Flyers can now look down on Metro foes

Flyers can now look down on Metro foes


MONTREAL — The Flyers extended their point streak to 12 games and claimed first place in the Metropolitan Division with a 1-0 shootout win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre Monday night.

The Washington Capitals’ 5-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets opened the door for the Flyers to take over the top spot in the Metro (see standings).

Petr Mrazek stopped 28 shots for his first shutout since joining the Flyers. He’s now won his first three starts since the Flyers acquired him last Monday from Detroit. 

Sean Couturier scored the game-winning goal in the sixth round of the shootout.

The Flyers became just the second team in franchise history to win 10 games in the month of February, joining the 1975-76 club that went 10-0-4 mark during the month.

The Flyers won their first 1-0 game after dropping two 1-0 decisions this season: Oct. 19 vs. Nashville and Nov. 11 vs. Minnesota.

• Shayne Gostisbehere has become Travis Konecny’s personal bodyguard out on the ice. Eight days ago in New York, Gostisbehere dropped the gloves with Pavel Buchenevich after Konecny took a hard check. 

On Monday night during the opening shift, Ghostisbehere took exception when Max Pacioretty tripped up Konecny and nearly engaged once again. Both “Ghost” and Pacioretty earned matching roughing penalties. 

• Konecny told me after the morning skate that his foot is 100 percent, and it certainly looked to be the case late in the first period when he sped into the Canadiens’ zone with the puck and then dropped a pass off behind his back to Couturier, who had an open look in the slot.

• The shots were 10-3 in the Flyers’ favor during the first period, but both teams had the equal number of scoring chances. The line of Oskar Lindblom, Nolan Patrick and Jakub Voracek was probably the best in the opening 20 minutes. All three players present a challenge for an opposing defense with how quick they close and how tough they are on pucks.

• Canadiens goaltender Charlie Lindgren has the makings of a good, solid NHL goaltender. He led the NCAA with 30 wins in 2015-16 at St. Cloud State, the same season Alex Lyon had an All-American season at Yale. 

The Flyers tried to rattle him by crashing the net. Voracek almost connected with Lindblom early in the second period, but the Flyers didn’t make Lindgren’s job too terribly tough early on.

• Mrazek did a tremendous job of locking in and tracking the puck, and didn’t play himself out of position once over the first two periods. His best save came on Paul Byron, who came across the crease. Mrazek followed and extended his stick to keep the puck out and keep the game scoreless. Mrazek was the difference-maker in the second period. The Canadiens were the better possession team in the second and had seven high-danger chances to the Flyers’ four.

• Couturier was a force in his return home with four shots on goal and a pair of hits through two periods. Patrick was the only other Flyer who had more than one shot on net after two periods of action.

• The Flyers reversed course and came out strong in the third period as the Canadiens tried to slow them down through the neutral zone with a 1-2-2 formation. The passing lanes opened up and the Flyers had some uncontested looks on Lindgren, but they couldn’t break through.

• Dave Hakstol rolled four lines rather consistently but then favored the Valtteri Filppula, Jori Lehtera, Dale Weise trio over the Scott Laughton line in the third period of a close game. It’s trust factor with Hakstol. He felt confident the Filppula line wouldn’t cough up the puck and make a costly play that led to a goal.

• Mrazek was spectacular with several dazzling glove saves in overtime. 

Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

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Ducks help Flyers out by downing Devils

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Brandon Montour scored a power-play goal, helping lift the Anaheim Ducks into third place in the Pacific Division with a 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

Ryan Getzlaf and Rickard Rakell each had a goal and an assist, and Jakob Silfverberg also scored for the Ducks, who lead Los Angeles by two points in the division. Anaheim won its third straight game and is 6-1-0 in its last seven at home.

John Gibson made 15 saves, improving to 9-2-0 in his last 11 starts.

Kyle Palmieri had a power-play goal and Patrick Maroon also scored for the Devils, who had won the first three games of their six-game road trip. Keith Kinkaid made 32 saves, ending a four-start winning streak.

