Flyers Suffer Shootout Loss to Predators in Return Home

BOX SCORE

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said Sunday he wanted to see how his team responded to its first loss in 10 games — or 22 calendar days, as it had been for the orange and black.

On Monday night, Hextall got his answer.

The Flyers dropped their second straight game and saw their six-game home winning streak snapped in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Nashville Predators at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

It was the Flyers' first home loss since Nov. 25.

"We talked about having a determined effort for 60 minutes," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said, "and I think we got that. A hard-fought hockey game tonight, both ways."

Nashville defenseman Ryan Ellis scored the lone shootout goal, while goalie Pekka Rinne churned in his best performance in eight games. Rinne finished with 31 saves.

Rinne faced an onslaught from the Flyers in the first 30 minutes, turning aside 23 of 24 shots. His only blemish was an Andrew MacDonald goal at 10:38 in the opening period.

The Nashville goalie had allowed at least three or more goals in his previous seven starts, but showed the form Monday that has made him a three-time Vezina Trophy finalist.

In the shootout, Rinne stopped Nick Cousins, Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

"Yeah, I felt good," Rinne said. "It is great to play a good game against a good team in a fun building. They have good fans. I felt good. I felt like I made some good saves, and eventually in the shootout, I made a couple of stops and then I got lucky in the last one.

"(Voracek) already deke'd me out and I was just doing the snowman. Luckily, he didn't put it in, so I'll take it any day."

Holding onto a 1-0 lead in the second period, the Flyers failed to take advantage of 1:24 of a 5-on-3 power play in which Rinne made a couple big stops and the Flyers rung iron. Overall, the Predators' penalty killers did a good job of preventing quality chances.

The Flyers' man advantage finished 0 for 3. The unit is now 0 for its last 11 and has not found twine in four straight games, the first time that's happened this season.

"It would have been nice to get one," Hakstol said. "But … you can control your playmaking and intensity, and I thought that was good. I liked our puck movement, and I liked the opportunities we had. We hit a post, and (Rinne) made a couple of good saves.

"Obviously, we had a couple opportunities 5-on-3 to be able to stretch it and after a good PK and some other special teams in the second, early in the third, we had a couple good opportunities as well and their goaltender made good saves."

MacDonald's first-period marker, his second goal of the season, held strong until 11:46 of the third period, when Predators forward Filip Forsberg deflected a Matt Irwin shot past Steve Mason to tie the game, 1-1, for his fourth goal of the season.

"Being up a goal in the third anyways, there's always going to be a push from the other side," MacDonald said. "We knew that. Give them credit, they came pretty hard at us. But at the same time, we have to go pretty hard right back at them."

Mason made his 16th start in the Flyers' last 18 games, and turned in another solid performance. His only blemish that counts came on a deflection and a screen.

The Predators fired 17 shots on Mason through the first 40 minutes, but none of them were of the difficult variety. Mason had an answer for each Nashville test through two.

With a back-to-back remaining on the schedule before the Flyers' six-game holiday break — Wednesday at home against Washington and Thursday in New Jersey — there is a chance Mason could get a night off. Anthony Stolarz has started two games since his call-up.

But on Monday night, the Flyers' energy level to rebound after seeing their 10-game losing streak and returning from a road trip did not impress the 28-year-old goaltender.

"I just think there's no excuse," he said. "We have to find ways to come back and have energy and win a hockey game."

Though the Flyers' home win streak has been snapped and they've now dropped two in a row, they don't believe there was any sense of a letdown Monday against Nashville.

After a slow five minutes to begin the game, the Flyers found their legs and started to pepper Rinne. At one point in the second, the shot total read 24 Flyers, 9 Predators.

"The streak was over. It was over," Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov said. "We just had to learn from that game and move on, and I think that's what we did. We came here with the right attitude. We created a lot of chances, just couldn't put the puck in the net."

Provorov had an assist — his 12th of the season — on MacDonald's goal.

"During the whole streak, I don't think we were thinking we were too good at any point," MacDonald said. "We were next game up. We had an 8-in-14 stretch there. There was no time to think about it. We were just going out and playing.

"Every night, it was someone different stepping up. It was great, obviously. But coming back here, there was no real letdown, or thinking it was going to be an easy game by any means. We knew we had to be prepared. They come hard, they have aggressive gaps.

"We knew that's just how the game's going to be."

Loose pucks
The Flyers' penalty kill has killed off its last 15 penalties and 27 of its last 30. The Flyers were 2 for 2 on the PK on Monday night. … Wayne Simmonds underwent treatment for an undisclosed ailment after the game. … The Flyers practice at 11 a.m. on Tuesday.

Copyright CSNPhily
Contact Us