Provorov-Ellis pairing shines in Flyers’ OT win

Ivan Provorov

PHILADELPHIA – If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Ivan Provorov needs a partner like the retired Matt Niskanen to be at his best.

Well, after a season without “Nisky,’’ Provorov may have found the perfect substitute in newly acquired Ryan Ellis.

Ellis might not be quite the defensive wizard Niskanen was but he’s heady enough to bring out the best in the Flyers’ Russian backliner.

On Monday night, Provorov was on top of his game and showed it by scoring off the rush at 50 seconds of overtime for a 2-1 preseason win over Boston at the Wells Fargo Center.

The win raised the Flyers’ preseason record to 2-1-1.

Provorov and Ellis have played only three games together but already appear to have created some chemistry with each other.

When the Flyers need a shutdown pair against the Crosbys, Ovechkins and McDavids of the sport, they can look to Provorov and Ellis, especially on the penalty kill.

“I think it’s been good so far,’’ Provorov said of the new tandem. “He’s a great player, he can do everything well out there. I think we’ve been spending a lot of time together trying to get the chemistry. It’s been working so far.’’

Coach Alain Vigneault hopes the progress continues.

“I like that pair,’’ he said. “You see there’s a lot of communication going on. Both smart. I think as they get more time together the chemistry will become stronger. You can tell right off the hop it’s a pair that has tremendous possibilities.’’

The Flyers tied it at 1-1 with 19 seconds to play in the second period on a power play. Moments after James van Riemsdyk was hooked on a failed breakaway, Couturier fired a short-side shot into the net.

“We had a power play in the third and we didn’t score,’’ Provorov said. “But it gave us a lot of momentum.’’

The Bruins scored first on a power play of their own at 13:25 of the second. Flyers goalie Carter Hart stopped an initial shot but the puck hit off his stick with Jack Studnicka getting credit for the goal.

Although the Flyers won the game in overtime, the teams staged another “practice” shootout, which the Flyers won, 1-0, on a goal by Travis Konecny.

Hart has allowed only two goals in five periods of action so far in the preseason.

“He looks dialed in,’’ Vigneault said. “He’s focused, he’s assertive around the net. He looks confident, made a couple key saves.’’

Hart said: “I feel solid. I try to be prepared as I can. We have a couple more games to get ready for (opening night) Oct. 15.’’

>Giroux off for ‘maintenance’

Captain Claude Giroux was given a complete day off. Vigneault classified it as a “maintenance’’ day.

>Fight night for Desnoyers

Rookie Elliot Desnoyers got into his first NHL fight when he duked it out with Boston’s John Moore. Call this one a chip off the old block. Elliot’s dad, David, was a minor league enforcer back in his playing days.

“I’m ready to do anything to get my team a ‘W’ and I just felt it was a good time when we were losing by one (goal),’’ Desnoyers said.

Equally fun was his playing time as a center between two NHL veterans – van Riemsdyk and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.

“I thought he had a lot of compete,’’ Vigneault said of Desnoyers. “Didn’t expect him to drop the gloves but I guess he got upset. That’s a good French play.’’

>Plenty of time to practice

Unlike the start of the 2020-21 season, this year’s training camp is much more complete and gives the players time to build chemistry and learn the coaching staff’s system.

“It’s always nice to get those reps in,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “Work on your game, the individual sense of handling or feeling the puck. Or whether it’s the dynamic of the team play with the different systems. Certainly it’s nice to have the opportunity to be on the ice and work on your game.’’

Added Vigneault: “It (extra practice) is enormous. Video is helpful but when you walk through it on the ice, it’s good. We start with four home games and we have practice there. Plus we have five days after our last (preseason) game.’’

>Short shots

Cam Atkinson failed on a breakaway for a second straight game. . .Martin Jones is scheduled to start in goal for Tuesday night’s game against the Islanders in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The game is being played at an alternate site because the Islanders’ new home, UBS Arena, is awaiting completion. The Isles will play the first 13 games of their regular-season schedule on the road. , ,Hart’s best save of the night probably came in the first period off a point-blank shot from Anton Blidh. . .Vigneault said there’s a possibility Connor Bunnaman could make the roster, possibly as a spare forward.

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About Wayne Fish 2444 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.

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