Flyers

Granlund's 3 goals do the trick in Wild win over Preds

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Granlund's 3 goals do the trick in Wild win over Preds

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Mikael Granlund had the second three-goal game of his career and Devan Dubnyk made 41 saves in his first start since Dec. 12 to help the Minnesota Wild beat the Nashville Predators 4-2 on Friday night.

Matt Dumba had a goal and assist for Minnesota, which has won two in a row coming out of the league's holiday break. Dumba scored the go-ahead goal, his seventh of the season, midway through the second period in the first game of a back-to-back, home-and-home series between the two teams.

Pekka Rinne made 34 saves, but Nashville lost for the fourth time in five games. P.K. Subban and Kyle Turris scored for the Predators.

Dubnyk made his return after missing six games with a lower-body injury. He wasn't tested much early as Nashville went the first 7:57 without a shot.

The Wild had the first 11 shots and Granlund scored 7:34 into the game to give Minnesota the early lead. Turris made a quick play to save a loose puck behind Rinne. But the errant pass went out to Dumba, who fed Granlund for a one-timer.

Rinne made several big saves to keep the game close before Subban tied the game with his eighth goal of the year in the first. Granlund added his 10th goal of the season less than a minute later on the power play for his third multi-goal game of the season.

Granlund scored an empty-net goal with 50.3 seconds for the hat trick (see full recap).

Hurricanes beat Penguins for 4th straight win
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sebastian Aho scored the go-ahead goal with 1:55 left in the second period and the Carolina Hurricanes earned their season-best fourth straight win by beating the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 on Friday night.

Derek Ryan had a goal earlier in the second for Carolina, which improved to 7-0-1 in its last eight games.

Brian Dumoulin scored for the short-handed Penguins, who were down a season-high five injured players -- including top goalie Matt Murray and defenseman Kris Letang.

The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions have lost six of nine to slip to seventh place in the Metropolitan Division. They have just one regulation victory since Dec. 2.

Backup Tristan Jarry made 31 saves for the Penguins, who had won their previous seven meetings with the Hurricanes.

Cam Ward stopped 27 shots in his fourth straight start for Carolina, which entered tied with Pittsburgh for sixth place in the division race (see full recap).

Compher, Avalanche knock off Maple Leafs in OT
DENVER -- J.T. Compher scored a power-play goal 3:25 into overtime to give the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Friday night.

Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists, Alexander Kerfoot and Mikko Rantanen also scored for Colorado.

Semyon Varlamov had 31 saves for the Avalanche, who bounced back from losing to Arizona on Wednesday to beat another Eastern Conference power. Colorado swept two-time reigning champion Pittsburgh and split the season series with Washington.

Matt Martin, Roman Polak and James Van Riemsdyk had goals and Calvin Pickard stopped 24 shots for Toronto.

The Avalanche got a break in overtime when Connor Brown was given a minor for interference. Colorado had several chances, including MacKinnon hitting a post, before Compher beat Pickard with 9 seconds left on the power play (see full recap).

Claude Julien gets last laugh in return to Boston

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Claude Julien gets last laugh in return to Boston

BOSTON -- David Pastrnak and Ryan Spooner each scored an early goal, Tuukka Rask stopped 21 shots and the Bruins beat Montreal 4-1 Wednesday night in Canadiens coach Claude Julien's return to Boston.

The surging Bruins have earned at least a point in 14 straight games (10-0-4), their longest stretch since going 15-0-1 in March 2014.

Brad Marchand added a power-play goal in the third period, David Krejci had an empty-netter and Patrice Bergeron had two assists for Boston, which posted its second win over the Canadiens in five days. The teams meet again in Montreal on Saturday night.

Jakub Jerabek scored his first NHL goal for Montreal, and Carey Price made 28 saves.

Julien, who coached Boston's Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011, was fired last Feb. 7 in his 10th season. He was replaced by assistant and current Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who opted for more up-tempo, charge-into-the-zone play from his defensemen as opposed to Julien's mostly defensive-minded style.

Rask extended his career-best point streak to 15 games (13-0-2), including a 4-3 shootout win at Montreal last Saturday (see full recap).

Ducks score 4 in 2nd period to beat Penguins
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell and Adam Henrique scored 1:35 apart to Anaheim the lead during its four-goal second period, and the Ducks went on to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 Wednesday night.

