Instant Replay: Ducks 3, Flyers 2

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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.

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

Ron Hextall, Flyers know what they have in Nolan Patrick

CHICAGO — Ron Hextall had no idea which way New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero was leaning.

Would Shero take Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier with his No. 1 pick?

"I asked Ray 10 minutes before he picked and he wouldn't tell me," Hextall said. "I give him credit. That is what he should have done … I didn't have an expectation one way or the other."

Shero wanted a dynamic player to put bodies in the stands at Prudential Center. He chose Hischier.

That made it easy for Hextall at No. 2 to select Patrick (see story).

If rumors were true that Shero was scared off by Patrick's several injuries this past season at Brandon, well, the Flyers weren't.

"What I believe, we gather a lot of information," Hextall said. "There's some stuff out there you want to prove wrong and we did. We're comfortable with the injury part of it. He is a really good young man."

Patrick is a two-way player and a natural center. The Flyers have seven centers right now (see story), including Patrick, who is expected to play now. 

Hextall said he doesn't envision switching Patrick to the wing.

"I would rather have too many centers rather than five wingers on each side and no one to go in the middle," Hextall said.

Interesting that German Rubtsov, last year's top pick for the Flyers, has already been converted to a left winger since coming to North America to play junior.

Will Patrick be a No. 1 center as scouts project?

"Nolan has to answer that," Hextall said. "We see a kid with a big body, extremely high hockey sense, really good skill set. You get drafted today? The work starts now and Nolan has to put the work in.

"This is another level … this is the National Hockey League. In September, he comes to camp. He needs a big summer."

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

Ron Hextall on Flyers' logjam of centers: 'Someone has to play the wing'

CHICAGO – The Flyers already have a familiar problem coming out of this NHL draft and heading training camp next fall: they’re too deep at center.
 
Friday night, they added three centers and traded another.
 
Brayden Schenn was sent to St. Louis for the Blues’ 27th pick in the first round, plus a conditional 2018 first-round pick and veteran utility center Jori Lehtera (see story).
 
General manager Ron Hextall wanted to trade back into the first round late and he did so by tabbing Morgan Frost at No. 27 with that Blues’ pick.
 
NHL Central Scouting had Frost ranked 31st among North American skaters. He is a 6-0, 170-pound forward from Aurora, Ontario.
 
He has raw speed and skill, but scouts say other parts of his game will need time to fill out. Frost had 20 goals and 62 points for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds of the OHL this past season.
 
Friday’s other first-round pick, Nolan Patrick, is a natural centerman. Patrick is expected to play in the NHL this season. So right now, the Flyers’ centers are Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier, Valtteri Filppula, Mike Vecchione, plus Patrick and now Lehtera.
 
Lehtera had 30 goals and 100 points in 218 games with the Blues. He was both a first- and second-line center for the Blues this past season despite weak numbers — seven goals and 22 points in 64 games.
 
He is a decent playmaker and two-way player, who has centered Alex Steen and Vladimir Tarasenko.
 
“He is utility guy with a well-rounded game and can play in the middle,” Hextall said. “We like the player. Gives coach more options.”
 
Best option: Lehtera can move to left wing if needed.
 
“Someone has to play the wing,” Hextall said. “He can play the wing. Our scouts have seen him play the wing, but he plays center most games. I am assuming he prefers center like most of them. Someone has to play wing.”
 
Schenn had improved every year he was with the Flyers, but too much of his scoring is on the power play and not five-on-five. He had 109 goals and 246 points in 424 career games for the Flyers.
 
This deal seems strange unless you consider the Flyers got another first-round pick (Frost) and a top-10 protected, conditional first-rounder next year. The Blues have the option to defer the 2018 first-rounder to 2019 but if they do so, the Flyers will also receive the Blues' 2020 third-round pick.
 
“It was a combination,” Hextall said of the advantages’ from the Flyers side. “It was one of those [trades] that came out of nowhere. Not like we were shopping Brayden.
 
“This deal came along and we really like the draft next year. We like the late pick this year and Jori. It made sense and we got a couple more young players.”
 
Young players like Frost, whom the Flyers are excited about.
 
“Our whole staff really liked the guy,” Hextall said. “He’s an extremely intelligent player, his No. 1 asset. Really smart. Reads the ice well. He has a very deft touch moving the puck.
 
“Good two-way player who showed up good in the testing. We believe he is a kid with a lot of upside. Good speed, but he dissects the game better than most players.”
 
Frost’s father Andy was the longtime former Toronto Maple Leafs PA announcer.
 
“I talked to them a couple times,” Frost said. “I’d say I had a bit of a gut feeling. I wasn’t too sure, but they took me and I’m super happy about it.
 
“I think first and foremost I’m a playmaker. I think I’m a high-skilled player that likes to use his vision and hockey sense to create plays. I’m working on becoming more of a two-way forward. That’s more of the player I want to become.”