Instant Replay: Blues 1, Flyers 0 (SO)

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Instant Replay: Blues 1, Flyers 0 (SO)

BOX SCORE

ST. LOUIS – The Flyers and the St. Louis Blues locked horns in a scoreless battle Thursday at Scottrade Center.

Up and down the ice they went, as Flyers understudy Ray Emery went skate-to-glove with Blues leading man Ryan Miller in the save department. Miller made 31 saves in regulation; Emery 28. It was 0-0 at the end of regulation and after the five-minute overtime.

But the Blues finally earned a 1-0 victory in the postgame-skills showdown known as a shootout.

In the SO, T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk lit the red lamp for the Blues, with Oshie dipsy-doodling all over the place before beating Emery and Shattenkirk scoring on a wrister to clinch it. (Alexander Steen didn’t get off a shot, losing control of the puck.) At the other end, Miller stopped Vincent Lecavalier with his right pad and gloved a salvo from Claude Giroux.

The Blues are 9-3 in SOs this season; the Flyers 3-7.

It was a quite different game than the teams’ meeting March 22 at Wells Fargo Center. In that one, the Flyers decisively beat the Blues 4-1 to extend their winning streak to five games; they’ve gone 1-2-1 since then. The Blues won three in a row after the loss in Philly before losing to Dallas on Saturday.

So, the Blues had revenge on their minds, and the Flyers wanted to show the victory on the 22nd wasn’t a fluke in any way.

The Flyers started strongly Thursday, controlling the play early on and making Miller earn his keep. Once the Blues got their sea legs, they tested Emery at the other end as Steve Mason got a much-needed day off to rest up for the Flyers’ game Thursday vs. Columbus.

Michael Raffl had the Flyers best’ scoring chances through two, but Miller stopped him twice. Emery also stood tall and benefited from the Blues’ hitting a couple of posts in the second period.

Penalty killing was solid with the Blues killing two and the Flyers one, including Giroux’s high-stick of Oshie in a center-ice collision with 1:24 to play.

The start
The Flyers came out like gangbusters with odd-man rushes/situations in what seemed like every time down the ice and/or in the Blues’ zone. One time, Blues defensemen Alex Pietrangelo fell down and took out partner Jay Bouwmeester on the Blues’ side of center ice, giving the Flyers a two-on-none rush -- a two-on-none! Ryan Miller stopped the shot by Raffl on a pass from Giroux, a nightmare of a break for a goalie to see coming at him if there ever was one.

Another time, the Blues’ Patrik Berglund made like Jaromir Jagr and stickhandled around several Flyers in the Philly zone, then hit Brayden Shenn on the shin and the puck bounced out of the zone for another Flyers’ rush. The shots were 5-0 in favor of the Flyers before Jaden Schwartz got the first shot for the Blues 4:21 in.

Miller kept the Flyers off the board and helped the home team survive the visitors’ onslaught and take the crowd out of it just like home teams do all the time. Yep.

After one
The Blues ended up outshooting the Flyers 11-10 in the first period, 11-5 after the Flyers’ strong start, and Emery stood tall. He made strong stops on Schwartz, Ryan Reaves and Maxim Lapierre among others. Both goalies were the stars of the first period, through two periods really with the Blues holding a 19-18 edge in shots.

Ping
The goalie’s best friend -- the post -- helped out Emery twice in the second period. Schwartz hit the pipe on a slapper from the slot less than 10 seconds into the second period. The end of the period provided the perfect bookend, as the Blues’ Pietrangelo also did the ping routine behind Emery in the final 15 seconds.

Mutual foul
Referees Tim Peel and Don VanMassenhoven pretty much let the lads play without interfering with them. Only one foul was called in the first period -- the Blues’ Barret Jackman for delaying the game by clearing the puck out of play -- and the tone was set early in the second period when Andrew MacDonald and Alexander Steen went off for coincidental penalties for roughhousing in front of Emery at 1:28.

There would be no monkey business on this night. (The crowd later gave VanMassenhoven a cheer -- yes, they cheered the ref -- when the PA man announced that he was reffing his second-to-last game before retiring after 23 years.)

Great chances
Raffl had a glorious scoring chance in both the first period and in the second. Miller stopped him on the two-on-none with Giroux in the first period, and Miller slid to his left to rob Raffl with his left pad on a pointblank salvo early in the second period.

He had yet another chance in the third, but Miller stoned him on a semi-break-in. Miller also stopped Jakub Voracek on a wrap-around in overtime.

He’s baaaack
D-man Erik Gustafsson returned to the Flyers’ lineup after being lost in the vortex known as March -- 14 games as a healthy scratch; he hadn’t played in an actual game since Feb 27, when he was minus-2 in a 7-3 loss vs. visiting San Jose. He replaced injured defenseman Kimmo Timonen, who stayed home in Philadelphia for the quickie in-and-out trip after taking a slapshot on the chops Sunday vs. Boston. Gustafsson started the game on a pairing with Luke Schenn.

