Flyers

Devils ride Stefan Noesen's late goals to comeback

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Devils ride Stefan Noesen's late goals to comeback

NEWARK, N.J. -- Stefan Noesen scored on a rebound with 4:07 to play and added an empty net goal as New Jersey rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat Anaheim Ducks 5-3 on Monday night in the first game between the teams since the late November trade that sent defenseman Sami Vatanen to the Devils for the popular Adam Henrique.

Myles Wood had two goals, Jesper Bratt also scored and Brian Boyle added three assists as the Devils won their second straight game to start a six-game homestand. Cory Schneider had 21 saves and was helped by a goalpost on a shot by Rickard Rakell during a power play before Neosen, a former Duck, scored the go-ahead goal.

Henrique had a wonderful return, scoring a spectacular goal and adding an assist as the Ducks had their point-scoring streak snapped at seven games (3-0-4). Ryan Getzlaf and Jakob Silfverberg also scored for Anaheim. Ryan Miller had 29 saves in losing for the first time in regulation (3-1-4) this season.

Noesen put in his own rebound for his fourth goal of the season. His empty-net tally came after Schneider stopped Henrique in front after the Ducks pulled Miller (see full recap)

Bruins dominate Blue Jackets
BOSTON -- Jake DeBrusk set up second-period power-play goals by David Backes and Charlie McAvoy and added a goal of his own, Tuukka Rask stopped 16 shots to keep up his hot stretch, and the Boston Bruins beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-2 on Monday night.

Brad Marchand, Danton Heinen, Torey Krug and Patrice Bergeron also scored for the Bruins, who had a season-high scoring total while halting a two-game skid. Rask improved to 6-0-1 in his last seven starts. McAvoy also had an assist and his first career NHL fight.

Josh Anderson and Seth Jones scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 38 saves -- including a penalty shot by Tim Schaller -- for the Blue Jackets.

Columbus lost for the third in four games and was dominated in the first two periods when they fell into a 3-0 hole (see full recap).

Barrie, Avalanche hold off Penguins
DENVER -- Defenseman Tyson Barrie scored twice, Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots -- even getting a little help from the posts along the way -- and the Colorado Avalanche beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-2 on Monday night.

J.T. Compher also scored and Mikko Rantanen sealed the win with a late empty-netter as the Avalanche knocked off the Penguins for the second time in a week to sweep the season series.

Barrie scored his first goal since Oct. 13 in the first period. He followed that up with another in the second for his fifth career two-goal game.

Chad Ruhwedel and Evgeni Malkin found the net for the Penguins, who finished a three-game trip with a 1-2 mark. Pittsburgh was a little unfortunate in the second period when Josh Archibald's shot trickled through the pads of Varlamov, clanged off the post, stood on its edge for a moment and fell down on the line for no goal.

Malkin lined in a shot just 1:25 into the third to make it 3-2. Ryan Reaves nearly tied it late in the third, but his wrist shot down low clanged off the post. Matthew Murray was pulled in favor of an extra skater with around 1:40 left. Seconds later, Rantanen scored an easy goal (see full recap).

Panthers upset West-best Golden Knights in OT

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USA Today Images

Panthers upset West-best Golden Knights in OT

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Aaron Ekblad scored 40 seconds into overtime to lift the Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Friday night, spoiling former coach Gerard Gallant's return to Florida.

Ekblad grabbed a rebound in the high slot and fired it past Malcolm Subban to give Florida its second win in six games this month.

Aleksander Barkov scored his league-leading fifth short-handed goal of the season and had two assists, and Evgenii Dadonov and Jamie McGinn also scored for the Panthers. James Reimer stopped 33 shots.

William Karlsson had a goal and an assist, and David Perron and James Neal also scored for Vegas. Subban finished with 22 saves (see full recap).

Pacioretty, Canadiens snap 3-game skid
WASHINGTON -- Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist to help the Montreal Canadiens break a three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Paul Byron also scored for the Canadiens. Antii Niemi, playing in place of Carey Price, who had been in goal for eight consecutive games, stopped 24 shots.

John Carlson and Lars Eller scored for the Capitals, and Philipp Grubauer finished with 22 saves.

