Instant Replay: Flyers 2, Penguins 1

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Instant Replay: Flyers 2, Penguins 1

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- If Brayden Schenn was supposed to be tired playing in his second game in 24 hours, he certainly didn’t get the memo.

Schenn scored both of the Flyers’ goals in their 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. His contributions (offensively, at least) were all the Flyers needed to win their third game in a row.

But as strong as Schenn -- and certainly his linemates Vinny Lecavalier and Wayne Simmonds -- looked Wednesday night, the Flyers are lucky to have escaped the CONSOL Energy Center with a victory. They started out slow, and trailed significantly in shots and chances through most of the game.

In fact, had Ray Emery not been so adept at handling the torrent of Pens shots he faced, the game’s outcome could have been very different. Emery remained composed early, when the Penguins peppered him for minutes at a time, and he continued to be calm later when challenged by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Pens’ other big guns.

Schenn opened the Flyers’ scoring in the closing minutes of the opening period, thanks to some hard work in the corner by Simmonds, who dug the puck out and dished it perfectly to the slot.

Crosby answered back for the Penguins midway through the second period, but the tie game lasted only until 18:40 of the stanza, when Schenn once again capitalized -- he, too, on the man advantage.

Flyers fans, certainly, will take joy in the fact that the game wasn't just the Flyers' third consecutive win -- it also marked the Pens’ third loss in a row, and sixth in their last 10 games.

The reset button
The Flyers got lucky -- very lucky -- right at the start of the game. The Penguins launched three quick shots in on Emery right after the first puck dropped, bypassing a Flyers defense that didn’t put up any kind of a fight. The third shot beat Emery just 19 seconds in, but was ruled to have been kicked in by Pens winger Chris Kunitz.

Schenn’s success
Brayden Schenn’s goals represented the winger’s fourth and fifth points (and second and third goals) in three games. He now has six goals on the season, good for second on the team behind Vinny Lecavalier, who has seven.

Streak snapped
The Flyers bid farewell to their shutout streak of 95:04 when Crosby scored in the second period to tie the game at 1-1.

Turning point
The Flyers had a coveted two-man advantage for 21 seconds as the second period ticked toward a close, thanks to penalties called on Deryk Engelland and Pascal Dupuis. They didn’t score during it, but Schenn tapped home his own rebound did before the Flyers’ time on the five-on-four expired. The Penguins had chances following that goal, but nothing Emery couldn't handle.

Emery impresses
Simply put: The Flyers have an embarrassment of riches in net right now. Steve Mason was stellar Tuesday, and Emery was impressive against the Penguins 24 hours later -- perhaps no more than when he silenced Crosby on a breakaway. Emery was tested all night, as the players in front of him were clearly tired. By the end of the evening, he’d stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced.

Why Razor?
Speaking of goaltending, fans on Twitter were surprised to see Emery awarded the start Wednesday night instead of Mason, who shut out the Ottawa Senators in Tuesday’s 5-0 rout. But Berube had his reasons for the decision: “I don’t think it’s about wearing anybody down,” he said. “I have a thought in my mind already what we want to do, and I stick with it.”

Bad behavior
Penalties were a bit of an issue for the Flyers Wednesday, arguably, at least in part, the result of fatigue. The Flyers incurred five infractions, compared to just three for the Pens (we won't get into the take on Twitter as to why the penalty calling was uneven in this space, though).

.500 under Berube
With the win, the Flyers are 7-7-1 since Berube took over -- good enough to finally reach .500.

Home away from home
After their win, the Flyers are an impressive 7-1-1 lifetime at Pittsburgh’s CONSOL Energy Center.

The scratches
The Flyers kept the same lineup as they set out on the ice Tuesday, scratching Hal Gill, Andrej Meszaros and Michael Raffl.

Flyers-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with NHL leader

Flyers-Blackhawks 5 things: Matinee showdown with NHL leader

Flyers (12-10-3) vs. Blackhawks (16-6-3)
1 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com

Behind captain Claude Giroux's two goals and overtime heroics Thursday, the Flyers enter Saturday's matinee with the Chicago Blackhawks on their longest win streak of the season.

That and more as we get ready for the afternoon showdown at the Wells Fargo Center.

1. Three's company
With their 3-2 OT win over the Senators, the Flyers have now won three (3!) games in a row for the second time this season, a sign the ship might be turning in the right direction.

Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol applauded his team's 61-minute effort afterward. Comparing it to Tuesday's win over Boston in which Steve Mason single-handedly stole two points from the Bruins, Hakstol said the Ottawa game was a "real, good, consistent effort" throughout the lineup, which the Flyers will have to mimic again Saturday in order to beat Chicago.

On Friday, Hakstol rewarded the Flyers with an optional practice. Brandon Manning, who has missed the last two games because of a possible concussion, returned to practice Friday and was cleared to play. If Manning returns Saturday, Andrew MacDonald seems like the likely candidate to come out.

Manning's return would be welcomed for the Flyers. The 26-year-old has been one of the team's most consistent players. He's been aggressive, both offensively and defensively, and his play is not deserving of a healthy scratch. But with no morning skate and limited player availability Friday, Manning's status for the Blackhawks' game remains unknown.

2. Power hour
For the Flyers to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games Saturday, they will have to do so not only with a sound, defensive game but also on special teams.

