Flyers-Canucks 10 Observations: Escaping With Win Before Big Weekend

No one had to remind the Flyers that Thursday's game against Vancouver was the start of a big three-game stretch for them in which points are an absolute must.

The Canucks might be the easiest game Dave Hakstol's team will get, too, and thanks to goalie Michal Neuvirth's heroics off the bench, it won, 5-4, in a shootout (see game story).

If you like goal scoring, there were five markers in the second period. Unfortunately for the Flyers, three were scored by Vancouver. Ah, but Brayden Schenn scored his NHL-leading 10th power-play goal in the third period.

The Flyers were simply atrocious with their sticks in the first period and it robbed them of rolling four lines, kept guys cold on the bench and cost them a goal, as well.

Brandon Manning and Michael Del Zotto each were responsible for two stick penalties, and each were hit with double minors for such.

One more thing. Steve Mason got pulled (see Instant Replay).

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Here are 10 things I think, I think:

1. The Flyers have been looking for more offense from Sean Couturier since the day he arrived here. He had a terrific opening shift of play and put a quick shot off the left post. Coots gets a scoring chance every game. What he doesn't do is follow up enough within the game to generate more such chances because of his defensive-minded thinking. He played every shift this game thinking offense and scored in the second period because of it.

2. Two careless sticks by the Flyers led to two back-to-back four-minute penalty kills after Manning and Del Zotto each cut players on the ice. The second began with 50 seconds remaining on the other as a 5-on-3. What a disastrous start to a critical home game. Daniel Sedin scored with 10 seconds left on the first penalty which meant the Flyers still had to kill off the remaining 3:21 of the second penalty.

3. The end result coming off both kills was their bench waited nearly eight minutes to get other guys who don't kill on the ice, which more or less nullified everything Hakstol wanted to do at the outset by testing new lines. Manning's and Del Zotto's second penalties at period's end carried over into the second period as a 5-on-3 power play for the Canucks, also.

4. Terrific move by Dale Weise to bat a puck out of the air onto the ice during a Flyers power play and an even better move by rookie Travis Konecny to handle a bouncing puck and put it past Ryan Miller to make it a 1-1 game that same first period (see highlights). Weise's play has picked up even while teammates around him sag.

5. While it's encouraging to see Shayne Gostisbehere shooting the puck more - you have to shoot your way out of scoring slumps - he's still not getting the puck on net as much as he did last season. In fact, the Flyers as a group have too many missed shots. Which is why they lead the NHL with an average 13.6 missed shots a game. Last season, every shot Ghost took from the point was bang-on. Not this year. He also got steamrolled by Markus Granlund, who scored easily on Mason. Hakstol cut Ghost's ice time to just 13:56 through regulation.

6. After sitting five straight as a healthy scratch, it was nice to see Nick Cousins generate a quality scoring chance off the rush, only to be robbed when Chris Tanev got his stick on the puck, redirecting it to Miller, who made a save. Otherwise, it would have been a goal.

7. It's been a while - 14 games - since we've seen a goal from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, but his one-timer off a pass from Matt Read in the middle stanza makes you wonder why we haven't seem more hard shots from him.

8. You've got to like how rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov, who did not have a great game - nor did his fellow blueliners - tried to go for the win in OT with a move and nice shot on Miller. No hesitation in this kid.

9. Watching the defense Thursday night and how Vancouver used its size and strength made you wonder why Radko Gudas wasn't in the lineup.

10. Not that you can blame Mason for some of those goals, but the Flyers desperately needed a momentum stop in the second period from Mason on Brandon Sutter, who regained the lead for Vancouver, 4-3. Yes, the forwards turned it over on the breakout but … that's why Hakstol yanked Mason (four goals on 24 shots) and used Neuvirth to start the third period. Neuvirth's shootout save on Loui Eriksson won the game while Claude Giroux had a shootout winner.

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