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Flyers drop 3-2 OT decision at MSG

Sanheim's pair not enough as Flyers fall in first of home and home

by Bill Meltzer @billmeltzer

For the fourth time in the preseason, the Flyers went to overtime. The team dropped to 1-1-3 on the exhibition slate with a 3-2 OT loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday night. The teams will rematch at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night. 

Here are five developments of note in Monday's game:

After a few ups and downs in the Rookie Game and the opening game of the preseason, Flyers 2014 first-round pick settled down after a strong practice (his lone session with the "Group 2" squad) last Tuesday. He has played better and better on both sides of the puck in each of the last three preseason games. 

On Monday night in New York, he was downright dominant. In the first period, the second-year pro took a nice saucer pass from Nolan Patrick and rocketed a perfect shot from the left circle past Henrik Lundqvist under the long-side crossbar with the teams playing four-on-four. In the waning seconds of the second period, Sanheim pinched in deep, corralled a loose puck near the crease and slid the puck into the net for a 2-1 Flyers lead. 

Sanheim was also quite strong on the defensive side of the puck. Twice, he was isolated in one-on-one situations on Rangers rushes and stopped the play cold. In the third period, the 6-foot-4 defenseman used his reach to knock a dangerous rebound to safety. 

"[My confidence] is really high right now. Obviously, I don't want it to get too high. I just have to try and keep an even keel here and finish up strong," Sanheim said.Video: Hear from Sanheim following 2 goal performance

Twice in the game, Jakub Voracek set up team captain Claude Giroux for prime scoring chances. The first time, Giroux tucked the puck just wide. The second, after Shayne Gostisbehere sprung Voracek and Giroux on a 2-on-0 from the blueline in, Giroux appeared to attempt a return feed to Voracek from a severe angle and the extra feed missed connections. 

Late in the third period, Voracek powered his way down low in the offensive zone and swung around the net. Lundqvist denied him in tight. In all, Lundqvist stopped 37 of 39 Flyers shots.

After seven years of exclusively playing center and previously entering the NHL from the junior ranks as a right winger, Giroux played his first-ever game at left wing in Monday's tilt. Not surprisingly, there were times where the wheels were turning in Giroux's head as worked on making the adjustment.

"It's definitely a change but you know I'm just trying to be in good position and make the right play. Slowly, I'm feeling more comfortable there," Giroux said.Video: Hear from Giroux following first night on the wing

Michal Neuvirth had a strong first preseason outing last Wednesday in Allentown. He was also quite solid in Monday's game at MSG, authoring numerous clutch saves. Overall, Neuvirth stopped 28 of 31 shots.

He had no chance on either of the Rangers' first two goals. In the first period, a power play deflection in front by Rick Nash gave Neuvirth no time to react to the change-of-angle as the Rangers took a 1-0 lead. In the third period, Neuvirth knocked aside a Mika Zibanejad shot from atop the right circle but the puck then pinballed into the net off the leg of Flyers' defenseman Robert Hagg. 

The overtime winner by Ryan McDonagh was scored off the rebound of his own initial shot. Neuvirth made a skate save on the first shot but the rebound went right back to the shooter and he tucked in the net before Neuvirth was able to get over to make a second save. 

For a preseason tilt, significant portions of the game were placed at a very brisk tempo. 

Overall, the Flyers were the team that was dictating the pace during many of the junctures or at least matching the Rangers' effort. This was especially true in the first and third periods.

In a game that saw 11 combined power plays (five for the Flyers, six for the Rangers), there was still pretty good flow at five-on-five. There were some sloppy plays on both sides but the Flyers also did a good job at triggering the transition game and applying forechecking pressure. 

The Flyers' power play was sporadic in going 0-for-5 (four full two-minute 5-on-4 advantages and a very brief one). While there were some instances of generating good puck movement and periodic scoring chances, there were also significant portions where Philly struggled to get organized. After a couple days of practice, it was modest progress from a lackluster 0-for-9 in Boston last Thursday but an area that will need more work in the second half of training camp.

On the positive side, Travis Konecny had a couple of good scoring chances on the second power play unit and an active game in general in the offensive zone. He finished the night with five shots on goal

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