Instant Replay: Wild 2, Flyers 0

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Instant Replay: Wild 2, Flyers 0

BOX SCORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- On a day that went from nice and balmy, by Minnysnowda standards, to a raging snow storm, things were pretty dull inside Xcel Energy Center.

Both the Flyers and Wild didn’t seem to have their “A” game. Or “B” game for that matter.

There were long stretches in which not much happened.

For instance, the Flyers had 10 shots through 40 minutes but none of them were really quality in nature that would have required goalie Josh Harding to make a difficult save.

The game meandered along until ... the Wild scored twice in less than a minute early in the third period to put it away, 2-0.

This was the second of a six-game, 12-day road trip for the Flyers.

Mikko Koivu’s incredible behind-the-back blind pass into the slot to Jason Pominville at 3:52 broke a scoreless tie.

Both Flyers defensemen Braydon Coburn and Kimmo Timonen looked badly out of place on the goal.

Then Ray Emery gave a juicy rebound off Jared Spurgeon’s shot and Charlie Coyle was right there to make it 2-0. Boring game over.

Up next
The Flyers chartered out after the game directly to Detroit for their game on Wednesday night.

Injuries
Vinny Lecavalier missed the game with back spasms (see story). He is day to day. General manager Paul Holmgren said he was “hopeful” Lecavalier plays Wednesday in Detroit.

Nothing
Eight minutes into the game, there was just a combined five shots with the Flyers having just one. The arena was deadly quiet.

Big hit
Wild center Coyle delivered it on Andrej Meszaros early, hurdling him awkwardly into the side boards. Meszaros had his right shoulder worked on at the bench but returned.

Score first
This was the first time in eight games the Wild scored first.

World Juniors
Flyers prospects Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier were both named to Team Canada’s World Junior camp roster.

Saves
Emery had a couple of quality saves through two periods, including denying Erik Haulu from point blank range in the slot in the first period. He also had a couple saves on Zach Parise, including stopping him on a two-on-one rush in the second period.

Penalties
The Flyers got hit with yet another delay of game penalty. This one by Claude Giroux in the second period. In eight games since Nov. 19, the Flyers have been hit with delay of game penalties six times.

Special teams
Through two periods, there were just two power plays -- both by the Wild. And no shots. Nothing happened. The Flyers and Wild both were 0 for 2 on the power play.

Blown chance
Behind 2-0 near the midway mark of the third period, the Flyers got their first power play of the night and faced a must-score situation. Harding made a terrific stop on Jakub Voracek. It was their best shot on the power play.

Playoff spot
With the Rangers and Devils both losing, the Flyers could have tied the Rangers in points with 28. The Rangers have the third playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division.

Fights
Jay Rosehill earned a slight decision over Mike Rupp in their second-period fight (see video).

Scratches
Defensemen Hal Gill and Erik Gustafsson were healthy scratches.

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NHL Playoffs: Rangers ride Zuccarello to 3-1 win in series-clinching Game 6

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored twice in the second period and the New York Rangers beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-1 in Game 6 on Saturday night to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Derek Stepan also scored and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 27 shots to help New York get past the first round for the fifth time in six years. The Rangers won three straight after falling behind 2-1 to beat Montreal for the ninth time in 16 postseason series.

The Rangers will face the winner of the Ottawa-Boston series, which the Senators lead 3-2.

Alexei Emelin scored for Montreal and Carey Price finished with 20 saves. The Canadiens, winners of the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs last year, were bounced from the postseason by the Rangers for the second time in four years. In 2014, it was in the conference finals (see full recap).

Paajarvi's OT goal gives Blues 4-3 win to oust Wild in 5
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Magnus Paajarvi scored at the 9:42 mark in overtime, giving the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 victory over Minnesota on Saturday in Game 5 of their playoff series, eliminating the Wild.

The Blues advanced to play Nashville in the second round.

Jake Allen made 34 saves for the Blues, who led 2-0 and 3-1 before a furious rally by the Wild to try to keep their season alive forced the extra frame.

Paajarvi's first career playoff goal gave Blues coach Mike Yeo the satisfaction of beating the team that fired him a little over a year ago.

Mikko Koivu and Jason Zucker scored to bring the Wild back from their second two-goal hole, a deficit that held past the midpoint of the third period (see full recap).

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

Flyers excited for full-season upgrade of Valtteri Filppula

As the Flyers packed up for the offseason much earlier than they had hoped, the focus started shifting to the outlook for 2017-18.

There was some optimism provided by Valtteri Filppula.

It wasn't anything he said. Instead, it was what he did in 20 games.

Make that a full sample size and the Flyers are excited about the possibilities.

Filppula, a well-rounded, 33-year-old center, was acquired at the March 1 trade deadline in the Mark Streit deal. He added five goals and three assists in his 20 games.

"I felt like later in the year, we had more bullets in our gun," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said last week as the team held exit interviews and cleanout day. "(Jordan) Weal comes in and does a good job. Filppula comes in and really gives us stability. Really upgraded our top nine. So when you're talking 5-on-5 play, just to depend on five or six guys, all of a sudden you have nine guys you can count on."

The Flyers were 27th in the NHL with 128 goals at 5-on-5 -- a significant factor in their postseason absence.

But Filppula should bring more than simply a 5-on-5 boost.

The Flyers desperately needed depth at the center position to relieve some pressure from Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. Filppula, who came from the Lightning and played seven seasons with the Red Wings -- winning a Stanley Cup in 2008 -- is a sound matchup center and plays on the penalty kill, too.

"I think with Fil coming in this year, it really helped our depth," Giroux said. "He brings a lot to the team. He kills penalties, power plays, very good defensively and he's a smart player. When you bring a guy in like that, you kind of get excited a little bit."

From Filppula's first game on March 2 to the end of the regular season, the Flyers scored 56 goals, 12th most in the NHL over that span and 2.80 per game -- both improvements from their ranking of 21th on the full season and 2.59 per game.

"Now that we feel like we have nine guys that are legit top-nine forwards," Hextall said, "we've got good balance."

Couturier saw immediate benefits when the Flyers acquired Filppula. Couturier started playing with Dale Weise and Brayden Schenn, which turned out to be the team's best line combination to finish the regular season.

"I think it just brought some depth to our lineup," Couturier said of Filppula acquisition. "I had the chance to play after that with Schenn and Weiser and we just found chemistry right away and things went really well."

It provided head coach Dave Hakstol greater flexibility.

"The addition of Val Filppula to our group up front made our group of forwards better," Hakstol said. "Not just his presence, which I think he's an outstanding hockey player, a good hockey player and a real good veteran, but it just allowed some of the others to come together. I think there's real substance there."

The Flyers hope it shows with a full season of Filppula.

"I think when Filppula came in, the balance that seemed to come with him entering our lineup helped us both with and without the puck," Hakstol said. "Will that cohesion help us generate more offensively on an 82-game basis, not just a short-term basis? I think the answers to those things are yes."