Flyers-Senators 10 observations: Jordan Weal provides finishing touch

Flyers-Senators 10 observations: Jordan Weal provides finishing touch

Thanks to Jordan Weal and more shootout magic -- yes, you read that correctly -- the Flyers captured a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

Weal netted a game-tying marker and the only tally of the skills competition in which the Flyers are now 7-4 this season.

Here are 10 observations from the victory:

1. Weal made a heady play by skating hard to the net as Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson left the crease to play a puck. He intercepted Anderson's pass and quickly buried the shot to knot the score, 2-2, with 5:59 left in the third period. The rookie has five goals in his last 11 games and has turned into a serious catalyst for a team that has struggled to score goals since mid-December.

2. The Flyers have back-to-back wins for the first time since Feb. 28-March 3. Still, they have only six games left, all against Metropolitan Division opponents. Their record against the remaining clubs on the schedule is 6-9-1. The Flyers stayed put Tuesday -- six points out of the second wild-card spot as both the Bruins and Maple Leafs won.

3. Brayden Schenn snapped the Flyers' 0-for-17 power-play skid on a deflection of Shayne Gostisbehere's shot with 1:26 left in the first period. The Flyers were 3 for 46 on the man advantage in March until Schenn's tally. With the current state of the Flyers' season, Schenn's production has gone somewhat unnoticed. Coming off a four-year contract extension this offseason, the 25-year-old forward has 23 goals, three from tying his career high set last season. Sure, he's been reliant on the power play (like many of his teammates), but Schenn has shown up after being rewarded.

4. Good effort by the Flyers after beating the Penguins, 6-2. They had struggled in sustaining any semblance of consistency and finally did for consecutive games -- and it came on fan appreciation night.

5. Steve Mason made his 13th start in the last 15 games and did his part. It looked like he didn't see Kyle Turris' shot in the third period that handed Ottawa a 2-1 lead. Overall, though, Mason once again gave the Flyers a chance. He entered with a 2.12 goals-against average over his last 12 games, while making 26 saves and three stops in the shootout Tuesday. The other goal allowed was gift-wrapped by Flyers penalties, resulting in a 5-on-3 and Erik Karlsson blast.

6. The Senators did what they do: aggressive and disruptive play on the puck-handler and making the opposition work for everything. Ottawa thrives on close, grind-it-out games, which has been a recipe for success as the Senators vie for the Atlantic Division crown.

7. Anderson has just been a wonderful story this season. He's taken some time away from the team to be alongside his wife, Nicholle, who is battling cancer. And even through that, he's having one heck of a season at 35 years old for a team destined for the playoffs.

8. Stick tap to Radko Gudas for jumping on the opportunity to stand up for a teammate late in the first period. Weal, not of much size at 5-foot-10, 179 pounds, was on the receiving end of two hits from 6-foot-1, 216-pound defenseman Mark Borowiecki. The second check was to the back and put Weal headfirst into the boards. Gudas saw it perfectly and swooped in to send a message.

9. More on Weal -- the rookie forward has shown he can help the Flyers in the future. With him playing well in a top-six role, Ottawa looked like it put a concerted effort on being physical with Weal. Similar to Travis Konecny, that's something Weal will have to overcome as more defensive focus is shifted to him.

10. A little inside the box score …
• With his assist, Gostisbehere has three points in his last two games. He's been active offensively with nine shots in those two outings.

• The Flyers were 1 for 4 on the power play, making them 4 for 48 this month.

• The Flyers outshot the Senators, 35-28, and blocked more shots, 20-17.

Flyers Skate Update: Focus on Ottawa and improving the power play

Flyers Skate Update: Focus on Ottawa and improving the power play

There's still a pulse. However faint it may be, it's still there.

Through all their ups and downs and all their flaws, the Flyers are still alive in the hunt for the last wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Entering Tuesday night's game against the visiting Ottawa Senators, the Flyers are six points behind the Boston Bruins for the final wild-card slot. The Bruins host the Nashville Predators on Tuesday. So if the Flyers win and the Bruins fall in regulation to the Preds, the Flyers would somehow, some way be just four points back.

The caveat is the Flyers still have three teams -- Carolina, the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay -- to jump to get right behind the Bruins.

"We're in a position where we know what we have to do," Steve Mason said following Tuesday's morning skate at the Wells Fargo Center. "We can't focus on what other teams are doing. We just have to go out there and play hockey and have fun and put forth a good effort. I feel like if we do that, we'll have a good chance at winning."

Points are obviously at a premium right now. And with the handful of teams to hurdle, the Flyers know they basically need every game left.

