Punchless Flyers drop their fourth straight
VANCOUVER - Call out a search party. The Flyers' offense is missing. Despite outhitting the Canucks, getting lots of quality scoring chances, and showing much more energy than in recent games, the Flyers fell to Vancouver, 4-1, on Monday night at the Rogers Center.
VANCOUVER - Call out a search party. The Flyers' offense is missing.
Despite outhitting the Canucks, getting lots of quality scoring chances, and showing much more energy than in recent games, the Flyers fell to Vancouver, 4-1, on Monday night at the Rogers Center.
It was the fourth straight loss for the Flyers, who have scored just six goals in those defeats.They are averaging less than two goals a game; only Anaheim is averaging fewer goals in the 30-team NHL.
"I think there was a lot of improvement from the last few games," said captain Claude Giroux, who scored the Flyers' lone goal on a breathtaking play. "We generated a lot of offense and played the way we want to play. Obviously, we have a lot of things to work on, but the score doesn't show how much better we played."
Goalie Ryan Miller (27 saves) was outstanding for Vancouver, which took a 3-1 lead when rookie Jake Virtanen chipped the puck past Brandon Manning in the neutral zone en route to scoring from the slot on a two-on-one with 11 minutes, 32 seconds left. It was the first career goal for the 19-year-old Virtanen, and Vancouver later added an empty-net score.
"I think we were feeling good about our game and when they got that goal, we got a little frustrated," Giroux said of Virtanen's tally.
"I've kind been caught in situations lately," Manning said. "Bad bounce or a bad read by me. Either way, I just have to be better in those situations."
Jake Voracek (four shots, assist), the NHL's all-star right winger last season, had a strong performance but went goal-less for the 11th straight game, equaling his longest streak to start a season in his career.
With the teams playing four-on-four and the score knotted at 1-1, Vancouver center Bo Horvat had defenseman Mark Streit in pursuit as he skated behind the Flyers net, and circled out front. Horvat skated through the left circle before beating Steve Mason to the far side with a well-placed shot from the slot with 9:50 remaining left in the second period. Defenseman Nick Schultz inadvertently screened the goalie.
"I've got to cover a little more ground there," Mason said.
The Flyers slipped to 4-5-2.
"We're seeing glimpses of good hockey," Mason said. "We keep saying it; we keep saying it over and over again _ we have to put a 60-minute game together."
Mason said "it starts with myself. You've got to find ways to make the extra saves and keep it a tight hockey game. Right now, we're not scoring goals, so it puts that much more emphasis on keeping it out."
With 2:25 to go in the second, a Brandon Sutter shot deflected off Mason and trickled toward the net, but hustling Flyers forward Chris VandeVelde got his stick on the puck and cleared it just before it reached the goal line, keeping the Flyers down by just 2-1.
Earlier in the period, Giroux had tied the score with a spectacular goal.
Taking an outlet pass from Voracek, Giroux had defenseman Matt Bartkowski draped on him from behind before breaking away and making a series of eye-opening moves before putting a backhander past Miller, tying the game at 1-1 with 17:06 left in the second.
Giroux's linemate, Michael Raffl was robbed several times in the game by Miller, including two stops from the doorstep.
After being outshot by an 8-1 margin early in the game, the Flyers took play away from the Canucks, outhitting and outshooting them in the last half of the first period and the first half of the second period. They were dominating play before Horvat's goal.
It was the second of a five-game road trip that continues Tuesday, where the Flyers get their first look at 18-year-old Oilers sensation Connor McDavid in Edmonton.
McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in the June draft, was named the league's rookie of the month after collecting five goals and seven assists in 12 October games.
It took the Canucks all of 1:08 to strike, taking a 1-0 lead when Jannik Hansen got behind Schultz and finished off a two on one. The Canucks seemed to have an odd-man rush and a point-blank shot almost every time down the ice in the game's first 6:22, outshooting the Flyers, 8-1, in that span.
The Flyers regrouped, dominated in the faceoff circle, and started to get scoring opportunities, especially in the last 10 minutes of the period. But Miller, who had shutouts in his two previous starts against the Flyers, denied Brayden Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier on golden chances with about five minutes left in the first. Lecavalier slammed his arm against the glass in disgust after his slot shot was turned aside.
Miller was only forced to make one save during an unproductive Flyers power play that briefly extended into the second period. The Flyers went 0 for 2 on the power play; they are 0 for their last 12, a funk that started five games ago.
Vancouver was without injured defenseman Luca Sbisa, a former Flyer, who was in a walking boot. But the Canucks got a boost when defenseman Dan Hamhuis returned to the lineup after missing three games with an unspecified injury.
Now the Flyers head to McDavid Country and face a player who tore up the Ontario League during the previous three seasons, collecting a ridiculous 97 goals and 285 points in 166 games for the Erie Otters.