Swing By Any Time, Sabres: Huge Nights All Around in 7-2 Flyers Win

Swing By Any Time, Sabres: Huge Nights All Around in 7-2 Flyers Win

We didn't quite get the fast start we were hoping for from the Flyers, but they sure made up for it. They were booed off the ice after a lousy first period saw them down 2-0, and in the dressing room, Peter Laviolette probably gave it to them much worse. They responded with four unanswered goals in the second, headed off to a standing ovation, then came back out and continued to pile on.

Max Talbot played a huge role in turning the game around, and he has two more goals to add to his career high. Same goes for Wayne Simmonds, who also tallied a pair to give him 20 on the season. And they weren't even the Flyers' high scorers. With a small army of injured forwards, the Flyers scoring depth was on display.

Let's get a look at why so many Flyers will remember this one for years to come.

UGLY START
Already without Jaromir Jagr (flu) and JVR (concussion), the Flyers got a scare when Simmonds' face was cut during warmups. Simmonds don the full face shield, seemingly with no ill effects. But the Flyers looked to be in some serious trouble early, conceding the game's first two goals. Jason Pominville was as open as it gets on the back door when he slammed home a Tyler Myers pass that went through the crease. Thomas Vanek made Ilya Bryzgalov look shaky on a blazing slapshot, and the fans began to prepare the torches and pitchforks.

Even after having seen it all shake out, it's still kinda nuts to look back to that first period and think the Sabres wouldn't score again, while the Flyers scored at will and probably pushed Buffalo a little further into the "Sellers" column.

ALL OF THE GOALS
A lot of Flyers are going to remember this one, with some clear career highlights mixed into a seven-goal surge.

The top line was sans Jagr, and, nothing against the 40-year-old surgeon, but his linemates seemed to do OK without him. Claude Giroux was a silent killer, putting FIVE POINTS on the board, all on assists, getting him within two points of Evgeni Malkin's league-best 69. G's linemate Scott Hartnell also had a big night, scoring a goal and assisting three others. Talbot did some time with them, as did Jake Voracek, both of whom also scored.

Durrrty Second
Talbot reminded me of Mike Richards in some old games when the Flyers got off to a bad start. He got loud with his play, scoring, scrapping, and drawing ire. Every shift he took in the second period, you knew where he was on the ice. His deflection of a Braydon Coburn shot was very nice, and opened the scoring floodgates for the Flyers.

Simmonds got the next two, both on the power play and nearly mirror images of each other. You might think wearing the full face shield would mess with his ability to play puck at his feet, but both of Simmer's goals came from in tight, putting home juicy rebounds off the pads of Jhonas Enroth. He now has 20 goals, nine of which came on the man advantage. Kind of amazing that in 49 games as a King, Richards has six fewer goals than Simmonds does in 56.

Erik Gustafsson gets a puck with a ring of tape and some marker on it after potting his first NHL goal to close out the scoring in a four-goal Flyers second.

Give some props to Tom Sestito for kickstarting the second period with a nice fight against Zack Kassian. Sestito appeared to have the better of Kassian most of the way, but got turned around and popped a few times before they both fell to the ice. Something went wrong there for Tito, who left the game with a lower-body injury and would not return.

Murderous Third
Talbot scored again in the second, giving him 16 on the season. The goal looked a bit like the Sabres' first tally, with Eric Wellwood sending a long pass across the slot to a wide open shooter. Talbot went to one knee and buried the one-timer.

Jake Voracek became the 10th Flyer in double digits for goals, and Hartnell closed the night's account with his 27th, putting home an amazing saucer pass from Matt Read. Seven to freaking two.

