Instant Replay: Ducks 5, Flyers 3

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Instant Replay: Ducks 5, Flyers 3

BOX SCORE

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The drive to the Olympic break began in earnest Thursday night at Honda Center as the Flyers played a fiercely-competitive game against the Ducks yet still lost, 5-3.

It was the first of three games against the top three clubs in the Pacific Division.

This one had all elements you want -- physical, even chippy hockey, with skating, scoring and even a Gordie Howe Hat Trick from Ryan Getzlaf.

The Flyers didn’t help themselves, either.

Trailing 3-2 in the final period and working on the power play, they allowed their ninth shorthanded goal of this season at 12:26 to ruin any chance of tying the game after Kimmo Timonen turned the puck over.

The Ducks had two big goals in this one.

They scored in the final 35 seconds of the opening period to go into the dressing room ahead 2-1 and then added a goal in the second period.

The Flyers drew to within 3-2 in the third period off Matt Read’s deflection of a shot from Mark Streit.

Flyers coach Craig Berube talked about skating hard and his team did that, but the Ducks move rather quickly on the breakout thanks to defensive pairing of Hampus Lindholm and Francois Beauchemin. They were each plus-3 going into the third period.

Shorthanded goal
Timonen’s pass was picked up by Saku Koivu for a two-on-one break that resulted in Daniel Winnik’s shorthanded goal. The Flyers and Edmonton lead the NHL with nine shorthanded goals allowed this season. Timonen was minus-3 in the game.

Up next
The Flyers meet the L.A. Kings in a rare Saturday afternoon game at Staples Center. This will be the first time Brayden Schenn has played against the Kings as a Flyer. It will also be the first time the Flyers have met the Kings with both Jeff Carter and Mike Richards in the lineup. Carter was still a Blue Jacket the last time these two clubs met.

First shot
It took 3:21 before Scott Hartnell put one on net for either team.The Flyers were moving their legs that first period but not generating shots.

Double deflection
Remember Patrick Maroon? A guy who quickly fell out of favor with the Flyers. He scored on a double deflection at 10:38 of the first period as Anaheim scored first in the game, even though the Flyers pretty much dominated the first half of the period.

The puck deflected first off Wayne Simmonds, taking a sharp righthand turn on goalie Steve Mason, before Maroon deflected it for his fifth goal this season.

Big hit
It was only a matter of time before Zac Rinaldo lined up someone and delivered a big hit after sitting out 10 games with a sprained ankle. It was a clean hit, too, on Nick Bonino, who went off the ice immediately to the dressing room in the first period. Rinaldo actually drew two penalties that period while the Flyers scored a power-play goal on the first one. Bonino came back briefly in the second period, then left the game for good.

Wow pass
Erik Gustafsson split a couple of Ducks to somehow locate Vinny Lecavalier, who beat goalie Frederik Andersen from the right circle to tie the game at 1-1 on the power play. Lecavalier has two goals in his last four games.

Wow save
Andersen’s mid-air grab of Lecavalier’s rebound in the paint during the Flyers' second power play.

Wow save II
Mason on Winnik in the third period.

Bad goal
Getzlaf’s deflection of Lindholm’s point shot in the final 35.1 seconds of the first period to regain the lead for Anaheim, 2-1. The Flyers have given up a goal in the final seconds of the first period twice in the last three games.

Gordie Howe
Getzlaf had a goal, an assist and a fight. Weird thing is, his only other fight was against Steve Downie in the season opener when the latter was with Colorado.

Milestone
Downie has been waiting since mid-December to get his 100th NHL assist. He got it on the Lecavalier power-play goal.

Let ‘em play
Officials allowed both teams to settle things on the ice and have a go at it. The game was very chippy game -- the way most NHL clubs would prefer to play rather than go to the penalty box.

Corey Perry
He had consecutive scoring chances in the second period. Mason swiped away one shot but was helpless to do anything on the next rush up ice with Perry and Getzlaf, who gave his right wing a perfect pass off an odd-man rush. Perry made it 3-1 with his 29th goal.

Special teams
The Flyers were a disappointing 1 for 4 on the power play. Anaheim was 0 for 1.

Fights
Downie and Getzlaf fought to a draw in the second period. It was Downie’s first fight since suffering a concussion during a fight against Aaron Volpatti on Nov. 1.

Scratches
Defensemen Hal Gill and Andrej Meszaros; forward Jay Rosehill. All were healthy.

Empty net
The Flyers pulled Mason with three minutes left and Koivu scored.

Flyers focused on actual game instead of Stadium Series event

Flyers focused on actual game instead of Stadium Series event

VOORHEES, N.J. -- The toughest challenge for the Flyers this weekend might be themselves.

They’re playing the Pittsburgh Penguins outdoors on Saturday as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series event. That should be a big deal.

Yet, given their circumstances right now, how can they possibly enjoy the moment?

