Flyers show there's always time for a little magic

Flyers show there's always time for a little magic


RALEIGH, N.C. — The goalie wasn’t the problem.

Sometimes a team needs only two goals to win.

Jordan Weal made a play up ice, scoring with 3.1 seconds left in overtime to give the Flyers a 2-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday night.

Brian Elliott was back in goal for the Flyers following a four-game absence with a lower-body injury, and the team came in riding a four-game losing streak.

With the win, the Flyers (25-19-9) moved into the Eastern Conference's first wild-card slot. The Flyers had scored three goals in each of their previous three games, but gained a point only in their 4-3 overtime loss to Ottawa.

For the Hurricanes (24-21-9), it was their third straight loss.

• Carolina got its regulation goal on a four-minute penalty at 15:05 of the first period. The Hurricanes scored on Elias Lindholm’s follow of his own shot in the crease. It was Carolina’s 14th power-play goal in its last 16 games.

•  Nolan Patrick had given Brock McGinn a nasty bloody nose to set up the double-minor.

• The Flyers trailed, 1-0, after 20 minutes despite outshooting the Hurricanes, 11-10. The Flyers were 0 for 2 on the power play during the period.

• The Flyers, who always have noisy support in Raleigh, got the tying goal from Wayne Simmonds during the second stanza. Simmonds worked hard to get the rebound of a Jakub Voracek attempt with Andrew MacDonald on the helper. It was Simmonds’ 18th of the season and Voracek’s 52nd assist.

“I thought we did a great job of getting in on the forecheck,” Simmonds said. “We kind of followed up from what the line before us had done on the break in. We got pucks to the net and I was lucky that I found one at my feet and was able to put it in.”

• Shots were tied at 21-21 after two, but Carolina had just two shots in the third.

• Carolina’s marketing department billed the game inside the arena as “crashing the party,” a good-natured opportunity to somehow take the luster off the Eagles’ win in Super Bowl LII.

• RW Dale Weise and D Mark Alt were healthy scratches for the Flyers. With Elliott back in the lineup, the Flyers had no injuries to report and are among the league’s healthiest teams. So is Carolina.

• It was the teams’ first meeting of the campaign. The others this season are March 1 in Philadelphia, on St. Patrick’s Day in Raleigh and on April 5 in Philadelphia. Last season, the Flyers won two of five outright, with each team prevailing once in overtime.

• The Flyers will host Montreal on Thursday night before visiting Arizona on Saturday and Vegas Sunday.

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

USA Today Images

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).