GAME 30: FLYERS vs. SENATORS
In the final game of a three-game homestand, Alain Vigneault's Philadelphia Flyers (16-8-5)
host D.J. Smith's Ottawa Senators (12-16-1) on Saturday afternoon. Game time at the Wells Fargo Center is 1:00 p.m. ET.
The game will be televised on NBCSP. The radio broadcast will be on 97.5 The Fanatic with an online simulcast on Flyers Radio 24/7
This is the second of three meetings between the teams this season, and the lone game in Philadelphia. The season series will wrap up in Ottawa on Dec. 21. On Nov. 15, the Flyers fell victim to a trap game sandwiched between matches against Washington and the Islanders. Ottawa beat the Flyers, 2-1.
A fast start by the Flyers dissipated quickly, and poor execution eventually proved costly. The Flyers led 1-0 early, but could not come back after giving up two goals in the middle frame. A frustrating third period that included a failed four-minute power play late in regulation sealed the outcome.
The Flyers easily could have had four or five goals on the night, but just as easily could have given up five. Tyler Pitlick scored his first goal as a Flyer, assisted by Andy Andreoff. In the second period, Tyler Ennis (power play) and Filip Chlapik scored for the Senators.
The Flyers went 0-for-5 on the power play. They saw their streak of 16 straight successful penalty kills come to an end, and went 2-for-3 on the PK. Carter Hart stopped 17 of 19 shots. Anders Nilsson denied 26 of 27 Flyers shots.
The Flyers saw a five-game winning streak come to an end on Thursday in a 3-1 home loss
to the Arizona Coyotes. Philly's overall point streak ended at seven games, along with a streak of points in 11 straight home games.
Despite the Flyers excellent month of November and run of points in 12 of 15 games (9-3-3), there is no breathing room in the standings to allow for Thursday night's loss to be more than just a little bump in the road. The Flyers enter play on Saturday just one point ahead of Pittsburgh and two ahead of Carolina, as well as being three behind the Islanders (who additionally hold two games in hand).
In addition to running the now-familiar regular recent lines, the Flyers experimented with some different five-on-five and power play combinations at practice on Friday. While it seems that the primary five-on-five lines that the team iced during the five-game winning streak will start Saturday's game, they might change if the team does not have a solid start against the Sens. Additionally, the power play combos might be different even from the outset.
At Friday's practice, at least for several reps, Shayne Gostisbehere and Jakub Voracek (right side) returned to Claude Giroux's power play unit with Travis Konecny moving to the netfront area. Morgan Frost remained in the slot and Giroux on the left half-boards. Unit two on these reps consisted of James van Riemsdyk (netfront) and Ivan Provorov moving to the Sean Couturier unit, with Couturier, Oskar Lindblom and Matt Niskanen remaining in their usual spots.
One likely five-on-five change: Mikhail Vorobyev will probably get in the lineup at fourth line center after the Flyers opted for seven defensemen on Thursday. The spare defenseman will likely be Robert Hägg (or, alternatively, Phil Myers) based on Thursday's ice time and Friday's practice combos. Hart will get the start in goal.
In Thursday's game, the Flyers went 2-for-4 on the penalty kill. The latter was simply a 5-on-5 empty net goal on a counterattack after Philly nearly tied the game at the other end. The former was an uncharacteristic-this-season coverage breakdown on an Arizona line rush; something which, according to Vigneault, the team knew to look for from its prescout on the Coyotes but did not handle properly on that sequence. Giving up two PPGs in the same game dropped the Flyers from 3rd in the NHL on the PK down to 10th.
The other end of special teams, the power play, is of bigger concern right now. The power play went 9-for-54 (16.7 percent) in November and started the December schedule with an 0-for-3 on the man advantage against Toronto and then another 0-for-3 against Arizona.
Entering this game, the Flyers have averaged 3.07 goals per game (T-12th) with allowing 2.66 per game (6th). The power play has dropped to 18.6 percent (17th) and the penalty kill to 84.1 percent (10th) with two shorthanded goals. The team has won faceoffs at a 54.4 percent clip (1st in the NHL).
Ottawa was playing much-improved hockey around the time they played -- and defeated -- the Flyers a few weeks ago. The win over the Flyers was part of a 5-1-0 uptick over six games.
More recently, things have gotten rough again, especially on the road. Before stepping up on Wednesday to earn a 5-2 road win against the Edmonton Oilers, the Senators had five games in a row overall (all in regulation) and were in a skid of 0-4-0 in away games.
However, on Wednesday, the Senators shook off a 1-0 deficit at the first intermission and then exploded for three straight goals in the second period before Edmonton got one back, followed by two unanswered goals in the third. Artem Anisimov (power play, 3rd), Connor Brown (3rd), Tyler Ennis (8th), Anthony DuClair (11th) and Vladeslav Namestnikov (7th) scored for Ottawa. Ennis also chipped in a pair of assists for a three-point game.
Returning to the lineup after missing four games with a lower-body injury, veteran goaltender Craig Anderson stopped 24 of 26 shots to earn the win. His best work came in the first period, because the Oilers carried the play and Anderson almost singlehandedly kept the game manageable for Ottawa. Trailing only by a single goal heading into the second period, the Senators came alive.