New Jersey holds the second wild-card in the Eastern Conference, five points ahead of Florida (see full recap).

Karlsson's hat trick helps Vegas beat Flames
LAS VEGAS -- William Karlsson scored a natural hat trick to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-0 victory over the Calgary Flames on Sunday.

Colin Miller also scored as Vegas snapped a four-game home losing streak and improved to 25-9-2 at T Mobile Arena.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who made his 20th start in 21 games, made 42 saves. In getting his 48th career shutout and fourth of the season, Fleury moved into a tie with Chris Osgood for 12th all-time amongst goaltenders at 401.

Vegas improved to 3-0-0 against Calgary while outscoring the Flames 15-5. The teams meet once more, in the regular-season finale at Calgary on April 7 (see full recap).

Laine scores twice, matches Ovechkin for NHL goal lead
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Patrik Laine scored twice to extend his point streak to 15 games and tie Alex Ovechkin for the NHL goal lead, and the Winnipeg Jets beat the Dallas Stars 4-3 on Sunday night to match the franchise wins record at 43.

The second-year sniper has 43 goals, matching the total from Ovechkin, the Washington star and Laine's boyhood favorite. Laine's point streak is the longest active run in the NHL and adds to his league record for the longest point streak by a teenager. The streak includes 18 goals and eight assists.

Ben Chiarot also scored and Blake Wheeler added an empty-netter for Winnipeg.

Mattias Janmark and Jamie Benn each scored for Dallas (see full recap).

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

Oskar Lindblom quiets Flyers’ chirps in weekend of firsts

If there was an NHL handbook on how to score goals in the most competitive hockey league in the world, you would have thought Oskar Lindblom would have read it forward and backward, on the charter to the Flyers' next road game and at night before bedtime.

From effort to playing at both ends of the ice, Lindblom had done everything to score a goal, except actually score one.

Prior to Saturday’s game against Carolina, Lindblom had played his first 12 games without registering a single point and it was starting to become a source of playful dissing and mockery in the Flyers' locker room.

“Teammates keep him loose,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “I think Alex Lyon was giving him the gears. I think Alex should have had an assist last night (in Carolina). I don’t know if he was credited with one or not, but I think Alex was chirping (Oskar) about having more points per game than he did, and that’s what guys do.”

However, the official scoresheet from the 4-2 win in Carolina had Lindblom credited with his first NHL assist and Lyon still looking for one. Prior to that, the zeroes next to Lindblom’s game were starting to add up and Hakstol sensed the 21-year-old rookie was taking notice.  

“I don’t remember the game last week, but he had a great opportunity off a rebound at net front,” Hakstol said. “That was the first time I saw a little bit of frustration creep in where he let it show. Oskar is a good offensive player. He wants to help by doing his part offensively, but I think what he just continued to concentrate on is just playing good hockey.”

Sunday that first goal finally arrived in the form of a snapshot that beat Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer up high. It gave the Flyers a lead they never relinquished in a 6-3 win over Washington.

“I don’t want to think about it anymore,” Lindblom said. “Got the first one today and it was a huge one in the game so it was good.”

And with that, the Swede slipped on the Ric Flair victory robe for the first time, handed down from the Finnish Valtteri Filppula, who was presented the feather-laced garment the night before in Carolina. 

Prior to that, the only thing Lindblom had received was encouragement and support from his teammates who knew his time would eventually come. With an easy-going smile and a personality to match, Lindblom’s fellow Flyers couldn’t help but root for him. 

“We’re all happy for him," Travis Konecny said. “It’s been paying off for him. He deserves it. He works hard at both ends of the ice. I’m personally happy for him.

“He’s got that offensive skill that’s far and few between that a lot of guys don’t have. He just has a knack around the net, he’s always around the puck. We all knew it was coming sooner or later.”

Apparently, everyone seemed to know and especially Jake Voracek, who’s been assisting in every way possible.

“He talks to me a lot,” Lindblom said. “He tried to calm me down a little bit. It’s good for me.”