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Best of NHL: Andrei Vasilevskiy wins 9th straight as Lightning top Panthers

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Best of NHL: Andrei Vasilevskiy wins 9th straight as Lightning top Panthers

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Andrei Vasilevskiy won his ninth straight start and Steven Stamkos scored twice to lift the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Florida Panthers 8-5 on Monday night.

Vasilevskiy made 18 saves and shares the longest win streak by a goalie in franchise history with John Grahame, who won nine in a row from Nov. 14 to Dec. 10, 2005.

Ondrej Palat scored the go-ahead goal and had an assist. Nikita Kucherov added his NHL-leading 13th goal and an assist, while Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. Vladislav Namestnikov and Anton Stralman also scored.

Aleksander Barkov had a goal and three assists to lead the Panthers. Evgeni Dadanov, Jamie McGinn, Jonathan Huberdeau and Aaron Ekblad also scored for Florida.

James Reimer allowed five goals on 19 shots before being replaced by Antti Niemi at 10:22 of the second. Niemi stopped 16 shots (see full recap).

Blue Jackets top Bruins in shootout
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Artemi Panarin and Oliver Bjorkstrand scored in the shootout, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 on Monday night after squandering a two-goal lead in the third period.

Columbus has won eight of its first 12 games, a franchise record for October.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had an assist -- the eighth of his career and first this season. Bobrovsky made 27 saves for his sixth win.

Tuukka Rask stopped 29 shots for the Bruins, who lost their second in a row and dropped to 4-4-2.

The Blue Jackets had been plagued by slow starts but got on the board just 1:59 into the game when David Savard threw the puck toward the net and it wiggled past Rask off a deflection. Alexander Wennberg and Matt Calvert assisted on Savard's second goal of the season.

After a pair of unsuccessful power plays, Columbus found the back of the net again with less than three minutes left in the first period. Boone Jenner, playing in just his fifth game after returning from injury, scratched and clawed at Markus Nutivaara's rebound until he put it past Rask at 17:08. Josh Anderson was also credited with an assist on Jenner's first goal of the season.

The Blue Jackets' third goal of the night came at 8:27 of the second period when Nutivaara took a handoff from Bobrovsky and sent it nearly the length of the ice to a driving Tyler Motte, who put the puck in the net (see full recap).

Tavares helps Islanders cool off Golden Knights
NEW YORK -- John Tavares kept up his scoring surge with two more goals and the New York Islanders handed the expansion Vegas Golden Knights their second loss of the season, 6-3 on Monday night.

Andrew Ladd, Mathew Barzal, Cal Clutterbuck and Nikolay Kulemin also scored, and Jaroslav Halak stopped 31 shots to help New York win for the fifth time in six games. Tavares has eight goals in the last four games.

William Karlsson, Alex Tuch and Colin Miller scored for Vegas, which snapped a five-game winning streak and lost another goalie to an injury. With starter Marc-Andre Fleury and backup Malcolm Subban already sidelined, Oscar Dansk left after Tavares scored the tying goal late in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

Dansk, who came in 3-0 with an NHL-best 1.34 goals-against average, made 17 saves. Maxime Lagace, the fourth goalie Vegas has used in its inaugural season, came on for his NHL debut and gave up four goals on 11 shots.

Vegas led 2-1 after one period and the teams played more deliberate hockey for the first 10 minutes of the second. Dansk made two nice stops on Tavares, who had two hat tricks in the previous three games, in close with about eight minutes to go.

However, Tavares tied the score with his 10th goal with 5:10 left, deflecting a shot by Nick Leddy past Dansk, who was injured on the play. The Golden Knights challenged for goalie interference, but the goal stood after a review (see full recap).

How Flyers prepare for life without Simmonds, Neuvirth

How Flyers prepare for life without Simmonds, Neuvirth

One Czech is out, and another has checked in.

Petr Mrazek has endured a rather eventful past 24 hours. Following news of the trade to the Flyers, Mrazek didn’t go to bed until 2 a.m. and was awake at 4 a.m. to catch a flight to Philadelphia that had him at the Wells Fargo Center in time for the Flyers' morning skate.

“I didn’t see it coming,” Mrazek said Tuesday. “I got a call at 9:30 from (Red Wings GM) Ken Holland and then Ron Hextall. Yeah, I’m excited. A couple of months ago I had a good conversation with Ken Holland about it and he said if he had a good opportunity to do it, he was going to try and move me. I was really happy.”

With Michal Neuvirth now expected to miss the next four to six weeks with a lower-body injury, and Brian Elliott scheduled to be out until late March recovering from core muscle surgery, Mrazek will now be the Flyers' go-to guy in net. 