If there is one area Chicago has struggled this season, it has been the penalty kill. At 70.1 percent, the Blackhawks have the league's worst PK unit, and have a middle-of-the-road power play despite all of their offensive firepower.

The Flyers, on the other hand, have the league's third-best power play at 23.6 percent, and their penalty-kill units have improved lately, getting up to 80 percent. The Flyers have two PP goals in their last 19 opportunities.

Still, Chicago's power play is dangerous despite its recent struggles. The Blackhawks have just one power-play goal since Nov. 19, and went 0 for 4 on Thursday against the Devils.

3. Corey's crease
The Blackhawks also enter Saturday hot, winning three of their last four games; however, they have gone to overtime in their last three games. Chicago has had issues with slow starts in games recently, and the Devils' game Thursday was another example of that.

New Jersey took a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but easily could have had a larger lead had it not been for Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, who's been excellent this season. Crawford faced 13 shots in the opening period Thursday and kept the 'Hawks in the game, as he has all season long. The Blackhawks sit atop the NHL with 35 points, and Crawford is a major reason for that.

Crawford has a 2.27 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season. He's pitched two shutouts and has faced 33 or more shots in his last four games. Scoring on Crawford has not been easy for opponents this season, but the Flyers do average 3.1 goals, third in the NHL.

4. Keep an eye on …
Flyers: Let's stick with Giroux. The 28-year-old snapped a nine-game goal drought Tuesday with power-play goal, and then added two more Thursday — one at 5-on-5 and one in the 3-on-3 overtime. Giroux's play at even strength has been scrutinized, but his point production remains potent. Giroux has a four-game point streak — three goals, two assists — and has 22 points in 25 games this season. He also got engaged Thursday in Ottawa.

Blackhawks: So many players to watch, but let's highlight the ageless Marian Hossa. The 37-year-old continues to be an effective player even as he grows older. Now in his 18th NHL season, Hossa leads Chicago with 12 goals, including the game-winner in overtime against New Jersey Thursday. Hossa tallied his 500th career goal against the Flyers back on Oct. 18, and has 15 goals in 48 career games against the orange and black. He still has it.

5. This and that
• Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is out for Saturday's game because of an upper-body injury, per CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers. Toews hasn't played since Nov. 23.

• Mason, Saturday's projected starter, is 7-12-3 with a 3.42 GAA and .890 save percentage in 23 career games against the Blackhawks. After a disaster start to the season, Mason has a 2.22 GAA and .912 save percentage over his last nine games.

• Chicago has five players with seven or more goals, and five players with double-digit assists.

Flyers' trip to Ottawa brings back 'fond memories' for Travis Konecny

Flyers' trip to Ottawa brings back 'fond memories' for Travis Konecny

OTTAWA, Ontario — Exactly one year ago, Dec. 1, 2015, Travis Konecny was a member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Ottawa 67’s.

He had just learned that he had been invited to the Team Canada selection camp for the World Junior Hockey Championship and he was at the Canadian Tire Centre spending time with future Flyers teammates during the morning skate as they prepared for a game that night against the Ottawa Senators.

Fast forward one year to today, Dec. 1, 2016, and Konecny is back at the CTC, this time to face the Senators alongside his current Flyers teammates as a key part of the team’s offense.

Quite a step forward in just one calendar year for a kid not named Crosby or McDavid.

“It’s crazy how fast it happened and I’m definitely humbled I was given the opportunity. They believed enough in me to make the jump this year and it definitely hits me every day that I get the opportunity to play in the NHL,” said Konecny, who has scored four times and added nine assists through the first 25 games of his NHL career. He has also added a team-leading 33 penalty minutes and that goes a long way in explaining the type of game he plays.

“I don’t know what happened. I’ve never been like that before," Konecny said before the Flyers' 3-2 overtime win Thursday (see game story). "When you’re playing in the NHL, some guys will run over you all game if they can so I think part of these penalties I’m taking is me just having to step up and I’m just setting an example of sticking up for my teammates."

It wasn’t until his second game in the league that he took his first penalty, but he was on the score sheet before that having collected two assists in his debut Oct. 14 in a 4-2 win over the Kings in Los Angeles.

His first goal came Oct. 25 in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The key for his success in making the jump from junior to the NHL is simple.

“Just keeping things simple," he said. "Learning in the NHL is about reading off mistakes. You can’t always make a play, you have to be smart and make sure you’re doing what’s right for the team and I think just keeping my game simple is what got me here." 

There is one main difference between the two levels, Konecny added.

“The speed, and I don’t necessarily mean just skating," he said. "Thinking wise and how fast plays happen. Guys like [Senators defenseman Erik] Karlsson, he’s thinking so fast and he knows his play two or three steps before the next guy does, so you just have to try and outthink guys and to me that’s been the biggest jump.”

Konecny is not foreign to the Senators’ home ice surface. He spent part of his time in junior playing there while the 67’s home arena was being renovated.

He had to leave several passes for friends and family for the game Tuesday night, his first as a pro in the city that was dazzled by his play in junior for 2½ seasons.

“It was a lot of fun and it brought back a lot of memories," Konecny said after going scoreless in 14:13 of ice time. "We didn’t play in front of as many fans as we did tonight but definitely a lot of games played here and a lot of fond memories.

“Even flying in [Wednesday] was something special and driving around the city looking at the roots where I was for three years.”