Pacioretty, who has six goals in the last six games, scored Montreal's first goal at 7:08 in the second period and added an empty-netter with 1:18 remaining in the game (see full recap).

Ducks get upper hand on rival Kings again
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Ryan Kesler deflected home Francois Beauchemin's shot for the tiebreaking goal with 7:39 to play and the Anaheim Ducks won their second Freeway Faceoff in seven days, beating the struggling Los Angeles Kings 2-1 Friday night.

Adam Henrique scored early in the third period and John Gibson made 23 saves for the Ducks, who have won six of nine overall.

Rookie Alex Iafallo evened it for Los Angeles moments after Henrique's goal, but Kesler's long deflection sent the puck bouncing past Jonathan Quick. Anaheim then hung on in a frantic final minute to even the archrivals' season series at two games apiece.

Quick stopped 29 shots in the Kings' sixth consecutive loss, extending their longest skid of the season (see full recap).

Flyers have clear path to postseason but ...

Flyers have clear path to postseason but ...

It’s about to get real for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Real serious and potentially really hard. The Flyers have played the fewest divisional games of any team in the NHL.

That might be beneficial if the team located about 40 minutes off the shores of the Atlantic Ocean actually played in the Atlantic Division. The Flyers have hammered Atlantic teams this season: an 8-4-0 record including a win in Tampa and their most recent three-game series sweep of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Whereas the Atlantic houses a collection of domesticated poodles and Pomeranians, the Metropolitan Division is more a breeding ground for vicious Dobermans and pit bulls.

And the Flyers are about to enter the teeth of that beast.

Dave Hakstol’s club plays 19 of their remaining 37 games against the rock-solid Metropolitan, the only 8-team division in hockey without a legitimate doormat or two. 

“It’s good or bad depending on whether you’re winning or not,” general manager Ron Hextall said.“It’s great taking points from other teams and adding to your total. It does put a higher importance on those games for sure. Every game is important, but certain games are just a little more important. Your lows can’t be too low. That’s the bottom line.

“They’re divisional games. They’re huge games for us, especially with how tight it is with that wild card spot,” center Sean Couturier said. “We’ve got to step up and be ready for the challenge.”

Unfortunately for the Flyers, their sore spot over their past two-plus seasons has been their play against the Metropolitan elites — the teams they’re typically chasing in the standings.

4-4-1 vs. Capitals
3-5-2 vs. Rangers
3-6-1 vs. Penguins
2-3-4 vs. Blue Jackets

Collectively, that’s a 12-18-8 record in the Dave Hakstol era with just a 4-9-6 mark on the road. Interestingly, defenseman Brandon Manning believes roster formation has been part of the reason behind the success of the Flyers' opponents.  

“Credit to them, I think they’ve done a good job of getting better every year,” Manning said. “You look at what Pittsburgh does with their turnover and still finding a way to win. Columbus is so much better and you look at Jersey, which hasn’t been the greatest team the past couple of years, but this year they have a really good hockey team. I think credit to those teams for finding a way to get better.” 

And if there’s a direct path to the postseason, then winning these crucial divisional games has to be the way to get there. Since the formation of the NHL’s current four-division alignment in 2013-14, the Metropolitan has sent 17 teams to the playoffs and only once has a team reached the postseason without a winning record within the division — the Pittsburgh Penguins finished 9-17-4 in the Metro in 2014-15. 

The Capitals, Rangers and Blue Jackets also have the luxury of rostering a Vezina Trophy-winning goaltender in crucial divisional games, whereas, Hakstol will rely more on a platoon based on Elliott’s first-half workload and Neuvirth attempting to regain his early season form.  

“I haven’t studied the schedule that much in depth, but considering Moose started a stretch of 25 out of 30 games, that’s a real heavy workload,” Hakstol said. “I would expect the workload to be more spread out than that. We’ll find the best rhythm to be able and have both of them help our team.

“You need two goalies. I don’t care who you are,” Hextall said. “Look around the league. I said it before, there’s no Marty Brodeurs.”

Maybe not, but Saturday it all starts with Brodeur’s former team and with a back-to-back against the Devils and the Capitals this weekend. The Flyers' position within the division can change very drastically one direction or the other.