Is lengthy skid at MSG getting in Flyers' heads?


Is lengthy skid at MSG getting in Flyers' heads?

NEW YORK -- The Flyers haven’t won at Madison Square Garden since Feb. 20, 2011.

For those keeping track at home, that’s eight consecutive losses in the building. They’ve been outscored here 31-9 in that span.

The Flyers have registered wins over the Rangers in the past four seasons, sure. They just haven’t been able to do so in New York. Are they overthinking their history here? Are they too “in their heads” about the challenges of playing in a notoriously tough building?

“I don’t know,” coach Craig Berube said. “You’d have to ask them that.”

The Flyers, though, aren't sure either. “It’s a tough team to play against,” Steve Mason said. “They have some big bodies, it’s just a tough building to play in. But at this time of the year we have to have a better effort.”

Flyers captain Claude Giroux doesn’t think the Flyers' struggles in New York have anything to do with why the team lost 3-1 Wednesday night (see game story).

That, Giroux said, happened because the Flyers got away from what was making them successful.

“Maybe not tonight,” Giroux said. “Because I don’t think we played our game. I think we were tired, and I don’t know. It was a weird game.”

More likely than some sort of jinx, Giroux said, is that the Flyers’ schedule may have finally caught up with them. For over a week, the Flyers played some of their best hockey of the season against some of the most difficult opponents of the season. They easily handled the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks.

But they just couldn’t do it against the Rangers. Giroux suggested the Flyers might be “tired.”

“To be honest, we played a lot of good teams lately,” Giroux said. “And we had a lot of big wins, we worked hard, but there’s a lot of games in not a lot of nights here.

"Coming up here we’ve got to make sure we get some rest, and the next two games at home are going to be huge.”

Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Bryan Rust notches hat trick as Pens score 8 in win

PITTSBURGH -- Bryan Rust had his first career hat trick, Sidney Crosby added his NHL-leading 17th goal and the Pittsburgh Penguins raced by the Ottawa Senators 8-5 on Monday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel each had a goal and two assists for Pittsburgh, and Matt Cullen and Justin Schultz also scored. The Penguins poured in six goals over the final 32 minutes after spotting the Senators a 4-2 lead. Matt Murray made 17 saves after coming in for an ineffective Marc-Andre Fleury in the second period.

Pittsburgh has won three straight overall and improved to 7-0-2 in its last nine against the Senators.

Matt Stone had a goal and two assists for Ottawa. Erik Karlsson, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Dion Phaneuf also scored for Ottawa, which lost in regulation for just the second time in its last eight games (see full recap).

Capitals rally late for OT win over Sabres
WASHINGTON -- Marcus Johansson scored the tying goal late in the third period and got the winner midway through overtime to lift the Washington Capitals to a 3-2 victory over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

The goals were Johansson's third and fourth in his last five games. He has 11 for the season.

Jay Beagle added the Capitals' first even-strength goal in three games, as Washington snapped a three-game losing skid. Braden Holtby made 31 saves in the victory, the Capitals second over the Sabres in an 11-day stretch.

Kyle Okposo scored his team-leading eighth goal of the season to give the Sabres the lead in the second period. Zemgus Girgensons also scored early for Buffalo, and Robin Lehner made 30 stops for the visitors (see full recap).

Blue Jackets sweep series from Coyotes
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sam Gagner had two goals and two assists to help the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Arizona Coyotes for the second time in three days, 4-1 on Monday night.

Nick Foligno and Zach Werensky also scored for the Blue Jackets, who won for the fourth straight time and ninth of their last 12. Columbus picked up its 500th win in franchise history in sweeping the two-game season series with the Coyotes.

Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 17 shots for Columbus.

Arizona backup goaltender Louis Domingue had 30 saves, two days after the Blue Jackets hammered starter Mike Smith with a franchise-record 60 shots in a 3-2 shootout victory in Phoenix.

Arizona struck first 9:28 into the game when Alex Goligoski fed a pass on a power play to Tobias Reider, who slammed it past Bobrovsky's glove side from between the circles (see full recap).

Matt Read out approximately a month; Flyers recall Taylor Leier, send down Scott Laughton

Matt Read out approximately a month; Flyers recall Taylor Leier, send down Scott Laughton

Updated: 7 p.m.

Flyers winger Matt Read will miss approximately a month with an upper-body injury suffered in Sunday's 4-2 win over the Predators when he was checked by Filip Forsberg. Sources tell's Tim Panaccio the injury is an oblique muscle pull in Read's upper torso.

The 30-year-old has six goals and four assists for 10 points through 27 games. Five of those goals came in the Flyers' first five games.

To replace Read's roster spot, the Flyers recalled Taylor Leier and sent Scott Laughton to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. That likely means penalty-kill specialist Boyd Gordon (back), who is eligible to come off long-term injury reserve, will be activated.

Leier, 22, has been playing well with the Phantoms, posting six goals and 14 assists in 22 games (see Future Flyers Report). This is Leier's second stint of the season with the Flyers, albeit his first was short — one game on Oct. 25 in which he was a healthy scratch. He made his NHL debut last season and played six games.

Laughton was a healthy scratch the past five games.

If for some reason Gordon is not activated, the Flyers can call up another forward from Lehigh Valley. Jordan Weal is tied for second in the AHL with 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 20 games, while veteran winger Colin McDonald is an experienced, bottom-six option.