They feel the best way to get that tall task done is to focus game by game and not on the teams ahead of them in the standings, as difficult as that may be. They can't jump every team in one fell swoop.

But the Flyers do have some momentum coming into Tuesday's game after steamrolling the rival Penguins, 6-2, on Sunday night in Pittsburgh.

"We need to find a way," Claude Giroux said. "When we play Pittsburgh, we always have a little bit more motivation to win the game. We just need to find that same motivation.

"I think we need to look at the small picture and that picture is Ottawa tonight. We'll play Ottawa tonight and we'll worry about the other teams after.

"For us, it's about winning games. We've been playing some good hockey, but a couple times there, we just couldn't find ways to win. We go to Columbus and play a great game and a great 60 minutes and we can't find a way to get points."

One thing that would greatly help the Flyers' point-earning cause would be getting the power play out of the rut it's been in all month. The Flyers' man advantage has been mired in a miserable 3-for-44 slump and has just looked downright awful for stretches. There have been instances where opponents have had better shorthanded chances than the Flyers' power-play chances.

While the Ottawa team the Flyers host on Tuesday is fighting for the Atlantic Division crown, the Sens feature a middle-of-the-pack penalty kill (17th in the league at 80.6 percent) that could present the Flyers opportunities to take advantage of.

That's been easier said than done lately for the Flyers, although they did fire 10 power-play shots on net in three chances in Saturday's 1-0 loss in Columbus.

"We know we've had games where we've gone 1 for 7 or 1 for 8 and that happens sometimes," Jake Voracek said. "We've all played together for a long time. We just have to find a way to get the shots through."

"Our power play needs to get us some big goals," Giroux said. "We've had the same power play for a lot of years here and we've been successful. We've got to keep working on it.

"There's no confusion and there's no doubt in the way we want to be on the power play. When our power play is going, we get the chances that we want and we have all the tools that we want to have."

Lineup
Nick Cousins, who hasn't played in the last six games thanks to a suspected concussion suffered March 15 against the Penguins, took part in the morning skate but was not involved in line rushes. He'll sit again against the Sens. Dave Hakstol had no official update on Cousins' status, but did say it was good to see the 23-year-old forward back on the ice.

Sticking with his modus operandi after victories, Hakstol will not be making any lineup changes for the Flyers after Sunday's win in Pittsburgh.

Mason will start in net. He'll be opposed by Ottawa's Craig Anderson.

F: Matt Read-Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek
Jordan Weal-Valterri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Dale Weise-Sean Couturier-Brayden Schenn
Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Travis Konecny

D: Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Michael Del Zotto
Radko Gudas-Brandon Manning

G: Steve Mason
Michal Neuvirth

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Penguins 2

Instant Replay: Flyers 6, Penguins 2

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- As bad as the Flyers' road trip began last Tuesday in Manitoba, it had an encouraging finish.

The last three games, including Sunday's 6-2 rout over the Penguins at PPG Paints Arena, saw a far more determined Flyers club than the one that lost, 3-2, in Winnipeg.

Dave Hakstol's club finished the trip 2-2. Although the Flyers cut their wild-card deficit to six points with seven games left in the season, it remains a very steep climb for them to reach the playoffs.

The Flyers were playing for the fourth time in six nights but seemed more energetic for most of the game. Leading 2-1 to start the third period, Dale Weise scored his third goal in seven games to give Steve Mason some breathing room.

The Flyers are now 12-3-1 in this arena during the regular season since it opened in 2010-11.

Roadkill
The Flyers are 4-8-1 over their last 13 games on the road.

Challenge
Pens coach Mike Sullivan challenged for goaltender inference on Valtteri Filppula's goal at 12:49 of the second period and lost. That goal gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead.

Notable goals
Jordan Weal's goal in the final minute of the first period was his second in four games and made it a 1-1 game. Weal also added an assist.

Goalie report
Mason made his 12th start in 14 games. Mason had to withstand an onslaught by Pittsburgh early in the game and held his ice. He finished with 25 saves. Mason had a key save on Justin Schultz in the final two minutes when Pittsburgh attacked with six players.

Power play
The Flyers were 0 for 1.

Penalty kill
The Pens scored very late into their first power play, as they peppered Mason with six shots before Matt Cullen got his goal and the 1-0 first-period lead.

Injuries
Conor Sheary was injured blocking a shot in the first period and did not return, a huge loss because he's been Sidney Crosby's left wing on the top line lately.

Fights
Brandon Manning KO'd Cameron Gaunce in a first-period fight (see video).

Scratches
Nick Schultz (healthy) and forwards Roman Lyubimov (health) and Nick Cousins (concussion).

Up next
The Flyers are off on Monday and will host Ottawa on Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.