Bill Meltzer: Flyers Unable To Pull Out Homestand Finale, Timonen Cleared to Skate

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FLYERS END HOMESTAND WITH 9 POINTS, LAMENT ONE THAT GOT AWAY

The Philadelphia Flyers concluded a five-game homestand on Thursday night with a 3-2 shootout loss to the New York Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia finished the homestand with nine of 10 possible points.

Nevertheless, the team was unhappy about not coming away with a win against the Islanders after holding a 2-0 lead and having on the game on their stick no less than four times between an overtime breakaway by Sean Couturier and three chances to win the skills competition with a goal.

Nick Schultz and Chris VandeVelde scored for the Flyers in regulation. Wayne Simmonds scored the lone Flyers’ goal in the seven-round shootout. Steve Mason was excellent in stopping 28 of 30 shots in the game. Mason denied five straight shooters in the skills competition between goals in the opening and seventh rounds.

Mikhail Grabovski and Cal Clutterbuck scored in regulation for the Islanders. Frans Nielsen converted the Islanders’ first-round shootout attempt and Clutterbuck got the bonus point with the deciding shootout goal. Jaroslav Halak stopped 16 of 18 shots in regulation and overtime and was beaten only once in the shootout.

Coming off a four-night layoff, the Flyers were not sharp against the speedy and aggressive Islanders in the first or second periods, despite building a 2-0 lead. Philadelphia was guilty of too many dangerous turnovers — one of which ended up in their net — and the top line duo of Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek was held off the scoresheet for the second straight game while generating very few good scoring opportunities.

Mason’s play was the biggest reason why the Islanders were held off the board for nearly 37 minutes and why the Flyers got even one point at the end of regulation. New York generated 64 shots attempts — 30 on net, 20 blocked, 14 misses — to 50 for the Flyers (18 on net, 20 blocked, 12 misses). Many of the Islanders’ shots were from good scoring areas.

For Philadelphia, the fourth line was the team’s most effective unit on this night. No other line generated as strong of a forecheck or as many counter-attack chances as Vincent Lecavalier (two assists, three shots, six attempted shots), VandeVelde (one goal, two shots, five attempted shots) and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (two shots, five attempted shots, four credited hits).

Special teams were a non-factor in this game. Both teams went 0-for-1 on the power play. Despite the low penalty totals, there were several after-the-whistle scrums and a bit of unpenalized stick swinging. There was also one fight early in the opening period. 1ST PERIOD

The Islanders came out attacking right at the outset. The returning Nicklas Grossmann blocked two shots to prevent any damage.

At 2:11, Ryan White had his first fight as a Flyer, dropping the gloves with Matt Martin in a long, brutal and tiring bout. Both combatants skated off for repairs.

Luke Schenn turned a puck over under a cursory one-man forecheck during a New York line change. Mason covered for a stoppage at 4:42.

The Flyers grabbed a 1-0 lead at 5:43. Vincent Lecavalier collected a turnover at the New York blueline. On a broken play, Lecavalier recovered the puck behind the Isles’ net and found a pinching Schultz, who buried a shot from the slot for his second goal of the season.

The Islanders had a good scoring chance at 10:37 after veteran lineman Brian Murphy inadvertently collided with Grossmann near the faceoff circle moments after a right circle faceoff, leading to bang-bang scoring chance for Nikolay Kulemin. Mason made the save.

With 5:22 left in the period, Mason picked Josh Bailey’s rising shot form the medium left slot with a clean glove save.

The Bellemare line generated a flurry of chance as time ticked down near two minutes, followed by an Islanders chance at the other end of the ice.

Shots in the first period were 11-6 in the Islanders’ favor. 2ND PERIOD

Mark Streit received a delay of game penalty at 1:41. With 25 seconds left on the kill, Mason made a nice sliding save to his right.

At the 9:34 mark, Mason cleanly gloved a Mikhail Grabovsky shot from the left circle. The Isles won the ensuing faceoff and pressed the attack until Mason held for another stoppage. Yet again, the Isles took control and generated a pair of chances to bring the shot total for the period to 7-0.

Craig Berube called timeout at 10:54 after an icing call brought the faceoff back t the Flyers’ end without allowing for a line change. Finally, the Flyers attacked the other way and Chris VandeVelde had a good chance from the left circle off a pass from Lecavalier.

