CHANCES BUT NOT RESULTS AS FLYERS DROP 4TH IN A ROW
The Philadelphia Flyers put forth a greatly improved effort from their 2-0 loss to the New York Rangers on Wednesday night but, when all was said and done, the team had only a frustrating 3-2 regulation home loss to the Minnesota Wild to show for their performance on Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Jason Zucker’s goal with 45.4 seconds remaining in the third period sent the Flyers to their fourth straight regulation defeat and dropped the club two games below the .500 mark on the season. Nino Neiderreiter (power play) and Marco Scandella also scored for Minnesota.
Winning goalie Darcy Kuemper turned back 37 of 39 shots in a spectacular performance. He made no fewer than five mind-boggling saves. Additionally, the Wild blocked 24 Philadelphia shot attempts, including two in which Kuemper seemed to be out of position and at the Flyers’ shooter’s mercy. Jakub Voracek also hit the post with Kuemper down and out.
The Wild committed a lot of turnovers — both of unforced and forced varieties — in the game. Philly generated intense pressure a few times as a result but did not put any of their result chances into the net.
Mark Streit and Claude Giroux (power play) scored for the Flyers. The Giroux goal, scored off a beautiful feed from Brayden Schenn with a secondary assist to Voracek, tied the game at 2-2 with 3:30 left in the game. Ray Emery stopped 26 of 29 shots. Minnesota had only 13 shots through two periods but outshot Philly by a 16-12 margin in the final period.
Coming into the game, Flyers coach Craig Berube said he wanted to see the team skate and compete a lot harder than they did in getting dominated for much of Wednesday night’s nationally televised loss to the Rangers. For the most part, Philly did just that.
They got a good start, controlling most of the territorial play and greatly out-chancing the Wild for most of the first two periods. The Flyers forechecked hard and, for two periods, defended better relative to many recent games since their five-night break. The game was scoreless at the first intermission. However, it felt like the Flyers (who had racked up a 14-6 shot edge) had the superior jump and were in control of the game.
Even when the Flyers yielded yet another opposing power play goal — to a Minnesota team that had not scored a road power play goal this season — Philly did not sag. This play wasn’t so much a glaring breakdown by the penalty killers (unlike most of the recent power play goals the Flyers have yielded) but it still ended up in the back of the net as Emery wasn’t able to get over in time to stop Neiderreiter’s one-timer from the right circle. Matt Dumba and Scandella got the assists at 10:59.
Overall, the Flyers went 4-for-5 on the penalty kill in this game.
The Flyers tied the game at 14:31 of the second frame. Streit received a feed in stride from Vincent Lecavalier and beat Kuemper from the left slot for his third goal of the season. Wayne Simmonds received the secondary assist.
Philadelphia outshot Minnesota by a 13-7 margin in the second period. However, the team was unable to forge a lead. Over the course of the current four-game losing streak, the Flyers have not led any of the games at any point.
The Wild re-took the lead at 1:42 of the third period. Scandella slapped a puck from above the top of the left circle that went high to the long side — wobbling a bit as the puck was actually on edge as it was shot — past Emery.
Chances in the third period were actually much more even, and perhaps even in Minnesota’s favor. However, the Flyers finally knotted the score again at 2-2 on Giroux’s power play one timer from the left side at 16:30. Kuemper had no chance. All six of Giroux’s goals this season have come on the power play.
As time ticked down under the final minute, Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald turned a puck over in his own zone that enabled Minnesota to push the attack in the Philadelphia end. Moments later, Zucker slipped untouched past Luke Schenn (who failed to have his head on a swivel and was in no-man’s land) and the late-to-arrive Matt Read. Zucker received a pass from Ryan Suter and scored from point blank range at 19:14. Charlie Coyle got the secondary assist.
Berube called time out after the Zucker goal. The Flyers pulled Emery for an extra attacker but could not find an equalizer. Postgame Notes and Quotes
* The Flyers will take a complete off-day on Friday coming off back-to-back games with another game on Saturday. The team hosts the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.
* Giroux recorded seven shots in the game, the fifth time he’s done that this season. An additional five attempts were blocked.
* With Michael Del Zotto (lower body) out of the lineup day-to-day, Andrew MacDonald (right knee) returned to the lineup after a 10-game injury absence. Luke Schenn (left shoulder) returned after missing the last three games due to injury. Carlo Colaiacovo sat as a healthy scratch.
* Scott Laughton center the third line, flanked by Vincent Lecavalier and R.J. Umberger. This was a better game for the struggling Lecavalier and Umberger.
* Chris VandeVelde left the game early in the third period with a lower-body injury. He is day-to-day, according to Flyers general manager Ron Hextall.
* Eric Lindros and John LeClair, joined by their wives, children, LeClair’s mother and various former teammates — at the end including Legion of Doom right wing Mikael Renberg — were inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame in a half-hour ceremony prior to warmups. It was very nicely done, and both players basked in their standing ovations.
* Roughly 90 minutes before the induction ceremony, Lindros and LeClair had a press conference in the room where Craig Berube speaks after every home game. The two men were relaxed and in good humor. Tim Panaccio’s blog contains a full transcript of the press conference.
* Following the first intermission, retired ex-Flyers Mikael Renberg, Eric Desjardins and Shjon Podein met with the media to discuss the Flyers Hall of Fame inductions of Eric Lindros and John LeClair, among a host of other topics. I will have features in upcoming days on Renberg and Podein on HockeyBuzz and the Flyers Alumni official website.
* Mark Streit on the team’s performance the last two nights: “Yesterday was horrible, today was good. It was a step in the right direction, but we got to keep doing those things on the ice. We can’t be good one night than suck the other night. That’s not how you’re going to be a good team in this league. It’s one step, it’s a baby step, but you have to build on that. We got to get the positive. We have to shake off that off and come back Saturday and put in the same effort.”
* Emery on how his night went in goal: “For me it’s a bit different of a game where the other guy [Kuemper] is playing really well and I’m not getting a lot of action so I have to stay sharp and stop what I need to stop in there. For the guys, I thought they did a great job of a consistent effort throughout the whole game pretty much.”
* Craig Berube on whether this game was something from which the Flyers could build: “If we played like that we would win a lot of hockey games and that has to be the focus. It wasn’t good enough and we lost, but you know that’s the way you have to play. That’s the competitiveness we are looking for, the skating, the team play, that’s what we are looking for. If we can consistently do that we will win our fair share of games and be right there where we want to be.”