Philadelphia Flyers

Instant Replay: Penguins 4, Flyers 1

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Instant Replay: Penguins 4, Flyers 1

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If you thought it couldn’t get worse for the Flyers, it did on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Center.

They lost in regulation to the Pittsburgh Penguins, 4-1, and are now 1-7. That is officially their worst start in club history.

Pittsburgh simply buried the Flyers in their own end during the middle period. The Penguins could easily have been ahead 4-0 or worse were it not for goalie Steve Mason.

At one point, the shots were 21-8 in Pittsburgh’s favor. Yet, somehow the Flyers managed to get a power-play goal during one of their rare chances in the Pens’ end and go into the third period behind, 2-1.

Six times this season now the Flyers have gone into the third period behind by a goal and very much within striking distance. And they failed to get even a point out of it this time.

Jussi Jokinen’s goal at 9:43 of the second period was the result of three attempted Flyer clear passes going nowhere, Brayden Schenn falling down, then Kimmo Timonen being swarmed by three players and hooked from behind by Chuck Kobasew without a penalty.

That no-call saw Evgeni Malkin steal the puck and feed Jokinen for a goal.

A few minutes later, it was 2-0 on Chris Kunitz’s rebound off a point shot.

The remainder of the period was all Pittsburgh, as Mason stood on his head facing 17 shots.

The Flyers got a power play with a minute left in the period, and as the fan boos got louder, Claude Giroux looked up at the clock, floated a shot from the left circle and Wayne Simmonds tipped it past Marc-Andre Fleury.

On their next power play, Brayden Schenn had the puck in the paint, swung and might have actually struck Fleury’s stick as the puck went wide of the net.

Sidney Crosby’s point streak continued at eight games with a goal in the final minutes.

Bottom line? The Flyers were outplayed 35 of the first 40 minutes when the damage occurred.

Brutal turnover
Braydon Coburn, who has been terrible lately, tried a pass into the slot and was stripped of the puck. It went to Pascal Dupuis, who fed Crosby for the third goal.

Skid ends
Simmonds’ goal in the second period ended an 0-for-18 skid on the power play.

Penalties
For all the talk about disciplined play, the Flyers had two penalties in the first six minutes of the game and three in the period. Truth is, the officials were calling the game overly tight to the point in which borderline calls became outright penalties.

Before the Flyers could even get the puck into the zone for a sustained period of time, the Pens had a 5-0 shot lead. Four of those shots were on their first power play. Needless to say, Mason was sharp once again with 12 saves.

Through two periods, the Flyers had five penalties.

Faceoffs
Pittsburgh won 10 of 18 faceoffs in the first period. Crosby won 6 of 10 draws (60 percent) and was 3 of 6 head-to-head against Sean Couturier, whose line matched up.

Malkin only took a single faceoff in the period, while Brandon Sutter won 4 of 5 (80 percent) against four different Flyers.

Overall, the Penguins won 60 percent of their draws. However, the Flyers recovered for 58 percent of the draws overall.

Matchups
Flyers coach Craig Berube used Couturier’s line mostly against Crosby with Nick Grossmann and Coburn. Giroux went up against Malkin with defensive support from Mark Streit and Erik Gustafsson.

Chances
Well, Jakub Voracek again had no shots in the first period and tried a backhander on Fleury instead of a power forehand shot up high with open space.

Simmonds flubbed an open net from the left slot and banged his stick on the ice in frustration after.

In the third period, Simmonds again had Fleury at his mercy on the power play and the latter made an incredible glove save that had Simmonds looking to the rafters in disbelief.

Fights
Kris Newbury took on Pens defenseman Robert Bortuzzo in the second period standing up for teammate Zac Rinaldo -- of all people -- on a hit. Bortuzzo got the decision.

Injury report
Timonen left the game with about 14 minutes left in the second period and did not return with a lower-body injury. He will be re-evaluated on Friday, general manager Paul Holmgren said.

Holmgren also said that Scott Hartnell (upper-body injury) and Vinny Lecavalier (lower-body injury) will skate on Sunday.