The Flyers scored on their second shot of the period to make it a 2-0 lead. The Islanders caught caught without support high in the Flyers zone and Philly attacked on a 2-on-1 counter. VandeVelde gathered the puck, carried the mail and elected to shoot rather than pass from the right circle that beat Halak upstairs at 11:38 for his eighth goal of the season. Lecavalier and Andrew MacDonald got the assists.

Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk had to be helped off the ice with 4:42 left in the period after blocking a shot. It looked like the puck struck him on the inside of his knee.

With 3:18 left in the period, Luke Schenn turned the puck over directly to Grabovski, who roofed a shot high t to the long side for an unassisted goal at 16:48. It was his eighth of the season.

Halak was shaken up with 3:02 left in the period on a rising shot by Matt Read. The trainer came ut but he remained in the game.

John Taveres took a gratuitous chop at Mason at a stoppage with 2:07 left. It touched off a scrum after the whistle.

The Islanders tied the game at 2-2 at 18:47. Cal Clutterbuck deposited a rebound of a Brock Nelson shot into the net. Thomas Hickey got the secondary assist.

Moments after the Clutterbuck goal, Brayden Schenn and Giroux had cracks at a juicy rebound but could not come up with the puck.

Shots in the period were 11-5 Islanders (22-11 New York through two periods). 3RD PERIOD

The Flyers got their first power play of the game when Tavares slashed and broke Wayne Simmonds stick at 2:30. Philly was not able to get much going.

Tavares drew the ire of R.J. Umberger with a skate-by slash.

Midway through the period, Voracek came up hobbling after blocking a shot. He had to stay out until the puck got out of the zone.

With 9:24 left in the third period, Mason had to scramble to deny a wraparound attempt.

The Giroux line pressed hard at the end of regulation but could not get off a shot.

Shots in the third period were 7-5 Islanders (29-16 Islanders through regulation). OVERTIME

Couturier had the game on his stick when he snuffed out Tavares and went off on a breakaway. He was unable to score. Shortly thereafter, Mason denied Tavares for his 28th save of the game.

Shots in overtime were 2-1 Flyers (30-18 Islanders for the game). SHOOTOUT

Top of 1st round (1-0 NYI): Frans Nielsen scored upstairs on the backhand.

Bottom of 1st round (1-0 NYI): Voracek forehand shot moving left got stuffed by a pad save.

Top of 2nd round (1-0 NYI): Mason stopped Josh Bailey five-hole attempt.

Bottom of 2nd round (1-0 NYI): Giroux lost the puck and didn’t get off a shot.

Top of 3rd round (1-0 NYI): Tavares shots high and wide trying to go upstairs on Mason.

Bottom of 3rd round (1-1): Simmonds makes numerous moves and then slides in

Top of 4th round (1-1): Ryan Strome’s forehand shot got stopped my Mason.

Bottom of 4th round (1-1): Brayden Schenn missed the net on a forehand wrister.

Top of 5th round (1-1): Brock Nelson fumbled away the puck as he went in on Mason.

Bottom of 5th round (1-1) : Lecavalier hit Halak in the logo on a forehand shot.

Top of 6th round (1-1): Grabovsi’s slap shot was knocked away by Mason.

Bottom of 6th round (1-1): Matt Read ran out of room looking to shoot backhand as he cut left.

Top of 7th (2-1 NYI): Clutterbuck scored high glove.

Bottom of 7th (2-1 NYI): Couturier was stopped by Halak’s glove to end the game. POSTGAME NOTES AND QUOTES

* Veteran Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen was cleared to skate, beginning Friday, in an effort to resume his hockey career. The last time he was on skates was Game 7 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series between the Flyers and Rangers.

* Timonen will skate at 9 a.m. on Friday morning and continue to skate on his own for a couple weeks. The rest of the Flyers have an off-day on Friday and will hold an 11 a.m. practice on Saturday prior to departing for DC for Sunday afternoon’s road game against the Washington Capitals.

* Timonen on how he got to this point: “Let me say first of all it has been a long process. I’m sure Hexy every time he sees my face it’s “oh that guy again.” But you know, like in September I said there is a little chance to get back on the ice, hopefully in February. I kept that hope alive, worked out really hard, and meeting all of the doctors, Hexy, and the specialists I feel really confident about skating and coming back.”

