Philadelphia Flyers

Travis Konecny, Brayden Schenn help Flyers complete comeback in crucial OT win over 'Canes

Travis Konecny, Brayden Schenn help Flyers complete comeback in crucial OT win over 'Canes

BOX SCORE

It could have been a disaster.
 
Unload 44 shots, get the better of every scoring chance and stick with the game to the end and then … lose.

That's happened a lot of times this season to the Flyers.

On Sunday night, Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier made certain it didn't happen, as the Flyers cut their wild-card deficit to five points with a heart-pounding 4-3 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
"We knew things were coming for us," said Konecny, who got the game into overtime with a goal that made it 3-3 in the final minute of regulation. "We knew if we stayed with it, the pucks would go our way. I think the hockey gods were looking down on us."
 
They finally had some luck. With regulation time running out, Konecny tried a pass into the slot area that went off a skate and into the net to send the game to overtime.
 
"I tried passing it out front and knew the goalie [Cam Ward] was out of position," Konecny said. "I knew he didn't know where the puck went. I just knew Coots was there. It went off a skate."
 
That assured at least one point -- everyone matters now for the Flyers in the wild card race -- and got the game into overtime, where Schenn scored the game-winner off the rush with an assist from Provorov, the rookie defenseman who had his first three-point game.
 
"We put pucks to the net," said Schenn, who has three goals in his last four games. "We had a tired hockey team on the other side. We felt we carried the play for the most part, a little flat in the third period but we stuck with it."
 
Carolina was playing for the fifth time in seven days. The 'Canes looked tired, made a push to tie and almost pulled it out were it not the Flyers' tenacity late in regulation.
 
"Everyone stuck with it," coach Dave Hakstol said. "We got a bounce to tie it up but we also made some good plays to get that bounce. And then the play on the winning goal, it was a real, good speed play, power move to take the puck to the net. We finished it off."

The first period saw the Flyers with an 11-3 shot advantage more than 16 minutes into the game without a scoring. Something good finally occurred inside the final minute of the period when Provorov gathered a pass from Andrew MacDonald, spun and unleashed a wicked snap shot from the left circle past Cam Ward for the only goal of the period.

Credit Couturier for forcing a turnover from Jordan Staal that began the play.
 
It was just Provorov's sixth goal this season.
 
Dale Weise, who wears his anger over his season -- and sometimes benchings -- on his sleeve, picked up his second goal in three games midway into the second period to give Steve Mason a 2-0 pad. A juicy rebound courtesy of Valtteri Filppula was just sitting outside the paint for him to stun Ward, who never saw the puck.
 
"It was a good play by Val," Weise said. "I gave it to TK there in the corner much like his goal a couple of games ago, where he's rolling over the top. I was just trying to pull the D out to give him some room to shoot. 
 
"He threw it in there and Val was kind of grinding away in front and the puck popped out to me. I don't think Ward saw it, so I just had to get it up and in."
 
Jeff Skinner has been tough on the Flyers during his career and didn't let up in this one, either. He cut the deficit in half with a gift rebound from Mason for his 26th goal overall this season and 13th lifetime against the Flyers in 25 games.
 
The period ended on a decidedly bad note when Provorov lost his stick during a puck battle behind the net to Phillip Di Giuseppe, who dished the puck into the slot. Mason couldn't react quickly enough on Elias Lindholm's one-timer that tied it, 2-2.
 
That's when the Flyers hit a lull and doubt creeped in, which this club doesn't need with a crucial four-game road trip coming up.
 
"It's in your mind because we've had a lot of games like that," Weise said. "But we stuck together and tied it up late. … It was extremely frustrating.
 
"Up 2-0 in full control and we let them back in the game. We were rolling in the second and all over them. But we did a good job in righting the ship."

Gunn's bullet points: Run game comes alive and a kicker saves the day

Gunn's bullet points: Run game comes alive and a kicker saves the day

Five bullet points from the Eagles' 27-24 win over the Giants in their home opener (see breakdown).

