Flyers

Penguins ruin Fleury's Pittsburgh homecoming

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Penguins ruin Fleury's Pittsburgh homecoming

PITTSBURGH -- Third-period goals by Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel ruined former teammate Marc-Andre Fleury's homecoming as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Fleury, who won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins -- including the last two seasons -- returned to Pittsburgh for the first time since Vegas selected him in the expansion draft last summer. Fleury, who stopped 33 shots, beat his former teammates in December in Las Vegas.

In the first meeting between the teams in Pittsburgh, Malkin gave the Penguins a 4-2 lead with his 30th of the season at 3:09 of the third period. Malkin, who scored in his fifth straight game, became the fifth player in team history to score 30 goals on six separate occasions.

Kessel extended the lead to 5-2 a little more than three minutes later on a one-touch, backdoor feed from Malkin.

Jake Guentzel, Ryan Reaves and Ian Cole also scored for Pittsburgh, which won for the fifth time in six games.

Matt Murray, Fleury's former understudy in Pittsburgh, made 21 saves to top his mentor (see full recap).

Bruins win to close in on NHL-best Lightning
DETROIT -- Sean Kuraly and David Krejci scored in the second period, and the surging Boston Bruins rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.

Boston is 17-1-4 in its last 22 games and only three points behind NHL-leading Tampa Bay in the Atlantic Division. The Red Wings never mounted much sustained pressure on goalie Tuukka Rask, who improved to 19-0-2 in his last 21 games.

Martin Frk scored a power-play goal in the second for Detroit, but the Bruins quickly wiped out that lead later in the period. Danton Heinen scored with 11:39 remaining in the third to put Boston up by two.

With their goalie pulled, the Red Wings moved within one when Frans Nielsen scored with 1:24 to play, but Boston held on (see full recap).

Backstrom’s late score lifts Capitals over Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Nicklas Backstrom scored the winning goal with 43 seconds left, Braden Holtby made 37 saves and the Washington Capitals beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Brandon Dubinsky tied the score for Columbus late in the third period and the game appeared headed to overtime before Backstrom jumped on a pass from T.J. Oshie and beat Sergei Bobrovsky for his 200th career goal.

John Carlson and Tom Wilson also scored as the Capitals rallied to break a two-game skid and hang onto first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Bobrovsky had 22 saves for the Blue Jackets, who have lost four in a row and nine of 11. They're still in playoff contention, but so are all the teams in the division.

Washington (31-17-5) won the first leg of a home-and-home this week with Columbus (27-22-4) (see full recap).

Why the Flyers? How Canadians decided to 'bleed orange'

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John Boruk/NBCSP

Why the Flyers? How Canadians decided to 'bleed orange'

Aaron Roberts proudly wore his No. 88 Eric Lindros jersey when the Flyers traveled to Edmonton in December. Aaron also owns a John LeClair jersey, a Wayne Simmonds sweater, and at the time, a Claude Giroux that was on order.    

Roberts, like many who attended that game, is an Orange and Black diehard who was born and raised in Canada.

“Growing up when Philly won their Cups I started watching hockey,” Roberts said. “I don’t know. I went with a winner then and I just never, ever veered away from it. Of course, there’s temptation, but it’s always been Philadelphia for me.”

It’s not unusual to see a Philly faithful make their way out of the Canadian woodwork. Their popularity even rivals that of American-based Original Six teams.  

“I find that when I go to games Flyers fans are more friendly, like everyone wants to high five and stuff, which is cool,” said Troy Krechuniak, who lives in Calgary, but grew up in Edmonton. “I had to go through all of that (the Oilers winning the Stanley Cup). That’s the problem going through the (Wayne) Gretzky years, 1985 Game 5, 1987 Game 7.” 

So why this allegiance to a team located hundreds of miles away in another country? 

At one time, the Philadelphia Flyers were as Canadian as the Montreal Canadiens themselves, considering they’re still the last team to win a Stanley Cup with an all-Canadian roster. 

“First off, you choose the identity of a team when you’re probably six-to-nine years old, and at my age, I cheered for the Broad Street Bullies - Bobby Clarke, Dave Schultz and so forth,” said Rick LeFort of Saskatchewan. “I moved to Manitoba years later. Manitoba connections are Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach.”

More than 40 years after bringing the city of Philadelphia it’s first Stanley Cup championship, the Broad Street Bullies left behind a legacy that has impacted a region where hockey is indeed a religion.

“Being in Calgary when there was no team, you got to choose which team you wanted to affiliate yourself with,” said Shawn Cochlan of Langdon, Alberta. “I did love that brand of hockey, and yet, a lot of my friends didn’t. I liked Philadelphia better because they were tougher.”

And the allegiance to the Flyers has been passed down from a generation of fans to their children and siblings.  

“My aunt and uncle were big Flyers fans, and I loved being an outsider,” said Ryan Doram of Edmonton. “Every year when the Flyers come to Edmonton we make sure we come to the games. I loved Lindros. I loved the Recchi years, and you always find your new favorites I guess. You always find players you look and gravitate to.”

Giroux has that gravitational pull. As the Flyers hit Ottawa and Montreal one final time this weekend, you’ll see No. 28 jerseys scattered throughout the arenas for the Hearst, Ontario native.

“We haven’t won a cup in a while. We’ve been there four or five times, but we’re getting better. I like what Ron Hextall is doing, and we’re going in the right direction,” said 54-year-old Tom Banks. 

“You cut me in the winter months, I bleed orange.”

Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

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Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pekka Rinne made 33 saves in his 300th career win and the Nashville Predators routed the San Jose Sharks 7-1 on Thursday night.

Nick Bonino, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Hartnell, Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight. The Predators moved within one point of expansion Vegas for the Western Conference lead.

Nashville defensemen Roman Josi and P.K. Subban each had two assists.

All of Rinne's wins have come with Nashville. He tied former Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun for 33rd place in NHL history.

Logan Couture had the San Jose goal. The loss snapped the Sharks' three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Wild use big 2nd period to top Devils
NEWARK, N.J. -- Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart scored in a 39-second span during Minnesota's three-goal second period, and the Wild rallied from two down to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Thursday night.

Wild defenseman Mike Reilly also scored in the second period and Eric Staal iced the game with an empty-net goal, his 900th NHL point. Backup goalie Alex Stalock made 38 saves as the Wild moved into third place in the Central Division after winning for the 11th time in 17 games (11-3-3).

Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen scored for the Devils, who have lost two in a row after a four-game winning streak. Eddie Lack made 21 saves.

Hall's 13-game point streak is the longest in NHL this season, one more than David Pastrnak of Boston.

Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau made the right moves in this one, inserting Reilly and Stewart into the lineup and electing to give No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk a night off (see full recap).

Matthews exits Maple Leafs’ SO victory with injury
TORONTO -- Tyler Bozak scored the shootout winner and the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night.

Auston Matthews tipped in Jake Gardiner's shot to tie it 3-all with 3:29 remaining in the third period, but later left the game favoring his right side after taking a hit from Cal Clutterbuck and did not return. The 20-year-old Toronto star missed six games in December with a concussion and another four games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly had the other Maple Leafs goals, and Frederik Andersen made 32 saves. Toronto (38-20-5) has won eight straight at home.

Ryan Pulock, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle scored for the Islanders (29-26-7), and Jaroslav Halak turned aside 28 shots. New York, one point out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, dropped to 4-6-2 since the All-Star break and 13-15-3 on the road this season.

With his three points, Barzal has a team-leading 65 and a 14-point lead over Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL's rookie scoring race (see full recap).