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).

Changes coming? Ron Hextall says Flyers 'not very happy right now'

Changes coming? Ron Hextall says Flyers 'not very happy right now'

WASHINGTON — As the Flyers filed into the visiting locker room of the Verizon Center, no temper tantrums were thrown, nor were any chairs.
 
In the end, “What good does that do?” head coach Dave Hakstol asked.
 
Instead, the Flyers’ dressing area Sunday felt like a morgue. Players quietly and somberly stuffed their gear away. Once all dispersed, in walked Ron Hextall — and none too pleased.
 
“It’s been a tough couple of weeks for us,” he said softly, “and quite honestly, we’re not very happy right now.”
 
For a man that loathes losing more than anyone, nobody expected him to be. That much was already understood during the third-period catastrophe of his team’s demoralizing 5-0 defeat to the Capitals.
 
What wasn’t known was what follows? The Flyers have gone from 10 consecutive victories — the franchise’s longest winning streak in 31 years — to 11 losses over the following 14 games and a state of dismay.
 
As the Flyers limp into their NHL mandated five-day bye week, do players sense an imminent shakeup within the roster?
 
“It’s a good question,” Claude Giroux said, “but I don’t know.”
 
Despite never losing his sense of prudence, Hextall ruled nothing out.
 
“Obviously we always keep an eye on the big club and the Phantoms, as well,” Hextall said. “Right now, we’re going to stick with what we’ve got here and move forward. But on a day-to-day basis, I always look at how we can make our club better and, if there’s something that we think makes our club better, we’ll do it."
 
If Hextall wants to add some fresh blood from within, the organization is not lacking for young and spry prospects full of energy down at Lehigh Valley, where the Phantoms are 24-10-2 and third among the entire AHL entering Monday.
 
For the Flyers, who have surrendered a league-worst 144 goals, could defensemen T.J. Brennan, Travis Sanheim or Robert Hagg be options? Brennan owns NHL experience, has 30 points and is a plus-10 with Lehigh Valley. Sanheim, a big and touted prospect, is also a plus-10 to go along with seven goals and 11 assists. And Hagg, a seasoned 21-year-old, is “just about NHL-ready,” according to Flyers assistant general manager Chris Pryor, via ESPN’s Craig Custance (see Future Flyers Report).
 
“The worst thing you can do is overreact when things aren’t going right and that’s not going to happen,” Hextall said. “But if we can find a way to make ourselves better, we will.”
 
Hextall’s biggest gripe with his current team is its dearth of mental fortitude.
 
“Right now we’re making a lot of mental mistakes and it’s killing us,” he said.
 
And then it snowballs, Hextall said, which good teams prevent from happening.
 
“When things are going wrong, all of a sudden something happens and things tend to really go wrong,” he said. “That’s where we have to get better. Mentally we have to be better, have to be better. If something goes wrong, let’s move on. It happened a lot earlier in the year where things go wrong and we fought through it. Right now, the negative energy seems to be a landslide.”
 
Following the meltdown in Washington, players didn’t question the effort.
 
“We care,” Michael Del Zotto said. “No one likes losing. It’s not fun for anyone. But sometimes effort's not enough. Everyone wants to win in this league. It's a matter of execution. Whether it's offensively or defensively in all situations, we're not doing it.”
 
Hextall believes the effort has been “sufficient.”
 
“Again, the mental mistakes,” he said. “It seems like when something goes against us, it goes against us hard and that’s something we’ve got to battle through. You can’t let a little bit of adversity turn into a lot of adversity. You’ve got to nip it in the bud and we’ve got to do a better job of that.”
 
As for the leadership structure and coaching, Hextall defended both.
 
“Our leaders haven’t been good enough. Neither have our lesser guys,” Hextall said. “Nobody’s been good enough right now. You don’t win 10 and then go through a stretch like this without responsibility being everywhere.
 
“Line changes, different D combinations, flipping [Steve Mason] and [Michal Neuvirth]. Everything that’s there, Hak has tried. In the end, it comes down to our whole group just being better and not reacting the way we do when something negative happens. That’s the game of sports, right?”
 
The game goes away for the Flyers this week (see 10 observations). When it returns, who knows which team we’ll see.
 
“We all have to look at ourselves in the mirror, hold ourselves accountable,” Del Zotto said. “As far as changes and personnel moves, that's out of our control.”
 
That, of course, is up to Hextall.
 
“We’ve got to keep our heads now,” the GM said. “Nobody’s going to get us out of this. It’s the whole group. This isn’t about one thing or one move or one player not playing or one player playing. This is about our whole group.”