Nick Ritchie an unlikely hero as Ducks win in 11-round shootout

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Nick Ritchie an unlikely hero as Ducks win in 11-round shootout

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Nick Ritchie isn't one of the first players called upon for the Anaheim Ducks in a shootout.

He wasn't among the first 10 shooters Saturday.

Yet, Ritchie scored in the 11th round of the shootout and John Gibson stopped the final seven shooters in the Ducks' 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.

"It seems like once it gets over five or six (rounds) it can go over 15 sometimes, so there was a good chance I was going to get a shot there and I capitalized on it," said Ritchie, whose quick shot split the pads of Devan Dubnyk. Ritchie missed his other shootout attempt this season.

Prior to the goal, the teams combined for 13 straight misses.

"Anytime you win a shootout that goes that long, you feel fortunate you get the extra point. Some big stops from our goaltender, and we found a guy who scored the big goal. We'll take it," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. (see full recap).

Raanta saves 39 shots in shutout win for streaking Coyotes 
GLENDALE, Ariz. — The customized title belt the Arizona Coyotes pass around for a top performance in a victory was already in Antti Raanta's possession after a win two days earlier against Montreal.

Raanta did even more to earn the belt Saturday, though he handed it off to defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Raanta made 39 saves for his first shutout of the season and the Coyotes won their fourth straight, scoring on their first shot in a 1-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers.

Raanta had his ninth career shutout, helping the Coyotes earn points for the fifth time in six games.

"You never get the shutouts just by yourself, you need a good team in front of you," Raanta said. "It shows you how much better we are right now ... I went with `Hammer' because Hammer's been blocking more shots than I have sometimes saved."

Cam Talbot made 31 saves for Edmonton. The Oilers have lost six in a row (see full recap).

Lundqvist pulled in Rangers' loss to Senators
OTTAWA, Ontario —  The Ottawa Senators' quick start led to an early exit for Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.

Derick Brassard had a goal and two assists and Ottawa defeated the New York Rangers 6-3 on Saturday.

Lundqvist allowed five goals on 27 shots before being replaced by Brandon Halverson with 13 minutes remaining.

Halverson stopped five of the six shots he faced for New York in his NHL debut.

Matt Duchene and Mark Stone both added a goal and an assist for Ottawa, which has won two straight. Craig Anderson also stopped 35 shots and Johnny Oduya, Magnus Paajarvi and Thomas Chabot also scored (see full recap).

Lack saves 48 shots as Devils beat Lightning
TAMPA, Fla. — Eddie Lack made 48 saves and the New Jersey Devils beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday night.

Making his third appearance as the backup since being recalled from Binghamton of the AHL on Feb. 4, Lack made a terrific glove save on Brayden Point's in-close shot midway through the second.

Ben Lovejoy, Nico Hischier, Pavel Zacha and Miles Wood scored for the Devils. Taylor Hall had an assist and has a point in each of the last 17 games he has played in.

Tampa Bay got goals from Chris Kunitz, Point and Steven Stamkos, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots (see full recap).

Flyers show off their youth in win over Rangers

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Flyers show off their youth in win over Rangers


The Flyers survived one of the most dangerous lines in hockey to defeat the Rangers, 4-3.

It marked the first game this season at the Wells Fargo Center between the storied rivals. 

Travis Konecny scored twice to give him 22 goals for the season.

Claude Giroux contributed three assists for the second straight game. His second consecutive three-point game allowed him to reach the 90-point mark for the second time in his career.

Goaltender Alex Lyon stopped 33 of 36 shots for his fourth career win.

The Flyers continue to inch closer to securing a playoff spot as the Panthers lost to the Blue Jackets. Currently, Florida is the final team out and trails the Flyers by seven points with just over two weeks remaining in the regular season.

• After a slow start, the Flyers finally got it going five minutes into the game. Jori Lehtera worked his into the slot for a one-timer chance on Rangers rookie goalie Alexandar Georgiev. Just a little over a minute later, Travis Konecny did an excellent job of working his way into the left circle while using Sean Couturier and two Rangers as a shield to block Georgiev’s view. 

• The Flyers didn’t give up too much in the first period and outshot the Rangers, 15-8. However, they were careless defensively against the Rangers’ top line and it cost them. Konecny attempted to intercept a centering pass (which could have resulted in a breakaway). Instead, Mika Zibanejad was able to make a move past Radko Gudas and slide a shot five-hole through Lyon to tie the game at 1-1. With Brandon Manning along the left side board tying up the right winger, Konecny couldn’t afford to whiff on that play.

