Chris Mason had his game of the year tonight as he stoned the conference leading Flyers for 43 saves in the Thrashers' 1-0 win. With his only help coming from an Evander Kane bank shot off of Nik Antropov's skate halfway through the third period, Mason made 19 saves in the third period to shut the Flyers out for the first time since their embarrassing 7-0 loss against the Rangers. The Thrashers' third win on the year against the Flyers was their first win in regulation and drops the Flyers' record to 46-21-10.
Evidently charged from Tuesday night's win in Pittsburgh, the Flyers came out swinging. In addition to drawing Dustin Byfuglien into a minor for holding, Philly posted the first six shots of the game. After failing to convert on their own power play, the orange and black watched Atlanta not convert on their first two power play opportunities.
A Ville Leino interference 4:15 into regulation followed up by a Nick Boynton hook six minutes later stopped any momentum Philly had from the opening moments.
As the momentum shifted to Atlanta's side later in the period, Sergei Bobrovsky's ability to make a couple crucial saves kept the score even at zero as the first period ended.
After a too many men on the ice call and an Andrej Meszaros roughing call, the Flyers earned their first power-play opportunity of the second period. An Anthony Stewart roughing minor, stemming from the Flyers' first chance of the period, was shortened due to a Kris Versteeg trip on Andrew Ladd in Philly's defensive zone. The teams played four-on-four for 24 seconds.
Killing off their fifth penalty of the night, the Flyers experienced their third power-play opportunity of the night with an Kane boarding call with just 68 seconds left in the middle period. Unable to bang home a power-play goal before the end of the period, or break the scoreless tie, the Flyers carried the remaining 52 seconds in Kane's penalty over to the third period.
Opening the third period, Atlanta was able to kill off the rest of Kane's penalty, but found themselves shorthanded shortly afterwards as Tobias Enstrom went to the box for holding. The Flyers' fourth power play on the night ended up goalless yet again.
In what looked like a rather clean hit, Danny Briere found himself in the box for what the refs deemed interference at the six minute mark of the period. Similar to the other nine power-play opportunities within the game, the Flyers couldn't muster a goal to take the lead.
Naturally, the first goal in this scoreless affair halfway through the third period would be an ugly one. Blowing by Braydon Coburn, Kane skated along the boards to Bob's right. Throwing the puck into the slot, Kane banked in a goal off of Antropov's skate. Antropov's 15th on the season never hit his stick, but gave Atlanta a 1-0 lead with only 9:38 left to play in regulation.
Despite receiving another power play due to a Ron Hainsey tripping minor, the Flyers couldn't find the game-tying goal as they out shot Atlanta 13-2 after Antropov's goal. Jeff Carter hit the right post with four seconds left as the Thrashers squeaked their way to their first ever 1-0 win in Philly.
Displaying some urgency early and very late in the game, the Flyers didn't show a lot of emotion for a team that just won a crucial divisional game two days earlier. Unable to net a single goal against the back up for a team not going to the playoffs, the orange and black couldn't make progress in their pursuit for the Atlantic division title.
Notes: This is the seventh time this season the Flyers have been shut out; third time Atlanta has ever shut out Philly (first time in Philly). Since Antero Niittymaki left after the 2008-2009 season, the Flyers have gone 1-5-2 against Atlanta; Bobrovsky is now 1-1-1 in his career against the Thrashers. Antropov's goal was his ninth career goal against Philly. Chris Mason is 4-1-1 against the Flyers in his career; he was 2-0-0 against Philly this season. The Flyers went 1-1-2 against the Thrashers on the season; They were 0-4-0 against Atlanta last season. Philly went 10-6-4 against the Southeast division in the 2010-2011 regular season (WSH 2-0-2, TBL 1-3-0, CAR 3-1-0, ATL 1-1-2, FLA 3-1-0); they were 10-10-0 against the Southeast last season (WSH 1-3-0, ATL 0-4-0, CAR 4-0-0, TBL 4-0-0, FLA 1-3-0).
Game 78: Philadelphia Flyers @ New Jersey Devils, 7:00 pm, TCN.
