Instant Replay: Ducks 3, Flyers 2

slideshow-flyers-steve-mason-ap.jpg

Instant Replay: Ducks 3, Flyers 2

BOX SCORE

Good teams take their game to the next level when it’s on the line.

That was what the Anaheim Ducks did to the Flyers in the third period of Tuesday’s 3-2 Ducks win.

Anaheim, the fourth seed in the Western Conference, is easily the best team the Flyers have faced thus far.

Kyle Palmieri scored two goals -- both off Flyer turnovers -- as Bruce Boudreau's club turned a one-goal deficit that period into a victory.

The Ducks made a strong push late in third period, and the Flyers failed miserably in trying to answer. They were outskated and outworked the entire stanza, while goalie Steve Mason faced numerous breakdowns.

The killer goal was Palmieri’s first, stealing the puck from Vinny Lecavalier during the first minute of the third period. He went on a breakaway with a nifty backhander, beating Mason to make it a 2-2 game.

The Ducks got a goal late in the second, plus another early in the third period. Palmieri’s second goal late in the game off another turnover was the ultimate difference.

Scoring
Matt Read has a three-game goal streak. Last Thursday, the 27-year-old winger recorded a goal and added an assist on home ice to help the Flyers defeat the Rangers.

Read then followed up Saturday night at Uniondale, N.Y. with another goal against the Isles.

His scoring streak continued in this game with a goal early against Jonas Hiller. It took him two shots after collecting a pass from Wayne Simmonds behind the net, then having to shoot twice on Hiller at the left post before scoring.

Injuries
Anaheim left wing Teemu Selanne suffered an injury late in the third period and did not return. Selanne took an accidental stick from Flyer defenseman Luke Schenn during a puck battle.

Close games
For the 11th time in as many games, the Flyers were either tied, ahead by one goal or trailing by one goal when the third period began.

Righties
Can’t even remember seeing this at a Flyers game that I have covered over these many years: Two right-handed catching goalies going head-to-head. Mason for the Flyers and Hiller for the Ducks.

No goal
Mathieu Perreault returned to the Ducks’ lineup after missing one game with a wrist sprained and had a goal wiped out late in the first period. Anaheim was trailing 1-0 when Perreault tipped a shot from Selanne that went past Mason. It was denied on the ice as a high-stick and went to video review where it was upheld.

Special teams
Lecavalier picked up his third power-play goal of the season, while the Flyers now have scored a power-play marker in three of their last four games. Lecavalier has five total goals this season, even though he missed two games injured. Nice goal, too, as Claude Giroux passed the puck from the left to right circle for Lecavalier’s blast.

“It was all G. He had the puck for 10-15 seconds and was drawing everybody toward him,” Lecavalier said. “He had a no-look pass, I mean, there aren't too many guys in this league who can do that. It was a great play by him. I just had to get the puck on net.”

Penalties
Giroux, working a puck behind the Anaheim goal in the second period, was called for diving into the backboards after being lightly cross-checked by Perreault. Given the way things are in the NHL right now with board hits and concussions, why would a player deliberately dive into the backboards and risk a neck/head injury?

Faceoffs
Through two periods, Sean Couturier had won 67 percent of his faceoff draws. His line with Read and Simmonds had to go up against Ryan Getzlaf’s unit with Corey Perry and Pat Maroon.

Caroms
Andrew Cogliano’s goal late in the second period came off a weird carom. Getzlaf’s shot high between the circles came off the backboards over Mason directly to Cogliano, who buried the rebound. That said, the goal never should have happened. Flyers defenseman Nick Grossmann fed the puck directly to Getzlaf at the blue line as if he were an outlet man in a Flyer uniform.

Scratches
Forward Adam Hall remained scratched. On defense, Erik Gustafsson joined Hal Gill. All are healthy.

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

PITTSBURGH -- There's a bit of tragic irony to how the Flyers' season will end over the next two-plus weeks.
 
They have seven games left on the schedule. Six of them are teams residing in the Metro Division. Tuesday's opponent, Ottawa, is the lone exception.
 
There are so many reasons why the Flyers are scrambling now, clinging to the desperate belief they can still make the playoffs -- mathematically, they're alive -- against all rational thought.
 
They're six points behind Boston for the second wild-card spot, but they still have to hurdle Carolina, Tampa Bay and the Islanders just to get to Boston.
 
Yet one major reason for the Flyers' dilemma seems pretty obvious: They've been simply awful in head-to-head play against their own division.
 
The Flyers have a winning record against both divisions in the Western Conference.
 
That's not the case, however, in the East where the Metro Division is the only division with three teams over 100 points and where the Flyers have failed miserably to challenge from within.
 
Sunday's 6-2 rout of the Penguins in Pittsburgh left the Flyers with a poor 9-13-2 record against the Metro. It's the only division they have a losing record against.
 
