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.

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

Are we there yet? Philly Sports Talk examines the state of the Flyers

All week on Philly Sports Talk on CSN, we examine how our teams got to this point and where they are in the rebuilding process. 
 
Today, we finish up by taking a look at the Flyers.

 
How did we get here?
The Flyers' rebuild had begun when Ron Hextall returned to his old stomping grounds in the summer of 2013 as the team's new assistant general manager.
 
He took over GM duties after one season and the philosophical change was in place. Paul Holmgren was made president and Hextall's imprint, which had already started, was ready to become bigger.
 
What Hextall inherited was a cap-stricken team fresh off a first-round playoff loss, an organization that had tried to spend its way to immediate results instead of putting greater focus on the long game.
 
Some of the past decisions are well-documented: signing enigmatic goalie Ilya Bryzgalov to a nine-year, $51 million deal in 2011 after trading for him. With a buyout, the Flyers are still paying Bryzgalov through 2027. Signing veteran center Vinny Lecavalier to a five-year, $22.5 million contract in 2013. And signing imposing defenseman Chris Pronger to a seven-year, $34.55 million extension — nobody could foresee the unfortunate concussion issues that suddenly derailed Pronger's career, but it was nonetheless a hurdle for the Flyers moving forward.
 
Hextall has adeptly maneuvered through much of those rocky waters.
 
Now, the Flyers are a more cost-efficient (partly because they have to be in this salary cap world), draft-oriented organization planning for the future while not ignoring the present. This rebuild hasn't been a total demolition, but more of a retooling — a smart but tricky process, especially down the line.
 
Are the Flyers on the right path back to prosperity?
The youth is coming.
 
Hextall, oftentimes close to the vest, made that abundantly clear at his end-of-the-season press conference.
 
"Our young players, they've done enough," Hextall said in early April. "Our young players are going to get a long look. We don't plan on going out and signing veterans on the back end. Our kids, it's time to give them a shot, and we're going to do that."
 
But the really hard part is just beginning — results. Can the prospects catch up and meet the current core? The pressure for it to start has never been higher.
 
Help does appear to be on the way, though, for a team that regressed this season and missed the playoffs for the third time in the past five years.
 
Anthony Stolarz, Alex Lyon, Felix Sandstrom and Carter Hart give the Flyers future options in net.
 
Two promising prospects are expected to join Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and company on the blue line.
 
Oskar Lindblom, a dynamic 20-year-old winger, could crack the Flyers' group of forwards, which should have Jordan Weal and Valtteri Filppula for a full season.
 
Also, don't forget forward Mike Vecchione, a Hobey Baker finalist who signed with the Flyers out of Union College in late March.
 
Oh, and the No. 2 pick of the draft — likely a talented center — is in the Flyers' grasp.
 
The 2017-18 season will be a telling time for the Flyers. Patience has been required, but when will it be rewarded?
 
The clock is ticking.

NHL Notes: Penguins, Senators have chance at history in Game 7

NHL Notes: Penguins, Senators have chance at history in Game 7

PITTSBURGH -- Craig Anderson is a realist, the byproduct of 15 years playing the most demanding position in the NHL.

The Ottawa goaltender would like to chalk his 45-save masterpiece in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh up to his own brilliance. He knows that's not exactly the case.

"I think you need to be a little bit lucky to be good at times," Anderson said.

Ottawa has relied on a bit of both during its deepest playoff run in a decade and Anderson helped force Game 7 Thursday night. Yet here the Senators are, alive and still skating with a chance to eliminate the deeper, more experienced and more explosive Stanley Cup champions.

So much for the series being over after the Penguins destroyed Ottawa 7-0 in Game 5.

"I think, if you believe you're beaten, you're done already," Anderson said. "If you believe that you can win, there's always a chance."

All the Senators have to do to reach the Stanley Cup Final for just the second time in franchise history is take down one of the league's marquee franchises on the road in a building where they were beaten by a touchdown last time out.

No pressure or anything. Really. The Senators weren't supposed to be here. Then again, in a way neither were the Penguins. No team has repeated in nearly two decades and at times during the season and even during the playoffs this group was too beat up. Too tired from last spring's Cup run. The bullseye on their backs too big.

Yet they've survived behind the brilliance of stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, coach Mike Sullivan's impeccable decisions and a resiliency that has them one game from being the first Cup champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009.

Those Red Wings, by the way, fell to the Penguins in seven games. There have been several Game 7s for Pittsburgh in the interim on both sides of the ledger, though the Penguins are 2-0 in Game 7s under Sullivan. They edged Tampa Bay in Game 7 of last year's East finals and clinically disposed of Presidents' Trophy winner Washington in Game 7 of the second round earlier this month (see full story).

Predators: Goalie Rinne on smothering run
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Knocking the smile off Pekka Rinne's face right now is nearly impossible.

The longest-tenured player with the Nashville Predators, the 34-year-old goaltender finally will play in his first Stanley Cup Final in his ninth full NHL season.

"As a player, I feel like I've had a fairly long career and never had this opportunity," Rinne said. "So very fortunate and really appreciate this opportunity. I guess as a player you just enjoy being in this position. Enjoy the chance that you get, and you put your body on the line every night and give everything you have."

Teammates call the 6-foot-5 Finn the backbone of the Predators, and he's probably the best goalie in the world at the moment. He handles the puck like an extra defenseman. He foils the dump-and-chase efforts of opponents. And, oh, is he good in front of the net, aggressive with forwards in the crease, seeing seemingly everything and occasionally making saves with a Dominik Hasek-like contortion.

Not only is Rinne a playoff-best 12-4, his .945 save percentage ranks third all-time for a single postseason behind a pair of Conn Smythe Trophy winners in Jean-Sebastien Giguere for Anaheim in 2003 and Jonathan Quick for Los Angeles in 2012, according to HockeyReference.com. Rinne's 1.70 goals-against average is 10th all-time for one postseason.

"What he does every night, you can't put into words," Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban said (see full story).

Blues: Sydor returns to Blues as assistant
ST. LOUIS -- Darryl Sydor has returned to the St. Louis Blues as an assistant coach under mentor Mike Yeo.

Sydor agreed to a three-year deal Wednesday.

The 45-year-old Sydor finished his 18-year NHL playing career with the Blues in 2009-10, then broke into coaching as Yeo's assistant the next season with the American Hockey League's Houston Aeros. Sydor went with Yeo to Minnesota and spent five years with the Wild before working as an assistant last season with the Blues' then-Chicago affiliate in the AHL.

Sydor was a defenseman for Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus, Tampa Bay, Pittsburgh and St. Louis, winning Stanley Cup titles with Dallas and Tampa Bay.

Coyotes: Cunningham hired as pro scout
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- The Arizona Coyotes have hired Craig Cunningham as a pro scout and say he will assist with player development.

General manager John Chayka announced the two-year contract Wednesday that allows Cunningham to remain in hockey.

Cunningham collapsed on the ice with a cardiac disturbance prior to a game Nov. 19 while playing for the American Hockey League's Tucson Roadrunners and required emergency life-saving care. He had part of his left leg amputated and saw his playing career end.

But the 26-year-old who was captain of the Roadrunners last season says he's excited to start the next chapter of his hockey career in the Coyotes' front office. Chayka called Cunningham a "smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game" that he believes will translate to his new job.