Overall Record: 46-21-10
Away Record: 25-9-4
Record vs. Devils: 3-1-1
Away Record vs. Devils: 1-0-1
Overall Record: 35-36-5
Home Record: 19-15-3
Record vs. Flyers: 2-3-0
Home Record: 1-1-0
Flyers' Winning % vs. Devils: .600, 3/5 games (17th)
Flyers' Point % vs. Devils: .700, 7/10 pts (16th)
Flyers' Losing % vs. Devils: .400, 2/5 games (13th)
Flyers' Goals/Game vs. Devils: 2.60, 13 goals/5 games (21st)
Devils' Goals/Game vs. Flyers: 2.00, 10 goals/5 games (16th)
Flyers' Shots/Game vs. Devils: 30.2, 151 shots/5 games (20th)
Devils' Shots/Game vs. Flyers: 25.6, 128 shots/5 games (24th)
Flyers' Power play % vs. Devils: 11.1%, 2/18 (15th)
Devils' Power play % vs. Flyers: 20%, 3/15 (13th)
Flyers' Penalty Kill % vs. Devils: 75%, 12/16 (19th)
Devils' Penalty Kill % vs. Flyers: 88.9%, 16/18 (15th)
Flyers' Team LeadersPoints- Claude Giroux, 71
Goals- Jeff Carter, 35
Assists- Claude Giroux, 46
+/- - Andrej Meszaros, +30
PIM- Scott Hartnell, 136
Devils' Team LeadersPoints- Patrik Elias and Ilya Kovalchuk, 54
Goals- Ilya Kovalchuk, 28
Assists- Patrik Elias, 38
+/- - Mark Fayne, +8
PIM- David Clarkson, 116
Former Devils Currently On The Flyers
#6 Sean O'Donnell
Current Season Against The Devils: 5 games, 0 goals, and 0 assists.
Current Season With The Flyers: 76 games, 1 goal, and 15 assists.
Career With The Devils: 1 season (2000-2001), 40 games, 1 goal, and 3 assists.
Former Flyers Currently On The Devils
#8 Dainius Zubrus
Current Season Against The Flyers: 5 games, 1 goal, and 0 assists.
Current Season For The Devils: 75 games, 13 goals, and 15 assists.
Career With The Flyers: 3 seasons (1996-1997 to 1998-1999), 224 games, 24 goals, and 48 assists.
Devils' 2-1 shootout win at home on November 27th
Flyers' 5-3 win at home on December 4th
Flyers' 4-2 win in Jersey on January 6th
Flyers' 2-1 win in Philly on January 8th
Devils' 3-1 win in Philly on January 22nd
Game 77: Atlanta Thrashers @ Philadelphia Flyers, 7:00 pm, CSN.
Overall Record: 32-32-12
Away Record: 15-17-5
Record vs. Flyers: 2-1-0
Away Record vs. Flyers: 1-0-0
Overall Record: 46-20-10
Home Record: 21-11-6
Record vs. Thrashers: 1-0-2
Home Record vs. Thrashers: 0-0-1
Flyers' Winning % vs. Thrashers: .333, 1/3 games (20th)
Flyers' Point % vs. Thrashers: .667, 4/6 pts (17th)
Flyers' Losing % vs. Thrashers: .667, 2/3 games (10th)
Flyers' Goals/Game vs. Thrashers: 4.00, 12 goals/3 games (3rd)
Thrashers' Goals/Game vs. Flyers: 3.33, 10 goals/3 games (5th)
Flyers' Shots/Game vs. Thrashers: 28, 84 shots/3 games (24th)
Thrashers' Shots/Game vs. Flyers: 31.67, 95 shots/3 games (8th)
Flyers' Power Play % vs. Thrashers: 28.6%, 2/7 (4th)
Thrashers' Power Play % vs. Flyers: 22.2%, 2/9 (11th)
Flyers' Penalty Kill % vs. Thrashers: 77.8%, 7/9 (17th)
Thrashers' Penalty Kill % vs. Flyers: 71.4%, 5/7 (26th)
Thrashers' Team LeadersPoints- Andrew Ladd, 55
Goals- Andrew Ladd, 27
Assists- Tobias Enstrom, 41
+/- - Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, +9
PIM- Dustin Byfuglien, 75
Flyers' Team LeadersPoints- Claude Giroux, 71
Goals- Jeff Carter, 35
Assists- Claude Giroux, 46
+/- - Andrej Meszaros, +30
PIM- Scott Hartnell, 134
Former Flyers Currently On The Thrashers
#24 Freddy Meyer (Currently on Injured Reserve)
Current Season Against The Flyers: 0 games, 0 goals, and 0 assists.