• The smallest guy on the field was the biggest hero Sunday. Jake Elliott's 61-yard field goal on the final play of the game saved what could have been a disaster. Wide receiver Torrey Smith said, "We didn't even know he could kick it that far." Other players admitted they had hardly spoken to Elliott in the two weeks he's been here, but they would definitely go out of their way to exchange words with him in the future.

• Thirty-nine (39?!?!) rushing attempts in one game! The Birds had a grand total of 41 attempts in the first two games. The Giants came into this affair allowing 133.5 yards per game on the ground. The Eagles busted them up for 193. Wendell Smallwood told me, "We just knew where the holes would be after watching them on tape." Lane Johnson added, "We did a great job of mixing up our runs inside, outside, mix directions and delay runs."

• The Giants' trio of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard combined for 24 catches, 278 yards and three touchdowns. They killed the Eagles on slant routes. Considering how depleted the Eagles' secondary was, Jalen Mills said they wanted to keep everything in front of them. When I asked cornerback Patrick Robinson why they played Beckham so much in single coverage, he responded, "We didn't think he was that healthy, but in the second half, we found out otherwise."

• As if the Birds' defense wasn't banged up enough going into this game, they lost Fletcher Cox and Jordan Hicks along the way. Safety Rodney McLeod, who was a scratch for this game, told me he will be ready for Philip Rivers and the Chargers next week.

• Numerous players said they were proud of the way the team came together in unity in response to President Trump's comments. Alshon Jeffery told me, "It doesn't make a difference if you're black or white, we are all in this together."

Flyers camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Roster chatter, Nolan Patrick's status, more

Flyers camp notes, quotes and tidbits: Roster chatter, Nolan Patrick's status, more

VOORHEES, N.J. — The Flyers play a preseason back-to-back set when they visit the Rangers on Monday, then host them Tuesday.

With such a schedule setup, head coach Dave Hakstol already has two lineups in mind as the Flyers continue their evaluation for the opening night roster. The training camp roster is technically at 29, but with three players injured (Cole Bardreau, Colin McDonald, Anthony Stolarz), it's actually at 26 and must be down to 23 by the Oct. 4 season opener.

The obvious roster hopefuls are forwards Nolan Patrick, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Mike Vecchione, and defensemen Robert Hagg, Sam Morin and Travis Sanheim.

"Everybody that's here is still in the mix," Hakstol said after practice Sunday at Flyers Skate Zone. "I said it a couple days ago, this is when the competition gets pretty high."

If Sunday's practice combinations are any indication of what Monday's lineup will look like at Madison Square Garden, Travis Konecny, Vecchione, Leier and Lindblom will be extras. They were the four-man rotational line Sunday.

Hakstol said there could be some differences from the groupings Sunday when it comes to Monday's game. However, he does hope to play each bubble player at least one of the two games. So whoever sits Monday is more than likely to play Tuesday.

Eyes on Patrick
Patrick is feeling better and better.

After assisting Shayne Gostisbehere's overtime winner in Wednesday's 3-2 preseason split-squad win against the Islanders, Patrick played 16:50 Thursday in the 2-1 OT loss to the Bruins at TD Garden. The No. 2 overall pick saw some power-play time, had a few shots on goal and a pair of takeaways.

"Last game was the most comfortable I've felt," Patrick said Sunday.

He's now played in three preseason games, as well as the rookie game.

Patrick centered Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds on the second unit at practice, a spot in which suits his strengths playing between two finishers with a good blend of ways to score.

Look for that line to stick Monday.

"We've only had one game together, but I think Simmer's obviously a top player in the league, he was an All-Star last year, he can put the puck in the net and make plays," Patrick said. "So he's big down low to create space. Jordan's great offensively, he's got a lot of speed, so I just try to play smart and find them when they're open and make plays."

Sound with studs
Hagg has put together a strong camp and preseason.

