Instant Replay: Hurricanes 2, Flyers 1 (OT)

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Instant Replay: Hurricanes 2, Flyers 1 (OT)

BOX SCORE

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Carolina, New Jersey and Edmonton.

Three struggling hockey teams. Not that the Flyers aren’t, either.

If ever there was a week for Craig Berube’s team to claw higher into the Metropolitan Division standings, this is it. There’s six points up for grabs that could go to the Flyers ... with a little scoring luck.

“You definitely have a chance to gain ground,” Berube said before the Flyers' game on Monday night. “You don’t look at it as [Carolina] struggling. This team is gonna play hard. They’re ready to play. They lost five in a row. They’re desperate. You got to make sure you got your game going for 60 minutes.”

Well, two of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL couldn’t score on each other Tuesday night at PNC Arena, although Carolina by far had the better scoring chances.

In the end, the Hurricanes won 2-1 in overtime on a late comeback and a breakaway goal from Manny Malhotra.

Were it not for Flyers goalie Steve Mason, the Hurricanes would have had four to five goals, easy. He continues to give the Flyers a chance to get two points every game.

Mason was temporarily rewarded with Scott Hartnell’s power-play goal at 16:02 of the third period. It was Hartnell’s first point of the season, too, on a tip in front of the net. However, the 1-0 lead didn’t last long.

Nathan Gerbe drew a double minor with a skirmish in front of the Flyers' net involving Mark Streit to set up that power play.

That was quickly erased when Jordan Staal snuck in behind Claude Giroux to tie it up in the final minute of regulation.

Review
Hartnell’s goal went to review for a high-stick but his stick was not above the crossbar.

Shorthanded chance
The Flyers blew a good one in the first period off a brutal Carolina turnover in front of goalie Justin Peters. Two things happened. First, Matt Read couldn’t handle the puck. When he got control of it and dished to Sean Couturier in the right slot, the Flyers’ centerman shot it off the post.

One-timer
Peters made a great glove save on Kimmo Timonen’s one-timer in the slot late in the opening period.

Crazy finish
The second period's final minutes saw Mason absolutely stone Gerbe with a glove-hand save on a power play that quickly turned into a two-man Carolina advantage that carried over 33 seconds into the third period. The Flyers survived it thanks to Mason.

No call
Zac Rinaldo was very upset after taking a shot to the chin from Staal late in the second period that dropped him to the ice without drawing a penalty.

No scoring
Going into the third period, the Flyers had scored just one goal in their previous 203 minutes, 26 seconds. It ended at 219:28 with Hartnell’s goal. Mason had an outstanding shoulder save on Alexander Semin six minutes into the third period. Semin had some good scoring chances in the game.

Giveaways
The Flyers had zero Saturday night in New Jersey. They had five after one period in Carolina.

Scratches
Defensemen Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson; forward Jay Rosehill.

Haunting
The last time the Flyers played the Hurricanes on the road was Oct. 6. The Flyers lost, 2-1. Coach Peter Laviolette was fired the next morning.

Running interference
That’s what referee Steve Kosari did in the first period during a Flyers' power play. He accidentally got in Jakub Voracek’s way and it created a two-on-one, shorthanded rush with Gerbe and Staal. Incredibly, Mason got his blocker on Staal’s shot on what should have been an easy goal.

Loose pucks
Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish were both scouting the game. The Flyers meet Edmonton this weekend in Philly. However, Lowe was also scouting for Team Canada (Sochi Olympics) and eager to see Eric Staal and Giroux going head-to-head for his report back to head coach Mike Babcock and main assistant Ken Hitchcock. … The latest Bovada odds from Las Vegas show the Flyers have fallen from 22/1 to win the Stanley Cup to 66/1. ... PNC Arena was half-empty for the game.

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers-Oilers 5 things: Winning streak meets Connor McDavid

Flyers (15-10-3) vs. Oilers (14-10-4)
7 p.m. on CSN and CSNPhilly.com, Pregame Live at 6:30

The hottest team in the NHL will meet the hottest young star on Thursday night when the Flyers host the Edmonton Oilers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Here are five things you need to know for the matchup:

1. McDavid and Co.
The Flyers are going for their seventh consecutive victory, which would tie their longest winning streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011, when they also won seven in a row.

In order to do so, they’ll have to slow down transcendent talent Connor McDavid and the prolific but streaky Oilers.

McDavid, a generational player, has thus far lived up to all the hype surrounding him as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft. In just his second NHL season — and first with a healthy start after an injured-shortened rookie year (45 games) — the 19-year-old leads all of hockey in points with 36, while no other player has yet to eclipse 30.

His 25 assists also rank atop the NHL, while his 11 goals are among the top 22 and his plus-8 rating is tied for ninth best between all centers.

“He’s one of the best players in the world,” Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said Wednesday. “It’s tough not to be excited when playing against a guy who plays like this. He competes every second he is on the ice.”

