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)

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).