The 22-year-old defenseman is well-groomed and prides himself on play in his own end. Playing alongside Gostisbehere doesn't hurt, either. It allows Gostisbehere to focus a bit more on producing offensively because Hagg understands his defensive role.

The last two days, Hagg has been paired with Ivan Provorov.

With those two, he isn't complaining and seems to relish being the complementary piece.

"They're pretty good guys to play with," Hagg said.

"I don't mind it. Let them do their job and I'm taking care of the defense, kind of what I did last year, as well. Start getting used to it and I don't have any problems with it.

"I think my best game is in the D-zone, shutting down guys, 1-on-1 battles. And then sure, I can follow up in the game and find some pucks here and there. But my main focus is to be good in the D-zone, take care of that and the rest will take care of itself."

Roster two cents
Vecchione has played only two preseason games thus far and he was among the four-man line at practice. He should play at least one of these games on the back-to-back, but at this point, he looks like he'll start the season at AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley. There just isn't a spot for the rookie forward right now and he won't be on the roster to be an extra man.

Laughton seems to be a safe bet to make the Flyers' roster. He's been playing in the exact role the Flyers are hoping for him and he proved growth to general manager Ron Hextall last season with the Phantoms.

Leier has done everything you'd ask for from a guy fighting for a spot. However, the numbers game likely pegs him at Lehigh Valley to start 2017-18.

Nonetheless, Hakstol has been impressed by the 23-year-old winger, who had a two-goal game Wednesday in the 3-2 split-squad win at the PPL Center.

"It's about playing his role, what his role is," Hakstol said. "Taylor's a responsible two-way forward. When he's been with us, he's played in that third, fourth-line wing type of role, he's killed penalties — that's his chair. He's done a good job of that so far in camp and that's why he's got himself solidly in the mix."

Can't get enough
Weal is always getting in extra work.

Ever since coming to the Flyers in the January 2016 Vinny Lecavalier trade, he is often the first player on the ice before practice even starts. On Sunday, he was the last one off of it with Konecny. Together, the two took in some bonus ice time.

The 25-year-old Weal just loves the rink and it's gotten him from lots of healthy scratches in 2015-16 to what should be a prominent role in 2017-18.

Quotables
"I think they're going to try to stick to it a little bit more. I don't mind it. It's like impossible to cheat now in faceoffs. But some guys, it's kind of a skill to be able to cheat in faceoffs. I don't know, I think they're going to stick to it, and if they do, it's good. Guys are going to be not trying to cheat because you want to stay in the faceoff dot. We'll see what happens."

- Claude Giroux on refs being stricter in the faceoff circle during preseason

"I had quite a few chances that game. Just being able to jump up in the rush at the right times. You're seeing a lot more in the NHL these days that a lot of the offense is being pushed from D-men getting up in the play and joining the rush and creating chances. That's something I've had as a part in my game all the way through my career. I'm just trying to bring that to this level."

- Travis Sanheim on his goal against the Bruins Thursday

Practice lines and pairings

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek (more on this here).
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds
Jori Lehtera-Valtteri Filppula-Dale Weise
Michael Raffl-Scott Laughton-Matt Read
Mike Vecchione-Taylor Leier-Oskar Lindblom-Travis Konecny

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas
Sam Morin-Andrew MacDonald

Current roster breakdown

Forwards (18)
Cole Bardreau (injured)
Sean Couturier
Valtteri Filppula
Claude Giroux
Travis Konecny
Scott Laughton
Jori Lehtera
Taylor Leier
Oskar Lindblom
Colin McDonald (injured)
Nolan Patrick
Michael Raffl
Matt Read
Wayne Simmonds
Mike Vecchione
Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal
Dale Weise

Defensemen (8)
Shayne Gostisbehere
Radko Gudas
Robert Hagg
Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning
Sam Morin
Ivan Provorov
Travis Sanheim

Goalies (3)
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth
Anthony Stolarz (injured)