Crazy OT sequence ends in Flyers' favor ... barely

Crazy OT sequence ends in Flyers' favor ... barely


RALEIGH, N.C. — Brian Elliott should have been an easy No. 1 star for the Flyers on Tuesday night.

But that was before Jordan Weal scored with 3.1 seconds left in overtime to beat the Carolina Hurricanes, 2-1 (see observations).

The result ended the Flyers’ four-game losing streak, while Carolina’s slide is now at three.

Elliott, who had missed the previous four games, had dodged a bullet just a few seconds earlier as he knocked down a shot from Jordan Staal and then Claude Giroux tapped away a Jeff Skinner attempt before the Flyers' last trip down the ice.

“I got it with the tip of my stick, and then it was kind of pinballing and [Giroux] got it,” Elliott said. “I don’t really know. We’ll have to watch it again, too. I have a short memory. It’s a goalie memory."

And Weal took advantage of it, scoring the winner after making a play off a stretch pass from Shayne Gostisbehere (see highlights).

For Weal, it was the first overtime game-winner of his career. It also marked the third-latest OT goal in franchise history, according to the NHL stats bureau, behind Scott Hartnell (0.9 seconds in March 2012 vs. Penguins) and Mike Richards (3.0 seconds in December 2010 vs. Bruins).

"Weathered the storm, and that's the 3-on-3," Weal said. "If you can weather the storm at one end, that’s when the fast break happens and you get another chance at the other end."

Elliott said he didn’t need much time to regain his rhythm after the absence.

“There’s always a little rust,” he said. “I haven’t seen that many shots in the last little bit. You’re in a groove in the middle of the season. It’s not like the beginning of the season. I was feeling confident.”

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said he liked his team’s play almost throughout.

“I liked our start,” Hakstol said. “There were so many specialty units, but later there was so much 5-on-5 (one Carolina penalty and none against the Flyers over the final 33 minutes).

“We had a good last 30 minutes of the game. I was really happy with us playing a good road game. This is a good extra point for our team. In the overtime, Moose (Elliott) is our best player, plain and simple. You need that in order to win sometimes in overtime.”

The captain Giroux agreed.

“In the second and third, we played a pretty solid game,” Giroux said. “We really played our game.”

Of note
Hurricanes winger Justin Williams spent a portion of his career as a Flyer and is in his second stint with Carolina. … Former Flyers star Rod Brind’Amour is Carolina’s assistant coach, with responsibility for the Hurricanes’ power play.

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Replacing Wayne Simmonds on the power play may be one of the toughest assignments in the NHL.

After all, the guy is second to only Alex Ovechkin with 85 man-advantage goals since the 2011-12 season.

So when the predicament actually faced Dave Hakstol this week, the Flyers' head coach turned to … a 19-year-old rookie.

Why Nolan Patrick?

Three components of the decision stand out:

Intelligence factor
Leading up the NHL draft, the overwhelming strength of Patrick's scouting report was his hockey sense.

Those close to him, as well draft experts, lauded Patrick for comprehending plays before they even happen and being above the ice in understanding spacing.

Those characteristics are crucial when having an extra man.

Patrick has two goals over two games filling in for the injured Simmonds on the Flyers' top power-play unit. Patrick exhibited his IQ with Thursday's game-winner, where he quickly planted himself right in front of the net, had the presence of mind to find the puck and then bury it past Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We told him, just stand in front, if you see a puck, bring it home," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We tried to simplify it for him and he's going to take care of it himself, he's a great hockey player. It's paying off for him."

All about the touch
Patrick has excellent hands.

Put him around the net, and he'll know how to deflect pucks and find holes in a goalie. His vision, skill and finesse are why he's regarded as such an all-around playmaker.

In Tuesday's win, Patrick found immediate success with the first power-play group. Making his way to the middle, Patrick took a Claude Giroux pass and showed off that touch, adeptly going top shelf as Carey Price went low.

Studying Simmonds' net-front proficiency hasn't hurt, either.

"I watch him every game, he's unbelievable there and good at tipping pucks and making plays," Patrick said. "You learn from just watching every day."

Building up the kid
With time, Hakstol and the Flyers have allowed for Patrick to become comfortable instead of putting the world on his shoulders from the get-go.

That's part of Patrick's makeup.

"He almost always wants to be comfortable and then he really starts to exert himself," Patrick's uncle, James, said to NBC Sports Philadelphia last June

We're starting to see Patrick let loose.

As the Flyers have gradually upped his opportunity and responsibility, Patrick has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his last 12 games after putting up six (two goals, four assists) over his previous 34.

Placing Patrick among the team's best talent on the man advantage will only help with his confidence moving forward, in all situations.

The Flyers' power play entered Friday with the NHL's sixth-best percentage at 21.6.

It'll need more of Patrick — but the Flyers couldn't have asked for a much better start to life without Simmonds over the next two to three weeks.

Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

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Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each had two goals and an assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins routed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Friday night for their season-best sixth straight victory.

Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists, Sidney Crosby scored a late goal and Olli Maatta also scored. The Penguins took control with three goals -- two by Kessel -- in a 7:39 span in the second period.

Matt Murray made 27 saves for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 13 to overtake idle Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Since the Penguins were shut out by Carolina on Jan. 4, they are 16-3-1.

They were just as busy off the ice, completing a mid-game trade in which they picked up center Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. As part of the complicated three-team deal, they sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Teuvo Teravainen scored and Cam Ward stopped 33 shots for the short-handed Hurricanes, who have gone 0-3-1 during a four-game slide that's keeping them outside the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Wild dominate skidding Rangers for New York sweep
NEW YORK -- Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal each scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves in the Minnesota Wild's 4-1 victory over the free-falling New York Rangers on Friday night.

The Wild completed a three-game sweep of New York-area teams after beating the Monday night and New Jersey on Thursday night.

The Rangers lost for the sixth straight time in regulation. New York is 6-17-0 since beating Buffalo in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 (see full recap).

Blackhawks’ Berube dominant in 1st Chicago start
CHICAGO -- Jean-Francois Berube made 42 saves in his first start for Chicago to help the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Friday night.

Defenseman Jan Rutta, activated from injured reserve Friday, and Nick Schmaltz scored, and Artem Anisimov added an empty-netter with 30.5 seconds left.

Anthony Duclair had two assists for the Blackhawks. They won their second straight and third in four games following an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to last place in the Central Division.

Berube lost a bid for this first NHL shutout when Timo Meier scored his 15th goal on a screened shot with 7:51 left in the third period.

Martin Jones stopped 33 shots for the Sharks, coming off a 7-1 loss at Nashville on Thursday night (see full recap).