• After the Flyers were on their heels in the first four minutes of the second period, they came up big during a 4-on-4. Jakub Voracek produced a terrific individual effort to score his 19th goal and give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. Typically when Voracek skates into a sea of defenders, he turns the puck over. In this instance, he was helped out by Rangers defenseman Brady Skjei, who lost his stick and couldn’t tie up Voracek.

• Part of that goal was set up by Zibanejad’s poor decision to engage with the Flyers after the whistle. The result of his overaggressiveness was two minutes for roughing, which negated a Rangers power play that resulted in Voracek’s goal.

• It took all of eight seconds for the Flyers to extend their lead to 4-2 in the third period as Nolan Patrick built up some speed and snapped a shot up high on Georgiev. The goalie couldn’t corral the puck, which led to a rebound. Credit Oskar Lindblom for going hard to the net and stuffing home the rebound for his second goal. Lindblom has been providing effort plays since being called up. He had several quality chances against the Rangers before scoring his goal.

• Lyon came up with his save of the night in the second period as the Flyers were caught in a 2-on-1 situation. He produced a sprawling pad save on Zibanejad. Unlike what we’ve seen from Petr Mrazek recently, Lyon is coming up with saves when his defense lets him down.

• Exhibit B in Lyon’s defense came in the third period as Chris Kreider appeared to have a wide-open net. Lyon continued to battle and appeared to have stopped Kreider’s shot with the side of his mask or shoulder. More concerning was how the Flyers were caught with the pairing of Travis Sanheim and Andrew MacDonald against the Rangers’ top line.

• The Rangers worked their way back to 3-2 on a fortuitous goal from Jesper Fast, who was simply looking to center the puck to a teammate when he banked the puck off Ivan Provorov’s skate and past Lyon. The Rangers’ top line of Zibanejad, Kreider and Fast came into the game on fire and is one of the top scoring lines in hockey over the past few weeks. 

Robert Hagg finds himself the odd man out vs. Rangers

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Robert Hagg finds himself the odd man out vs. Rangers

Rookie Robert Hagg will be a healthy scratch for the first time in his career following his performance Tuesday in Detroit, where the defenseman played just 12:39 and finished with a minus-2 rating, including just four shifts and 2:28 during the Flyers' third-period comeback.

Hagg missed four games with a lower-body injury, and when he returned he played on the left side, paired with Radko Gudas. For most of the second half of the season, Hagg has played the right side with Andrew MacDonald as the team’s second pairing.

“It’s not always about the individual,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “The pair (Hagg and Gudas) didn’t have easy chemistry there. We ended up in some situations with and against the speed and ended up with some bad gaps. The pair and combination wasn’t as effective as we needed it to be.”

Lyon in the crease
If Hakstol wanted to be a very unconventional think-outside-the-box coach, he would start Petr Mrazek for a period and then bring in Alex Lyon for the remaining two periods and beyond.

Lyon will start tonight’s game against the Rangers, the same team he earned his first career win against after replacing Michal Neuvirth following the first period. 

Some of Lyon’s best work this season has been coming in cold off the bench. He owns a .970 save percentage in games he has entered in relief, and a pedestrian .890 save percentage in five games he has started.

“It’s not just based on one performance, it never is,” Hakstol said. “ It’s always based on situation and a player’s body of work. Alex’s body of work has been good. He came in the other night and did an excellent job and that’s part of the decision.”

Shorthanded shortcomings
The Red Wings scored the tenth shorthanded goal against the Flyers Tuesday, matching the Colorado Avalanche for the most 5-on-4 goals allowed this season. 

This season, the Flyers are 4-4-2 in games in which they’ve given up a shorthanded goal, but more importantly, many of those goals have been momentum killers — the difference between tying a game or facing a two-goal deficit.

In the Flyers' 5-1 loss to the Rangers on Jan. 16, New York forward Paul Carey scored shorthanded with ten seconds remaining in the first period that extended the Rangers lead to 3-1, and took away any hope for a Flyers' comeback.    

“The Rangers are going to come with the kitchen sink on their penalty kill and they’re playing without a lot of pressure,” Hakstol said. “At times, you’re going to see two, three and four guys on their PK come up the ice offensively, so we’re going to have to do a very good job of that tonight.” 

Much of the blame can be attributed to the power play’s 1-3-1 setup — Shayne Gostisbehere serving as the only player on the point with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek in the circles, Sean Couturier in the high slot and Wayne Simmonds down low.

When a turnover or giveaway is committed between the circles and the blue line, typically only Gostisbehere or the player taking his spot at the point is the only player back to defend, leaving the Flyers wide open for a two-on-one shorthanded chance against.   

“We starting off taking a chance with one defenseman out there,” Gostisbehere said. “That’s just the name of the game. I don’t think there’s too many power play units with two D out there right now. I think for us, it’s staying within ourselves and keeping it simple.”