Flyers

Best of NHL: Isles top Devils to move to 4 points behind Bruins for East's final wild-card spot

Best of NHL: Isles top Devils to move to 4 points behind Bruins for East's final wild-card spot

NEW YORK -- Anders Lee and Anthony Beauvillier scored to help the New York Islanders preserve their slim playoff chances with a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Friday night.

Jaroslav Halak stopped 26 shots as the Islanders pulled four points behind Boston for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. New York won at home for the first time since beating the Devils here on Feb. 19, going 0-4-1 at Barclays Center in between.

Halak has won both starts since being called up from AHL Bridgeport on March 23.

The Islanders might have suffered a big injury as captain John Tavares left the game late in the third period. Tavares fell awkwardly with 3:14 left while chasing a puck behind the Devils net, and immediately began clutching his left leg. He was helped off the ice and to the dressing room.

Adam Henrique scored and Keith Kincaid had 36 saves for the Devils, who are 2-13-4 in their last 19 games (see full recap).

Crosby leads Penguins past Rangers in shootout
NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist in regulation and then got the clinching goal in the shootout to lift Pittsburgh to a 4-3 win over the New York Rangers on Friday night, snapping the Penguins' four-game skid.

Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray stopped 30 shots for his 29th win of the season.

Chris Kreider tied the score with 11.6 seconds left in the third period to force overtime. Nick Holden had a goal and an assist, Rick Nash also scored and J.T. Miller added two assists for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist finished with 32 saves as New York fell to 0-5-3 at home since beating Washington on Feb. 19.

Phil Kessel also scored in the tiebreaker for the Penguins, and Murray stopped Mika Zibanejad and Mats Zuccarello (see full recap).

Panarin, Crawford lead Blackhawks past Blue Jackets
CHICAGO -- Artemi Panarin had two goals, Corey Crawford made 32 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1 on Friday night to reach the cusp of clinching the Central Division.

Panarin scored in the opening minute, then added an empty-netter with 44 seconds left for his 28th goal of the season. Marian Hossa also scored in the first period for Chicago, and Patrick Kane assisted on all three goals as Chicago extended its division lead to nine points over idle Minnesota.

The Wild have five games remaining and the Blackhawks have four.

Nick Foligno scored his 25th goal to end an eight-game drought and Sergei Bobrovksy made 21 saves, but the Blue Jackets lost for the second time in two nights (see full recap).

Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

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Former Flyers defenseman Zarley Zalapski dies at 49

CALGARY, Alberta — Former NHL defenseman Zarley Zalapski has died at age 49, according to the Calgary Flames. No cause of death was given.

Zalapski, a native of Edmonton, played 637 NHL games for Calgary, Pittsburgh, Hartford, Montreal and the Flyers from 1987 to 2000.

He was with the Flames from 1993 to 1998.

"We are proud that Zarley wore the Flames jersey, made Calgary his home following his playing career, represented our alumni executive and we will always remember him as a member of the Flames family," Flames president and chief executive officer Ken King said Tuesday in a statement.

"This is a terrible loss of a man with great character who truly loved the game of hockey. We express our sincere condolences to the Zalapski family."

Zalapski was a member of the Canadian team that finished fourth in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary.

He had 99 goals, 285 assists and 684 penalty minutes in the NHL. Zalapski was named to the all-rookie team in 1989 and participated in the NHL All-Star Game in 1993.

Zalapski played stints in Austria and Switzerland after his NHL career and appeared in 11 games for the United Hockey League's Kalamazoo Wings in 2004-05.

He was the fourth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1986 entry draft.

'Special play' by Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux highlights Flyers' 4th straight win

'Special play' by Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux highlights Flyers' 4th straight win

BOX SCORE

The entire play was a thing of beauty.  

The only debate was which part was prettier: Claude Giroux’s pass or Sean Couturier’s shot?

“I don’t know," Couturier said. "Ask him and see what he thinks."

“It’s a pretty special play to be able to get that puck into open ice to let Coots skate onto it,” head coach Dave Hakstol said.

After Couturier won a faceoff in the defensive zone, the puck eventually swung towards the far boards in the neutral zone. Giroux delivered a backhand pass between his legs and the legs of Leafs defenseman Nikita Zaitsev before Couturier chased it down and uncorked a perfectly placed shot that found the top-right portion of the net (see highlights).

“The puck was rolling so I just shot as hard as I could,” Couturier said. 

"I saw Coots had a foot race and usually he doesn’t beat the other guy, but he was able to beat him there,” Giroux said half-jokingly. “He’s been playing great hockey and it’s fun to be on his line.

“It’s that kind of play that you can’t really describe. I’ll put it somewhere where he might be able to get it."

Couturier’s game-winner with 2:55 remaining in regulation Tuesday was part of the Flyers' three-goal third-period outburst on the way to a 4-2 win (see observations). It was the team's fourth consecutive victory, making it the first time since February 2014 the Flyers have strung together four straight wins in regulation, improving their record to 12-11-7.

The Flyers also snapped a six-game winless streak at the Wells Fargo Center dating back to Nov. 9.

“The last three games before this one, we had the lead and everybody bought in on how we wanted to play to keep the lead, and now we had a different test,” Giroux said. “We’re down a goal and guys just have a feeling in the room that we’re going to come back. It’s a good feeling right now.”

The Couturier-Giroux combination got the Flyers on the board in the opening period when Couturier won the draw in the offensive zone after sliding the puck behind him and Giroux finished with a one-time blast that beat Frederik Andersen.

“We switch around and try different things offensively,” Couturier said. “Having him on the right side there, G is ready for a one-timer if I win it and lucky enough the puck ended up right on his tape.”

Not only did the Flyers have a pair of first-rounders on their top line, Hakstol also elected to pair fellow first-round picks Scott Laughton and Travis Konecny on the team’s fourth line. Together with Taylor Leier they brought an element of speed and energy that led to the Flyers' game-tying tally in the third period when Konecny’s shot grazed off two Maple Leafs for just his second goal in his last 20 games.

“It was definitely part of our game plan to outskate their D and get in there,” Konecny said. “As a unit of three, we know we can cheat a little bit and get in on the forecheck because we know we can get back and defend in the right spots, so yeah, we were on top of them.”

“You guys can label them whatever you want,” Hakstol said. “They’re just one of our lines. We thought that line combination made sense with the speed and pace that all three of those guys play at. It’s one small tweak to our lineup that we made coming off the road trip out west.”

The Maple Leafs came into the game a little short on star power with top center Auston Matthews day to day with an upper-body injury. However, it hadn’t affected the Leafs in previous games as Toronto had a 5-0 record in contests Matthews had missed. Head coach Mike Babcock believed Tuesday night’s game was more of a missed opportunity.

“To me, we gifted two goals,” Babcock said. “The one tough play the goalie touched the goal and then the play where they come in, we are above those. To me, you can’t do that.”

The Flyers took down the Maple Leafs for the second time this season. They’ll meet one more time on Jan. 18 at the Wells Fargo Center.