Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Red Wings 3

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Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Red Wings 3

BOX SCORE

DETROIT -- Three goals in four games.

That’s what Sean Couturier’s stats read after the Flyers' 6-3 comeback victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

Couturier drove the net and took a long pass from Steve Downie on the right boards for a go-ahead goal in the third period and then Scott Hartnell added an insurance goal on the power play.

The Flyers had trailed 3-1.

It took 57 ticks of the clock Monday night in Minnesota for the entire complexion of the hockey game to change against the Flyers in a 5-2 loss.

It took a wee bit longer -- 1:49 in the second period. The Red Wings -- much like the Wild -- got a pair of goals to erase a 1-1 tie and make it 3-1.

Yet the Flyers would not go quietly into Motown. First, Matt Read got one late in the second period off a fine pass from Coututier, who was in traffic.

Then the Flyers' slumping power play scored its second of the night with Claude Giroux flipping a puck from the left circle under the crossbar on Jimmy Howard to make it a 3-3 game.

The Flyers got a huge break in that Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg all missed the game with injuries.

Bottom line? They should take advantage of that and they did. The six goals were a season-high for the Flyers.

Two quickies
First Johan Franzen took a terrific breakaway pass from Stephen Weiss after a complete breakdown of the Flyers' defense and ripped one past Steve Mason. Then Steve Downie got caught holding the stick and Zac Rinaldo went off for tripping, giving the Red Wings a five-on-three power play for 1:52. Tomas Tartar made the Flyers pay dearly with his second goal on the night, as the Wings crashed the net, the Flyers looked discombobulated, and it was 3-1.

Penalties
Didn’t coach Craig Berube and his players say repeatedly they could not take penalties against Detroit because of its still-lethal power play? Well, through two periods, the Flyers had taken six penalties.

Scored first
Detroit did at 10:18 of the first period on a breakdown play three ways. First, Brayden Schenn lost a faceoff to Joakim Andersson. Then Andrej Meszaros lost a board battle to Drew Miller, who fed a tight pass into the slot where Wayne Simmonds lost sight of Tatar. He one-timed the puck high on Mason for a 1-0 lead.

Bad numbers
Detroit was 11-2-1 when scoring first; the Flyers were 1-10-1 when the opposition scored first.

Worse numbers
Since the 1988-89 season, the Flyers were 1-16-2 at The Joe. Their last win here was on Jan. 2, 2011 (3-2).

Special teams
Hey, the Flyers snapped a three-game drought by scoring a power-play goal. Downie made it a 1-1 game at 13:48 of the first period with a hard shot that hit Detroit’s Brian Lashoff and snuck past Howard. Detroit was 1 for 7 on the power play. The Flyers were 3 for 3.

The goalie
Mason was his usual strong self with 32 saves.

Five-on-three
Detroit had two such power plays and scored once on Tartar’s second goal of the game.

Will be reviewed
Luke Schenn’s charging call against Justin Abdelkader will get a review from the league office for certain. Abdelkader went off the ice but did not appear seriously injured. He was in a bad position when hit -- he was far from boards -- and went into the boards head first.

Close call
That would be Abdelkader, who got a breakaway off a Flyers' turnover late in the first period and shot it off the left post, although it appeared Mason got a piece of it with the top of his glove. Bad news was the Flyers had too many men on the ice and got nailed for the penalty on the stoppage.

Faceoffs
Brayden Schenn was saying at the morning skate how “comfortable” he felt at center. Well, through 40 minutes, he was 0 for 10 on faceoffs. Seven of those lost draws came against Andersson.

Scratches
Vinny Lecavalier (back spasms), Erik Gustafsson and Hall Gill. Gustafsson and Gill were healthy.

Loose pucks
The Flyers charter to Dallas on Thursday morning, hours ahead of a major ice storm that is expected to strike late Thursday and go all the way into Friday morning. Ever seen Texans try to drive on ice? They can’t. … Bertuzzi missed the game for Detroit with a shoulder injury, along with Zetterberg (herniated disk) and Datsyuk (concussion).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

End to End: What adjustment would you make on Flyers' defense?

Throughout the season, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

With the Flyers on their bye week, let’s discuss a few topics.

Going End to End this week are CSNPhilly.com producers/reporters Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone.

Today’s question: What adjustment would you make on the Flyers' defense?

Dougherty
There is not much in Dave Hakstol’s arsenal to significantly improve the team defense with a lineup change. Sure, scratching Andrew MacDonald could be a positive step, but that does not solve the problem here. We can point fingers at the defensive group because the Flyers have allowed the league’s second-most goals at 144. They’re part of the problem.

What is plaguing the Flyers is not just the play of their six defensemen on any given night; it’s their overall team defense. Some forwards are quitting on the backcheck, and not providing enough support in their own zone, missing their own assignments.

The Flyers, I believe, are struggling with the lack of practice time. And while it is true that every team is dealing with the same compact schedule as the Flyers, Hakstol has to maximize the little practice time he gets going forward and preach team defense. Gaps have been a major issue with the current group of blueliners, and that is an area assistant coach Gord Murphy has to fix. Hakstol has singled out the team’s rush defense as an issue, and that’s another area the team has to work on, too.

A lot of the same issues that were appearing in the beginning of the season when the Flyers were struggling are reappearing in their game now. They were able to make adjustments earlier in the season to hone their game defensively. More film study and more coaching are just a couple of the adjustments I’d make with the current options.

Hall
Sometimes it takes a fresh face, some new blood to spark change.

If anything, it sends a bit of a message.

The Flyers have options at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley and general manager Ron Hextall didn’t rule anything out last Sunday.

But, of course, given the Flyers’ salary cap conundrum, it’s not as simple as just calling up a player.

So, the easiest thing that can be done is change within the current personnel. That means scratching MacDonald from time to time, just how Hakstol has done so with Shayne Gostisbehere, Brandon Manning, Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas and many Flyers forwards.

MacDonald hasn’t been as bad as some may think. Oftentimes, his mistakes are magnified more than others. But too frequently do we see him out of position or misreading a play on a goal against. And that’s been true for all Flyers defensemen, yet MacDonald seems to be one of the only spared of the consequences.

Benching MacDonald isn’t a drastic fix and it may not do much at all, but it’s something we haven’t seen since Nov. 19.

Paone
This a really tough question because, to be quite frank, there is no easy solution here to fixing a Flyers defense that has been mired in a state of miserable play and has played a large part in the team's allowing 3.50 goals per game in the 14 contests since the 10-game win streak ended in mid-December. 

It's not like Hakstol or Hextall can push some magic button here and have things fixed in a matter of moments. The Flyers have salary cap and roster issues, so it's going to be tough to bring in a player via trade to help fix things on the back end. Same goes for bringing up a prospect because space on the roster would have to be made first.

This situation leaves the Flyers to fix the problem from within with the defensemen they currently have at the NHL level. They're going to have to play their way out of this. And that's why I'm interested in focusing on the younger defensemen like Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov right now. We know what the veteran defensemen on this team are and they've been through this sort of thing before. This will not be the last team-wide rut the younger defensemen will play through in their careers. It will happen again. They're going to have to learn how to play through this and not let it affect their individual play. That's why I didn't agree with Ghost's benching in Boston last weekend.  Sure, he has not played well this season and the warts to his game have been evident. And there are times when sitting back, taking a breather and watching can be beneficial. But I'm a believer that a young player has to play through his growing pains and grow from them.

This isn't going to be an answer most of you will like to hear, but with the way the Flyers' hands are tied, they're just going to have to play their way out of these defensive struggles with what they have.