Last season, Dave Hakstol's group finished 14-10-6 against their own division. That was a critical factor in enabling the Flyers to make the playoffs.
 
"We know where we are in the standings and it's not going to be easy to make the playoffs," Jakub Voracek said. "We all know that. We have to work off results of the other teams and try to play relaxed and loose."
 
Against the Eastern Conference overall, the Flyers are close to .500 (21-22-4) yet realize they should be better.
 
These two records represent a very large reason why the Flyers are sitting on the outside looking in as the playoffs near.
 
Right now, at least four clubs from the Metro -- half the division -- will make the playoffs. That says a lot about why games within your section are so pivotal at season's end.
 
"The numbers don't lie," Hakstol admitted on Sunday. "It's a tough road every single night. You've got to do a good job within your division, within your conference.
 
"We've played a lot of tight, hard games. The reality is, we're a number of points out of the playoffs and those points within your division are very valuable."
 
It's something the Flyers have to greatly improve upon next season if they want to be sitting in a playoff spot a month before the season ends instead of playing catch-up when the odds are hopelessly against them.
 
Pens killers
Every team in the NHL has a couple players who have fairly impressive career numbers against other teams.
 
Voracek averages better than a point against the Penguins. His goal Sunday gave him 17 goals and 34 points in 32 career games against Pittsburgh.
 
Voracek admitted after the game he's not sure why.
 
Claude Giroux also has excellent numbers against the Pens -- his two assists in the win left the Flyers' captain with 41 points (14 goals) in 40 career games vs. Pittsburgh.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere has been around a fraction as long as either Giroux or Voracek -- eight career games vs. the Pens -- yet has two goals and nine points in those games.
 
Brayden Schenn doesn't average a point a game against the Pens, but he's close. His assist on Sunday left the winger/center with 20 points (8 goals) in 26 games.
 
The only Flyer who has solid numbers against Pittsburgh and didn't make Sunday's score sheet was Wayne Simmonds. He has 23 points in 28 games. 

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

PITTSBURGH -- The curious line juggling of Travis Konecny continued Sunday night.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol again started Konecny on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's fourth line with Chris VandeVelde, but just as he did in Columbus, Hakstol moved the rookie around.

This was Konecny's third straight game off Valtteri Filppula's unit with Jakub Voracek at the start. The obvious message to Konecny seems to be: Get yourself into a more defensive-minded role early and then let the offense come to you.

Konecny has made some defensive strides.

"It makes sense in a lot of respects," Hakstol said of the move to Bellemare's unit. "He's playing with two players with a lot of structure. He excels in that type of setting.

"If you look at [Saturday], he can bounce around the lineup with different lines and we used him that way. He didn't just play with his two linemates. He moved around a little bit. He's very effective in that role when we're able to get him out there. He gives us a good boost, a good push."

Against Columbus on Saturday, Konecny played on two units with Sean Couturier -- one featuring Jordan Weal and the other, Dale Weise. He also played a few shifts with Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

The same thing happened Sunday in the Flyers' 6-2 rout of the Penguins (see game story). Konecny finished with an assist and plus-1 in just 8:02. He is one of the very, very few Flyers who is an even. Most are minus.

Konecny, who just turned 20, and Weal, 24, gave the Flyers a lift on Sunday. Weal had a goal and an assist in 13:06.

"No matter who it is contributing, everyone is excited for everybody," Konecny said. "A lot of guys put up some numbers tonight and contributed. It was a good team effort. That's what we want to see."
 
The Flyers were so relaxed it makes you wonder if the pressure of trying to make the playoffs is gone because their odds are so stacked against them.
 
"We’re at that point where you just need to win and just show up," Konecny said. "There's nerves in the back of your mind. We're pretty loose and trying to enjoy it as much as we can going through a stressful time.
 
"We've handled it well. We played a good team, we knew they would push but we pushed harder."
 
Konecny said he's not fazed by the different line combinations he's a part of, often in the same period.
 
"It's not too bad," he said. "I kind of expected it going into a game. I know when I am playing with Belly and Vandy that throughout the game, there's going to be times like penalty kills come up and he'll fill me in with another line.
 
"At the start of the third [tonight], I filled in another line. I know it's going to come. I just expect it. I've played with pretty much everybody on the team. I'm comfortable out there."
 
Loose pucks
The six goals on the road against Pittsburgh last happened on Feb. 20, 2013, when the Flyers won, 6-5. ... Sunday was the Flyers' largest margin of victory in Pittsburgh since March 31, 2003, when they beat the Penguins, 6-1, at Mellon Arena. ... Weal picked up the second two-point game of his career -- both of which have taken place this month. ... Weise has three goals in his last seven games. ... Claude Giroux had two assists, and now has two goals and eight assists for 10 points in 13 games this month.