Flyers

Outplayed most of night, Flyers grateful for Neuvirth's stellar game

Outplayed most of night, Flyers grateful for Neuvirth's stellar game

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For most of Sunday night’s game, the Flyers were second best. During long stretches of play, the Golden Knights camped out in the offensive zone, firing shots at Michal Neuvirth’s goal. They looked like the best team in the Western Conference, while the Flyers looked like a tired team playing the second game of a West Coast back-to-back.

Despite being outshot 39-18, the Flyers made their opportunities count to beat the Golden Knights, 4-1 (see observations), behind a huge game from Neuvirth, who was stepping in for injured starter Brian Elliott.

Sean Couturier, who tied the game at one late in the first period with his 28th goal and assisted on the Flyers’ second and third goals, credited Neuvirth for giving the team a chance to win.

“I think they probably outplayed us for most of the night,” Couturier told reporters. “Neuvy kept us in the game and we got two lucky bounces to kind of get going a little bit, but we found a way to win and that's all that matters.”

The Flyers are finding a lot of ways to win these days. Saturday, they had a season-high 43 shots but needed seven shootout rounds and a clutch cameo from Neuvirth in the final five rounds to beat the NHL-worst Coyotes.

Sunday, they beat the Golden Knights, a team that was 19-3-2 at home, despite sparse offensive opportunities. Radko Gudas even scored his first goal of the season, an empty-netter. Overall, they have 65 points and sit in third in the Metropolitan Division, with four straight wins heading into Tuesday’s game against the Devils.

“For a night like tonight, to win on a back-back, you have to have good goaltending and you have to have a bunch of guys that are willing to lay it on the line and scratch and claw and find a way,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “And I think that sums up a little bit about our hockey team.”

If Elliott’s lower-body injury is serious, Neuvirth will need to maintain the high level he showcased against the Golden Knights. After stopping the final five shots of the shootout in relief of Elliott Saturday, he felt good heading into a matchup against one of the NHL’s top teams.

“It was huge coming off the bench yesterday and shutting the door,” Neuvirth said. “That gave me a lot of confidence coming into this game and back-to-back wins in our tough schedule is huge for us."

Claude Giroux, who has been thriving recently alongside Couturier and Travis Konecny on the first line, said the Flyers couldn’t have pulled off such an unlikely win without Neuvirth.

“Neuvy was the best player out there tonight,” Giroux said. “He made a lot of big saves, great opportunities that he was able to shut down. Without him tonight, we don’t win this game.”

Capitals regain top spot in Metro as Ovechkin scores NHL-best 35th goal

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USA Today Images

Capitals regain top spot in Metro as Ovechkin scores NHL-best 35th goal

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Alex Ovechkin can stop fretting about what the Washington Capitals captain described as the worst game of his career.

He and the Capitals were much better in a 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, two days after a 7-1 meltdown at Chicago.

After being held without a shot against Chicago, Ovechkin responded by scoring his NHL-leading 35th goal, and Washington reclaimed the top spot in the Metropolitan Division

"Yeah, I think the last game I didn't play my game. I think it was the worst play of my career by myself. I take the blame on it," Ovechkin said. "I think we understand the game in Chicago was just forget about it, you know. We moved forward. We got two points."

Capitals coach Barry Trotz noticed how much more involved Ovechkin was against Buffalo, particularly after a few early exchanges with Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (see full recap.)

Marchand's OT goal gives Bruins win over Flames 
CALGARY, Alberta — Brad Marchand scored his 22nd goal 3:36 into overtime to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Monday.

After a turnover deep in the Flames end, Riley Nash sprung the Bruins' leading scorer on a breakaway and Marchand made no mistake, slipping the puck through the pads of David Rittich.

David Pastrnak also scored for Boston (36-13-8), which moved within one point of Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference. Boston has two games in hand.

Matthew Tkachuk scored for the Flames (30-21-9), who fell to 1-3-4 in their last eight home games.