Maybe had this game been played in early January, before the team hit a crisis point in the standings, and was winning, it would be easier to relax.

The fact is, the Flyers have lost seven of their last 10 games, are drifting as the 11th team in the Eastern Conference, and the second wild card they held for so long seems far from their reach.

Tough to have fun and soak up the atmosphere when there’s so much pressure to start making up ground in the playoff hunt.

“Yeah, we’re there to have two points,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said Thursday. “If this was earlier in the season, we could take it in a bit more, but it’s all business for us right now. It’s just playing.”

That attitude extends right up to coach Dave Hakstol, who didn’t break a smile when talking about what’s really important here.

His team is desperate for points. There are 22 games left in the regular season and 19 are against Eastern Conference opponents.

The Flyers need to win a bunch of games and get hot like they did last season in March if they are going to recapture a wild-card berth.

“Honestly, it’s business first,” Hakstol said. “There is something to the event and certainly something important with family and the type of event it is. But, let’s be honest. Right now, it’s business first. That’s what our focus will be.

“Points. Simple as that. It’s two points. We need the two points and it’s a road game and it happens to be in an event-type situation.

“So we’ve got to make sure we handle all of that in terms of our preparation. But the bottom line is it comes down to the two points that are at stake on Saturday night.”

Michal Neuvirth will make his sixth consecutive start in goal for the Flyers. He was a backup to Semyon Varlamov at Heinz Field during the 2011 Winter Classic as a member of the Washington Capitals against Pittsburgh.

“We’ve got to focus on the game,” Neuvirth said. “There is going to be a lot of distractions. Lot of families and friends in town. But we’re gonna go there and it’s all about business and trying to get the two points.”

Hakstol is only slightly concerned about the hype taking away from the players’ focus. If the Flyers were coming into this game on a win streak, he and his players wouldn’t be quite as uptight as they are right now.

You can cut the tension in the Flyers' dressing room these days with a skate blade.

“You need a little mental attention to detail there,” Hakstol said. “That’s what it is. We’re in that mold. I don’t think that’s a big hump to overcome. I think we’ll be OK.”

Heinz Field holds 68,000 people. The NHL expects 60,000 in attendance. Regardless, it will be the largest crowd ever to witness a Flyers game.

“It’s more exciting and a must-win for us,” said Michael Raffl, who played outdoors once in Europe. “A huge game no matter where we would have played it. We could play it at Skate Zone and we’d be excited.”

Giroux said it will be “weird” being on the ice because his past experiences in outdoor games saw him drown out the fans as much as possible. Yet he admitted the sheer number of fans this time might make that difficult to do.

“It’s pretty exciting to play in the Steelers' stadium,” he said. “Playing against Pittsburgh, it should be a great game.”

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

Best of NHL: Patrick Kane hat trick lifts Blackhawks over Coyotes

CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane scored three goals for his third career hat trick to lead the surging Chicago Blackhawks past the Arizona Coyotes 6-3 on Thursday night for their third straight win and eighth in nine games.

Kane has 23 goals to lead Chicago, which closed within three points behind first-place Minnesota in the Central Division and Western Conference.

Rookies Nick Schmaltz and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and assist. Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival scored his first goal of the season in his first game since Jan. 15.

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews added two assists to extend his points scoring streak to five games and increase his output to 22 points in his past 13.

Jakob Chychrun, Ryan White and Radim Vrbata scored for the Coyotes. Chychrun and Vrbata each scored for the second straight game (see full recap).

Rangers outlast Maple Leafs in shootout
TORONTO -- Mika Zibanejad scored the shootout winner and the New York Rangers continued a strong February with a 2-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Henrik Lundqvist made 32 saves and J.T. Miller scored the game-tying goal in the third period for the Rangers, who improved to 8-1-1 this month.

New York moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division with 80 points.

Connor Brown scored for Toronto, which fell to 1-7 in shootouts this season. Frederik Andersen had a stellar performance in defeat with 37 saves.

The Leafs hold the third playoff spot in the Atlantic Division (68 points), two points back of Ottawa (70) and four back of Montreal (see full recap).

Islanders shut out Canadiens
MONTREAL -- Rookie Anthony Beauvillier scored in the first period, Thomas Greiss made 24 saves, and the New York Islanders beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-0 Thursday night.

Anders Lee scored in the second period and John Tavares added an empty-netter in the final minute to seal the Islanders' third straight win. New York has won the first two games on a crucial nine-game road swing and improved to 12-4-2 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano.

Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson each had two assists, and Greiss got his third shutout of the season.

Carey Price finished with 21 saves as the Canadiens lost coach Claude Julien's 1,000th NHL game. Montreal is 1-2-0 since Julien replaced Michel Therrien last week and has totaled just 14 goals while going 2-7-1 in the last 10 games, including four shutouts (see full recap).