Mistake-filled loss to TB costs Flyers home ice

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Mistake-filled loss to TB costs Flyers home ice

BOX SCORE

TAMPA -- Two mistakes. They resulted in two goals. Both with Steve Downie involved.

That was pretty much the difference in the Flyers' 4-2 loss on Thursday night at the Tampa Bay Times Forum to the Lightning.

This was huge, too.

Coupled with the Rangers' 2-1 win over Buffalo, New York clinched second place in the Metro Division and home ice for the first round of the playoffs.

The best the Flyers can do is third place, but unless they turn it around, they could easily slip to the wild card and face ... Boston? It’s a possibility.

“There were two mistakes and they went into the net,” said Flyers coach Craig Berube. “There was one on the [Eric] Brewer goal ... Downie lost his 'D' coming in.”

Downie left Brewer all alone for an open shot that made it 3-1 and more or less iced the game.

“We go play Pittsburgh and try to win the game,” Berube said. “You can’t catch the Rangers, so we can’t catch them.”

In the first period, Downie tried a risky play in neutral ice, turned the puck over and the Bolts had a 1-0 lead they held till late in the second period when Wayne Simmonds tied it with his 15th power play goal and 27th overall (see Instant Replay).

“The first five minutes, we turned the puck over a couple times and they ended up getting a goal,” Berube said. “Other than that, I liked the way we played tonight. We didn’t finish good enough.”

The Lighting scored three goals in the final period.

Tampa Bay received some surreal goaltending from Anders Lindback, who earned just his seventh win -- three against the Flyers this season. Lindback had 34 saves -- 26 through two periods.

“It makes a big difference if we score earlier,” Berube said.

Lindback outplayed Ray Emery, but Emery didn’t lose this game on his own merit.

“I got to makes saves in the third,” Emery said, shouldering blame that was not his. “We wanted it and wanted home ice, and it’s a disappointing third period.”

Tampa, much like the Rangers, owns the Flyers on their home ice. The Flyers are now 1-6-1 here since 2010-11.

“We had tons of chances, that part of our game was there,” Simmonds said. “We got our chances. Seemed like he was pulling saves out of his butt there. A lot it didn’t look like he was really in position and their defenders were making saves off their shin pads and stuff like that.”

And now home ice is gone.

“That doesn’t help,” Simmonds said. “We played well for 40 [minutes] again and we were hit or miss in the third. We had some really good shifts and some bonehead plays that cost us the game. We got to keep building the next two games.

“We’re not playing the way we were in the middle of the year. Obviously, that has to change. Third periods are going to be huge come playoff time. It starts next game. I don’t think you can flip a switch.

“We got to try and turn this around the next two games in the third periods. I think we’ve been playing great for 40 minutes the last few game,s but for some reason we don’t play a complete 20. We’ll play 15, 10 or 17.”

Columbus remains tied with the Flyers in points with 91, but is still fourth because the Flyers have won one more game in regulation/overtime (38 vs. 37).

Simmonds insisted consistency has to improve before the playoffs start next week.

“It’s a mindset,” he said. “You can’t practice playing consistently for 60 minutes. You just got to have it in your mind. You got to have a short memory. Sometimes we make mistakes and kind of dwell on them. That can’t happen. You got to have a short memory in this game.”

It’s going to take a hell of a mindset for the Flyers to forget that they blew home ice. And perhaps more.

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.