The scratches
Healthy scratches were defensemen Andrej Meszaros and Hal Gill, plus winger Jay Rosehill. Berube dressed Newbury to give him more faceoff options and Pittsburgh is not carrying a heavyweight enforcer right now.

Flyers suffer OT preseason loss to Bruins, but see strong first impression from Brian Elliott

Flyers suffer OT preseason loss to Bruins, but see strong first impression from Brian Elliott

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BOSTON — The last time Flyers goaltender Brian Elliott started a game, things ended quickly and didn’t end well.

Starting for the Calgary Flames in Game 4 of a Western Conference first-round series last April against the Anaheim Ducks, Elliott gave up one soft goal on three shots and was pulled 5:38 into a 3-1 series-ending loss.

It was only preseason, but Elliott made a Flyers debut that helped him forget that lackluster performance and get off to a fresh start with his new team Thursday.

Elliott stopped all 18 shots he faced during his two periods on the ice in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins at TD Garden (see observations).

“Yeah, it felt pretty good,” Elliott said. “Just trying to see pucks and basically get acclimated in a game situation. We haven’t seen that in camp at all. So playing a game is fun, to get back in there, you forget how actually fun it is to play a game.”

The Flyers signed Elliott to a two-year, $5.5 million contract on July 1 for more than just fun. They want him to combine with Michal Neuvirth to give them the type of successful goaltending tandem they’ve lacked for a while.

Elliott, in turn, wants to prove they were wise to move on from Steve Mason and bring him in. Elliott had some highlights during his season with the Flames, including an 11-game winning streak and a 2.16 goals-against average and .927 save percentage over his last 21 games of the regular season. In the playoffs, he was a bust with an 0-3 record and .880 save percentage.

In addition to getting back into action, Elliott wanted to impress his new team.

“A little bit. You just want to play the same anyways, doesn’t matter what team you’re on or how long you’ve been with the guys,” he said. “But for sure when it’s your first time, you want to make a good impression. You only get one first impression, right. But it’s just a stepping stone, working towards that first game of the season here.”

The Flyers had several power plays early in the first period and Elliott wasn’t tested much until he gloved a shot from Bruins forward Anders Bjork on a 3-on-2 at 8:46.

After a television timeout, the Bruins put more pressure on the Flyers and Elliott remained sharp. He blocked away a point shot from Brandon Carlo and then gloved Bjork’s attempt on the rebound from the slot at 9:18.

Elliott made 10 saves in the first period.

During a power play early in the second period, Elliott had to be at his best as the Bruins kept the puck in the attacking zone for the first 90 seconds. Elliott made five saves during the penalty kill, including two difficult ones on Bruins center Patrice Bergeron from around the slot.

The Flyers' attack picked up the pace in the second half of the second period and took some of the heat off Elliott. He had earned the respite and then coach Dave Hakstol switched to Alex Lyon to start the third.

Hakstol has seen Elliott live up to the Flyers’ expectations so far in camp and in his preseason debut.

“I think he got in early and I just think I’ve seen every day at camp him kind of building his game,” Hakstol said. "I don’t think he tried to come in with a finished product on Day 1. I think he kind of started on the ground floor of building his game, obviously, after a good summer. And every day he seemed to ... kind of build his game. His last couple of days of practices have been really good, really clean and he carried that into the game tonight. So it’s a good start for him. It’s nice to see that.”

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Power play goes 0 for 9 in OT loss

Flyers-Bruins preseason observations: Power play goes 0 for 9 in OT loss

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BOSTON — It's still early in preseason, so the Flyers have a lot of time to iron out their power-play problems.

And they have a lot of problems.

Even with their most veteran-laden lineup of the preseason on the ice against the Boston Bruins on Thursday, the Flyers went 0 for 9 on the power play and lost, 2-1, in overtime at TD Garden.

Assistant coach Kris Knoblauch had most of the Flyers’ weapons but the man-advantage didn’t score, didn’t threaten and did little to build momentum.

Rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim scored a 4-on-4 goal at 4:57 of the third period to make it 1-0. The Bruins answered at 6:39 with a goal by defenseman Paul Postma to tie it 1-1. Kenny Agostino scored the game-winner 3:20 into overtime, as the Flyers fell to 1-1-2 in preseason action.

