Kings 3, Flyers 2 (SO): Late Magic Falls Short as Win Streak Comes to End at 8 Games


The NHL's hottest team was finally cooled off but it took six rounds into a shootout.

Jakub Voracek scored with 18 seconds remaining in regulation before the Kings' Tyler Toffoli won it, 3-2, in the shootout, snapping the Flyers' eight-game winning streak Thursday night.

Anthony Stolarz stopped 37 shots in the loss, including a miraculous attempt that helped the Flyers force the skills competition.

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Here are my observations from the Wells Fargo Center:

• After undressing Kings All-Star defenseman Drew Doughty and hitting the post with a shot, Voracek got his revenge with a beautiful cross-ice pass from Claude Giroux to earn the Flyers a point and send the game to overtime.

• There have been significant improvements in Shayne Gostisbehere's defensive play with interim head coach Scott Gordon changing up the pairings. Over his previous eight games, "Ghost" has seen easier matchups and hasn't been forced to defend the opposition's top lines, posting a plus-8 rating.

However, the opening goal is one example of a simple play from the Kings' fourth line that Gostisbehere has to defend better. Andrew MacDonald fell down, which allowed Austin Wagner (who scored the goal) to get behind the defense off an offensive zone faceoff.

I think Gostisbehere's biggest liability is his lack of speed. While he has quick lateral movements, his acceleration simply isn't quick enough to make up for times when he gets caught defensively or needs to rush back to cover an odd-man rush. That was clearly evident as Gostisbehere couldn't skate back fast enough to break up the Kings' 3-on-1 rush leading to Adrian Kempe's 2-1 goal in the second period.

• Perhaps Sean Couturier's best attribute is his selflessness. Gordon talked about that quality during Thursday's morning skate after the center was taken off the top power play. Couturier took the lesser role in stride as he typically does with the attitude of whatever's best for the team.

He has been the Flyers' most important forward throughout the nine-game point streak with a goal in three straight games and seven of his last 10. 

• Stolarz looked very solid in his first game action since Jan. 29, when he shut out the Rangers, 1-0, at MSG. The Flyers' porous defense saw the Kings produce 18 shots in the opening period, with L.A. winning most of the puck battles and board battles.

The scoring chances were a lopsided 23-10 in favor of L.A. through two periods. The Kings also had a fourth line with Wagner and Kyle Clifford that plays just as much as their second line, and it had as many quality scoring chances as the Kings' first line. 

• Giroux has played some monster minutes, averaging nearly 22 minutes over his last 11 games, and the coaching staff is really leaning on him on the power play. The captain played all two minutes of the Flyers' third-period power play and finished over 24 minutes in this game.   

• Gordon talked about the frustrations of Scott Laughton and his goalless drought that has now reached 23 games dating back to mid-December. Laughton failed to connect on a penalty shot against Vancouver Monday. Early in the first period, Laughton was on the doorstep when his stick was tied up coming off Ivan Provorov's broken-stick slap shot.

Gordon told Laughton to keep doing all the little things that make him a solid two-way player and don't worry about the scoring. There are plenty of other guys who can score.

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