Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Too Little Too Late for Flyers in Arizona, WJC, Alumni

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TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE FOR FLYERS IN 4-2 LOSS TO COYOTES

The Philadelphia Flyers fell to 3-2-0 on their eight-game road trip as they lost their second straight game after the Christmas break. The Flyers fell, 4-2, to the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale on Tuesday night.

The Flyers trailed 3-0 in the third period before a pair of goals by R.J.

Umberger cut the deficit back to one goal with 4:47 remaining in the game. They came close to tying the game — in particular, Vincent Lecavalier had a golden opportunity in the final minute — but were unable to do so. Finally, Arizona tacked on an empty net goal to seal the game.

Antoine Vermette, originally credited with a hat trick, had two goals and an assist for the Coyotes. Shane Doan and Oliver Ekman-Larsson (power play) had one goal apiece. Resurgent goaltender Devan Dubnyk made 30 saves.

Steve Mason made his return to the net for the Flyers after missing three games with a back injury. Seeing very sporadic action early in the game, he was not in peak form in his first game in 10 days but settled in as the game progressed. Mason stopped 21 of 24 shots and appeared physically sound.

The Flyers outshot the Coyotes, 14-6, in the first period. They were unable to solve Dubnyk.

Doan opened the scoring with 1:34 remaining in the first period. Skating up the right wing, the Coyotes captain ripped what looked to be a harmless looking slapshot from distance (above the circle) and a side angle on net and past Mason. Vermette was initially credited with a deflection goal. Subsequent replays showed that Vermette did not touch the puck after Doan shot it. Vermette and Mikkel Boedker earned assists.

After giving up three power play goals in Nashville on Saturday night, the Flyers survived their first penalty kill against the Coyotes. Arizona started the second period with 1:53 of carry-over power play time after Umberger got a late first-period minor for high sticking Boedker.

The Flyers did not generate much of an attack in the second period, getting outshot by a 9-5 margin. Philly had trouble getting shots on goal when there were a few seemingly open looks.

At 15:31 of the second period, the Coyotes extended their lead to 2-0. Vermette claimed a juicy rebound of a Zbynek Michalek shot and slam-dunked it into the net. Martin Erat got the secondary assist. During this sequence, the Flyers simply got outworked along the walls and Erat got the puck back to Michalek at the right point. Mark Streit was unable to cancel out Vermette in front and once the rebound went directly to Vermette on the doorstep, the goal was as good as scored.

The Flyers went into attack mode as they chased the game in the third period, ultimately outshooting Phoenix by a 13-10 margin. However, things got worse when Scott Laughton took the game’s second penalty, hooking Tobias Rieder at the 2:02 mark.

Forty-six second later, the Coyotes cashed in on the power play. Skating several strides on a breakout from deep in the Arizona end, Keith Yandle connected on a long-range pass to Boedker at the Flyers’ blue line. With plenty of operating room, Boedker made a cross-ice pass to Ekman-Larsson joining the rush. Mason appeared to have a bead on Ekman-Larsson’s shot but the puck re-directed off Flyers’ forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and into the net at 2:48.

Now the Coyotes had a nearly insurmountable lead. The Flyers made a push as the period progressed but it was too little and too late.

The Flyers, who did not have any power plays in the opening 40 minutes, finally got two power plays in the final stanza. They were unable to capitalize on their first chance: a Michael Stone holding infraction against Wayne Simmonds.

Dubnyk’s shutout bid ended at 12:11. Streit stickhandled through traffic and found a wide-open Umberger in the right slot. Umberger quickly buried the cross-ice feed for his fourth goal of the season. Streit (19th assist of the season) and Sean Couturier (10th assist) got the helpers.

Philadelphia got its second power play at 13:09 as David Moss was sent off for goaltender interference. The Flyers were not able to score during the next two minutes but drew within a goal just four seconds after the minor expired.

