most points. But there’s other pieces to that power play, which are exceptional. 

“Our penalty kill has been taking it on the chin and I had to ask our guys today, 'Is it the penalty kill or the penalties?' In my opinion, it’s as much the penalties as the penalty kill. We have to stay out of the box.  

“This is a confident Flyers team. They feel very good in the offensive zone and make things happen. Their goaltender [Steve Mason] has been making saves for them that keeps them confident going the other way. It’s a team on the rise.”

The Streak
The Flyers are looking to make it seven straight wins tonight against the Oilers. The last time they won seven in arrow was Dec. 2-15 in 2011. They did not have a morning skate.

On Mason
Tuesday’s win against Florida was Steve Mason’s 88th as a Flyer, moving him past Pelle Lindbergh into sixth in franchise history. Mason needs six wins to move into third place in franchise history. 

Debut
Defenseman Dillon Simpson will make his Oilers debut tonight in Philadelphia. He is the son of former Oiler Craig Simpson. 

The oddity? Last year, Keegan Lowe made his Oilers' debut here in Philadelphia. He is the son of Kevin Lowe, longtime coach and front office executive for the Oilers. 

Colors
The Oilers wear three colors during their morning skate. Their defensemen dress in orange; their third and fourth lines dress in white and their top six skaters dress in blue. Now that’s an NHL hierarchy.