Flyers-Senators: What you need to know

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Flyers-Senators: What you need to know

Flyers at Senators – 7 p.m., CSN
Scotiabank Place, Ottawa

Records
Flyers: 22-22-3 (Fifth in Atlantic Division, 11th in Eastern Conference)

Senators: 24-16-6 (Fourth in Northeast Division, sixth in Eastern Conference)

Last meeting
The last time these clubs faced off, the Flyers were handed a frustrating 3-1 defeat by the Senators on April 11 at the Wells Fargo Center. Ilya Bryzgalov was sharp in net, stopping 31 of 33 shots before Daniel Alfredsson sealed a victory for Ottawa with an empty-net tally. Zack Smith and Colin Greening were the only two Sens to beat Bryzgalov. Claude Giroux recorded the Flyers’ lone goal in the first period.

Saturday will mark the third and final meeting between the two teams this season. The Flyers and Sens have split the first two contests, which were both held at the Wells Fargo Center in South Philly.

Previous games
The Flyers closed out the home portion of their disappointing lockout-shortened season with a 2-1 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday. Danny Briere, in what likely could have been his last home game as a Flyer, scored for the first time in 20 games and rookie Oliver Lauridsen netted the game-winning marker in the third period to give the orange and black their third straight victory. Bryzgalov turned aside 21 shots to help the Flyers finish the season 15-7-2 at the Wells Fargo Center.

Not only did the Senators clinch a playoff berth by beating the Washington Capitals 2-1 in overtime on Thursday night, but they also got their star defenseman back. Erik Karlsson, in his sooner-than-anticipated return, collected two assists after missing 31 games with a lacerated Achilles’ tendon. Jakob Silfverberg and Sergei Gonchar each scored for Ottawa, which had lost its previous two games.
 
End of the road
The Flyers will play their final game of a trying 2013 season when they take on the playoff-bound Senators on Saturday night. It will be just the second time since 1995 that the orange and black have failed to reach the postseason.

A major reason why the Flyers will not be playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs is because of their play on the road. When away from the Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers have posted a 7-15-1 record –- good for third-worst in the Eastern Conference.

The Flyers, however, have put together a string of inspired hockey since being eliminated from postseason contention. They have won three consecutive games and could end their frustrating season above .500 with a win.

Keep an eye on ...
The Senators will be looking for their 12th victory in the Flyers’ last 14 visits to Ottawa. The orange and black should pose a tough test, as they have won five of their last six and have outscored opponents 23-11 in the five victories.

Giroux has a two-point lead on Jakub Voracek, who was given the Bobby Clarke Trophy as the Flyers’ most valuable player on Thursday, for the team lead in scoring heading into Saturday’s season finale. Both skaters have paced the Flyers’ offense this season. Giroux has a team-high 34 assists, while Voracek leads the Flyers with a career-high 21 goals.   

Karlsson proved how dangerous the Senators can be when he is in the lineup. Last season’s Norris Trophy winner was expected to miss up to six months after Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke stepped on the back of his leg on Feb. 13, but returned in spectacular fashion on Thursday. He logged a game-high 27-plus minutes, fired eight shots on net and assisted both of Ottawa’s goals.

Milestone watch
Simon Gagne needs three points to reach 600 in his career. The veteran forward collected an assist on Briere’s first-period goal on Thursday.

Did you know?
The Flyers have scored 19 more power-play goals than their opponents over the last two seasons. The only team in the NHL that has a higher differential on the PP during that span is the Pittsburgh Penguins (30).

Injuries
Flyers: Kimmo Timonen (foot), Andrej Meszaros (left shoulder surgery), Braydon Coburn (separated left shoulder), Nicklas Grossmann (concussion), Bruno Gervais (torn stomach muscle), Kent Huskins (concussion), Zac Rinaldo (high left ankle sprain), Max Talbot (broken left leg) and Jody Shelley (left hip surgery) all remain sidelined.

Senators: Jason Spezza (back surgery), Dave Dziurzynski (concussion) and Mike Hoffman (collarbone) are all on injured reserve and are out indefinitely.

Sound off
Which Flyer(s) would you like to see or not see return next season? Why?

2017 NHL draft prep: Options for Flyers at No. 2

2017 NHL draft prep: Options for Flyers at No. 2

The Flyers' long-term landscape changed Saturday night with a stroke of luck.

Facing long odds, the Flyers nearly won the NHL draft lottery, but will have to settle for the No. 2 pick (see story). Considering where they were projected to pick, this is a major win for the Flyers.

"We had a lot of bad luck this year," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Saturday night. "And I'm hoping this is a turning point. This is a big point for our franchise."

The Flyers came into the lottery most likely to draft 13th at 84.3 percent. Lottery rules dictated that they could only draft in the top three, stay at 13 or fall to 14 or 15th. They had a 2.2 percent chance at the top pick, 2.4 percent at the second pick and 2.7 at the third pick.

And the hockey gods were on the Flyers' side Saturday. Because of their current prospect picture — heavy on defensemen and goaltenders — the Flyers will have an opportunity to add an impact forward to their prospect pool, an immediate hole they will be able to fill.

Here are five prospects the Flyers could target with the No. 2 pick come June 23-24 at the NHL draft in Chicago.

(Note: Because the Flyers are heavy on defensive prospects, we're not including Miro Heiskanen, the consensus top defenseman in this year's draft class.)

