Flyers

2 Flyers prospects have grown by 'leaps and bounds'

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2 Flyers prospects have grown by 'leaps and bounds'

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects playing in the AHL, overseas and at the junior and college levels.

Mikhail Vorobyev, C, 21, 6-2/207, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Vorobyev returned to action last week after missing more than a month with an undisclosed injury. Vorobyev recorded an assist in his first game back Friday night in Lehigh Valley’s 5-2 win over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. It was the Russian’s first game since Dec. 12. He was pointless in the Phantoms’ 3-2 OT loss Saturday to Utica.

“He’s another guy that is leaps and bounds from where he was at the start of the year,” Phantoms head coach Scott Gordon told NBC Sports Philadelphia last week. “It was disappointing that he got hurt when he did because he was starting to come into his own, starting to get more confidence in how he needed to play over here in a smaller rink and the spacing of it and not playing a perimeter game and getting more to the net.”

Samuel Morin, D, 22, 6-7/202, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Morin’s latest injury forced the hulking defenseman to miss the Phantoms’ final three games before the AHL All-Star break. He's appeared in just 15 games this season because of injuries, and his most recent injury came at a time he was “playing more like the Sam that we’ve seen — that was encouraging,” Gordon said.

“It’s going to get taken care of and Sam is going to get himself back into playing shape and play the type of hockey we know that he can play,” Gordon said, “and the type of hockey that’s going to give him success in the NHL.

"The kid's game is about intimidation as far as that presence of 6-foot-7. He's got a mean edge to him when he plays. That part of the game is easy for him. What I was happy about was, his playmaking decisions with the puck in the last three games. That was something you're constantly, as a defenseman, want to get better at."

Oskar Lindblom, LW, 21, 6-1/192, Lehigh Valley (AHL)
Lindblom tallied his 13th goal of the season in the Phantoms’ final game before the break Saturday night. Gordon spoke highly of the Swedish winger’s growth throughout his first full season in North America. Gordon noted that Lindblom’s six-game pointless streak to begin the year was mostly bad luck. Lindblom has 29 points in 45 games.

"The thing that's been really impressive is,' Gordon said, "the puck started going in, but how much stuff he started creating on his own. Being in a battle with two guys and coming out with the puck. A puck that looks like it's going to get poked off his stick, he somehow manages to keep it on his stick and then makes the next play from there.

"I knew Oskar from when he was over here two years ago," Gordon said, "but I didn't know how strong he was in his battle, compete level on loose pucks in one-on-one battles. That to me, out of all of our forwards, he's head and shoulders over everybody and as a result, a lot of his offense comes from stuff like that. He makes plays to his linemates that other players might not get the opportunity because they don't even get to start with the puck because they can't compete and battle the way he does."

Quick hits
Felix Sandstrom remains on loan to IK Oskarshamn of the Allsvenskan. He has a .914 save percentage and 2.65 goals-against average in four games with Oskarshamn.

• Phantoms center Mike Vecchione has a three-game goal streak and a four-game point streak. Here is Vecchione’s goal Saturday night that extended his goal streak.

• After his 20-game point streak ended, Sault Ste. Marie’s Morgan Frost has ignited another. He had a seven-point week in three games and has points in his last four games. He leads the OHL plus/minus (51) and is second in points (79) assists (51).

Isaac Ratcliffe (Guelph) had a monster game Friday against Flint, registering his first career OHL hat trick and picking up an assist. He’s up to 26 goals in 46 games.

Carter Hart’s 13-game winning streak ended in Everett’s 3-2 shootout loss Saturday night to Seattle. Hart leads the WHL in GAA (1.51) and save percentage (.953).

• Acadie-Bathurst forward German Rubtsov missed two games last week but returned Friday with a goal and an assist. Rubtsov has 23 points in 23 games with the Titan and 34 points in 34 games overall this season.

Pascal Laberge stayed hot last week for Quebec, picking up two assists Saturday and extending his point streak to five games. That streak ended Sunday. He has 10 points in his past 11 games.

• Michigan’s Cooper Marody, who was among the initial Hobey Baker nominees, is pointless in his past four games.

Tanner Laczynski extended his point streak to 10 games last week. He has 15 points during his current streak and is tied for third in the country with 36 points this season.

Just shoot! Jakub Voracek quiets many with his heroics

Just shoot! Jakub Voracek quiets many with his heroics

BOX SCORE

Jakub Voracek had dead aim, at least that’s what the score sheet confirmed Tuesday following the Flyers' 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens (see observations).

Two shots on net. Two shots that found a way past Carey Price.

Even though the NHL’s assist leader has more shots on net than Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos, Voracek hears the voices that say he passes up on quality scoring opportunities. 

One prime example came with 30 seconds remaining in the second period. Claude Giroux forced a takeaway and fed Voracek on a 2-on-0 prime scoring chance, but it resulted in Voracek sending a pass back to Giroux when perhaps he should have shot.

“It’s always easier to say we’re over-passing things,” Voracek said. “If you’re on the ice, the actual situation looks completely different. I hear ‘shoot the puck’ every single time I touch it. If I listened to all the people who say shoot the puck, I’d have 500 shots at the end of the season.”

However, Voracek shot the puck when it mattered most. With the Flyers trailing, 2-1, Dave Hakstol pulled goaltender Alex Lyon for the extra attacker Voracek, who took a shot from the top of the right circle that deflected off the stick of Max Pacioretty and past Price for the game-tying goal, and then buried the game-winner 1:26 into overtime (see highlights).

When asked if he caught Price by surprise on the equalizer, Voracek responded: “Me shooting? 100 percent. I just tried to hide behind the D and I got lucky and it went in.”

“It’s one of those nights when you had a lot of really good scoring opportunities and we weren’t able to cash in on them,” Hakstol said. “It’s nice to get a bounce like that with a minute and a half to go to tie it up.”

For the game, the Flyers had 79 shot attempts to Montreal’s 55. Thankfully for the Flyers, No. 79 was Voracek’s game-winner, which came at the end of his 56-second shift. Had he missed the net and been forced to play defense at the other end of the ice, there may not have been much left in the tank.     

“I was pretty tired,” Voracek said. “I’d rather have it like that. If I had missed the net, I’d have to stay on the ice and try to backcheck after, so I got lucky.”

Voracek became the second player in franchise history to score a game-tying goal in the final two minutes of regulation, and then follow it up with an overtime game-winner. Moving forward, the Flyers may need Voracek to shoot and score more with the recent injury to Wayne Simmonds, who will miss the next two to three weeks with an upper-body injury (see story).

To make matters worse, Flyers top-line winger Travis Konecny may have suffered a foot injury after taking a shot off his skate in the opening period (see video). Konecny never left the game but labored playing short, limited shifts, and wasn’t on the ice with Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov to begin the overtime session.

“He obviously got hit with the puck there, but he finished the game and that’s part of the game,” Hakstol said. “He was obviously sore through the rest of the game, but I give him credit, he continued to battle through to do everything that he could.”

Less than 24 hours after the Flyers acquired Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings to solidify the goaltending position, Alex Lyon turned in another solid effort with 25 saves on 27 shots, beating perennial All-Stars Henrik Lundqvist and Carey Price in back-to-back victories.

“Yeah, it’s cool obviously to play against those guys,” Lyon said. “You watch them and you try to model your game after them. Obviously, they’re fantastic. In the same breath, you've got to go out there and say, ‘I’m coming out here to be better than you today.’”  

“It’s always nice to have some clarity,” Hakstol said. “I think Alex said it best after the game in New York the other day — it’s an ever-changing business. You just have to be ready and prepared for what the next day brings. He pretty much lived by his words.”

Notables
• Simmonds' streak of 223 consecutive games played ended Tuesday night. It marked the first game Simmonds has missed dating back to April 11, 2015.

• For the third straight game, the Flyers weren’t forced to utilize their penalty kill at any point, becoming the second team in NHL history to go three games without allowing a power-play opportunity.

• Forward Oskar Lindblom made his NHL debut Tuesday night, replacing the injured Simmonds in the Flyers' lineup. Lindblom finished the game with 15:11 of ice time and one shot on net.  

Blue Jackets snap skid on rare Harrington goal

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Blue Jackets snap skid on rare Harrington goal

NEWARK, N.J. -- Defenseman Scott Harrington broke a second-period tie with his second goal of the season, and the slumping Columbus Blue Jackets snapped a three-game losing streak and ended the New Jersey Devils' four-game winning streak with a 2-1 decision on Tuesday night.

Boone Jenner also scored as the Blue Jackets moved into the second wild-card position in the Eastern Conference with 65 points, one ahead of Carolina and the Islanders. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves in helping the Blue Jackets win for the fifth time in 15 games (5-9-2).

Taylor Hall scored for the Devils to extend his point-scoring streak to 12 games, tying David Pastrnak of the Bruins for the league-high this season. He also pushed his personal point-scoring streak to 19 games. He missed three games with a thumb injury, so the league does not consider that to be part of his current streak.

Keith Kinkaid had 17 saves for New Jersey, which holds the first wild-card spot in the conference (see full recap).

Point helps Lightning beat Capitals in showdown
WASHINGTON -- Brayden Point scored two first-period goals, Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 35 shots to earn his NHL-leading 35th victory and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Washington Capitals 4-2 Tuesday night in a matchup between division leaders.

Chris Kunitz also scored in the opening period, which ended with Tampa Bay up 3-0. That was enough of a cushion for Vasilevskiy, an All-Star who came in with a 2.34 goals-against average.

After Alex Ovechkin notched his NHL-high 36th goal for Washington to make it 3-2 at 11:02 of the third period, Nikita Kucherov clinched it with a breakaway goal with 7:02 remaining.

The victory improved Tampa Bay's NHL-best record to 40-17-3 and kept the Lightning ahead of surging Boston in the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference.

Lars Eller scored a power-play goal for the Capitals, who lead Pittsburgh by one point in the Metropolitan Division (see full recap).

Andersen makes 40 saves in Maple Leafs’ shutout
TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen made 40 saves and James van Riemsdyk scored the only goal as the surging Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Florida Panthers 1-0 on Tuesday night.

The shutout was Andersen's career-best fifth of the season. The 28-year-old goalie has reached 30 wins for the third time.

Toronto (37-20-5) has won 11 of 12 and improved to 14-4-2 since Jan. 4.

The Panthers (26-25-6) have dropped back-to-back games after opening their five-game road trip with three straight wins. Florida entered the night six points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

Florida threatened in the third with goaltender Roberto Luongo pulled for an extra attacker, but Andersen managed to thwart the Panthers' best chance -- a point shot from Keith Yandle with 23 seconds remaining.

Luongo stopped 30 shots in the loss (see full recap).