Hartnell, Lecavalier suffer injuries in Flyers' loss

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Hartnell, Lecavalier suffer injuries in Flyers' loss

BOX SCORE

Updated: 11:45 p.m.

As if things could not possibly get any worse for the Flyers -- who are struggling for goals, wins and consistency throughout a game -- they lost two key forwards on Friday night.

Scott Hartnell, who might have been the best conditioned forward on the team, and Vinny Lecavalier, who was among the very few players with some points, both were injured during a 2-1 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.

Hartnell (upper body) and Lecavalier (lower body) will each miss at least a week and undergo MRIs on Saturday, general manager Paul Holmgren said. At least one player will be recalled from the Phantoms.

“They’re huge for our team,” Flyer captain Claude Giroux said.

Meanwhile, the Flyers have just six goals through five games.

“We’re not desperate enough around the net for me,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said. “We don’t have enough traffic at the net to get second and third opportunities. We need to get some greasy goals.”

Giroux, who remains without a point this season, needed time to compose himself before meeting the media late.

“It’s time for guys to step up, myself also,” he said. “I know we have our chances, but at the end of the day, we’ve just got to put the puck in the net. It doesn’t have to be pretty.

“It’s definitely frustrating -- the chances are there. We're going to the net, we're creating our own chances and when things like that happen, you gain confidence and build from there.”

The absences of Hartnell and Lecavalier didn’t help matters, but you can pin the loss entirely -- yet again -- on the Flyers killing themselves with penalties. We’ll get to that shortly.

Hartnell was injured with 6:55 left in the first period and did not return. He skated to the bench hunched over in pain. Lecavalier went down in the second period.

“We don’t know their status right now, but it’s obviously two great offensive guys, two big parts of our team, so it’s tough to try to do a comeback without these two guys,” Max Talbot said.

Berube talked about better discipline from his players. He might want to start with Zac Rinaldo.

Rinaldo’s setup of the lone goal was completely negated by four penalties, including a needless crosscheck to the back of Paul Bissonnette in the third period that saw the Coyotes' winger flatten goalie Steve Mason in the net.

Mason, who has been the club’s best goalie so far, had to be attended to by trainer Jim McCrossin, yet remained in the game.

“It happened a couple times in Carolina, as well," Mason said of the penalties. "Our guys are battling, but we can’t be taking penalties like that.”

It’s happened three times in the regular season.

Rinaldo had a daily double in this one with bad penalties. After the Flyers had tied the game late in the second period, 1-1, he took a needless high-sticking call and Phoenix burned the Flyers with a power-play goal to take the lead.

“It’s a dumb penalty,” Berube said. “It's a fine line with [Rinaldo]. You can't cross it, and he did.”

The Coyotes defeated Detroit on Thursday night in Motown, so the Flyers caught them in the second half of a back-to-back situation.

Despite a strong opening period in which the Flyers had the better scoring chances on goalie Thomas Greiss, outplayed and outshot Phoenix, they still trailed 1-0 when it was over.

And it was a fortunate goal, too, by the Coyotes as Derek Morris' shot from the right point got lost in a scrum at the net long enough for Rob Klinkhammer to slip it under Mason at 2:41.

“It hit Luke [Schenn] in front there and I’m not sure if it dropped down between my legs or something like that, but I didn’t see it,” Mason said.

At that point, the Flyers already had a couple of scoring chances from Lecavalier’s line. They would also get a penalty shot opportunity from Adam Hall after he was hauled down shorthanded by defenseman Michael Stone.

Alas, Hall, who is anything but Giroux with the puck, tried to get too fancy on his penalty shot attempt and flubbed the puck under Greiss, though it nearly trickled into the net.

Lecavalier and Brayden Schenn created another chance off the rush, but Greiss was again up to the task later in the period. Through two periods, they had four shots combined.

The most important aspect was two terrific penalty kills involving Giroux. When a player is struggling to score, sometimes his defense inspires him to raise his offensive game, and the Flyers certainly hope that is the case with Giroux.

The Flyers continued to be stymied by Greiss in the second period and went 0 for 4 in the game on the power(less) play.

What hurts here is the chances were there, like an easy rebound for Wayne Simmonds in the crease that he should have buried but fired it wide.

“I thought we had enough opportunities to score,” Holmgren said. “We’re just fighting it right now. We are obviously having a difficult time and you know we had some good opportunities as Wayne Simmonds had that open net on the power play -- I think it was a power play. Good enough opportunities to win the game.”

Nonetheless, the Flyers tied it with their third ugly goal in two games. This time, Rinaldo, who had a fight in the first period, got a puck in the high slot and simply wheeled around and fired.

Rinaldo’s scud missile was nowhere near the net, but it was on target to hit Talbot’s skate and redirect laterally across the crease on Greiss, tying the game at 1-1.

Of course, Rinaldo ruined things immediately with his high-sticking penalty in the final 26 seconds of the period.

On Phoenix’s ensuing power play, Oliver Ekman-Larsson made a spectacular move right around Talbot atop the right circle, then ripped a shot off the top of Mason’s right glove hand into the net.

Instead of being tied going into the third, the Coyotes led 2-1. Given the Flyers' scoring woes, it was enough.

“It’s a tight game,” Talbot said. “Phoenix plays really tight hockey and they came in and played well. They played solid defensively, and we worked hard, we did some good things, but it’s a process and we have to keep building.”

Connor McDavid: Brandon Manning made 'classless' comments about injury

Connor McDavid: Brandon Manning made 'classless' comments about injury

Connor McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season in the second period during the Flyers' 6-5 win on Thursday night (see Instant Replay). After his 12th goal of the year, McDavid made a point to stare down and exchange words with Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning.