With the teams meeting for the second time in six days, Calgary was territorially outplayed by a wide margin in the first period but Rittich kept the Flames in it (see full recap.)

Cullen, Ennis star in Wild win against Islanders 
NEW YORK — Minnesota knows it needs to play better on the road to strengthen its push for a playoff spot. The Wild also want to do a better job of holding third-period leads than they have lately.

They accomplished both Monday against the New York Islanders.

Matt Cullen and Tyler Ennis scored in Minnesota's three-goal second period, and the Wild beat the Islanders 5-3. Jason Zucker added two goals, Joel Eriksson Ek also scored, and Devan Dubnyk stopped 32 shots as Minnesota improved to 4-1-2 in its past seven games.

The Wild just lost three of five on their homestand, including twice when they gave up the tying goal in the third period before falling after regulation.

"Having the lead in the second and keeping it is really good for us," Zucker said (see full recap.)

Arvidsson scores twice in Predators' win vs. Senators 
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Viktor Arvidsson scored twice to reach 20 goals this season, and the Nashville Predators beat the Ottawa Senators 5-2 on Monday night.

Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Craig Smith also scored for Nashville, which ended a two-game skid and tied Winnipeg for first place in the Central Division.

The Predators recorded two power-play goals and scored on the man advantage in their second straight game after going six games without converting on the power play.

Pekka Rinne made 36 saves to earn his 30th win of the season.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Max McCormick scored for the Senators, who played catch-up most of the game. Craig Anderson stopped 36 shots (see full recap.)

Goaltending help is on the way for the Flyers

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AP Images

Goaltending help is on the way for the Flyers

With injuries to Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, the Flyers wasted no time in finding a competent goaltender.

General manager Ron Hextall acquired Petr Mrazek from the Detroit Red Wings late Monday night in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 and a conditional third-round pick in 2019. According to sources, the Flyers were also in discussions with Toronto regarding Calvin Pickard but ultimately settled for Mrazek.

“We’re excited to have obtained Petr Mrazek. Petr is a proven NHL goaltender and given the situation we’re in, we needed a proven goaltender and we got one,” said Hextall. 

Hextall confirmed if the Flyers make the playoffs and Mrazek wins five regular season games, the 2018 fourth-round pick becomes a third rounder. If the Flyers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals and Mrazek wins six playoff games, the third-round pick then becomes a second rounder.

If the Flyers re-sign Mrazek for next season, then the Red Wings would also get the Flyers' third-round selection in 2019.

“Quite frankly when I look at this deal, I think it’s a fair and reasonable deal for both sides,” Hextall said. “If Petr performs, we pay more and Detroit gets more. I like the makeup of this deal. I think it’s a fair deal and I think both teams got what they wanted.”

Hextall had reportedly turned down Mrazek for a third-round pick last week, according to Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, but that was prior to Neuvirth’s injury Sunday against the Rangers. Hextall also announced that Neuvirth is out “long-term” meaning weeks and not days, and quite possibly the remainder of the regular season.

As a backup to Jimmy Howard, Mrazek has appeared in 18 games this season with an 8-7-3 record, a 2.89 GAA and a .910 save percentage. In January, Mrazek posted back-to-back shutouts against the Blackhawks and the Devils before the Flyers snapped Mrazek’s shutout streak at 145 minutes and five seconds in a 3-2 overtime loss. 

The Red Wings will retain half of Mrazek’s $4 million salary in the deal, leaving the Flyers with a reasonable $2 million cap hit. He’s a restricted free agent at the end of this season.

Since Dec. 4, the Flyers are 21-8-3 and have jettisoned up the Metropolitan Division standings where they’re currently tied with the New Jersey Devils for third place with 70 points.

“This is a sign that our players have done a really good job,” Hextall said. “They’ve worked extremely hard. We’re in a tough situation. You lose your two goalies when you’re fighting for a playoff spot and our players have worked hard for a long time now. I didn’t feel like it was fair to not have a proven NHL goaltender for this team.” 

Mrazek is expected to join the Flyers for Tuesday's morning skate.