CHASERS
In the teams' first meeting, Ryan Miller gave up three goals on 11 shots and was pulled for Enroth. Miller would give up five goals in the next meeting. Tonight, Enroth got the start, and despite none of the goals allowed really being on him (a deflection and two rebounds—all screened by the eventual scorer), was pulled for Miller. Who proceeded to give up four goals of his own…

DANNY DOWN
In the first period, everyone's favorite Buffalo Sabre (Patrick Kaleta) smeared Danny Briere along the boards and into the stanchion. Briere didn't seem terribly affected by it, taking a slashing penalty as revenge. But, after serving that out, Briere skated off the ice and would not return with a currently undisclosed upper-body injury. With his concussion earlier this season, gotta be a bit worried there. [video]

VIDEO RECAP

REMEDY
It's just one game after a handful of crappy ones, but the Flyers showed almost exactly what we needed to see. There was the lousy start, but really, who cares about that right now. No goals against on the penalty kill. Two power play goals. Career highs.

Just can't rest on any of those feelings. Huge game against Pittsburgh this Saturday.

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

Phillies look to 'keep grinding' after latest rough loss to Rockies

BOX SCORE

The Phillies have scored just two runs in 13 innings against a pair of rookie starting pitchers and the eventual outcome has been two losses to the Colorado Rockies the last couple of nights. The latest was an 8-2 setback on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay). That followed an 8-1 loss on Monday night.

What's happening right now at Citizens Bank Park is ugly. The Phillies are in the midst of a freefall that has seen them lose 19 of their last 23 games. They have been outscored 134-91 over that span.

Now, before we completely lose perspective here, the Phillies remain a building team and they were not expected to contend this season. But they weren't supposed to be this bad, either, and right now they are embarrassingly bad at 15-28.

John Middleton, the team's fiery managing partner, watched several innings of Tuesday night's debacle sitting beside Andy MacPhail in the club president's box. Oh, to have been a fly on that wall. Middleton is committed to a patient rebuild from the ground up, but he's also a man who has made it no secret that he likes to win a little. The show that the Phillies are putting on out on the field these days can't sit well with him. Surely it's not sitting well with the fans. Tuesday night's attendance was just 17,109, the lowest of the season, and many in that group headed home after Gerardo Parra's sixth-inning homer gave the Rockies an 8-1 lead.

"We're just in a big rut right now," manager Pete Mackanin said.

Shortstop Freddy Galvis added that he couldn't remember going through anything this bad.

"We have to keep grinding," he said. "Keep grinding, man. It's pretty tough right now."

Tuesday night's loss offered a tale of two young pitchers. Zach Eflin, the Phillies' 23-year-old right-hander and a veteran of just 18 big-league starts, was hit hard. Meanwhile, German Marquez, the Rockies' 22-year-old rookie, was impressive. He held the Phillies to one run over six innings. He twice faced bases-loaded jams and gave up just one run when he walked a batter.

On Monday night, the Phils were held to one run over seven innings by another rookie, Jeff Hoffman.

Rookie pitchers are often good medicine for struggling teams.

"That's the way I look at it," Mackanin said. "Unfortunately it hasn't happened.

"I know we're better than this. I think the team knows they're better than this. I can't fault the hustle. Someone might say there's no energy. Well, when you don't get any hits, there's no energy."

The Phillies have scored just three runs in the last three games.

The scarcity of runs gives the pitching very little room for error. But in this game, Eflin simply did not keep it close. He gave up 10 hits and eight runs over six innings of work. Phillies killer Charlie Blackmon torched Eflin for a pair of two-run homers and Parra got him for a solo shot.

"A poor outing," Mackanin said of Eflin's work. "He couldn't locate. The ball was up in the zone. He's struggling to keep the ball down.

"When he struck out Blackmon in the first inning, it was a two-seamer with great movement, I thought we're in for a good outing here. But then he couldn't keep the ball down. You have to pitch down or you're going to get hurt."

Eflin has given up 21 hits and 15 runs in his last two starts.

"It's frustrating, but it happens. It's baseball," he said. "There are going to be a lot of times in my career where I give up a lot of hits and a lot of runs. But I'm really not worried about it right now. I know that I'm going to continue to work hard and go out every fifth day and, you know, put up a line of winning baseball."

Blackmon has seven home runs in his last five games at Citizens Bank Park. He has three multi-homer games in Philadelphia.

"He seems to like hitting here," Eflin said. "But I just have to execute pitches. There's no excuse. I just have to be on top of my game."

Right now, the Phillies are at the bottom of their game.

