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."

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

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John Boruk/CSNPhilly.com

There's a new game in town: The Philadelphia Rebels

The opportunity to watch a Briere play again in Philadelphia will be an exciting reality for hockey fans this season.

No, Danny Briere isn’t coming out of retirement as the former Flyers forward has committed to handling the day-to-day operations of the organization’s newest ECHL team.  

However, Briere will be keeping close tabs on his younger son, Carson, who’s currently on the Philadelphia Rebels' 30-man roster and is setting his sights on making the team’s final cuts during training camp.

“It’s great,” Briere said Monday. “Growing up here for most of my life, I love Philly. It’s fun getting to play in the same city that [my dad] did. Whenever I think of him playing, I always think of that playoff run [in 2010] for the Flyers.”

After spending the past two seasons at IceWorks in Aston, Pennsylvania, the NAHL’s (North American Hockey League) Rebels are moving their operation to the Penn Ice Rink at the Class of 1923 Arena, where they made the formal announcement on Monday. It will be the organization’s third different home rink in the past four seasons after relocating from the Rio Grande Valley in 2015.

“It was a no-brainer,” team owner Marko Dundovich said. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was very easy. I think it will give the boys a better opportunity to play, get them seen and I think it’s going to continue to grow here, and our business and organization will do much better here.”

The Rebels and junior hockey simply didn’t attract a broad appeal in the Philadelphia suburbs like ownership had hoped, and as a result, attendance lagged as the team typically averaged around 125 fans a game.

“It was the first time we tried Junior A hockey here,” Dundovich said. “If we had a 300-, 400- or 500-person fan base, we would have been OK in Aston, but I think it was tough to sell a junior hockey ticket in Aston. It’s a difficult sell in a small town.”   

Conversely, hockey fans in Philadelphia haven’t had much of an alternative to the Flyers since the Phantoms left the city in 2009 for Glens Falls, New York. Rebels forward Aaron Maguyon, who stays with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau throughout the season, feels the team cannot only fill the 2,500-seat ice rink, but the players will greatly benefit from the college vibe.  

“I think it prepares us for the future and playing college hockey, for sure, so in that way, it’s like a sneak peek for what’s to come," Maguyon said. "I think it helps pull guys closer together. We have restaurants we can go to or just activities we can do in the city."

According to the league website, the NAHL set a new single-season NCAA record with 280-plus commitments, and the Rebels had 12 commit to Divison I programs. Head coach Joe Coombs has built a tier-II junior hockey powerhouse over the past two years. Last season, the Rebels finished with the NAHL’s best regular-season record, advancing to the championship game of the Robertson Cup in Duluth, Minnesota, where they came up short in a 2-0 loss to the Lone Star Brahmas. 

“This is business,” Coombs said. “Let’s bring the game to the people. Over the last two years, we struggled with our attendance. I didn’t even know this place was here — UPenn hockey rink — and we couldn’t think of a better venue right here in University City to try and market our brand of hockey and bring our game to the people.”  

And who knows? You might just see a few former Flyers in the seats, as well.  

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

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USA Today Images

NHL Notes: Penguins sign defenseman Brian Dumoulin to 6-year contract

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Brian Dumoulin has turned his steady play for the Stanley Cup champions into a new contract.

Dumoulin and the team agreed to a six-year deal on Monday that will run through the 2022-23 season and will pay him an average of $4.1 million per year.

The 25-year-old Dumoulin had three goals and 11 assists during Pittsburgh's run to the Cup this spring and hasn't missed a playoff game during the team's sprint to back-to-back titles.

Dumoulin averaged a team-high 21:59 of ice time this postseason, and his plus-9 rating was best among Penguins defensemen. Dumoulin was forced to take on a larger roll this spring after injuries forced Kris Letang to miss the playoffs.

Predators: Watson signs 3-year, $3.3 million deal
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nashville Predators have signed forward Austin Watson to a three-year $3.3 million deal keeping him under contract through 2019-20.

The Predators announced the deal Monday.

Watson will earn $1 million this season, $1.1 million in 2018-19 and $1.2 million in the third year.

The 25-year-old forward is coming off his best season yet with Nashville. The 6-foot-4, 204-pound Watson had a career high with five goals and seven assists in 77 games this past season. Watson scored four goals and had nine points in 22 playoff games helping Nashville reach the Stanley Cup Final.

The 18th pick overall in the 2010 draft, Watson had three goals and 10 points in 57 games during the 2015-16 season.

Now, center Ryan Johansen is Nashville's lone restricted free agent awaiting a new deal.

Sabres: Okposo says he’s healthy after concussion
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sabres winger Kyle Okposo said he is fully healthy after a concussion led to sleeping trouble, significant weight loss and a trip to intensive care last March.

Okposo missed the final few weeks of Buffalo's season with a previously undisclosed illness. In a letter posted on the team's website Monday, Okposo said a routine hit in practice caused his mood to change and other problems that required hospitalization.

The 29-year-old said he lost his appetite, had a negative reaction to sleep medications and that at one point he weighed less than 200 pounds. He spent time in the Neuro Surgical ICU at Buffalo General Hospital to be stabilized. Okposo's playing weight is listed at 218 pounds.

Okposo played in a 4-on-4 summer league game in Minnesota with other NHL players last week and reported feeling great. New general manager Jason Botterill said Okposo was on track to be ready for training camp.

"I've worked with a lot of different people -- concussion experts and people who have dealt with concussions themselves -- and I feel confident in the fact that I can play hockey again," Okposo said in the letter. "In fact, I know I can play again. I know I can play and not worry about hitting my head, which is a major hurdle for someone who's dealt with this. If I didn't feel 100 percent right now, that probably wouldn't be the case."

Okposo's last NHL game was March 27 against Florida. He had 19 goals and 26 assists for 45 points in 65 games during his first season with Buffalo. He signed a $42 million, seven-year contract with the Sabres last summer.

NHL: Gamble to get back Hall of Fame ring
PITTSFORD, N.Y. -- A scuba-diving treasure hunter who found an American Hockey League Hall of Fame ring in one of New York's Finger Lakes is returning it to its owner.

Gary Gavurnik, of Auburn, New York, plans to return the prized ring to former AHL star Dick Gamble on Monday. Gavurnik found it with a metal detector in Canandaigua Lake over the Fourth of July weekend.

The 88-year-old Canadian-born Gamble starred for the AHL's Rochester Americans and retired early in the 1969-70 season. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2007.

Instead of wearing the ring, though, he gave it to his son, Craig, who wore it every day for seven years before losing it in the lake. He never told his dad and ordered a replacement.