And he has help.

Linemates Leon Draisaitl (11 goals, 11 assists) and Milan Lucic (eight goals, 12 assists) can do damage, as can Jordan Eberle (eight goals, 13 assists).

2. Defense wins games
The Flyers are playing better and cleaner in front of their goaltender — who has been great (see below) — and the results are showing.

The orange and black have gone five straight games of allowing two or fewer goals.

Why were they so up and down before this run? Well, they had surrendered two or fewer goals in just five of their previous 23 games.

“That’s unbelievable for us,” Wayne Simmonds said after Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the Panthers. “At the beginning of the year, to say we’d have five straight without giving up more than two would be a stretch.

“We’ve locked it down defensively and Mase has played unbelievable. We’ve been pretty good as five-man units.”

3. Mase the man
A confident Steve Mason is a dangerous Steve Mason.

Right now, Mason has the net and is gaining steam by the game.

Over his past five outings, the 28-year-old is 5-0-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .947 save percentage.

Just as impressive, since Nov. 12, Mason is 8-3-1 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .930 save percentage.

“I've said it numerous times, I want to be playing lots of hockey,” Mason said Tuesday. “This is a position that I'm used to being in and where I'm most comfortable. So just have to keep continuing to put my work in and whenever [head coach Dave Hakstol] calls my name, be ready."

4. Keep an eye on ...
Flyers: You always have to watch Simmonds, but especially now with the winger coming off back-to-back two-goal games. Simmonds leads the NHL with eight power-play goals and is second in man-advantage points (13) to only teammate Claude Giroux (14).

Oilers: With all the attention zeroed in on McDavid, we’ll go with the 21-year-old Draisaitl, who has seven goals in his last nine games and 14 points in his past 12. The No. 3 overall pick in 2014 is an intelligent playmaker capable of hurting you.

5. This and that
• Mason is 8-4-0 with just a 3.49 goals-against average and .872 save percentage in 13 career games against Edmonton.

• Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson will make his fourth start of the season. He’s 1-1-1 on the year with 84 saves on 91 shots faced, but is 0-4-1 lifetime against the Flyers with a 3.57 goals-against average and .865 save percentage.

• The Flyers are fourth in the NHL in goals per game (3.11), while Edmonton is seventh (2.93).

• The Oilers have lost 10 of their last 15 games (5-7-3).

Flyers skate update: Wayne Simmonds, power play key to beating Oilers

Flyers skate update: Wayne Simmonds, power play key to beating Oilers

Todd McLellan saw a lot of Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov as a junior player in the Western Hockey League whenever the Brandon Wheat Kings would turn up in Edmonton.

“I watched him play in junior and had a chance to see that Brandon team play in Edmonton twice last year,” said the Edmonton Oilers coach.

“Obviously, a smooth, confident [player] with great vision. He has patience with the puck. Those are his offensive assets. 

“But he also positions himself well, defensively. He accepts that responsibility. For a young d-man, he is ahead of a lot of others because he can play on both sides of the puck.”

Provorov rattled Jaromir Jagr Tuesday when Florida was here (see story). Tonight he gets his first NHL taste of Connor McDavid.

McLellan said the Oilers' biggest challenge against the Flyers will be stopping the NHL’s second-ranked power play. Edmonton has the 11th best penalty kill.

His concern is Wayne Simmonds (8 power play goals) and Claude Giroux (14 power play points). 

“That power play is deadly and it really hasn’t changed — it’s just clicking,” McLellan said. “It has a couple trigger points. Obviously, Simmonds has the most goals in the league  and Giroux has the most points. But there’s other pieces to that power play, which are exceptional. 

“Our penalty kill has been taking it on the chin and I had to ask our guys today, 'Is it the penalty kill or the penalties?' In my opinion, it’s as much the penalties as the penalty kill. We have to stay out of the box.  

“This is a confident Flyers team. They feel very good in the offensive zone and make things happen. Their goaltender [Steve Mason] has been making saves for them that keeps them confident going the other way. It’s a team on the rise.”

The Streak
The Flyers are looking to make it seven straight wins tonight against the Oilers. The last time they won seven in arrow was Dec. 2-15 in 2011. They did not have a morning skate.

On Mason
Tuesday’s win against Florida was Steve Mason’s 88th as a Flyer, moving him past Pelle Lindbergh into sixth in franchise history. Mason needs six wins to move into third place in franchise history. 

Debut
Defenseman Dillon Simpson will make his Oilers debut tonight in Philadelphia. He is the son of former Oiler Craig Simpson. 

The oddity? Last year, Keegan Lowe made his Oilers' debut here in Philadelphia. He is the son of Kevin Lowe, longtime coach and front office executive for the Oilers. 

Colors
The Oilers wear three colors during their morning skate. Their defensemen dress in orange; their third and fourth lines dress in white and their top six skaters dress in blue. Now that’s an NHL hierarchy.