Flyers' Rally Not Enough in Loss to Blackhawks to End Road Trip


CHICAGO – They could have just packed their bags and left United Center after two periods. They were losing 4-1 and Michal Neuvirth had already been yanked from the net.
And then something happened.
Matt Read, who scored at the end of the second period, scored again in the third as the Flyers rattled off four goals over 5:26 to draw even on the stunned Blackhawks.
A comeback in the making? Not quite as the Flyers eventually succumbed, 7-4 (see Instant Replay).
If they had garnered just a point, this would have been a terrific start to the season for Dave Hakstol’s club.
That said, the huge positive here is there’s no quit in this group. The Flyers know they can rally. Now they have to finish.
The Flyers returned home with three points (1-1-1) and their leading goal scorers so far aren’t Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek or even flashy rookie Travis Konecny.
It’s Read and Sean Couturier with three goals apiece.
“Decent trip, but it could be better,” Wayne Simmonds offered. “We know we can score goals, we just have to lock it down. We got to make sure we keep it out of the back of our net.
“We did a pretty good job skating and getting the puck deep, but we have to keep working on those little things. It has to be out of our zone and into theirs.”
Read was one of the bright stars on the trip. He even played on the top power play.
“I really like the way Reader is playing,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “He’s clearly picked his game up. He is much sharper, crisper, faster. That’s a big plus for us at this point.”
His second goal of the night was part of two scores in 1:17 that drew the Flyers to within 4-3 before Simmonds’ power-play goal tied  the game.
And then … a skittish puck off Giroux’s stick turned into Artemi Panarin’s second goal of the night and eventual game-winner.
“It was a bouncing puck,” Giroux said. “They got a bounce and something happened at the blue line and it was a two-on-one.”
The Flyers had to press to get it back and ended up giving up another.
“We did a lot of good things. It’s early in the season and we’re doing a lot of things that we can erase,” Giroux said. “They’re a good team.
“There’s a reason why they are one of the best teams in the league. We got to keep our heads up. We came back 4-0. We just have to finish off games here.”
Neuvirth gave up four goals on 16 shots and didn’t even play half the game before Steve Mason relieved him.
Rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov had nightmarish game with a minus-5 showing. He had a couple turnovers that led to two goals and a misplay on the first goal of the game.
That’s going to happen. You take the good with the bad with a 19-year-old defenseman.
“He’s going to be fine,” Hakstol said. “He’s been a good, strong player for us all the way through. There’s five guys on the ice in all those situations.
“The one or two mistakes, those are easy to move past. Some of the other things we’ll look at, grow and learn from.”
It took all of 56 seconds for Chicago to score. Neuvirth made an initial stop on Artem Anisimov off the rush but couldn’t control the rebound amid chaos in the crease and Provorov didn’t protect the post. Patrick Kane snuck in, got the puck and had  a wraparound.
Chicago got two goals in the final 2:34 of the first period to blow it open at 3-0. Provorov laterally intercepted a loose puck at the blue line but fell, allowing Dennis Rasmussen a clean breakaway and deke move on Neuvirth for one goal.
Then Panarin one-timed a pass from the left circle during a Blackhawks' power play for the other goal.
Fittingly, Marian Hossa’s 500th career goal – five-hole off the far post – at 5:04 of the second period made it 4-0 and chased Neuvirth.
“We made mistakes, and all of a sudden it’s 3-0,” Neuvirth said. “I was really happy the way the boys battled back.”
Another positive: scoring twice on the power play after starting the season 0 for 6.
“You want to get your power play going, even if it’s not a goal, you want momentum out of it,” Giroux said. “Tonight we were able to get that.”
If they had just gotten a point, it would be a whole different start.
“The character to come back, tie the game and stay with it is a positive,” Hakstol said. “The thing we’ll look at on the other side of it is, we’re too loose on a couple plays.
“Couple plays were tough plays. But there’s a couple of goals where our play without the puck was too loose.”

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