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' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

Flyers' poor division record biggest factor in being out of playoff picture

PITTSBURGH -- There's a bit of tragic irony to how the Flyers' season will end over the next two-plus weeks.
 
They have seven games left on the schedule. Six of them are teams residing in the Metro Division. Tuesday's opponent, Ottawa, is the lone exception.
 
There are so many reasons why the Flyers are scrambling now, clinging to the desperate belief they can still make the playoffs -- mathematically, they're alive -- against all rational thought.
 
They're six points behind Boston for the second wild-card spot, but they still have to hurdle Carolina, Tampa Bay and the Islanders just to get to Boston.
 
Yet one major reason for the Flyers' dilemma seems pretty obvious: They've been simply awful in head-to-head play against their own division.
 
The Flyers have a winning record against both divisions in the Western Conference.
 
That's not the case, however, in the East where the Metro Division is the only division with three teams over 100 points and where the Flyers have failed miserably to challenge from within.
 
Sunday's 6-2 rout of the Penguins in Pittsburgh left the Flyers with a poor 9-13-2 record against the Metro. It's the only division they have a losing record against.
 
Last season, Dave Hakstol's group finished 14-10-6 against their own division. That was a critical factor in enabling the Flyers to make the playoffs.
 
"We know where we are in the standings and it's not going to be easy to make the playoffs," Jakub Voracek said. "We all know that. We have to work off results of the other teams and try to play relaxed and loose."
 
Against the Eastern Conference overall, the Flyers are close to .500 (21-22-4) yet realize they should be better.
 
These two records represent a very large reason why the Flyers are sitting on the outside looking in as the playoffs near.
 
Right now, at least four clubs from the Metro -- half the division -- will make the playoffs. That says a lot about why games within your section are so pivotal at season's end.
 
"The numbers don't lie," Hakstol admitted on Sunday. "It's a tough road every single night. You've got to do a good job within your division, within your conference.
 
"We've played a lot of tight, hard games. The reality is, we're a number of points out of the playoffs and those points within your division are very valuable."
 
It's something the Flyers have to greatly improve upon next season if they want to be sitting in a playoff spot a month before the season ends instead of playing catch-up when the odds are hopelessly against them.
 
Pens killers
Every team in the NHL has a couple players who have fairly impressive career numbers against other teams.
 
Voracek averages better than a point against the Penguins. His goal Sunday gave him 17 goals and 34 points in 32 career games against Pittsburgh.
 
Voracek admitted after the game he's not sure why.
 
Claude Giroux also has excellent numbers against the Pens -- his two assists in the win left the Flyers' captain with 41 points (14 goals) in 40 career games vs. Pittsburgh.
 
Shayne Gostisbehere has been around a fraction as long as either Giroux or Voracek -- eight career games vs. the Pens -- yet has two goals and nine points in those games.
 
Brayden Schenn doesn't average a point a game against the Pens, but he's close. His assist on Sunday left the winger/center with 20 points (8 goals) in 26 games.
 
The only Flyer who has solid numbers against Pittsburgh and didn't make Sunday's score sheet was Wayne Simmonds. He has 23 points in 28 games. 

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

Dave Hakstol: Travis Konecny on 4th line 'makes sense in a lot of respects'

PITTSBURGH -- The curious line juggling of Travis Konecny continued Sunday night.

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol again started Konecny on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare's fourth line with Chris VandeVelde, but just as he did in Columbus, Hakstol moved the rookie around.

This was Konecny's third straight game off Valtteri Filppula's unit with Jakub Voracek at the start. The obvious message to Konecny seems to be: Get yourself into a more defensive-minded role early and then let the offense come to you.

Konecny has made some defensive strides.

"It makes sense in a lot of respects," Hakstol said of the move to Bellemare's unit. "He's playing with two players with a lot of structure. He excels in that type of setting.

"If you look at [Saturday], he can bounce around the lineup with different lines and we used him that way. He didn't just play with his two linemates. He moved around a little bit. He's very effective in that role when we're able to get him out there. He gives us a good boost, a good push."

Against Columbus on Saturday, Konecny played on two units with Sean Couturier -- one featuring Jordan Weal and the other, Dale Weise. He also played a few shifts with Filppula and Wayne Simmonds.

The same thing happened Sunday in the Flyers' 6-2 rout of the Penguins (see game story). Konecny finished with an assist and plus-1 in just 8:02. He is one of the very, very few Flyers who is an even. Most are minus.

Konecny, who just turned 20, and Weal, 24, gave the Flyers a lift on Sunday. Weal had a goal and an assist in 13:06.

"No matter who it is contributing, everyone is excited for everybody," Konecny said. "A lot of guys put up some numbers tonight and contributed. It was a good team effort. That's what we want to see."
 
The Flyers were so relaxed it makes you wonder if the pressure of trying to make the playoffs is gone because their odds are so stacked against them.
 
"We’re at that point where you just need to win and just show up," Konecny said. "There's nerves in the back of your mind. We're pretty loose and trying to enjoy it as much as we can going through a stressful time.
 
"We've handled it well. We played a good team, we knew they would push but we pushed harder."
 
Konecny said he's not fazed by the different line combinations he's a part of, often in the same period.
 
"It's not too bad," he said. "I kind of expected it going into a game. I know when I am playing with Belly and Vandy that throughout the game, there's going to be times like penalty kills come up and he'll fill me in with another line.
 
"At the start of the third [tonight], I filled in another line. I know it's going to come. I just expect it. I've played with pretty much everybody on the team. I'm comfortable out there."
 
Loose pucks
The six goals on the road against Pittsburgh last happened on Feb. 20, 2013, when the Flyers won, 6-5. ... Sunday was the Flyers' largest margin of victory in Pittsburgh since March 31, 2003, when they beat the Penguins, 6-1, at Mellon Arena. ... Weal picked up the second two-point game of his career -- both of which have taken place this month. ... Weise has three goals in his last seven games. ... Claude Giroux had two assists, and now has two goals and eight assists for 10 points in 13 games this month.