Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know


Flyers-Senators: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (5-10-1) will begin a three-game road trip on Tuesday night when they take on the Ottawa Senators (7-6-1).

Puck drop is set for 7:30 p.m. (CSN) at Canadian Tire Centre -- formerly Scotiabank Place -- in Ontario.

With the Flyers looking to build on a strong offensive performance and the Senators hoping to extend their win streak to four, here are five things you need to know for the game:

1. Keep the offense going
Goals have not come easy for the Flyers this season. They’re averaging an NHL-worst 1.62 goals per game and have scored two goals or less in 14 of their 16 contests.

However, the Flyers are coming off one of their better performances this campaign after dispatching the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2, on Saturday.

Several positives came from the Flyers’ victory over Edmonton. Claude Giroux registered his first goal in 21 games. Vinny Lecavalier snapped a three-game pointless streak with a third-period tally. Scott Hartnell found the back of the net for the second time in three games after failing to collect a point in his first nine games.

Those are three players the Flyers need to see on the scoresheet on a consistent basis if they want to put a stretch of wins together.

It’s important for the Flyers to keep putting the puck in the net. They remain dead last in the Metropolitan Division and need to start gaining ground sooner rather than later.

2. Downie returns?
The Flyers could have their only injured player back in the lineup on Tuesday night.

Steve Downie, who practiced on a line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read on Monday, has been cleared to play after suffering a concussion during a fight with Captials winger Aaron Volpatti earlier this month.

In his only game with the Flyers since he was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche, Downie played over 10 minutes with two shots before dropping the gloves with Volpatti. He is considered a game-time decision for the Flyers’ matchup with Ottawa (see story).

“We’re working on it,” Downie said Monday. “Today was another step. We’ve got some more talking to do.”

If Downie returns, Michael Raffl will likely be the odd man out. Although head coach Craig Berube could choose to sit Kris Newbury or Jay Rosehill, as well. Both Raffl and Newbury have spent time with the Adirondack Phantoms this season. One of the two could be sent back down to the AHL when Downie is 100 percent healthy.  

3. Between the pipes
Apparently three consecutive wins and a First Star of the Week award isn’t enough to keep Robin Lehner in net for the Senators.

Instead of going back to the red-hot Lehner, Ottawa coach Paul MacLean will start No. 1 Sens goaltender Craig Anderson against the Flyers on Tuesday night.

Anderson has sat out the last three games with a stiff neck. Prior to his injury, Anderson allowed 16 goals in his last four starts -- all losses.

With Anderson sidelined, Lehner took advantage of his opportunity to play. He stopped 91 of 95 shots fired his way and posted a 1.33 goals-against average in three starts -- all victories. He’ll back up Anderson on Tuesday.

Anderson has had success against the Flyers in his career, going 7-3-1 with a 2.71 goals-against average and .921 save percentage in 12 games (11 starts).  

4. Dynamic duo
The Flyers are going to have their hands full with Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris on Tuesday.

The two linemates have keyed the Senators’ current 3-0-2 stretch. They’re both plus-8 in those games and enter Tuesday with lengthy scoring streaks.

Ryan has scored three goals and assisted seven more during his six-game point streak. The New Jersey native, who was acquired Ottawa this past summer, is off to a marvelous start to his Senators career. He has a team-high 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) through 17 games this season.

Turris has recorded a point in seven straight. He has three markers and seven helpers during his current run and is tied with Erik Karlsson for second on the Senators in scoring with 18 points (four goals, 14 assists).

5. This and that
• The Flyers took two of three games from the Senators in 2013 despite scoring just five goals in the season series. They last met on April 27, when the Flyers closed out their season with a 2-1 win in Ottawa.

• Colin Greening led the Sens offensively against the Flyers last year, registering one goal and two assists. He has just three points – all assists – in 17 games this season.

• Jakub Voracek had two of the Flyers’ five goals against the Senators last year.

• Visiting teams are 2 for 39 on the power play in Ottawa this season.

• With Anderson returning, Erik Condra is the only other injured Senator. He’s out with a leg injury.

