Flyers' point streak ends with loss to Panthers

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Flyers' point streak ends with loss to Panthers

BOX SCORE

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Too complicated. Lackadaisical. Overlooking the opponent.

Those were the buzzwords Monday night from the Flyers after a 3-1 loss to the Florida Panthers that ended their seven-game point streak (see Instant Replay).

It was their first loss in regulation play in eight games and first loss on the road in regulation since Oct. 12 in Detroit.

“We played too complicated and had some sloppiness in our game,” defenseman Mark Streit said. “Too many turnovers, a lot in the neutral zone, and it cost us the game.

“We played hard the last 5-10 minutes of the third period, but it’s not good enough in this league and that’s why we lost this game.”

The Flyers were brutal with the puck in the neutral zone for two periods and seemed to be second on the puck far too often through 40 minutes, as the Panthers got a 2-0 jump on them.

“That’s a good way to put it,” Flyer captain Claude Giroux said. “They were jumping. They wanted it more than us. In the third period we played a little better, but it was too late. We got out-battled the first two periods.”

The bottom line is the Flyers failed to do the little things they had done so well during their past seven games. Skate well. Be hard on the puck. Covet the puck in neutral ice. Slow down things in the middle.

“Our [defensemen] were taking their time getting the puck,” Scott Hartnell said. “Our forwards were slow getting back on defense through the neutral zone. They were coming pretty hard with back pressure. We were tired, turning the puck over right back at us. All the stuff we weren't doing the last half-dozen games.”

As for playing complicated hockey …

“We didn’t go north enough,” Hartnell said. “We tried to make behind-the-back passes. Not just one line, but all of us. We got distracted. Maybe we thought we were the better team coming in here and it [would] be an easy game. If you underestimate your opponent in this league, you are going to get screwed and lose the game. We did just that.”

Coach Craig Berube said his team had poor execution in the first two periods, especially in the neutral zone.

“We were lackadaisical a little bit,” Berube said.

Asked about overconfidence against the second-worst club in the Eastern Conference, he said that was addressed at the morning skate.

“Who are we to overlook anyone?” Berube asked. “We talked about it this morning about being ready and I’m not sure we were.”

Wayne Simmonds had the lone Flyer goal.

“We were sluggish and it carried through the second [period],” Simmonds said. “We didn’t play the game we wanted to … we were trying to make stupid plays in the neutral zone. They played a good game and they got turnovers.”

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."