Flyers Drop 60-Minute Shootout, Down 1-0 in Cup Finals

Flyers Drop 60-Minute Shootout, Down 1-0 in Cup Finals

The Flyers were unable to complete the perfect day for local sporting interests, with Roy Halladay hurling a perfect game in Florida, team USA besting Turkey at the Linc, and the Union winning in extra time in Houston. The most important game of the day had the only bad result, with the Flyers losing an end-to-end battle in Chicago, 6-5. And I'd have traded all of the above for a Flyers win in game 1. 

We knew the series would be unpredictable, and game 1 certainly was. Two outstanding defenses with good goaltending combined to allow 11 goals in a ping pong match in which the longest lead was the one that iced the game. Neither team led by more than a goal at any time, which is something else considering the high tally by each side. 

Also surprising was that most of the top scorers from both sides were held at bay in terms of lighting the lamp. The Flyers were able to mute the powerful top line of the Blackhawks, but the second and particularly the third line were able penetrate the defense and find holes in Michael Leighton. Leights was pulled in the game despite most of the goals not being his fault. Peter Laviolette was probably trying to wake up his team on defense when he made the move to Brian Boucher because Leighton had little chance on the Blackhawks' conversions. The softest goal of the game came against Boucher, and my guess is Leighton will start in game 2. Was it a critical mistake to take Leights out at that point?

A story largely ignored by the broadcast team but prevalent throughout the game was the benching of Ryan Parent. Parent logged all of 41 seconds in this game, on the ice for an early goal that ended his night. Chris Pronger logged more than 32 minutes and managed a plus-2 in the game, and the top two pairings assumed all of the ice time, with Lukas Krajicek subbing in for 7 sporadic minutes. Lavvy clearly doesn't trust his third pairing against the powerful Chicago forwards, and we'll likely see more of the same for the rest of the series, if not a scratching of Parent. 

On the bright side, the Flyers were able to expose the Chicago defense and Antti Niemi for five goals, and it wasn't pretty for Niemi. He is certainly beatable in this series, and a slightly better game on defense for the Flyers would have meant a win. 

Still, the Blackhawks responded well after being hit hard by the Flyers attack early, and they settled in to take control of a freakish game. 

The Flyers scoring was largely generated by their second line, with Scott Hartnell wreaking havoc around the crease, Danny Briere setting up three goals and assisting on another, and Ville Leino continuing to draw attention on his way to a goal and an assist of his own. To say this line had a great game is an understatement. 
 

The Richards line was a disappointment overall, and Braydon Coburn turned over a game-changing play in failing to keep the puck in the zone on the powerplay, then trailing the play meekly while the Blackhawks hung another one on Leighton. The good news is the Flyers now know they can score on Chicago, and Niemi did not hold them at bay. They were able to get in close on him and convert for what should have been plenty of goals to win in a finals game. However, they simply didn't play the disciplined team defense they've displayed in their wins to this point, and their goaltending wasn't a strength despite not being particularly terrible. The Chicago game-winner was pretty painful though... 

This wasn't a hang-your-head loss. It was a tough, wild game against a stacked opponent, and it was in their barn to boot. It could have been a whole lot worse, and the Flyers are very much in this series after game 1. You have to think the Richards line will rebound after a subpar showing in this game, but so too will the Toews line. It'll be interesting to see if both sides continue to allow a run-and-gun tempo in game 2 and beyond. 

Oddly enough, the Flyers were not whistled for a penalty in this game. They scored once on four powerplay opportunities and were doused with a shorthanded goal. With 6 goals against overall, they were fortunate to not have have spent a minute facing Chicago's powerplay unit. 

The Flyers are no strangers to being down a game if not more, so there's no reason to make your way to the area bridges. Do not count them out; we've seen them overcome more, and this wasn't that bad of a loss. 

NBC probably had no complaints, huh?

(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Canada wins World Cup, rallying to beat Europe 2-1

Canada wins World Cup, rallying to beat Europe 2-1

TORONTO -- Brad Marchand scored a short-handed goal with 43.1 seconds left and Canada beat Team Europe 2-1 on Thursday night to win the World Cup of Hockey.

The Canadians won the best-of-three finals 2-0.

Patrice Bergeron tied it with a power-play goal with 2:53 left in the third, and Marchand won it with a shot from the slot.

Canada has won 16 straight games, including two Olympic gold medals, since losing to the U.S. in the 2010 Olympics.

Carey Price made 32 saves for the Canadians, who started slow before ending the tournament with a furious rally that fired up a once-quiet crowd.

Zdeno Chara scored early for Europe, and Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves for the eight-nation team.

Sidney Crosby was named MVP of the tournament with three goals and a World Cup-high 10 points.

After getting that award, he was presented with a silver World Cup of Hockey trophy and he skated with it around the ice just months after hosting the Stanley Cup for the second time in his career.

