Flyers

Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Dave Hakstol showing confidence in Travis Sanheim

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USA Today Images/CSN

Flyers-Ducks thoughts: Dave Hakstol showing confidence in Travis Sanheim

Flyers (1-1-0) at Ducks (1-0-0)
10 p.m. on NBCSP, NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com and the NBC Sports App; Pregame Live at 9:30

The Flyers continue their season-opening road trip in Anaheim against a Ducks team that rallied from a 4-1 deficit in their opener Thursday for a 5-4 win against Arizona.

After tonight, the Flyers head to Nashville Tuesday before their home opener next Saturday against Washington. Coming back east with two wins would be the ideal start for the orange and black, but a point tonight would also make for a successful trip.

Let’s get you set for puck drop with some pregame thoughts for Game 3 of the season.

• As the road trip nears its end, we’ll soon find out which young defenseman won the second spot on the Flyers’ blue line. Perhaps a move will be made Sunday or Monday.

It sure looks like Travis Sanheim has has secured a spot over Sam Morin. Thursday was an indication of that and since Sanheim draws back in tonight, it’s safe to bet Sanheim is here to stay.
 
Sanheim made his NHL debut Thursday and the 21-year-old had his struggles. In the second period, Sanheim was at fault for the Kings’ first goal. Sanheim had a neutral-zone turnover and then allowed Trevor Lewis to get behind him for a one-timer.
 
But Hakstol chose to trust Sanheim in the third period with the game on the line. That was refreshing to see. Sanheim will make his mistakes, but he has to learn from them. The only way he will is to keep playing. For that reason, I’m happy to see him in tonight.

• How impressive has the Flyers’ fourth line been? Scott Laughton, Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl is a huge improvement from last year’s unit. The trio creates energy, plays responsible defensively and always seems to be in the opponent’s zone. There’s so much to like from the line and the chemistry between Laughton and Leier is uncanny.

They’re going to break out for some goals sooner or later. I’m betting it’s tonight.

• It’s been a quiet start for Nolan Patrick, but I haven’t been disappointed with his play. I think he’s flashed some positive signs as he adjusts to the NHL regular-season pace, but there’s still more to be desired. I believe it will come shortly. 
 
From a possession standpoint, however, the Patrick line with Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds has been dominated in the early going. We saw it in San Jose as the Logan Couture line was matched up against them and in L.A., with the Carter line.

It appears Hakstol has decided to switch things up for tonight’s game in Anaheim. Patrick was skating with Travis Konecny and Dale Weise during the morning skate while Valtteri Filppula moved up to the second line. 

I don’t view this as a demotion per say. Second or third line is where Patrick will be this season, and I still have faith we’ll see him back with Weal and Simmonds at some point. But for now, it looks like he’ll be skating with Konecny. That should be fun.

• The Flyers will avoid Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who will miss his second straight game with one of those famous part-of-the-body injuries. In fact, Anaheim is banged up. The Ducks also will be without Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm and Sami Vatanen.

Getzlaf, 32, has five goals and 17 points in 14 career games against the Flyers.

• You might remember John Gibson’s performance against the Flyers the last time they were in Anaheim. Gibson turned away 51 shots in a 4-3 shootout win on Jan. 1.

In three career games against the Flyers, Gibson is 3-0 with a 2.32 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He allowed four goals on 30 shots Thursday against Arizona and even challenged Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue to a fight.

• Even without Getzlaf and Kesler, the Ducks survived an improved Arizona team Thursday with much thanks to Corey Perry and Rickard Rakell.

Perry had two goals and an assist, while Rakell scored the game-winner and gathered two helpers himself. Perry has five goals and 16 points in 15 career games against the Flyers. He’s one of those players you’d love to have but absolutely just despise when he's your opponent.

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

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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.