Current Season With The Thrashers: 15 games, 1 goal, and 1 assist.
Career With The Flyers: 3 seasons (2003-2004 to 2006-2007), 89 games, 8 goals, and 25 assists.
Former Thrashers Currently On The Flyers
#5 Braydon Coburn
Current Season Against The Thrashers: 3 games, 0 goals, and 0 assists.
Current Season With Flyers: 76 games, 2 goals, and 14 assists.
Career With The Thrashers: 2 seasons (2005-2006 and 2006-2007), 38 games, 0 goals, and 5 assists.
The Flyers' 5-2 win in Atlanta on January 14th
The Thrashers' 5-4 overtime win in Philly on March 12th
The Thrashers' 4-3 shootout win in Atlanta on March 17th
How fitting is it that Scott Hartnell scored the goal last night against the Penguins (in Pittsburgh) that may have saved the division title for the Flyers?
Just when it looked as though the Flyers were gearing up to sleepwalk through another game in their free fall from the top, the most despised player in Pittsburgh scores a game shifting goal to start a string of four unanswered goals putting Philly in a more spacious lead at the top of the Atlantic.
Hartnell didn't score the game-winner, but his goal did seem to wake the team up as Claude Giroux scored the eventual game-winner only forty-seven seconds later. A pair of goals from Ville Leino in the third and Philly now has a four point lead in the division with a game in hand over Pittsburgh. Philly also has a three point lead in the conference over Washington, a team over which they also have a game in hand.
The week didn't start out well for the Orange and Black as they fell 2-1 in a shootout Thursday night against the same Pens' team they beat last night. It took a Chris Kunitz shot through Sergei Bobrovsky's five-hole in the fourth round of the shootout to give the Pens the crucial additional point.
Two days later, the Flyers beat up on the New York Islanders like they usually do with a score of 4-1 in Uniondale. A James van Riemsdyk hat trick was enough for Philly to put away the Isles for a fifth straight time this season. Bobrovsky had 36 saves on 37 shots.
The following night, the Flyers displayed another lackluster performance against Boston losing 2-1 in front of their home crowd. A late power-play goal from none other than Brad Marchand with 3:43 left in regulation gave Boston enough to slip by.
When you factor in last night's result with the previous three games this week, Philly went 2-1-1. The record doesn't suggest panic, but the play the Flyers have provided states otherwise. However, last night's win looked like a confidence-boosting result. Hopefully Peter Laviolette's boys have worked out of their lazy, non-offense producing ways that have consumed them over the past few weeks.
JVR had the strongest offensive performance of the week for Philly potting his first career hat trick against the Isles on Saturday. He also had an assist against Pittsburgh on Thursday and an assist against Boston.
Those are not the most impressive of numbers, but when you consider the source, a three-assist week is a solid string of games for Sean O'Donnell. After assisting on JVR's second goal on Saturday, O'Donnell posted two assists last night against the Pens -- including the primary helper on the Giroux game-winner.
The Flyers have a busy week taking on four conquerable opponents.
Closing out March with a home game against the Thrashers tomorrow night, the Flyers travel to Newark to finish off their season series with the Devils on Friday. Sunday features yet another nationally-televised matinee game with the Rangers, but this time from the comfort of home. The week ends with a trip to Ottawa to play the lowly Sens.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 3-1-0. The record reads three wins in four games, but the Pens could have easily lost each game they played this week. Notching wins against Philly, New Jersey, and Florida all via shootout, the Pens only loss on the week was to the orange and black last night.
A strong third period effort resulted in no game-winning goal as the Pens needed a four-round shootout to edge out the unmotivated Flyers.
The next day, the Pens barely managed to get two points yet again. This time, the win came against a team outside of the playoff picture. With no goals netted during regulation or overtime, James Neal won the game with his third-round shootout goal.
Beating the Panthers 2-1 on Sunday, the Pens won their fourth straight game via shootout. Neal and Alexei Kovalev scored the shootout goals this time to give Pittsburgh the additional point.
Finally snapping their winning streak based on nothing but shootout victories, the Flyers handed Pittsburgh a devastating 5-2 loss in front of their home fans. Ironically, the Pens last loss in regulation was also 5-2 (3/20 against the Rangers).
In a week that only saw his team net four goals, Tyler Kennedy had two of them. Both coming against Philly, Kennedy scored the game-tying goal in Thursday's game and briefly gave his team a lead in the second period of last night's game.