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Dave Hakstol did Steve Mason a favor by challenging Sabres' 3rd goal

Many, though not all hockey games, have a tipping point or pivotal moment that factors into the outcome.
Sometimes it’s obvious what it was and when the moment occurred. Other times, it’s overshadowed by something else on the ice.
Ask the Flyers which moment would define their come-from-behind 4-3 shootout victory over Buffalo on Tuesday and the response will be virtually unanimous: when Dmitry Kulikov leveled Jakub Voracek with a high hit that made contact to the head in the third period.
Voracek was forced off the ice under the NHL’s concussion protocol.
That hit incensed the Flyers, who went on to score two power-play goals and tie the game, 3-3. The comeback was on.
Yet there was a less obvious but significant point that happened late in the second period, and it concerned goalie Steve Mason.
Matt Moulson had given Buffalo a 3-0 lead on Michal Neuvirth at 15:43, when Flyers coach Dave Hakstol elected to make a goalie switch.
Rather than call a simple timeout to buy Mason some warm-up time and allow his team to collect itself on the bench, Hakstol challenged the goal, claiming “goalie interference.”
Replays won’t show any direct interference on the shot itself. Neuvirth was speared several seconds before the play developed.
Hakstol knew the goal would likely not be overturned, but his strategy was to buy time for Mason and his team. By using a challenge, he knew the review process would take a lot longer than the 60-second timeout.
Either way, he was going to use his only timeout.
“You know what, I think we needed a timeout at that time, anyway,” Hakstol said coyly. “Pretty low probability of it being successful. Everything worked out well in the end.”
Mason appreciated what his coach did, too. Buying extra time for you?
“Yeah, probably,” Mason replied. “Regardless of the situation, you’re sitting on the bench, you know? You’re not really gauged as much as when you’re playing, obviously. So, you just try and ramp things up as quickly as possible.”
Mason had two saves in that shortened period, five in the third period and one in the overtime to register his second victory.
“There’s a never-quit attitude in this room,” he said. “We showed in Chicago — we were just talking about that. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to close that one out.
“But guys have a belief that you get one [moment] and it comes. [Travis Konecny] got us going with his first NHL goal, which is great. The guys really pushed to capitalize on their chances.”

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

Flyers Notes: Travis Konecny sparks power play with 1st NHL goal

The kid finally has his first NHL goal.

Travis Konecny scored at 4:30 of the third period (see video) during the Flyers' 4-3 shootout win over Buffalo on Tuesday night (see story).  

His was the first of three power-play goals to erase a 3-0 deficit and get the Flyers into overtime.

First markers are always that much more special when they make a difference in a comeback victory, such as this one with the Flyers in a brutal stretch of six games in nine days.

“I am just excited that it happened,” Konecny said. “But the thing for me that was more exciting was coming back after that 3-0 [deficit] and an overall exciting night for us.”

The three power-play goals were a season high for the Flyers.

“We got going those two power plays ... our power plays set a tone,” Konecny said. “When that gets going, it makes it hard for the other team to stop us.

“It’s awesome because we know what they can do [on the top power-play unit]. They have been sticking with it and fighting the puck, whatever it’s been the past couple of games, but you know what they are capable of — you can see it the past couple of years. 

“You knew it was coming and tonight is the perfect night to get it going and I am sure that they are going to keep rolling with it.”

Schultz sits
The decision to sit 15-year veteran blueliner Nick Schultz to get Radko Gudas back into the lineup wasn’t easy but it made sense on several levels. Gudas had been suspended for six games.

First, Schultz doesn’t play on the power play, whereas Andrew MacDonald carries heavy minutes with the power play and penalty kill.

Brandon Manning? Not happening. He’s been the Flyers' best defenseman this season. Mark Streit? Doesn’t work because he quarterbacks the second-unit PP and is essentially teaching that duty to rookie Ivan Provorov.

“It’s real tough,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s part of the business and [Schultz has] done an excellent job. He’s always very well-prepared.

“We talked about what’s best for our team and we feel like Gudy going in, especially on a back-to-back, gives us fresh legs and a fresh body coming back into the lineup.”

Hakstol recently has had to switch around his defensive pairs to get more defensive coverage and consistency on the ice. For instance, moving Provorov from Streit to Manning.

He discounted Schultz’s age (34) as a true factor in the decision.

“I think the more flexibility you have, the better, whether it be for rest or for the injury situations,” Hakstol said. “First and foremost, I think we’re still looking for the true consistency that we need through our entire team, but certainly your D pairs are a big part of that. 

“Before we start getting to a comfort level of guys playing with different people, first we have to find true consistency. We’ve been pretty good, but we’ve had stretches where the consistency needs to improve, as well.”