Goulbourne 'shot in the arm' Flyers needed

Goulbourne 'shot in the arm' Flyers needed


An NHL tough guy is born … or should we say bourne?

Flyers rookie winger Tyrell Goulbourne took his opening NHL shift and made it a rather memorable one, leveling one of the league’s top defensemen, Alex Pietrangelo, which set up Scott Laughton and the team's first goal Saturday afternoon.

Surprisingly, it was Goulbourne who had a sense of fear coming in.

“It was amazing,” Goulbourne said. “I can’t really explain how it felt. I was scared before the game. My legs were shaking. It felt really good after that first shift. I just wanted to get a hit in there. Laughts kind of teed him up nice. I just wanted to finish my check. I’ve always been an energy type player.”

“Everybody’s excited for a player to go out and have success on his first shift,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It empowers him and for sure it’s a shot in the arm for the entire bench. Obviously, he had a big impact on that first shift to go out and play the way he plays.”

While the Flyers certainly don’t need to resort to overpowering teams physically, Goulbourne’s intensity and toughness are an element embraced when coaches and GMs are looking for a lift at some point throughout an 82-game schedule.

“You see him coming and you kind of want to get out of the way,” goalie Brian Elliott said. “I didn’t know what happened on his first shift, but the boys were saying that it was definitely a good one.”

Before Pietrangelo and the Blues knew what hit them, they were trailing 4-0 just 31 minutes and 45 seconds into the game, as the Flyers cruised to a 6-3 victory (see observations).

A game that also proved to be a not-so-memorable return for Blues center Brayden Schenn, who played for the first time in Philadelphia since the offseason trade.

Schenn was held pointless, finished as a minus-1  and won just five of 17 draws. Not only did the Flyers own Schenn in the faceoff circle, but Claude Giroux welcomed him back with a surprising check that knocked him down at center ice.

“He kind of gave me a shot and I gave him a shot right back," said Giroux, who scored his 14th goal, matching his scoring output from last season. "I think he just fell, but it was pretty funny."

Officially the midway point of the season, Giroux is once again top five in scoring and on pace for a 100-point season.

“You want to be the best player you can be at all times,” Giroux said. “Being able to have that chemistry with Coots makes my job a lot easier. I think when you get older you kind of learn from your mistakes.”

The Flyers scored six goals in back-to-back games for the first time since February 2013 after defeating the Islanders, 6-4, Thursday. Finally, consistency is beginning to set in within the team’s secondary scoring lines.

“I think we got everyone going early in the game and guys are ready,” said center Sean Couturier, who scored his 20th and 21st goals of the season. “Guys come out strong and we established our game, and I think it obviously helps a lot when you get a good start and go from there.”

Slow starts have been a Flyers trademark over the first half of the season. Their 2-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes was the first Flyers first-period lead since Dec. 7 at Vancouver.

Now just cut and paste that first shift from Goulbourne moving forward.

Blue Jackets tighten grip for 10th straight win

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Blue Jackets tighten grip for 10th straight win

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 33 shots for his fifth shutout of the season, Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist, and the Columbus Blue Jackets shut out the Florida Panthers 4-0 on Thursday night for their 10th straight win.

Pierre-Luc Dubois had two assists for the Blue Jackets, who improved to 42-28-5 and joined Philadelphia (1984-86) and Pittsburgh (2010-13) as the only NHL franchises to record 10-game win streaks in consecutive seasons.

The shutout was the 24th of Bobrovsky's career and his seventh straight win. Sonny Milano, Seth Jones and Thomas Vanek -- into an empty net -- also scored for Columbus, which moved into a second-place tie in the Metropolitan Division with idle Pittsburgh, each with 89 points.

Florida dropped to 37-28-7. With 10 games left in the season, the Panthers remained a point behind the idle New Jersey Devils for a playoff spot (see full recap).

Maple Leafs top Predators in Matthews’ return
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Auston Matthews had a goal in his return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for 10 games and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 on Thursday night.

The Predators had been 14-0-1 since their previous regulation loss on Feb. 17.

James van Riemsdyk and Mitchell Marner each had a goal and an assist, and William Nylander and Jake Gardiner also scored for Toronto, which has won five of six.

