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

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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."

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

NHL Playoffs: Penguins chase Holtby, beat Capitals to take 2-0 series lead

WASHINGTON -- Phil Kessel scored twice, Sidney Crosby set up more goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins chased Braden Holtby on the way to a 6-2 victory over the Washington Capitals in Game 2 Saturday night that gave them a commanding 2-0 lead in their second-round series.

Marc-Andre Fleury was brilliant again in stopping 34 of the 36 shots he faced for Pittsburgh, which also got goals by Matt Cullen, Jake Guentzel and Evgeni Malkin. The Penguins scored three goals on 14 shots on Holtby, who was pulled in favor of Philipp Grubauer after the second period.

Grubauer didn't fare much better, allowing two goals on nine shots. Matt Niskanen and Nicklas Backstrom scored for the Capitals, who outshot the Penguins 36-23 but still face an uphill task of trying to become just the 19th team to win a series after losing the first two games at home.

Guentzel added an empty-net goal to seal it for the Penguins, his playoff-best seventh (see full recap).

Pageau gets 4th goal in 2OT to lift Sens over Rangers
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Jean-Gabriel Pageau got his fourth goal of the game in the second overtime after scoring twice late in regulation, lifting the Ottawa Senators over the New York Rangers 6-5 Saturday in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Ottawa leads the series 2-0 despite trailing by two goals after Brady Skjei's score with 14:50 left in the third. Pageau cut it to 5-4 with 3:19 left in the period, then tied it with 1:02 remaining.

Pageau scored again 2:54 into the second OT, snapping in a shot during a 2-on-1 rush alongside Tommy Wingels. Pageau is the first Senator ever with four goals in a playoff game.

Marc Methot and Mark Stone also scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson had 43 saves.

Skjei had two goals for New York and Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan also scored. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 28 shots.

The series heads to New York for Game 3 on Tuesday night (see full recap).

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

Ron Hextall on landing No. 2 overall pick: 'This is a big day for our franchise'

You remember the 2007 NHL draft?

The Flyers were robbed that year in the draft lottery and were forced to settle for the No. 2 overall pick later that June.

They chose James van Riemsdyk and the Chicago Blackhawks — drafting first — tabbed Patrick Kane.

Well, the Flyers got some needed payback Saturday night in Toronto at the 2017 draft lottery.
 
While the Flyers didn't win the top overall pick in this year's draft, they pretty much won the lottery just the same, moving from 13th overall to the No. 2 selection (see story).

"This is a big day for our franchise," said general manager Ron Hextall, who was an assistant general manager with Los Angeles in 2007 when it was Paul Holmgren's team in Philadelphia.

"When the 13th pick went by there and we knew we were one, two or three, that was a huge move for our franchise. We couldn't be more excited."

New Jersey will pick No. 1 and Dallas will pick third. Neither Colorado, the worst team in the NHL, nor Vegas, the newcomer to the NHL, made the top three.

The Flyers bucked enormous odds to advance from 13th to No. 2. They had a 2.4 percent chance of pulling it off. They were nearly 89 percent certain to remain at 13.

Maybe their luck is changing.

"We had a lot of bad luck this year," Hextall said. "I'm hoping this is a turning point for some of that to be turned around. This is a big point for our franchise. We're obviously going to get a very good player and hopefully in years, we'll look back on this as a turning point for us."

Depending on what the Devils do, the Flyers, who need offensive pop, are expected to select either Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier, both promising forwards who are considered impact players.

While this draft is nowhere near as deep as last year's with Auston Matthews or Patrik Laine, it still holds quality in the first round and the Flyers are guaranteed a player who should make a difference.

"This isn't as bad as a draft as people say it is," Hextall said. "We felt with the 13th pick, we would get a good player. It's probably an average draft.

"The last couple drafts have been bumper but this is a good draft. Obviously, moving up to No. 2, we're going to get an even better player."

Patrick, from Winnipeg, Manitoba, played for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League and was named the top skater by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau despite missing parts of the season with a lingering groin/abdominal injury.

The 6-foot-2, 198-pound center had 20 goals and 46 points in 33 games and still was a consensus No. 1 or 2 player by most scouts. His lineage is excellent, as his uncle, James Patrick, played 1,280 games.

Hischier is trying to become the highest-drafted Swiss player in NHL history. Nino Niederreiter was taken fifth overall by the New York Islanders in 2010.

The 6-foot, 176-pound Hischier led the QMJHL rookie class with 38 goals and 86 points in 57 games this season.

Can either Patrick or Hischier play right now?

"I don't know who that player is going to be," Hextall said. "Any player, as you know from my history, they've got to come in and earn it.

"If we draft a player at No. 2 and he comes in and earns it, then he'll be on our team. If he needs more time, he needs more time."

That said, Hextall admitted his scouting staff had paid attention to pick anywhere from No. 1 to 13th or worse, especially after things started going south for the Flyers in late winter and the playoffs began slipping away.

Hextall would not compare this year's draft-eligible players, talk about them individually or indicate which player he felt might be available at No. 2.

For now, Hextall envisions keeping the second pick but wouldn't rule out trading down if the right offer was there.

"You can't say no to anything because you don't know what will come your way," Hextall said.

The Avalanche, who had the best shot at winning the No. 1 pick, will draft fourth. Vancouver is fifth and Vegas will pick sixth.

Hextall watched the draft lottery on TV after returning home from Finland.

"Sometimes you get some good luck and sometimes you get some bad luck," Hextall said. "This was a fortunate day for our franchise. This was a big one."