He set up the tying goal, passing the puck off the boards to Brent Burns, whose shot just inside the blue line was redirected by Bergeron's raised stick.

Crosby was stewing after each of the first two periods.

When the game was over, he was sporting an ear-to-ear smile.

The Canadians closed the game in impressive fashion after a lackluster start.

In front of an unenthusiastic crowd and a lot of empty seats in the home of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Canadians started flat and the Europeans made them pay for their apparent apathy.

Unlike the last two times Canada trailed briefly to the U.S. and Russia, it could not come back against Europe quickly.

It looked as if it wasn't going to be Canada's night when John Tavares had a wide-open net to shoot into, but hit the right post from the bottom of the right circle. Earlier in the same shift, the New York Islanders forward missed the net on a one-timer opportunity.

Canada averaged 4.4 goals over the first five games of the tournament, giving Price plenty of support. It didn't score as much in the final game of the tournament, but two goals were enough to win thanks to Price.

Chara, a Slovakian and Boston Bruins defenseman, scored from the left circle with a wrist shot through traffic two teammates created in front of the net off a short, soft pass from Andrej Sekera in the slot.

Crosby was part of a scrum at the end of the first period in which his helmet was knocked off near Europe's net at the end of the first period. After the horn sounded to end the second, Crosby lingered on the ice to shot at Swiss defenseman Roman Josi.

Crosby was clearly frustrated, playing with a pair of Boston Bruins, Marchand and Bergeron, who had combined for 22 points through the first five games.

Europe outshot the Canadians 12-8 after the first period and 27-21 after the second.

The Canadians had three power plays over the first two periods and failed to take advantage, falling to 2 for 17 with an extra skater. On one of their power plays, they needed Price to make stops on breakaways.

Canada had a man advantage again early in the third period, but only got one shot on Halak, a Slovak and Islanders standout, on the possibly pivotal power play.

Crosby had a chance to score with 7-plus minutes left, but Halak kicked the shot away with his right skate.

Europe seemed as if it had a chance to score late when Drew Doughty was called for high-sticking with just under 2 minutes left, but Canada was the team that took advantage when Marchand got the puck into open space and beat Halak with a shot to win the first World Cup since 2004.

Instant Replay: Braves 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Braves 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

ATLANTA — Jeremy Hellickson’s final start of the season — and possibly his final one with the Phillies — was cut short by a sprained right knee Thursday night (see story).

Hellickson left the game against the Atlanta Braves after 3 1/3 innings.

The Phillies ended up losing, 5-2, in their final game at Turner Field. The Braves swept the three-game series. The Phillies have lost six of their last seven and are 70-89.

The Phillies went 82-91 over 20 years of visiting Turner Field. The Braves will move into a new stadium next season.

Starting pitching report
Hellickson gave up just one hit and no runs in his 3 1/3 innings. He walked none.

The right-hander finished the season 12-10 in a career-high 32 starts. He tied a career high with 189 innings. His final ERA of 3.71 was his best since he recorded a 3.10 ERA in 31 starts for Tampa Bay in 2012.

Hellickson is eligible for free agency this winter. The Phillies would like to get draft-pick compensation if Hellickson signs elsewhere, but they must extend him a $17 million qualifying offer for 2017 and he must reject the offer in order for the club to get that pick.

Atlanta’s Josh Collmenter pitched seven innings and held the Phillies to one run. He gave up six hits, walked none and struck out four.

Bullpen report
Struggling Jeanmar Gomez entered a tie game in the bottom of the eighth inning. He gave up a walk and a tie-breaking double as the Braves took the lead. The Braves scored three more times against Gomez in the frame to put the game away.

At the plate
Odubel Herrera’s RBI single in the third inning gave the Phillies a 1-0 lead. It was the Phillies’ 600th run of the season. They were the last team in the majors to get there.

Aaron Altherr cut the Braves' lead to three with a two-out RBI single in the ninth.

Atlanta’s Dansby Swanson tied the game at 1-1 with a solo homer against Colton Murray in the sixth.

Swanson walked and scored the go-ahead run on Matt Kemp’s double against Gomez in the bottom of the eighth.

Up next
The Phillies return home Friday night for the final three-game series of the season. They will play the New York Mets, who are battling for the National League wild card. Here are the pitching matchups:

Friday night — RHP Alec Asher (2-0, 1.66) vs. RHP Robert Gsellman (3-2, 2.56)

Saturday afternoon — RHP Phil Klein (0-0, 12.15) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (14-8, 3.42)

Sunday afternoon — RHP Jerad Eickhoff (11-14, 3.72) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (14-9, 2.60)

Sunday afternoon’s season finale starts at 3:05 p.m. The team will make a special on-field presentation to Ryan Howard at 2:30.

Howard did not play Thursday night. He is expected to start all three games against the Mets. The Phillies will not pick up Howard’s contract option for 2017 and he will become a free agent.

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