"We have to stay together as a team and keep fighting, try to get out of what's happening right now," Galvis said. "It's a really tough situation, but we have keep playing hard."

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

NHL Playoffs Senators battle past Penguins to force Game 7

BOX SCORE

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators bounced back nicely two days after a blowout loss put them on the brink of elimination.

Anderson stopped 45 shots, Mike Hoffman scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period and the Senators beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 Tuesday night to force a decisive Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The 36-year-old Anderson was coming off a pair of rough outings, including Sunday when he was pulled after yielding four goals in Ottawa's 7-0 loss in Game 5 at Pittsburgh.

"You can't change what happens in the past," said Anderson, who has credited work with a sports psychologist early in his career for helping him manage the mental side of the game. "From that moment on you have to look forward and get ready for the next one."

Hoffman fired a slap shot through traffic off a pass from Fredrik Claesson to put the Senators ahead at 1:34 of the third. Bobby Ryan also scored a rare power-play goal for Ottawa.

It was quite a response after the drubbing in the previous game.

"I think the biggest message for us was if somebody told us back in training camp in September that we'd have an opportunity to win Game 6 in the Eastern Conference final at home in front of our fans we would've taken it," Ryan said. "So let's not dwell, let's not kick ourselves and put our heads down. Let's embrace this opportunity to extend this for two more days together and go from there."

Evgeni Malkin gave Pittsburgh, vying for its second straight trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the lead early in the second period and Matt Murray finished with 28 saves.

"I thought we played a real good game," Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. "I thought we dominated zone time. We had lots of chances. We didn't score tonight. The puck didn't go in the net, but if we continue to play the game that way, then I believe we'll get the result."

Game 7 is Thursday night in Pittsburgh, with the winner advancing to face the Nashville Predators for the championship.

Ottawa was primarily looking for a return to structure in Game 6, beginning with a smoother start -- which they got. Notable in a scoreless opening period were two effective penalty kills, one of which saw Viktor Stalberg get the best opportunity short-handed.

Pittsburgh had four shots with the man advantage, but Anderson stopped them all. It was evident early that he had his game back in this one. He stopped Nick Bonino off a rebound in transition, Scott Wilson off a deflected shot by Phil Kessel, and Bonino again when Kyle Turris gave the puck away.

Anderson then stopped 22 of 23 shots in the second period.

"I think Anderson was the reason that they got this one, he played big for them," Murray said. "But in our room we just focus on what we need to do. We played really well, we just didn't get the bounces and weren't able to put one home."

Anderson's performance was a reminder for Senators coach Guy Boucher of why he took the job with Ottawa in the first place last May.

"I'll be honest with you, if I didn't have a No. 1 goalie, I didn't want the job," Boucher said. "I've lived it for quite a few years, and it's hell when you don't have it because everything you do turns to darkness, and there's nothing that really matters when you don't have a real No. 1 goaltender.

"It's like a quarterback in football and a pitcher in baseball, and we have it," Boucher added.

Murray was also sharp. The 22-year-old, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury after Game 3, made maybe his finest save of the first on Derick Brassard, who found an open lane down the middle of the ice following a pass from Ryan.

The Penguins appeared to have opened the scoring just over three minutes into the second, but Trevor Daley was deemed to have interfered with Anderson following an Ottawa challenge.

Less than two minutes later though, Pittsburgh took the 1-0 lead anyway off a few moments of brilliance from Malkin. The playoff scoring leading (24 points) bounced off a check from Zack Smith behind the goal and after being stopped on his drive to the net, followed up with a nifty backhand rebound to beat Anderson.

It was the 153rd career playoff point in 142 games for Malkin -- three back of Sidney Crosby for second among active players behind Jaromir Jagr -- who had been jarring with Hoffman a few minutes earlier.

The Senators had little going until a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage for 1:24 just past the midway point of the period. The Ottawa power play, which had gone 0 for 29 in the previous 10 games, came through with Ryan ultimately wiring a one-timer short-side to tie the score.

It was the sixth goal and 15th point of the playoffs for Ryan, who is second on the Senators behind captain Erik Karlsson (16 points).