In the first period, Manning and McDavid were in the middle of a scrum after the whistle, chirping each other (see 10 observations). The battle between the two roots back to when Manning broke the rising superstar’s collarbone November 2015 during a play against the boards in Edmonton.

“You know what, I did all I could defending him last year in the media," McDavid said after Thursday's game. "I didn’t want to make a big deal saying he did it on purpose.

"He wanted to make some comments today about what went on last year and I thought it was one of the classless things I’ve ever seen on the ice. He said some things and our guys responded accordingly.

"We can put the whole 'he did it on purpose' thing to rest, because what he said out there confirmed that. It shows what kind of guy he is, how he doesn’t step up and fight some of our guys.”

Manning received death threats from Edmonton fans last season, and responded after the game Thursday, reiterating the play that injured McDavid was an accident.

"I think anybody who knows me or who has played with or against me along the road here," Manning said, "knows that I am not that kind of player. I am not out there intentionally trying to hurt people. I'm a guy who plays the game hard and I take pride in that.

"I think going back to last year, it was a total accident. I mean, there were three players involved and there was never any intention of hurting anyone."

The injury ended up costing McDavid a few months, and a year later, the tension is still high between him and Manning.

As the second period moved along, McDavid continued to make plays for the Oilers. At the 4:35 mark in the second period, he took the puck away from the Flyers and then helped set up Andrej Sekera for a shorthanded goal that tied the game, 3-3.

The shorthanded goal helped give the Oilers momentum at the end of the period, but they could not carry it over to the third. The loss Thursday is the second night in a row in which Edmonton lost a game it looked like it was going to win.

“I’m not too sure what it is but I think we will figure it out,” McDavid said. "I’m not too sure what it is, like I said before. Something we need to figure out real fast here.”

Flyers top Oilers in thriller for seventh straight win

Flyers top Oilers in thriller for seventh straight win

BOX SCORE

Close your eyes and it was the 1980s all over again with the Edmonton Oilers piling up goals and Grant Fuhr giving up just as many.
 
Last goal wins.
 
Ah, but this is a different era with Connor McDavid not Wayne Gretzky.
 
Yet instead of McDavid, the NHL’s leading scorer, it was Michael Raffl scoring last as the Flyers twice overcame a two-goal deficit to burn the Oilers, 6-5, Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
That’s seven wins in succession for the Flyers, who are now tied for second in the Metro Division with the Rangers (35 points).
 
“We never give up no matter what the score is,” Jakub Voracek said. “We come back. We have a lot of good offensive players. We showed it again. Raffl was outstanding. He had a lot of scoring chances and he came up big.”

So many Flyers made critical plays. Voracek (plus-3) had a four-point game to go with the nifty pass off the offensive boards to Raffl, who then made a sharp cut to the net to wrist the puck past Jonas Gustavsson.
 
“Jakey banked it off the wall there and he wants me to make that play all the time, and he’s been hard on me about that,” said Raffl, who had a power move for the game-winner in Nashville last weekend. “I just put a little fake in there, got around the D-man and chipped it up high.”
 
This was a complete team comeback effort. Claude Giroux (plus-3) had two goals and three points. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare held McDavid to a power-play goal while shadowing him with rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov.
 
“Everyone knows what kind of player he is, what kind of speed he brings to the table,” Bellemare said of McDavid.
 
“I just tried to be as close as possible to him and kind of be annoying and cut off his speed. I didn’t make a big fool out of myself, so that’s a good point.” 
 
Goalie Steve Mason looked tired, but his teammates paid him back for earlier efforts when he stood there alone. Mason now has a personal-best six-game win streak.
 
“A couple nights ago, Mase was the best player and picked up a lotta guys around him,” coach Dave Hakstol said.
 
“Tonight maybe wasn’t his best, but was pretty good. Guys battled hard and they picked up some of the slack. That’s what it takes. Every guy is not going to be at their best every night.”
 
Voracek echoed those thoughts.
 
“That is how you become a great team,” he said. “Mase playing the last six games the way he did, it wasn’t his night tonight, but we got the win for him. That’s how you get into the playoffs and how you have success in the playoffs.”
 
The Flyers fell behind 2-0 early, rallied for three goals in 1:12 in the second, then were stunned by a shorthanded goal from Edmonton’s Andrej Sekera to tie it at 3-3 after two periods.
 
Edmonton scored twice to open the final period before Voracek and Giroux re-tied the game with eight minutes left, setting up the dramatic finish from Raffl at 18:31.
 
“It was an intense game, a lot of emotion. It felt like a playoff game,” Giroux said. “It was the funnest game all year. The fans were unreal. They weren’t wooing. They were cheering.”
 
Edmonton got a brilliant game from Leon Draisaitl, who moved off McDavid’s unit to another line and was dishing out passes like Monopoly money. He had a three-point night, scoring one goal and setting up two more.
 
Back and forth it went. Last goal wins.
 
“The guys bailed me out and that’s a sign hopefully when your goalie is not making the saves you need … it’s huge to see that,” Mason said.
 
“Once it got to 5-4, I tried to lock it down best I could. There are nights when you’re not feeling as sharp as you’d like, but this was a situation where the guys never quit. They earned the two points.”
 
The Flyers’ never-quit attitude is something that should carry them. It has become repetitive this season and they’ll want to remember it during the dog days of the season when their legs get tired.
 
“We’ve shown since the beginning of the season – come back and salvage some points,” Hakstol said. “That’s just guys believing in one another and going out and playing hard.
 
“You don’t want to be in that situation night after night. But tonight, guys stuck with it and great job.”