At the 15:13 mark, Umberger re-directed a Couturier shot past Dubnyk to narrow the gap to 3-2. The goal, Umberger’s second of the game and fifth of the season, was assisted by Couturier (second of the game, 11th of the season) and Matt Read (11th assist).

The Flyers had opportunities to tie the game. Most notably, Dubnyk had to make an outstanding post-to-post save to deny Lecavalier as Philly pressed in the final minute with Mason pulled for an extra attacker.

With 28 seconds left, however, Arizona sealed the 4-2 win on an empty net goal by Vermette. Martin Hanzal and Lauri Korpikoski received the assists.

POST-GAME NOTES

* The Flyers, who are 14-16-6 on the season, fell to 2-15-5 in games in which the team scores fewer than four goals.

* Around the NHL, the real-time scoring crews have wildly differing standards for what they credit as hits, takeaways/giveaways and sometimes even blocked shots. On this night in Glendale, the Flyers and Coyotes were credited with a combined 102 hits (52 for Phoenix, 50 for the Flyers) including nine for Matt Read. Basically, any contact whatsoever was tallied as a hit no matter how glancing or irrelevant to the play. There have been much more physical games around the league where the two teams are credited for about 35 combined hits.

* Art Ross Trophy race leader Jakub Voracek was held pointless for the second straight game. Team captain Claude Giroux was also held without a point. This was just the second time in the 2014-15 season that both players have kept off the scoresheet in a game where the Flyers as a team did not get shut out.

* The Flyers won 37 of 65 faceoffs. Giroux led the way with an 18-for-29 (62 percent) showing.

* After an off-night on Tuesday, the Flyers face a three-in-four scenario to conclude the road trip. They will be in Denver on New Year’s Eve to play the Colorado Avalanche. On Friday, the Flyers are in Raleigh to take on the Carolina Hurricanes. The following night, the trip concludes with a tilt against the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark.

********* FLYERS WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP UPDATE

* Team Sweden, featuring Flyers defense prospect Robert Hägg and forward prospect Oskar Lindblom, passed their biggest preliminary round test on Monday, downing Russia by a 3-2 count. Lindblom, who has four assists in three games, assisted on Axel Holmström’s game-winning goal midway through the third period. Hägg, who recorded a pair of third-period shots on goal against Russia, is pointless and minus-two through three games.

* Team Canada, featuring Flyers defense prospect Samuel Morin, captured a 4-1 preliminary round win over defending gold medalist Finland on Monday. Morin had two shots on goal and was minus-one. For the tourney, he is plus-two without a point.

*There is a pair of (low-profile) preliminary round games on docket for Tuesday: Switzerland vs. Denmark in Toronto at 5 p.m. EST, and Slovakia vs. Germany in Montreal at 8 p.m. EST. All other teams are idle.

* On New Year’s Eve day and night, there are four games on the schedule: Sweden vs. Switzerland in Toronto at 1:00 p.m. EST, Canada vs. USA in Montreal at 4:00 p.m. EST, Russia vs. Czech Republic in Toronto at 5:00 p.m. EST, and Finland vs. Germany in Montreal at 8:00 p.m. EST.

********** FLYERS AND FLYERS ALUMNI TO PARTICIPATE IN YOUTH HOCKEY NIGHT AT WFC

On Friday, January 9, the Flyers and members of the Flyers Alumni Association will work in conjunction with USA Hockey and AAA Mid-Atlantic to host a youth hockey night at the Wells Fargo Center. There will be three hockey clinics for children ages eight and under, with 60 kids apiece in each segment taking part in drills and receiving hands-on instruction.

Among the participants in the event are Flyers club president Paul Holmgren, Flyers Hall of Fame inductee Brian Propp and longtime fan favorite Todd “Fridge” Fedoruk.

The event runs from 5:30 – 9:30 p.m. (there will be media availability beginning at 6:30). Along with the Flyers taking the youth players through drills and instruction, there will be Q and A sessions for parents in attendance. USA Hockey personnel will run the on-ice clinics and “Chalk Talk” sessions with the parents.

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