Kovalev only had two points this week, but he played a pivotal role in his team's success. Scoring shootout goals against Philly on Thursday and Florida on Sunday, Kovalev also assisted on Ben Lovejoy's goal against the Panthers. His only goal of the week opened the scoring in last night's game against the Flyers.
Not scoring a single goal in regulation, Neal gave his team two victories this week scoring the game-winning goal in both Friday's and Sunday's games. Neal also assisted on Lovejoy's goal against Florida.
After visiting Tampa Bay tomorrow night, the Pens stay in Florida to take on the Panthers on Saturday. They finish off the week hosting the Devils on Tuesday night.
New York Rangers: 1-0-1. After dropping a shootout at home to Ottawa, the Rangers shut out the Bruins in Boston to capture three of the possible four points this week.
Not a single Ranger was able to find the back of the net in the five-round shootout that ensued after the 1-1 tie at the end of regulation Thursday against the Sens. Finally, Eric Karlsson slipped one past Henrik Lundqvist to give Ottawa the additional point.
Two days later, Derek Stepan netted the game-winning goal before seven minutes had passed in regulation. This was all the offense Lundqvist needed to give New York the win as the visiting Rangers won 1-0.
Without a doubt the Ranger of the week was Lundqvist. Managing to lose a game when only allowing one goal all week, Lundqvist stopped fifty-five of fifty-six shots fired at his net. His shutout on Saturday gave Lundqvist his league-leading eleventh shutout.
Brandon Prust had the lone Rangers' goal in Thursday's game on Thursday.
After a light two-game week, the Rangers endure four games over the next seven days. After a trip to Buffalo tonight, the Rangers visit Long Island tomorrow to take on the Islanders. Two days later, the Rangers make a trip to Philly to play the Flyers in a nationally televised matinee game. The week ends for the Rangers at home against the Bruins on Monday night.
New Jersey Devils: 0-1-1. The Devils managed to gain a point this week despite registering a goal all week. Falling to the Pens in a shootout on Friday, the Devils couldn't rebound against the Sabres on Saturday dropping the game on the road in regulation.
Sixty minutes of regulation plus five minutes of overtime, and three rounds of a shootout didn't see a single Devils' shot cross the goal line. A Neal goal in the third round of the shootout gave Pittsburgh the additional point on Friday. The Devils only managed a single shot in the first period.
Despite out shooting the Sabres in the second and third periods, the Devils first period cost them another valuable two points on Saturday. First period goals from Nathan Gerbe and Thomas Vanek were the only goals on the night as Buffalo held on for a 2-0 win at home.
Usually highlighting the offensive side of things for New Jersey, this week Ilya Kovalchuk embarrassed his club. Being on the ice for both of the goals scored against his team this week, Kovalchuk went -2 and registered one shot all week.
The road ahead looks to only get harder for the Devils as they have three games against teams in playoff position this week. After hosting the Islanders tonight, the Devils watch the Flyers visit The Prudential Center on Friday and the Canadiens visit on Saturday. New Jersey wraps up the week with a visit to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.
New York Islanders: 0-2-0. Being out scored in the first period by a combined score of 4-1, the Islanders found themselves on the losing side of both of their games this week. After dropping their home game to Atlanta on Thursday, the Isles were tricked into another loss on Saturday against the Flyers.
John Tavares leveled the game at one a minute and thirty-eight seconds into the second period on Thursday, but the Islanders couldn't find a way to edge out a win. Just over twelve minutes later, former Islander Rob Schremp stuck it to his old team with the game-winning goal to let his Atlanta team win 2-1.
Saturday's match up against the Flyers couldn't have been fun for Islanders' fans. Losing to Philly for the twentieth time in the last twenty-one meetings, witnessing a JVR hat-trick, and being mathematically eliminated from the playoffs summed up the Isles night as New York saw their second home loss on the week by a score of 4-1.
Not a single Islander registered more than a point this week. Blake Comeau scored in the first period of the Isles' game on Saturday to give them a brief period of hope before JVR's second goal on the night put Philly back up by two goals.
A visit to North Jersey tonight is the only time the Islanders leave New York this week as they host the Rangers on Thursday and the Hurricanes on Saturday.
Playing their best game since last Tuesday's shootout loss to Washington, the Flyers scored four straight goals to top the Pens 5-2 in Pittsburgh tonight.