* Timonen on whether he still has blood clots in his right calf: ““It’s called chronic, so the chronic means they won’t move ever. So they stay in there forever and they are not moving around.”

* Timonen on his medication regimen and bleeding risk: “That’s something I don’t want to talk about, it’s a private matter between me and my doctor. I think the biggest thing you guys need to know is the bleeding factor. I’ve seen a couple articles that want to say, ‘Well what happens if Kimmo gets cut on the ice?’ There is no bleeding factor because on game days I can’t be on blood thinners obviously. I’m as much at risk as any player out there. That’s the biggest thing you guys need to know, then everything I want to keep it between me and my doctor.”

* Timonen was twice asked about the possibility of playing next season. Twice he said this season would be it but he wanted to retire with his skates on if at all possible.

* Timonen was also asked if he is intent on finishing his career in Philadelphia or he might decide he prefers to take a final shot at a Stanley Cup by requesting a trade to a contender: “I haven’t even thought about that. My first thought is to get on the ice, get healthy, and get an even chance to get on the ice, so that’s down the road I haven’t even thought about that. Let me get on the ice and hopefully practice with the team and we can go on a daily basis here.”

* Brayden Schenn and Claude Giroux were each credited with six hits apiece to lead the Flyers. Travis Hamonic led the Isles and both teams with seven credited hits.

* In his return to the lineup after a 10-game absence due to a right shoulder injury, Nicklas Grossmann skated 18:16 of ice time over 26 shifts. He was credited with four blocked shots, one hit and was plus-one on the night.

* The Flyers were charged with six giveaways in the game but, in reality, had about a dozen. Luke Schenn was charged with three of them.

* Luke Schenn on what happened on his turnover on the first Islanders’ goal: “The puck took a weird bounce and was up in the air and I didn’t have much time. I knew the guy was coming on me. I tried to backhand it to the winger there and he got a stick on it. It’s a tough mistake, obviously at that time of the period. Mistakes happen out there and you wish you could have it back. You have to turn the page and move on. I think beyond that we still had some chances.

* Luke Schenn on the effects of the layoff: “It’s tough. You get a bit on a roll. Then all of the sudden you get a four, five, six day layoff. We weren’t sharp off the start. We were a little rusty. A little hesitant out there. We were kind of sitting back playing on our heels rather than being assertive out there. You can definitely notice. They were all over us throughout the first half for sure. You’ve got to be sharp and be better in your home building, but we have lots of hockey coming up.”

* With the shootout loss, Mason’s season record dropped to 11-12-7 but he lowered his goals against average to 2.30 and raised his save percentage to .925 overall. At home, he is 10-4-3, with a 1.96 GAA and .935 save percentage. On the road, he is 1-8-4, with a 2.74 GAA and .912 save percentage.

* Mason on the outcome of the game: “We left the extra point out there. Obviously we kind of shot ourselves in the foot and at the end of the second period there giving up two goals just off of our own mistakes. If we could get out of that period 2-0 who knows what the outcome would be. So definitely I think we definitely left a point out there.”

* Mason in response to a question whether he felt he was hung out to dry at times in the game: “I just kind of focus on the first shot. Obviously like I said I don’t think we were happy with the overall effort in tonight’s game, but my job’s not to worry about what’s going on, just make the save… and didn’t make enough of them obviously.”

* Claude Giroux on the chippiness level of the game: ““When you play a team multiple times, I think it gets a little bit chippier. I don’t think it was that chippy. I think Whitey did a good job in his fight and that got us going.”

* Craig Berube on the game slipping away: “We had the two-nothing lead and gave it back to them. The third period was the third period but it should never have gotten there. When you have the two-nothing lead we need to pick our game up and we didn’t in my opinion. We didn’t execute with the puck good enough that’s the biggest thing for me.”

* Berube on the fourth line: I thought that was the one line with a lot of energy and execution. They looked really good. They kept us in the game for sure, along with our goalie.”

* Berube on the so-so play of the Flyers’ top line in the last couple games: “They are fighting it a little too much. I think they’re on the go too much. They need more support with each other, slow it down a little bit. I think they are pressing too much.”

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