Nolan Patrick, C, 18, 6-2/198, Brandon (WHL)
Patrick finished as the top-rated skater by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau, a spot he has been in all year long despite dealing with a groin/abdominal injury throughout the 2016-17 season. He is touted as a two-way, right-handed center who does everything well but doesn't possess any one specific elite skill. Sportsnet's Jeff Marek wrote in March, "think Jonathan Toews-lite." Patrick has NHL blood in his veins, as his father, Steve Patrick (250 games), and uncle, James Patrick (1,280 games), both have played in the league. In 33 games with the Wheat Kings this season, Patrick scored 20 goals and 46 points. He missed 39 games. During the 2015-16 season, Patrick registered 41 goals and 102 points in 72 games. He played two seasons in Brandon with Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov.

Central Scouting director Dan Marr's take: "He has more than proven over the last three years that he is the real deal and will be an impact NHL player. The poise, the presence, the attention to detail, the way he processes and executes plays — everything has been far more precise, far more accurate and a lot quicker this season."

Nico Hischier, C, 18, 6-1/176, Halifax (QMJHL)
With Patrick the projected top pick in June's draft, Hischier checks in as the early favorite to become a Flyer on June 23. Hischier had a breakout performance as an underage player — he was 17 at the time — for Team Switzerland during the 2017 IIHF World Championships, posting four goals and three assists in five games. He will likely become the highest-drafted Swiss-born player in league history. Nino Niederreiter (fifth overall, 2010) currently holds that title. Per hockey guru Bill Meltzer, Hischier would qualify for the AHL because he was loaned to Halifax this season from Bern, a professional Switzerland hockey team. In his first season in the QMJHL, Hischier led all rookies with 38 goals, 48 assists and 86 points in 57 games, earning himself the league's Rookie of the Year award and winning the Mike Bossy Trophy, awarded to the league's best pro prospect.

Central Scouting director Dan Marr's take: "Hischier is definitely worth the price of admission. He has a high skill level, but what's most impressive is the way he competes, his drive and work ethic. He is a player who is first on the forecheck forcing a turnover and when the play transitions, he's the first player back. He's in that category as a special player."

Gabriel Vilardi, C, 17, 6-3/202, Windsor (OHL)
Vilardi battled a knee injury and appendicitis in 2016-17 with Windsor, but still finished more than a point-per-game player with the Spitfires. He recorded 61 points in 49 games this season. His 29 goals led Windsor and his 61 points were second on the club. Vilardi is an excellent puck-possession forward, which drives his and his linemates' scoring. Skating is an area he can improve upon. He is a right-handed shot with good size, something that could intrigue the Flyers. He compares his game to John Tavares, the New York Islanders' star captain. He finished as Central Scouting's fourth-best rated North American skater.

Central Scouting director Dan Marr's take: "Vilardi is a high-end possession center with excellent hockey sense and puck-handling ability. He plays a very composed game with the puck, using his vision and playmaking ability to influence the game in all three zones. Vilardi excels below the dots in the offensive zone, where he utilizes his size and reach to control the play and generate scoring opportunities."

Owen Tippett, RW, 18, 6-0/200, Mississauga (OHL)
What would intrigue Flyers fans about Tippett is his shoot-first mentality, a trait not many current Flyers own. A right wing with size, Tippett positions himself in scoring areas and has a desirable shot. He's described as a strong skater with great breakaway speed. He led the Steelheads with 44 goals and 75 points in 60 games this season. His 44 goals were fifth in the Ontario Hockey League. With Patrick and Hischier the cream of this year's average crop, Tippett at No. 2 might be a reach, but he fits the mold of what the Flyers need.

Michael Rasmussen, C, 18, 6-6/215, Tri-City (WHL)
Rasmussen is a centerman with above average skating for a player his size and a knack for knowing how to use his size to his advantage. He suffered a wrist injury this season and played in just 50 of Tri-City's 72 games. He netted 32 goals and 55 points and led the Americans with 15 power-play goals, an attractive trait for the Flyers. He compares his game to Panthers forward Aleksander Barkov and former Maple Leafs superstar Mats Sundin. He finished fifth among North American skaters in Central Scouting's final rankings.

Central Scouting director Dan Marr's take: "He's playing with much more confidence this season. He's adapted to playing a bigger role and playing heavy minutes against opponents' top lines and defense. The game has slowed down for him a little bit and he's just that much more poised. He can take that extra bit of time and understands he can take that time to make plays and score goals."

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

WASHINGTON -- Phil Kessel scored twice, Sidney Crosby set up more goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins chased Braden Holtby on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 Saturday night that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant again in stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced for Pittsburgh, which also got goals by Matt Cullen, Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins scored three goals on 14 shots on Holtby, who was pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer after the second period.

Grubauer didn't fare much better, allowing two goals on nine shots. Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who outshot the Penguins 36-23 but still face an uphill task of trying to become just the 19th team to win a series after losing the first two games at home.

Guentzel added an empty-net goal to seal it for the Penguins, his playoff-best seventh (see full recap).

Pageau gets 4th goal in 2OT to lift Sens over Rangers
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau got his fourth goal of the game in the second overtime after scoring twice late in regulation, lifting the Ottawa Senators over the New York Rangers 6-5 Saturday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ottawa leads the series 2-0 despite trailing by two goals after Brady Skjei's score with 14:50 left in the third. Pageau cut it to 5-4 with 3:19 left in the period, then tied it with 1:02 remaining.

Pageau scored again 2:54 into the second OT, snapping in a shot during a 2-on-1 rush alongside Tommy Wingels. Pageau is the first Senator ever with four goals in a playoff game.

Marc Methot and Mark Stone also scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson had 43 saves.

Skjei had two goals for New York and Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan also scored. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots.

The series heads to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday night (see full recap).