Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Stars top Flyers in battle of lame ducks

Philadelphia, PA -- As this season grinds to its inevitable conclusion one month and one day from now, there are still nights that pop up like Tuesday when you can sense that time is more of a valuable commodity rather than points.

Neither should be wasted, especially in a league which will play out so many potential three-point swings down the stretch.

Apparently, neither the Stars nor the Flyers nor the home fans felt that way, as both teams slogged through -- and a smaller-than-advertised crowd of 18,723 sat rather passively for -- a 2-1 Dallas decision over Philadelphia.

Vernon Fiddler was practically crowding Steve Mason when he tapped in a feed from Colton Sceviour to put the Stars ahead with 6:10 left in the contest and Kari Lehtonen snapped a long stretch of futility with a 25-save performance.

'It was just a good chip by (Sceviour),'' Fiddler said of his winner. ''I just tried to get to the net, create some traffic, get my stick on the ice and lucky enough it went in the net.''

Mason, who stopped 37 shots, appeared defeated in the post-game scrum and finally let some of that simmering frustration spill over in his reaction to the loss, the sixth negative result in the last eight for the hosts.

''It's tough to come into a room after games like that where we needed a much better effort and it just wasn't there. I'm embarrassed. I hope everybody else is embarrassed, too, to have any effort like that, at home," he said, through glazed eyes that belong to those going through some kind of trauma.

Boston's 3-1 win at Ottawa put the Bruins nine points up in securing eighth place with two games in hand against the Flyers. 

In another result typical of the forward lines, Brayden Schenn had his first goal in eight games taken away by the official scorers and given to his brother, Luke, who tallied just 73 seconds into the contest.

For his part, Lehtonen put to rest a career-long, 13-start losing skid (0-10-3) against the Orange and Black which stretched back to his first days in North America tending goal for the Atlanta Thrashers.

Both Dallas and Philadelphia are lame-duck clubs still vainly searching for that series of breaks which will propel them back into postseason consideration. As such, neither team played up or down to the other's level because it's all just a wash.

All the signs were there. Rebounds that lay just out of Brayden Schenn's reach through the first two periods. A Mark Streit shot kicked out by Lehtonen that slithered away from Sean Couturier just as Mason was pulled for an extra attacker.

Claude Giroux, goalless in six and claimant of two scores since the All-Star break, also had a turnaround shot miss the right post in the final seconds.

Including the goal which could be credited to either Schenn, the Flyers held the early edge in play and in shots, racking up a 12-4 advantage at one point. Then, things began to unravel.

Jordie Benn banked the puck off the left-wing boards in the neutral zone to Curtis McKenzie in stride, and his dish to the near circle was whiffed on by Luke Schenn -- who failed to cover his man -- and that player, Brett Richie, was allowed a clean shot that ticked off the left post and in to tie the game at 11:23 of the first period. 

Philly claimed a 14-9 edge in shots over the first 20 minutes, but were whipped by a 30-12 count for the remainder of the contest.

Both goaltenders were the stars in an uneven second period which featured spikes of play which could wrench paying customers from their malaise. 

Lehtonen made a nice stop on a Brayden Schenn shot on a 2-on-1 with Giroux, then made an even better stop on Giroux in front after Jakub Voracek got the puck to him with 11:57 remaining. The veteran Finn also made a nice stick save on a Voracek shot from the slot with 6:25 left where the former NHL scoring leader couldn't seem to find the space for which he aimed.

'It was really a nifty move,'' Lehtonen said. ''My blocker was in the right spot. I didn't have time to move or react. There were a couple of other chances Voracek had and I got a little lucky in a couple of them."

Mason was equal to the task. He scrambled to make two saves on Ales Hemsky in front in the opening minutes. Then late in the period he stopped a Jason Spezza blast from the right side, and pushed across his crease to stop Hemsky on a rebound.

Ritchie's bid for a second score with 90 seconds left in the frame somehow eluded all the open space in the left side of the net, instead winding up buried in Mason as he tangled with a Dallas player at the right side of his crease.

Notes:  Zac Rinaldo returned to the lineup, and lasted exactly 53 seconds on his opening shift before committing a tripping penalty which was the game's first infraction ... Dallas picked up its first victory in Philadelphia since a 4-1 decision on Dec. 1, 2007, which was the franchise's third win here since relocating from Minnesota for the 1993-94 season ... R.J. Umberger drew the short straw and was Craig Berube's designated scratch ... Flyers defenseman Nick Grossmann returned after a four-game absence due to a suspected concussion, but took a puck to the face from Stars forward Antoine Roussel but didn't miss time ... Rinaldo, Ryan White and Michael Raffl each finished with a minus-2 ... The Flyers, who fell to 11-6-6 this season when tied after two periods of play, face a Saturday matinee against the Red Wings.
Post a Comment