On to the observations:

• The loss and the power-play struggles aside, the Flyers avoided one potential nightmare. Second-year forward Travis Konecny had to leave the game after just 18 seconds of first-period play. But he returned to action later in the period.

Konecny was hit late and high at the red line away from the puck by Bruins rookie forward Jesse Gabrielle just before the whistle came 18 seconds into the game. Konecny returned with a little more than four minutes remaining in the first period.

Konecny looked himself when he nearly scored in the final minute of the first period, but his redirection of a Sanheim pass on a 3-on-2 went wide of the Boston net.

Gabrielle, trying to make the Bruins as a bottom-six forward, should hear from the NHL department of player safety, although Konecny’s return might’ve gotten Gabrielle off the hook.

• Goaltender Brian Elliott made his Flyers preseason debut and made 18 saves on 18 shots through two periods before Alex Lyon replaced him at the start of the third (see story). Lyon made nine saves, including one on Anton Blidh on a 2-on-1 late in the third period and one on Zach Senyshyn on another 2-on-1 in overtime to preserve the 1-1 tie.

• Sanheim was strong at both ends throughout the game, getting active on offense even before the game. He made a big play to break up a 2-on-1 with a Flyers power play late in the second period. Sanheim could make it difficult for the Flyers to pick among their three rookies for two spots on defense. Of course if Brandon Manning isn’t ready to start the season, there could be three spots available.

• Despite practicing as a left winger on Tuesday, captain Claude Giroux made his preseason debut at center between Oskar Lindblom and Jakub Voracek.

Giroux looked himself throughout the night, both 5-on-5 and on special teams. Early in the second period he canceled out a Boston power play by drawing a holding penalty on Bruins defenseman Postma during a race to the puck in the Boston end. He was also in the box for Sanheim’s goal and just exiting the box when Postma scored for Boston.

Coach Dave Hakstol said Thursday morning he would like to test Giroux out on the wing during a game later in the preseason.

• Voracek made his preseason debut and had his skating legs early as he won a race with Bruins forward Blidh into the Boston zone and drew a slashing penalty with a drive to the net.

• The Flyers dodged a miscommunication in the first period shortly after the Gabrielle penalty expired. When Konecny’s linemates Michael Raffl and Sean Couturier jumped on the ice for their shift, no one jumped over the bench with them and the Flyers played with four skaters for about 10-12 seconds. The puck changed possession a couple times in safe areas of the ice. And one could say the strategy worked because during the next shift, Voracek drew a penalty.

• Flyers forward Colin McDonald nearly joined Konecny on the sidelines near the three-minute mark. Off a faceoff win, Andrew MacDonald’s slap shot hit his teammate. McDonald hobbled to the bench. The Flyers didn’t need any more friendly fire considering they were already without Konecny.

• Lindblom joined Giroux and Voracek on the Flyers’ first line and that carried over to the power play, where Lindblom was part of the first unit along with Giroux, Voracek, Ivan Provorov and Wayne Simmonds until late in the second period. After the Flyers' power play had gone 0 for 5, Hakstrol switched Lindblom with Valtteri Filppula and that seemed to jump-start the man advantage. The Flyers didn’t score but put more pressure on Tuukka Rask during their sixth power play.

• Thursday morning the Flyers reduced their roster by 18 players. Forwards Connor Bunnaman (Kitchener — OHL), Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville — QMJHL), Ivan Kosorenkov (Victoriaville — QMJHL), German Rubtsov (Chicoutimi — QMJHL), and goaltender Carter Hart (Everett — WHL) were returned to their junior teams.

Then the Flyers assigned forwards Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Radel Fazleev, Tyrell Goulbourne, Danick Martel, Carsen Twarynski, Mikhail Vorobyev; defensemen James de Haas, Mark Friedman, Maxim Lamarche, Phil Myers, Reece Willcox; and goaltenders Leland Irving and John Muse to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley (more on moves here).

Here’s a look at how the Flyers lined up to start the game:

Oskar Lindblom-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Michael Raffl-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Taylor Leier-Valtteri Filppula-Colin McDonald

Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
Sam Morin-Andrew MacDonald
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg