Flyers

Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin gets historic hat trick as Capitals beat Canadiens

usa-alex-ovechkin-capitals.jpg
USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin gets historic hat trick as Capitals beat Canadiens

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin had a historic night, and now he could use a travel agent.

Anything to keep this roll going.

Ovechkin scored four goals to become the first player in 100 years with back-to-back hat tricks to open a season, and the Washington Capitals beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-1 on Saturday night.

Ovechkin had three goals in the third period in Thursday's opening night win at Ottawa, then matched the feat while helping chase Montreal goalie Carey Price in the first period Saturday. He added his fourth goal at 16:46 of the second period against Al Montoya.

Ovechkin jokingly credited the outburst to his Russian sister-in-law, who has been visiting the U.S. this week.

"Every time she's in town like I score a hat trick," Ovechkin said. "Back-to-back and she's leaving Monday. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to talk to someone to keep her here."

It was the fourth four-goal game of his career and second against the Canadiens (see full recap).

Leafs edge Rangers in wild home opener
TORONTO -- Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri scored third-period goals and the Toronto Maple Leafs held off the New York Rangers 8-5 on Saturday night in their wild home opener.

It was an adventure in defending for both teams at times, with Toronto pulling ahead 5-1 in the first period and chasing Henrik Lundqvist before the Rangers scored four straight to quieten the Air Canada Centre crowd.

Bozak ended the Maple Leafs' slide to make it 6-5 at 7:17 of third, redirecting a pass from the corner from Jake Gardiner over Ondrej Pavelec's glove. The Rangers lost a challenge that the play was offside, earning a minor penalty in the process.

Kevin Hayes took a slashing penalty for New York, and Komarov made it 7-5 at 9:52, tapping in the rebound after William Nylander roofed a backhand off the crossbar.

The Rangers pulled their goalie with some 3 minutes remaining only to see Ryan McDonagh take a hooking penalty. Kadri took advantage with a low shot with 1:30 to go.

Zach Hyman scored twice, and Dominic Moore, Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev added goals for Toronto (see full recap).

Butcher steals spotlight from Hischier in Devils' win
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils' youth movement has a lot more going for it than No. 1 overall draft pick Nico Hischier.

The Devils are three deep in the rookie department. Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher and Swedish import Jesper Bratt stole a lot of the spotlight from Hischier in a 4-1 season-opening victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

Butcher set up three power-play goals and Bratt had a goal and an assist as the Devils created some excitement after posting the worst record in the Eastern Conference last season.

"The vibe the arena gave off is what I'll remember most," Butcher said after becoming the first Devil to collect three assists in his initial game with the franchise. "It was an unbelievable crowd. And to play my first game with Nico and Jesper, it's like we were all in this together. It was a great feeling"

Adam Henrique, Jimmy Hayes and John Moore also scored as the Devils fielded a lineup with eight new players. Kyle Palmieri added two assists before leaving in the second period with a leg injury. Cory Schneider made 40 saves.

Hischier was the player the crowd at the Prudential Center wanted to see. He was hailed as a conquering hero in pre-game introductions, and the first time he stepped on the ice there were chants of "Nico" for the 18-year-old Swiss center (see full recap).

Neal scores OT winner as Vegas wins yet again
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- James Neal's goal at 3:46 of overtime Saturday night gave the expansion Vegas Golden Knights their second win in two games, 2-1 over the Arizona Coyotes.

Neal, who scored twice in the Golden Knights' first regular-season game Friday at Dallas, completed a comeback that saw Vegas tie the score at 1 with 1:12 to play in regulation. Anti Raanta, in his first game as the new No. 1 goaltender in Arizona, stopped 42 shots.

Vegas, unable to put a shot past Raanta for nearly the entire game, drew even at 1 on Nate Schmidt's goal. The Golden Knights had pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with 2:18 to play for an extra attacker, and the move paid off.

Fleury made 27 saves.

Raanta was sharpest in the second period, making 19 saves. The Coyotes earned their first point for new coach Rick Tocchet after losing their season opener at Anaheim on Thursday (see full recap).

Hall's late OT goal helps Devils keep pace with Flyers

usa-taylor-hall-new-jersey-devils.jpg
USA Today Images

Hall's late OT goal helps Devils keep pace with Flyers

RALEIGH, N.C. — Taylor Hall scored on a rebound with 22 seconds left in overtime, giving the New Jersey Devils a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

The goal extended Hall's league-best streak of games with a point to 18.

New Jersey had won the first of the teams' four meetings this season on Thursday night to start the Hurricanes' three-game losing streak.

Keith Kinkaid stopped 40 shots for the Devils.

The Devils led 1-0 after a first period in which the Hurricanes outshot them 13-9.

Nico Hischier scored New Jersey's first goal on a power play midway through the first, assisted by Sami Vatanen and Kinkaid (see full recap).

McDavid notches 3rd hat trick of season in Oilers' victory vs. Avalanche
DENVER — Late in the second period, with his team outplaying Colorado, Edmonton coach Todd McLellan couldn't believe his Oilers were trailing 2-1.

"Jay Woodcroft and I looked at each other and said, `How are we losing this game?'" McLellan said.

They didn't, thanks to another big game by Connor McDavid.

McDavid had his third hat trick of the season and fourth of his career, and the Oilers beat the Avalanche 4-2 on Sunday to snap a six-game losing streak.

McDavid now has 11 goals in the last nine games and two hat tricks. His first two goals tied the game, and his last one was into an empty net with 1:26 remaining (see full recap).

Sheahan scores twice in Penguins' win over Blue Jackets 
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Riley Sheahan scored two goals in the first period, rookie Tristan Jarry had 35 saves and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Sunday night.

Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists, and Brian Dumoulin and Zach Aston-Reese also scored for the Penguins. They have won five straight and 10 of their last 12. The win in front of a sellout crowd at Nationwide Arena moved them past Washington into first place in the Metropolitan Division.

The 22-year-old Jarry played well standing in for starter Matt Murray, who got a rest as Pittsburgh played the second leg of a back-to-back and its third game in four days. It was Jarry's first NHL action in a month after going 3-0 in three starts for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in the AHL.

Artemi Panarin and Alexander Wennberg scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 18 shots for the Blue Jackets. They have lost two straight and seven of the last nine. In what is becoming the norm lately, Columbus outshot its opponent (37-23) but couldn't score enough to win. The Blue Jackets lead the NHL in shots per game but are lingering near the bottom of the division (see full recap)

Alex Lyon unfazed by the moment in massive relief effort

Alex Lyon unfazed by the moment in massive relief effort

BOX SCORE 

Entering a game cold to start the second period following a wild six-goal first period while staring down at future Hall of Famer Henrik Lundqvist at the other end of the rink may have intimidated most rookies, but Alex Lyon simply wasn’t phased. Not this time. 

Perhaps Lyon didn’t have a moment to absorb the magnitude of the moment, and even better, playing on the grand stage of Madison Square Garden didn’t overwhelm him at all. After all, for Lyon, the best way to earn that first NHL victory was in a building where he had never lost. Lyon is now a perfect 4-0 in games at the Garden, dating back to his days with Yale and their battles with Ivy League rival Harvard.

“I actually did take a comfort in that,” Lyon said. “I’ve been here, I’ve won here. You know the surroundings here a bit, so it’s good. When you’re in college and you look at the building and say, ‘Oh my God, it’s huge’, but now that I’ve seen a lot of NHL and AHL rinks it calms things down a little bit.” 

Sunday, Lyon came off the bench in relief of Michal Neuvirth to stop 25 of 26 Rangers shots in leading the Flyers to a 7-4 win over their Metropolitan Division rivals (see observations)

“It really does make a difference when you get that first win, especially after my first start against New Jersey where I felt like I could have uplifted the team there and we lost late. I’m just happy I could contribute,” Lyon said. 

The Flyers announced after the first period that Neuvirth would not return to the game after suffering a lower-body injury. Neuvirth was slow getting to his skates on a Rangers 2-on-1 goal where he was forced to fully extend himself moving post-to-post. 

“You never want to see injuries happen and you never want to see them in key areas, but it is part of the game,” said head coach Dave Hakstol. “With Neuvy and (Brian Elliott) being down, it’s a challenge. Alex stepped in today and did the job. And that’s what our guys will rally behind going forward.”

On the 50th anniversary of the very first game at the current Madison Square Garden, which coincidentally was played between the Flyers and Rangers, the two bitter rivals had no problem turning back the clock to a time when fighting went hand-in-hand with scoring goals. Shayne Gostisbehere dropped the gloves for the first time in his NHL career with Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich, who laid out Travis Konecny with a hard hit on the opening shift of the game.

“I’d never done that before, but the boys were happy I did it,” Gostisbehere said. “I just heard the loud noise and I saw him on the ground. I thought he got smoked and I passed it to him so, I don’t know, I dropped the gloves.”

“It was cool. It was a fun game. It’s not how we drew it up. 3-3 after the first. As a team, our coach said we didn’t really have it tonight, but we found ways. I think the boys stood up for one another and we went out there and got the job done.”

Most impressively after a dismal defensive effort in the opening 25 minutes and facing the adversity of losing another goaltender, the Flyers still found a way to earn a victory during a time of the season when earning points are vitally important. The Flyers have now collected at least a point in their last eight games with a 6-0-2 record dating back to Feb. 3.

“Sometimes you have those nights,” Hakstol said. “Guys were ready to go. There were three scraps in the early parts of the game. It was one of those nights playing against a good offensive team. We weren’t sharp enough and we weren’t quite hard enough with or without the puck, but we recovered enough to get the two points.”

Fortunately, the Flyers were still able to dismantle a fragile Rangers team that has plummeted to last place in the Metropolitan Division by racking up seven goals against Lundqvist for the first time in 56 career games against the Orange and Black.

“Obviously, there were a lot of mistakes,” Lundqvist said. “They’re getting deflections in our net, odd-man rushes. I just have to start with myself, somehow find energy and confidence to play your game, but it’s hard when you give up so many goals to stay confident.” 

“You got to get to the net. There were some flash screens and just a good job of getting pucks to the net and winning net-front battles and it kinda went both ways,” said MacDonald.

Notable stats
• The Flyers are digging the day games, now 7-1-3 in afternoon starts.

• The top line dominated once again with seven points and a plus-five rating. Konecny registered his first career three-point game and Claude Giroux scored his 200th career goal.

• The Flyers scored seven goals on the Rangers for the first time since November 11, 1992, at the Spectrum.

• The Flyers have not allowed a power play in back-to-back games, which has not happened since the NHL began tracking those number through box scores dating back to 1977.