Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers dump Vancouver Canucks

By Jim Morris, The Sports Xchange  |  Feb. 20, 2017 at 7:58 AM
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Even when they were struggling, the Philadelphia Flyers never lost faith that they could be a playoff team.

The Flyers regained their power-play swagger with a couple man-advantage goals, and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere recorded a career-high three assists as Philadelphia defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 Sunday night.

Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn scored on the power play, and Jakub Voracek collected his first goal in 10 games for Philadelphia (28-24-7). Michal Neuvirth made 18 saves for the victory.

The win snapped a two-game losing streak and was the Flyers' second victory in six games. Philadelphia remains two points behind the last Eastern Conference wild-card playoff position.

Schenn said making the playoffs won't be easy, but it isn't impossible.

"It's tough going through a stretch like we are," said Schenn, who has a league-leading 14 power-play goals. "We're right in the thick of it.

"We believe in this locker room we can do it, and it's going to be a fight right to the end."

The Flyers were 2-for-3 on the power play. That broke a 2-for-19 slump in their previous six games. It was also the first time in 14 games they scored two power-play goals in one contest.

"It's a step in the right direction, that's for sure," Schenn said. "The puck movement was good tonight."

Simmonds scored the game's first goal on the power play when he jabbed in the rebound of a Gostisbehere shot in the first period. Voracek scored 1:11 into the second, and Schenn made it 3-0 just 87 seconds later when he scored with Simmonds screening Canuck goaltender Ryan Miller.

Gostisbehere, the runner-up for the Calder Memorial Trophy (rookie of the year) last season, said the Flyers made some changes on the power play.

"The puck was going in," he said. "We had great team play out there in all zones. It showed."

Simmonds said Gostisbehere is returning to the form that saw him collect 46 points, including 17 goals, in 64 games last year. Gostisbehere has four goals and 21 assists in 53 games this season.

"Ghost has had his ups and downs this year, but he's a heck of a player and has unbelievable skill," Simmonds said. "He can be a catalyst offensively for us."

Just when it looked as if the Flyers had the game under control, Vancouver cut the lead to one with goals from Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen before the second period ended.

Voracek said the Flyers didn't panic heading into the third.

"I don't think we changed anything, to be honest," he said. "We were pretty tight in the neutral zone, we didn't give them much.

"It was a great team win."

Voracek shrugged when asked what it felt like scoring his first goal since Jan. 25.

"Like I scored a goal," he said. "We won the game, that's the way I looked at it. It doesn't matter who scored the goals. This one kept us in the race."

The Canucks (26-28-6) managed just six shots on net in the third period and have just three wins in their past 11 games. They remain four points out of the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Miller, who finished with 25 saves, said the Canucks can't afford to lose any more ground in the playoff race.

"There was good things in the game, but ultimately we lost and we need make up some ground, so it's frustrating," he said. "We showed good spirit, but it doesn't really mean much now."

The Canucks were playing their second game in 24 hours after defeating the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime Saturday night.

Vancouver struggled on the power play, going 0-for-4 and managing just two shots.

"Execution was off," Canucks captain Henrik Sedin said. "We got shots blocked again, didn't make the right decisions with the puck."

Defenseman Ben Hutton said the Canucks dug themselves an early hole.

"You never want to give up a three-goal lead, especially in his league," he said. "It's tough to come back. You can't do that and expect to get point every night."

NOTES:

-- Canucks G Ryan Miller, who made 35 saves against Calgary, started back-to-back games for the first time this season.

-- Vancouver C Reid Boucher returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch Saturday. It was his seventh game with Vancouver since being claimed off waivers from New Jersey on Jan. 4.

-- Canucks RW Jack Skille missed the game after sustaining a groin injury against Calgary.

-- D Philip Larsen and D Alex Biega were healthy scratches for the Canucks.

-- The Canucks have a five-day break before hosting San Jose on Saturday.

-- LW Dale Weise, a former Canucks player, returned to the Flyers' lineup after being a healthy scratch the previous two games and seven times in the previous 12.

-- Flyers C Jordan Weal didn't play after sustaining an upper-body injury against Edmonton.

-- Philadelphia D Nick Schultz and D Andrew MacDonald were healthy scratches.

-- The Flyers return home to play Washington on Wednesday.

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