Ville Leino led the attack with three points scoring two goals in the third period and assisting on another earlier tally. Scott Hartnell had a goal and an assist as Sergei Bobrovsky made 25 saves to give Philly their fourth win of the season against Pittsburgh.
After exchanging powerplay opportunities earlier in the period, Alexei Kovalev opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 opportunity. Taking the puck in from the blue line, Kovalev acted as if he was going to pass it cross ice but instead ripped it blocker side as Bobrovsky stood stone in the crease. Kovalev's 16th gave Pittsburgh the 1-0 lead 12 minutes and 22 seconds into the game.
Rebounding quickly, for a change as of late, Jeff Carter watched a pinball shot finally cross the goal-line to tie the game at one. As a power-play opportunity wound down, Braydon Coburn boomed a shot from the right point. Carter apparently deflected the puck off the right post, then watched it bounce back to hit Marc-Andre Fleury's right skate and roll into the net for his 35th goal on the season.
The remaining four minutes and four seconds in the first period saw the Flyers out shoot Pittsburgh 2-0, but they couldn't register another goal to gain the lead.
The second period saw the Pens gain a 2-1 lead thanks to a soft goal by Bobrovsky. After receiving a pass from Brooks Orpik for a 2-on-1 opportunity, Tyler Kennedy took a wrist shot that somehow snuck its way under Bob's right pad and across the goal-line for his 19th on the season. Bob's error was his first shaky moment of the night.
A problem with the Flyers lately has been lack of success on the power play and lack of driving to the net. Both were fulfilled with Scott Hartnell's power-play goal on Philly's third man advantage on the night. With Paul Martin in the box for interference, Hartnell drove from the right side of the crease and slammed home the puck between Fleury's right arm and hip for his 21st on the year.
Forty-seven seconds later, Claude Giroux gave Philly their first lead of the game. After Sean O'Donnell fed him the puck from the left boards a couple strides inside the blue line, Giroux drove to the slot and cut to the right before letting a shot fly over Fleury's blocker for his 25th goal on the season.
Thanks to that burst, the Flyers headed into the final twenty minutes with a lead and the chance to grab a crucial two points. With victory in sight, Leino answered the call.
At the 5 1/2-minute mark of the third period, Leino was able to redirect a Hartnell shot at the left post past Fleury for his 18th goal on the season and a Flyers' 4-2 lead.
Just over 3 minutes later, Leino put in his second goal of the period to give the Flyers a three-goal edge. As both Danny Briere and Leino fought for the puck behind the net, Briere eventually passed it to Leino standing just in front of the right post.
Gaining control of the puck after a rebound from his first shot, Leino managed to pop the puck up and over Fleury and over the goal line before Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek swept it out.
Despite giving Pittsburgh three power-play opportunities after scoring their final goal, Philly hung onto their three-goal lead to win 5-2.
The Flyers may have had some lucky bounces tonight, but they've managed to outplay Pittsburgh all year long. Winning all three games in Pittsburgh, Philly's only losses to their cross-state rivals on the year was a 5-1 thumping in the midst of their only three-game losing streak on the year back in mid-October and barely losing in a home shootout 2-1 Thursday.
Being in an offensive drought since their last game against Pittsburgh, both Giroux and Leino stepped up today. Along with two takeaways, Giroux had three shots on net, one of which resulted in the game-winning goal halfway through the second period. Leino, in addition to his two third period goals, also had the primary assist on Hartnell's power-play goal.
This was a big win for the Flyers as they widened their lead in the division from two points to four. Along with adding on to the divisional lead, the Flyers also gained a point on Washington tonight as the Caps lost in a shootout to Carolina.
Notes: The Flyers win marks the first time since 1983-84 (4-0-0) the club has gone unbeaten and untied during the regular season in the Steel ity...They've beaten Pittsburgh four times in the regular season for the first time since 2007-2008....Kovalev's first period goal was his 33rd regular season goal against the Flyers in his career...Briere recorded his 30th assist on the season on Coburn's first period goal...Kennedy had four goals in six games against Philly this year...O'Donnell posted his first two-assist game since November 18th against Tampa Bay....The Flyers went 4-1-1 against the Penguins in the 2010-2011 regular season and are now 16-3-2 against the Atlantic division (PIT 4-1-1, NYR 4-1-0, NJD 3-1-1, NYI 5-0-0).