Morgan Rielly had three assists for the Maple Leafs, and Tyler Bozak had two. Frederik Andersen stopped 23 shots.

Viktor Arvidsson and Scott Hartnell scored for Nashville. Pekka Rinne had 23 saves (see full recap).

Grubauer, Capitals shut out Red Wings
DETROIT -- Philipp Grubauer made 39 saves for his third shutout of the season, and Brett Connolly scored the game's only goal on a third-period breakaway to lift the Washington Capitals to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday night.

The Capitals have won six of seven and lead Pittsburgh and Columbus by four points atop the Metropolitan Division as the regular season winds down. Washington has turned increasingly to Grubauer of late after Braden Holtby struggled in February and at the beginning of March. Holtby wasn't available Thursday because of an injury coach Barry Trotz described as a tweak.

The Capitals took the lead with 13:19 remaining in the game after Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet couldn't control the puck near Washington's blue line. Connolly and teammate Jakub Vrana went the other way on a two-man breakaway, and Connolly beat Jimmy Howard with a wrist shot to the glove side. It was his 15th goal of the season.

The Red Wings had a goal called back for goalie interference in the first period -- replays showed Tyler Bertuzzi appearing to make contact with Grubauer in front of the net. Detroit squandered a great opportunity in the second when the Red Wings had a two-man advantage for the full 2:00.

Andreas Athanasiou had a breakaway in the third, but couldn't beat Grubauer. Athanasiou had another chance in the final minutes, but his shot deflected wide as Grubauer tried unsuccessfully to grab it with his glove.

Detroit has lost 11 of 12 (see full recap).

Dave Hakstol shows who he can trust in Flyers' win over Rangers

Dave Hakstol shows who he can trust in Flyers' win over Rangers


Who can I trust?

That’s the underlying question Dave Hakstol is attempting to answer almost nightly as the Flyers inch their way toward a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

It was no different in the Flyers' frantic 4-3 win over the Rangers Thursday at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

“We were sporadic. The first three or four minutes of the game, we weren’t sharp or crisp,” Hakstol said. “Honestly, we got back on our heels in the last part of the third period. There are things that we obviously have to clean up.”

The cleanup crew Hakstol is looking for must possess a trustworthiness factor that makes each player dependable during crunch time. Against the Rangers, the Flyers' coach was forced to lean heavily on a handful of guys who weren’t even on Hakstol’s roster during the first half of the season.

Matt Read replaced Travis Konecny (who scored two goals) on the top line, and was counted on defensively where Konecny came up short in the previous two periods. Read played 13:52 to Konecny’s 12:29.

“He wasn’t taking care of the puck very well,” Hakstol said of Konecny. “Individuals have got to be better at this time of year and how we manage the puck and the mentality that we’re going to do things with.”

“It’s just part of buying in and doing things for the team” Konecny said. “I have no problem with it. It’s a matter of getting the two points. If that’s the way we’ve got to win, then we’ve got to do that every time.”

The 21-year-old Oskar Lindblom scored the eventual game-winning goal on the opening shift of the third period, and the second-line winger was consistently shifted until the final four minutes of regulation.  

“Everybody’s different. It depends on the player,” Hakstol said. “Oskar is a guy that has come in and fit into the structural part of our game very well if you watch Oskar’s game. He’s just very intelligent in terms of playing within a system. He always finds a way to be on the right side of the puck.”

And then there’s goaltender Alex Lyon, who stepped up following his strong performance in relief of Petr Mrazek Tuesday night in Detroit. 

When the defense in front of him broke down, Lyon answered the call and preserved the Flyers' lead throughout times in the second period and even during a spotty third period.

“I was actually thinking about it before the game today,” Lyon said. “Every game is so different, and you feel different. Circumstances are different, the team is different every day, so I think the best guys are those who can adjust to that, so I try and take a page out of their book.”

And with his 33-save performance, Lyon has put himself in position to start Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh.

If there’s a doghouse for those who perform poorly, then consider this to be Hakstol’s safe house. They may not be the Flyers' best guys, but as of now, they’re the reliable ones.

Or as Hakstol is looking for — those who play on the right side of the puck.