Aube-Kubel Scores Twice, Flyers Claim Top Seed in East
Meet your top-seed Philadelphia Flyers.
For the final time, the Flyers took the ice in Round Robin play with their sights set on being the number one seed in the Eastern Conference for the duration of the playoffs. With the help of some young talent on the roster, they did just that.
Nicolas Aube-Kubel scored two goals, Joel Farabee added another and Carter Hart made 23 saves to secure a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and claim the top seed on Saturday night.
Early in the game, Tampa Bay looked sharp and started to generate chances. Nikita Kucherov hit the crossbar with a chance. He later got a breakaway off a Matt Niskanen giveaway and was stopped by Hart.
At the time of that save with just over seven minutes played, the shots were 3-2 Tampa Bay. The momentum shifted after that. At 7:40, the Flyers managed to get a distance shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy.
Shayne Gostisbehere took a wrist shot from the point that was deflected in by Aube-Kubel for his first goal of the playoffs.
The Flyers continued their push from there and added to their lead. Farabee entered the zone off a neutral-zone turnover and had the puck knocked off his stick, but directed to Aube-Kubel. Aube-Kubel had Sean Couturier with him on a two-on-one and executed a pair of quick passes, setting Aube-Kubel up for a one-timer and his second goal of the game with six minutes left in the period.
The Flyers got a power play shortly after, but Tampa Bay got the best chance as Alex Killorn got a shorthanded breakaway. Hart again made a pair of saves to keep the Lightning off the board. The Flyers relentless push continued, as they outshot the Lightning, 20-6, in the opening period.
Another development happened early in the first. Victor Hedman left the game after just four shifts and did not return for the remainder of the game.
Early in the second period, the Flyers suffered a loss of their own. Travis Sanheim left the game and missed several minutes. During that time, the Flyers took a pair of penalties and the Lightning were finally able to capitalize.
On their second power play of the period, Tyler Johnson was left alone in front and Killorn set him up for the goal to cut the Flyers lead to one at 5:21.
Sanheim eventually returned to the game, and the Flyers were able to capitalize on a chance as the second entered the final minutes. Off a nice pass from Gostisbehere, Farabee buried a one-timer to make it 3-1 Flyers at 14:22.
Through two periods, the Flyers had a 26-13 lead in shots.
The Lightning started their push in the third period and got an opportunity on the power play early in the period. The Flyers came up with a successful kill to keep the two-goal lead.
Tampa continued the push throughout the third, outshooting the Flyers, 11-4, in the final period. Hart and the defense held their ground, allowing a lot of zone time, but not many quality chances.
In the closing minutes, the Flyers put the game away as Tyler Pitlick scored into an empty net to seal the result.
Hart stopped 23 of 24 in the win. Vasilevskiy stopped 26 of 29 shots faced in the loss. Aube-Kubel, Farabee, Gostisbehere and Couturier each finished with multi-point games.
So the stage is now set for the Flyers. They will face the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs. The schedule is expected to be released following Sunday's games.
- PHI Nicolas Aube-Kubel (1) (Shayne Gostisbehere, Derek Grant) 7:40
- PHI Aube-Kubel (2) (Sean Couturier, Joel Farabee) 14:00
- TB Tyler Johnson (2) PP (Alex Killorn, Brayden Point) 5:21
- PHI Farabee (1) (Gostisbehere, Couturier) 14:22
- PHI Tyler Pitlick (1) EN (Scott Laughton) 18:40
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.
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