Despite Ennis' power play goal against the Flyers the last time the teams met and Anisimov's man advantage tally in Edmonton, power play goals have been extremely elusive overall for the Senators. Those two tallies represent 2/9ths of the team's total 9-for-91 output on the power play heading into Dec. 7
Entering this game, the Senators have averaged 2.62 goals per game (24th) and allowed 3.10 per game (20th). The power play comes in at 9.9 percent (31st) and the penalty kill at 82.1 percent (14th). The team has won 51.1 percent of their faceoffs (10th).
PROJECTED STARTING LINEUPS (subject to change)
28 Claude Giroux - 48 Morgan Frost - 11 Travis Konecny
23 Oskar Lindblom - 14 Sean Couturier - 93 Jakub Voracek
21 Scott Laughton - 13 Kevin Hayes - 49 Joel Farabee
25 James van Riemsdyk - 24 Mikhail Vorobyev -18 Tyler Pitlick
9 Ivan Provorov - 15 Matt Niskanen
6 Travis Sanheim - 61 Justin Braun
53 Shayne Gostisbehere- 5 Phil Myers
79 Carter Hart
[37 Brian Elliott]
Power Play 1: Giroux, Frost, Konecny, Gostisbehere, Voracek
Power Play 2: Couturier, JVR, Lindblom, Provorov, Niskanen
Scratches: 8 Robert Hägg (healthy), 44 Chris Stewart (healthy), 55 Sam Morin (torn ACL)
LTIR: 12 Michael Raffl (broken right pinkie finger), 19 Nolan Patrick (migraines)
7 Brady Tkachuk - 44 Jean-Gabriel Pageau - 10 Anthony Duclair
90 Vladislav Namestnikov - 51 Artem Anisimov - 36 Colin White
13 Nick Paul - 21 Logan Brown - 28 Connor Brown
63 Tyler Ennis - 71 Chris Tierney - 64 J.C. Beaudin
72 Thomas Chabot - 81 Ron Hainsey
74 Mark Borowiecki - 22 Nikita Zaitsev
58 Max Lajoie - 2 Dylan DeMelo
41 Craig Anderson
[31 Anders Nilsson]
Power Play 1: Tkachuk, Brown, Ennis, Chabot, Duclair
Power Play 2: Pageau, Anisimov, White, Namestnikov, Lajoie
Scratches: 17 Jonathan Davidsson (healthy), 89 Mikkel Boedker (heathy), 26 Erik Brannström (healthy).
Injured reserve: 49 Scott Sabourin (head), 86 Christian Wolanin (upper body), 29 Cody Goloubef (undisclosed)
Phantoms Lose to Bears in Front End of Home-and-Home
A 35-save performance by goaltender Alex Lyon went for naught on Friday night, as the Lehigh Valley Phantoms fell to the Hersey Bears, 2-1, at the PPL Center. Goals have been hard to come by of late for the club, and the team was outplayed significantly over the final 40 minutes of the game. That was especially true in a raher lopsided second period.
The first period was a pretty even one, though, and the Phantoms had the better of the early minutes of the game. Late in the first period, trailing 1-0, the Phantoms drew even just as a power play expired.
Originally credited to winger David Kase, the goal was changed to credit defenseman Andy Welinski (5th) after replays showed the puck pinballed off goalie Vitek Vanecek (25 saves) then off a Bears defender and into the net without Kase getting the last Phantoms' touch. Kase did get an assist, along with defenseman Mark Friedman.
In the second period, trailing 2-1 after a Joe Snively go-ahead goal, the Phantoms had 5-on-3 power play for 1:50. They were unable to do much with it. For the stanza, Lehigh Valley got outshot by a 16-9 margin.
Lehigh Valley was held to just five shots in the third period, and repeatedly tried to force plays that just weren't there. At 5:53, Friedman had to leave the game after catching an elbow to the head from Beck Malenstyn. The Phantoms were unable to tie the game.
Later, with about 4:20 left on the clock, the Phantoms caught a break. Moulson, bidding for his second goal of the game, hit the post. A Connor Bunnaman holding penalty in the final 3:49 shaved two more minutes off the clock and Hershey wound up with a 9-5 shot edge despite the Phantoms being the team in comeback mode.
Out with injury since Nov. 16, Kyle Criscuolo returned to the injury-depleted Phantoms lineup on Friday. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was a healthy scratch.
On Saturday, the Phantoms (10-9-5) and Bears (10-9-5) will rematch at the Giant Center in Hershey.
Phantoms Friday starting lineup:
10 Greg Carey - 9 Cal O'Reilly - 38 David Kase
18 Carsen Twarynski - 25 Connor Bunnaman - 49 Pascal Laberge
11 Steven Swavely - 21 Gerry Fitzgerald - 19 Isaac Ratcliffe
8 Matthew Strome - 51 Kyle Criscuolo - 29 Kurtis Gabriel
43 T.J. Brennan - 3 Andy Welinski
14 Mark Friedman - 39 Nate Prosser
44 Reece Willcox - 5 Tyler Wotherspoon
34 Alex Lyon
[35 J-F Berube]
Healthy scratches: 2 James de Haas, 16 Nicolas Aube-Kubel
Injury scratches: 12 Andy Andreoff, 15 Maksim Sushko, 17 German Rubtsov, 27 Chris Bigras