Chris Wagner and Ondrej Kase also scored for Anaheim in the middle period, and Hampus Lindholm added an empty-netter in the final second of the game. John Gibson stopped 30 shots to help the Ducks improve to 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.

Anaheim scored four goals in a period for first time since doing it in the third period at Buffalo last Feb. 9.

Jake Guentzel, Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin scored for the Penguins, who snapped a four-game win streak. Tristan Jarry made 28 saves.

With the Ducks trailing 1-0, Rakell tied it on a redirect of a shot by Francois Beauchemin at 4:17 of the second. Henrique then put them ahead at 5:42, beating Jarry with a wraparound while the rookie was caught flatfooted at the opposite post trying to get his stick back.

Wagner scored on a short-handed breakaway to make it 3-1 at 9:24, notching the third special-teams goal of his career, all of which have come this season.

Kase's smooth breakaway backhand with 1:32 left in the period capped off the scoring deluge. Kase, who also had an assist, has five points in his last three games (see full recap).

Where is Dave Hakstol's sixth sense?

Where is Dave Hakstol's sixth sense?

VOORHEES, N.J. — Movie director M. Night Shyamalan may have created the sixth sense, and some of the more successful coaches in the NHL actually possess it. 

No, not the ability to see dead people, but rather, the recognition of assessing in-game situations and taking an immediate and proactive course of action before the team and the game itself begins to unravel.

Predators coach and former Flyers bench boss Peter Laviolette had an uncanny ability to utilize his only timeout at a moment when the team needed desperately to refocus during a stretch of poor hockey. Laviolette may have signaled for one during a lackluster first period or at the first sign of trouble in the third period.

He’d rip the gum out of his mouth and begin the process of chewing out his guys. His face would turn red and his temperature would rise as if it was measured by the red liquid in a thermometer. More often than not, Laviolette’s teams responded swiftly and appropriately to his message. He had an ability to seize the moment when others may not have seen it coming.

It’s a club Hakstol simply doesn’t have in his bag.

Hakstol prefers to hold onto his timeout predictably when the Flyers are down a goal late in the third period to draw up a play on the dry-erase board or to give his players a breather following an icing call. Rarely, if ever, is that timeout taken in an effort to overcome the opposition’s surge of momentum.

Same can be said for Hakstol’s decision to make a goaltending change.

In the Flyers' two most recent lopsided losses, both 5-1 setbacks to the Penguins and Rangers, Hakstol chose to pull Elliott after two periods with the outcomes pretty much decided heading into the third period. 

Regarding the Flyers' loss to New York Tuesday night: "We put [Elliott] in a pretty tough spot," Hakstol said postgame (see story). "Looking back on it, I could make the change after the fourth goal, but I felt like we put him in pretty tough spots tonight with the opportunities that we gave up in the first 30 minutes of the game."

While every coach seems to possess hindsight, not every coach has the appropriate sense of foresight. Goaltending changes can be the result of poor play in net and Elliott wasn’t great Tuesday night, but the decision can also take on a dual-purpose. Give the backup playing time while also attempting to ignite a spark up and down the bench.

Send a message that it’s not the goaltender’s responsibility alone for digging this hole, but since he can’t bench all 18 skaters, bench the goalie as a result of everyone else’s poor play. 

In both losses to the Penguins and Rangers, once Hakstol decided to replace Elliott with Neuvirth, the Flyers were facing a 4-1 and 5-1 deficit, respectively, heading into the third period. The coach would have had better success creating a spark by rubbing two sticks together.

Over the course of an 82-game season, it’s important for a coach to remain consistent with his message. Over the duration of a 60-minute game, that message is tailored around the team’s performance. Moments and situations elicit when a coach should be bold with his words or more reserved.

Judging by his manner and behavior behind the bench, Hakstol’s barometer rarely tilts one way or the other, and the team has seemingly taken on the personality of its coach, especially at times when urgency is required.

“It’s got to be the same this time of year,” Hakstol said when asked about the team’s mindset following a 5-1 loss. “It’s never as bad you think and it’s never as good as you think. Address the issues, be direct about it, fix them and move forward.”

However, the Flyers are now 27th in the league when trailing after the first period and 25th when trailing after two periods. Against the Penguins and Rangers, the Flyers gave themselves no chance at forcing overtime when every single point matters right now, especially against the two teams they’re chasing in the wild-card standings.      

Hakstol can attempt to correct X's and O’s, but at some point, his decision-making and ability to put his finger on the pulse of his team will become an X-factor.