“Petr’s a proven guy,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That goes without saying. We’ve said all along we have confidence in Alex (Lyon) and he’s starting tonight, but Hexy alluded to it, going out and getting an established veteran NHL goaltender and that’s what Petr is.”

Mrazek’s game has definitely reached another level since the calendar flipped to 2018. The 26-year-old netminder has a 5-3-2 record to go along with a 2.29 GAA and a .925 save percentage since Jan. 1. 

“I changed a couple of things during the summer,” Mrazek said. “I didn’t play much the first half of the season and it was tough for me to find my game playing once in two weeks or once in three weeks. It was tough but I worked hard during that stretch on the ice to try and improve my game, and I think over the past few months it was going in the right direction.”

Mrazek will also find comfort in a clubhouse with three Czech teammates: forward Jakub Voracek, defenseman Radko Gudas and Neuvirth. They’ve played together at the IIHF World Championships and the World Cup of Hockey.

“I won’t be surprised if we signed Jags after the Olympics,” Voracek said jokingly regarding Jaromir Jagr. “Obviously, something needs to be done regarding Neuvy and Elliott. Petr’s a great goalie and I think we’re having a great season this year. Obviously, he’s very competitive. As long as we find a way to win with him in the net, that’s all that matters.”  

“They’re different style goalies for sure,” Gudas said of the differences between Mrazek and Neuvirth. “He’s a great goaltender who challenges a lot. That’s a good thing for us to have someone who cares as much as he does. I think our goalies were doing a really good job of keeping our defense intact and keeping them honest, and I think Petr is going to do the same thing, especially our young D corps, and help them out.” 

In Bloom
Many expected Oskar Lindblom to make the Flyers out of training camp. Few expected the call-up to come during the heat of a playoff race. 

Regardless, the 21-year-old Swede will make his NHL debut Tuesday against the Canadiens and should see an extended look into March following an upper-body injury to Wayne Simmonds. The Flyers' power forward is expected to miss the next two to three weeks of action.

“I’ve grown as a person and as a player,” Lindblom said. “I just felt I had to go down there (Lehigh Valley) and just do my thing and get better every day.”

“It’s so valuable going into the American League and have the opportunity to gain that experience, especially for Oskar being his first year in the smaller NHL rink,” Hakstol said. “He’s grown as a player. I think his confidence has always been good.”

Certainly, confidence won’t be lacking as Lindblom was lighting it up with the Phantoms, scoring a goal in three straight games, along with another scoring streak that included five goals in a six-game span.  

“I don’t know why I’ve been that way this season,” Lindblom said. “But it’s good when it comes and I need to keep riding on that wave a little bit.”

“He’s got a great shot, great hockey sense,” Claude Giroux said. “He’s been playing some great hockey with the Phantoms, and he’s a great guy in the locker room, too, so I’m pretty excited to see him on the ice since I haven’t seen him in awhile.”

Lindblom will be on the Flyers' third line along with center Scott Laughton and winger Michael Raffl.

“He’s a smart player, a really heady player,” Laughton said. “I’m excited to play with him. I haven’t talked to him too much. I’m sure we’ll talk more before the game with what me and Raffl like to do and we’ll go out there and continue to push forward and look for him in the slot where he likes to score goals.”

Projected lines and pairings
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny

Jakub Voracek-Nolan Patrick-Jordan Weal

Oskar Lindblom-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Jori Lehtera-Valtteri Filppula-Dale Weise


Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Andrew MacDonald-Robert Hagg

Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas


Alex Lyon

Petr Mrazek

2 more key Flyers out with injuries

2 more key Flyers out with injuries

There's more bad news on the injury front for the Flyers.

Winger Wayne Simmonds (upper-body injury) will miss two to three weeks and goalie Michal Neuvirth (lower-body injury) will be out the next four to five weeks.

With Monday's news that the Flyers had recalled surging forward prospect Oskar Lindblom (see story), a corresponding move seemed imminent. With Simmonds out, Jordan Weal took his place on Nolan Patrick's line, which had been clicking lately, during Tuesday's morning skate. It appears Lindblom will see his first NHL action on Scott Laughton's line along with Michael Raffl.

With Brian Elliott likely out for the rest of the regular season and Neuvirth's status, the Flyers' trade for goalie Petr Mrazek makes obvious sense (see story). Mrazek was on the ice for morning skate and will be available tonight vs. the Canadiens (7 p.m./NBCSP), according to GM Ron Hextall, who was a guest on 97.5 The Fanatic's midday show.