Flyers Notes: Lecavalier 'unlucky' on 3-post shot

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Flyers Notes: Lecavalier 'unlucky' on 3-post shot

Vinny Lecavalier had never seen anything like it.

Jeff Carter had just scored to give the Los Angeles Kings a 1-0 second-period lead. But seconds later, Lecavalier felt the puck on his stick and sent it in on goalie Jonathan Quick. It wasn’t a perfect shot -- Lecavalier was a little off balance -- but it seemed destined to go in.

The puck clattered off one post, then the crossbar, then the other post. The goal light lit up. The horn sounded. The crowd rose to its feet.

But the official review deemed the puck to have never crossed the goal line. Play never stopped.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Lecavalier said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen three posts -- I’ve seen two. But three, I guess it happens. Nothing we can do about it.”

Another former Flyer, Justin Williams, scored moments later to give the Kings a 2-0 lead on the way to their eventual 3-2 victory that snapped the Flyers’ five-game winning streak (see story). But Lecavalier couldn’t help think that things could have turned out differently had he scored.

He had no choice but to chalk it up to “bad luck.”

“Obviously, I would have liked to tie it up and it might be a different game,” he said. “I’ve got to move on. If it didn’t go in, it didn’t go in. Whether it was three posts or one post, it’s still a post and it’s still not a goal. It was a great opportunity, a great play by my teammates, and I got unlucky.”

Ready for the Rangers
The way Jakub Voracek sees it, the Flyers can actually build off of some elements of Monday’s game as they prepare to take on the New York Rangers on Wednesday. The Rangers surpassed them in the Metropolitan Division after their loss to the Kings, taking over second place by one point.

The Flyers are in agreement that they played poorly for the first 40 minutes of Monday’s loss. However, they did come alive in the third period, tying the game at two and coming close to winning in spite of their ugly start.

“It’s a good sign we got back on the horse in the third period,” Voracek said. “But we’ve got to make sure that we’re ready in New York, because [the Kings] were up only two goals. If we play the way we did for 40 minutes at the Garden, we could be down 5-0. We need to make sure that we’re ready to play.”

And while the Flyers have struggled in recent years at Madison Square Garden, coach Craig Berube isn’t concerned. To him, those struggles are ancient history.

“We’re a different team,” Berube said. “I don’t even think about that. We’re going to go up there and give them our best game. That’s what I believe.”

So long, streak
The Flyers came within striking distance of winning a sixth consecutive game on Monday, it just wasn’t to be.

And, predictably, it was a disappointment to the team, which felt it had been on a roll.

“Yeah, it is,” Matt Read said. “But we have 11 games left. Our main focus is to keep winning games, as many as we can here and find a playoff berth. Every game’s important, every 60 minutes is a huge two points. It’s do or die.”

Loose pucks
Claude Giroux’s six-game scoring streak came to an end Monday. He had posted a goal and nine assists for 10 points during those six games. … The Flyers had 21 shots blocks, the third consecutive game in which they’ve had 20 or more attempts blocked. … Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn were each credited with six hits against their former team, the most on the Flyers.

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."