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-Islanders 5 things: Still trying to clean up mistakes after bye week

Flyers-Islanders 5 things: Still trying to clean up mistakes after bye week

Flyers (22-19-6) at Islanders (19-17-8)
6 p.m. – CSN/CSNPhilly.com and streaming live on the NBCSports app; Pregame Live begins at 5:30.
 
The struggling Flyers head north Sunday night to battle the Metropolitan Division rival Islanders at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
 
Let’s take a closer look at Sunday’s matchup.
 
1. New week, same Flyers
Those hoping the Flyers would be a refreshed, recharged team after the bye week met a harsh reality Saturday night.
 
The Flyers were blown out of the Wells Fargo Center in a 4-1 loss to the Devils that saw the same things continue to haunt the home team — defensive breakdowns and a lack of offense, among other things.
 
It’s no secret this season is quickly slipping away from the Flyers. They’ve lost their hold on the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference to the upstart Maple Leafs and the Hurricanes, Panthers and Devils are breathing right down the Flyers’ backs. To pile on the good news, every other team in the East is within four points of the Flyers, including the last-place Isles, who have 46 points compared to the Flyers’ 50 points.
 
Needless to say, the margin for error is all but gone.
 
This has been said many times recently, but the emphasis still hasn’t waned — if the Flyers want to save this season, it has to start with the next game.
 
2. What’s the mindset?
Michal Neuvirth, who was pulled before the third period of Saturday’s game for “precautionary reasons,” had a striking quote after the loss to the Devils.
 
“When you lose so many games, you lose confidence,” he told reporters.
 
He’s not kidding, and further proof of that came in the loss to the Devils, when the game was tied 1-1. In the second period, Radko Gudas was whistled for a clipping penalty and, boy, was it an awful call. It was nothing more than a hard hip check, aka a solid hockey play. Gudas got the two-minute minor and then Wayne Simmonds received an extra two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct for protesting the call, giving Jersey a full two-man advantage.
 
Predictably, the Devils scored to take the lead. Also predictably, the Flyers unraveled after that point.
 
It just seems lately that when something goes wrong for the Flyers, it all goes wrong for the Flyers. And that’s a troubling trend.

3. Changes in Brooklyn
Superstar John Tavares is still there, but beside that, plenty has changed since the Flyers and Islanders last met, a 3-2 Flyers shootout win in November at the Barclays Center.
 
No more Jack Capuano behind the Isles’ bench, as he was recently canned amidst his team’s struggles. Assistant general manager Doug Weight, whom you may remember from his not so distant playing days, is the interim head coach for the Isles.
 
Remember goalie Jaroslav Halak, who started the two teams’ first meeting? It’s no longer his net in Brooklyn, as he’s had a falling out with the club, lost the starting job to Thomas Greiss and was recently put on waivers.
 
And the Isles have responded positively to the changes, as they’ve won three in a row heading into Sunday night’s contest. The last-place moniker is misleading because the Isles are still just five points out of the final wild-card spot and still have tons of talent.
 
4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let’s go with Travis Konecny. Let’s just say the Flyers are in need of an energy jolt these days and the rook has just the type of skillset to provide it. He scored his team’s only goal Saturday against the Devils and isn’t afraid to throw his body around if need be. He also scored against the Isles earlier this season. He’s now up to eight goals and 14 assists on the season.
 
Islanders: It has got to be John Tavares. The guy is an absolute star, but still could fit into the “underrated” or “under the radar” categories just because he plays for the Isles. I mean, check out this goal he scored earlier this year against St. Louis. Holy moly. While you’re at it, get a glimpse of this one he scored against Dallas last week. He’s got 19 goals and 17 assists on the year. In his career against the Flyers, he’s got 15 goals and 13 assists for 28 points, the third-most points he’s tallied against any team in the NHL.
 
5. This and that
• In a scheduling quirk, Sunday evening will mark the fourth straight time the Flyers and Islanders will play in Brooklyn. They haven’t met in Philadelphia in over a full calendar year — Jan. 9, 2016, a 4-0 Flyers win

• Sunday is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. They’ll also play Feb. 9 and March 30, both times in South Philly.

• Greiss will start in net for the Isles on Sunday. He’s recorded shutouts in his last two starts. For the season, he's 12-7-2 with a .927 save percentage and a 2.29 goals-against average.

• Reinforcements could be on the way Sunday for the Islanders, as forward Cal Clutterbuck (lower-body) and defenseman Johnny Boychuk (upper-body) could be ready to return to the lineup after injuries.

• Sunday’s game will be the second of a back-to-back set for both teams. The Flyers are 6-3-2 this year in such situations.

• The Flyers’ ugly road losing streak is up to nine games. A loss Sunday would make it a not-so-perfect 10.

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

Flyers' loss changes complexion after questionable penalty on Radko Gudas

There are good penalties. And bad penalties. And penalties which aren’t even penalties.

The last one would perfectly describe Radko Gudas’ hip check on Miles Wood that was whistled as clipping by referee Dan O’Halloran in the second period.

Even Wood was laughing as Gudas went to the box, realizing what a break he had gotten – a power play for nothing.

“He’s a pretty quick D-man,” Wood said. “I don’t think it should have been a call, but it was a good hit by him.”

That gave the Devils a power play. Then, when Wayne Simmond argued the call with O'Halloran, Simmonds drew two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct. The resulting 5-on-3 New Jersey power play saw the Devils score to break a 1-1 tie.

Minutes later, the Flyers had a bad line change and it was 3-1. Game over. The Devils would go on to win, 4-1 (see game story).

Bottom line? The Gudas call changed everything.

“I was really surprised,” Gudas said. “I didn’t think it was a penalty at all.”

Is this oversimplifying the game to say everything changed with that one call?

“Are we really simplifying it?” Gudas asked. “I think that after those calls we have to get together as a group and make sure we kill these off. Unfortunately, we let them score on that power play. It was just unlucky.”

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol called it “an excellent hit” by Gudas. He wouldn’t go deeper than that.

The six muffed power plays gave him enough reason to believe the Flyers could have gotten back in it. His Flyers are 3-9-3 since winning 10 games.

You can’t underestimate how those two calls turned the tables on the Flyers in this game.

“Everyone has their own opinion on the hit and we were obviously frustrated on the hit,” Travis Konecny said. “We thought it was a clean hit and we reacted to it. We have everyone’s backs.

“We have all had the one’s where we are angry with the ref and the one who made a hit like that. There is a time for that moment there.”

Goalie Michal Neuvirth thought it was a difference maker.

“Oh, absolutely, we were playing better in the second period,” he said. “I thought we had a momentum. You know stuff like that 5-on-3 for two minutes, it’s tough to defend.

“I think it’s taking way too many penalties lately and you got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”