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.

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

Elements will play factor for both Flyers, Penguins in outdoor game

PITTSBURGH -- The ice on Friday afternoon at Heinz Field was watery and slushy.
 
That’s because the city set a historic record at 78 degrees for Feb. 24.
 
So what were the ice conditions?
 
“They were pretty good,” said Sidney Crosby. “It was pretty bright there. Started off the practice and the sun was beating down pretty good.
 
“I’ve played in a few of these and the ice was pretty good considering how warm it was. It’s supposed to cool down and I’m sure it will get better.”
 
The Penguins will host the Flyers on Saturday night in a Stadium Series outdoor game.
 
Pittsburgh took the ice Friday at 4 p.m. The Flyers got on the ice a little more than an hour later and things started to cool down.
 
“We had a pretty good practice given the circumstances,” Jakub Voracek said. “This is a little better setup than Philly. The fans are closer.”
 
It was much hotter when Pittsburgh took the ice, but the temperature was still warm after the sun went down.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere said, “It was hot for sure. … It was fun, but it was pretty hot.”
 
Defenseman Radko Gudas said the ice surface was, “playable, but a little rough.”
 
On Saturday, rain is expected, with temperatures falling to 42 degrees by 5 p.m.
 
During the game, which begins at 8 p.m., the temperature is projected to continue to drop and there will be wind gusts up to 31 mph. By the end of the night, the forecast says temps will be in the 20s. 

Players are more concerned about the wind than the ice at this point. Crosby, who has played in three previous NHL outdoor games, said wind is a huge factor. It happened to the Penguins at the 2014 Stadium Series game in Chicago.
 
“It can definitely be a factor,” Crosby said. “I want to say in Chicago that was something we kind of had to look at. We felt it a little more there compared to the other two [outdoor games]. If it going to get windy like that, it’s something to be aware of.”
 
It remains to be seen how the NHL will handle which team goes into the wind first.
 
“Yeah, the wind,” Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet of what element will be a big factor. “I hope you don’t have to backcheck. Who gets the advantage? They change in the third period. But who picks what end? There is a wind factor.”
 
Tocchet rated the ice Friday as “a little slushy.”
 
“It was good early and then it got tough because it was hot outside,” Tocchet said. “But we got a half-decent practice out of it.
 
“The one thing, the puck didn’t bounce, which was good. Players can adapt a lot better when the puck doesn’t bounce. When things bounce, it’s a tough night.”

Flyers GM Ron Hextall on trade deadline: 'We're not buying'

Flyers GM Ron Hextall on trade deadline: 'We're not buying'

PITTSBURGH -- When asked Friday night at Heinz Field whether the Flyers would be buyers or sellers at next Wednesday’s NHL trade deadline, Ron Hextall didn’t flinch.
 
He was adamant he won’t be a buyer. He also intimated he’s looking to sell and that these next two games before the deadline could impact that decision.
 
“We’ll see,” Hextall said. “We’re not buying. I’ve said that for a while now. We’re not buying. We’ll see where we’re at in a couple days. Like I said, tomorrow’s a big game. I have ideas and we’ll execute them depending.
 
“We’ll be making calls and getting calls and we’ll see what’s out there and see where we’re at as a team in the standings and make the appropriate moves.”
 
The Flyers also play Colorado on Tuesday, the day before the deadline.

“It could have some effect, it could,” Hextall said on whether the next two games will impact his decision-making at the deadline. “We’ll watch the standings closely and what we’re doing tomorrow night.”

Hextall made his comments Friday night while the Flyers practiced on the outdoor ice at Heinz Field for Saturday’s Stadium Series game against the Penguins.
 
The most obvious candidates for the Flyers to move at the deadline are defensemen Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto and goalie Michal Neuvirth.
 
More than 10 NHL clubs have been scouting the Flyers regularly over the past month, home and away (see story).
 
Hextall has been saying for months he doesn’t like to make decisions based on “small samples.” Yet the Flyers have been very inconsistent the entire season, save for a 10-game win streak between November and mid-December.
 
They are 3-6-1 in their last 10 games. Of those seven losses, they have scored one or no goals six times. What does that say?
 
“It tells me we have to be more consistent,” Hextall replied. “It tells me what we’re capable of and at times we’re not playing anywhere near to that level. That’s been frustrating.
 
“I like our team. We’ve got some good players, but the consistency part, we have to level that out for sure, especially from now to the end of the year.”
 
Some NHL clubs -- Pittsburgh last season and Chicago this season -- have promoted scores of younger players onto their roster. The Flyers promoted Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny this season.
 
Why not promote some players from the Phantoms right now?

“Not to make us a worse team,” Hextall said. “If we make something happen and if we can bring someone up and we take a lateral move, yeah, that’s kind of where you want to get to.

“That’s why you don’t want to bring kids up, 20-year-olds that aren’t ready to play. You mentioned Pitt there, their guys that helped them last year are all 23 now except for the goalie. Keep that in mind. They were kids, but 23-year-old kids.”

The Phantoms are having a good season. They could go far in the AHL playoffs. Hextall said that wouldn’t prevent him from bringing players up, even if it hurt the Phantoms’ chances.

“Is it a factor? I guess at the bottom,” Hextall said. “My job is to do what’s best for the Flyers. Part of what’s best for the Flyers is having the best team down there that we can have to grow kids in a winning environment.
 
“That’s part of it. I wouldn’t not bring a kid up that’s ready to play because he’d be leaving the Phantoms, assuming you have a roster spot and cap space and the things that come along with that.”
 
Loose pucks
Jordan Weal (concussion symptoms) could play Saturday Hextall said. ... Konecny (ankle and knee) is ahead of schedule and could be back in four weeks or less instead of six weeks. He skated at least four times this week on his own.