Flyers

Best of NHL: Lowly Coyotes damage Lightning's playoff hopes

Best of NHL: Lowly Coyotes damage Lightning's playoff hopes

TAMPA, Fla. -- Oliver Ekman-Larsson had a goal and an assist during Arizona's three-goal third period, Louis Domingue stopped 36 shots and the Coyotes damaged Tampa Bay's playoff hopes with a 5-3 victory over the Lightning on Tuesday night.

Arizona, with the NHL's second-worst record, also got goals from Christian Fischer, Christian Dvorak, Radim Vrbata and Connor Murphy.

Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for the Lightning, who remained four points behind Toronto for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves.

Ekman-Larsson and Vrbata scored two minutes apart early in the third as the Coyotes went up 4-3. Murphy had a late empty-netter that went off Hedman's glove (see full recap).

Penguins win to clinch 11th straight playoff berth
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Nick Bonino scored the go-ahead goal with 5:29 left and the Pittsburgh Penguins clinched their 11th straight playoff berth with a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night.

Sidney Crosby and Conor Sheary also scored, and Matt Murray made 29 saves. The Penguins (46-17-9) improved to 8-1-1 in their past 10 and are in the hunt to finish with the NHL's best record.

Sam Reinhart scored for a Sabres team that's sputtering on offense. Coming off a 2-1 win at Detroit on Monday, Buffalo has just five goals in regulation in its past five games, including a 2-0 shutout loss at Los Angeles on Thursday.

The score would've been more lopsided if not for Buffalo goalie Robin Lehner, who made 31 saves. Lehner foiled Tom Kuhnhackl and Chris Kunitz on a pair of breakaways in the opening three minutes of the second period (see full recap).

Blandisi gives Devils OT win over Rangers
NEWARK, N.J. -- Joseph Blandisi scored on an odd-man rush with 54.6 seconds left in overtime and the New Jersey Devils handed the New York Rangers a rare road loss, 3-2 on Tuesday night.

John Quenneville set up Blandisi's third goal of the season, and Quenneville and Taylor Hall also scored for the Devils. New Jersey got just its second win in 14 games (2-10-2) behind 38 saves by Cory Schneider, including a stop on Kevin Hayes in close just before Blandisi's winner.

The win was the Devils' first in four games with the Rangers this season.

Oscar Lindberg and Rick Nash scored for the Rangers, who lead the NHL with 26 road wins. Antti Raanta made 26 saves, but he had no chance on Blandisi's backhander after the forward took a pass from Quenneville and got behind defenseman Ryan McDonagh (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

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AP Images

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Schwartz has four goals and six assists this season and has at least one point in six of the Blues' first seven games. It was his 51st career multi-point game and fourth this season.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kyle Brodziak also scored, and Jake Allen made 22 saves. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak

Duncan Keith and Ryan Hartman had late goals for Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves (see full recap).

Maple Leafs ride big 1st period to win
TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves in his season debut and the Toronto Maple Leafs scored four times in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Starting in place of Frederik Andersen, McElhinney stopped 14 shots in the third period to hold off the Red Wings.

Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored to help Toronto improve to an NHL-best 6-1-0. The Maple Leafs were coming off a 2-0 victory at Washington on Tuesday night.

Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Ericsson scored for the Red Wings, and Nick Jensen had three assists.

Jimmy Howard gave up three goals on four shots before getting yanked in favor of Petr Mrazek late in the first period (see full recap).

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

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USA Today Images

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

For the first time in his nine-year career, Michal Neuvirth knows when he gets home at night after a game, there will be someone waiting for him with a smile.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter to Neuvirth, or especially to his one-month-old daughter, Emily Gudasová Carolina.

“When you come home, there’s a baby waiting and it's such an amazing feeling that someone is waiting for you at home,” Neuvirth said after Tuesday's 5-1 win over Florida. “Last year, I was mostly here by myself, so I definitely like it better having a family with me now.”

Family now consists of his newborn daughter, his fiancee Karolína Gudasová and uncle Radko Gudas, Gudasová’s older brother and Neuvirth’s Flyers teammate.

To those of us on the outside, the responsibility of fatherhood seemingly has altered Neuvirth’s disposition. He smiles more, cracks a few jokes and elaborates just a little more with his answers to the media. Perhaps, he can tolerate us because there’s a deeper purpose and a sense of providing that comes with fatherhood.  

“It’s an amazing feeling being a dad,” Neuvirth said. “For me, I just have another motivation to play for my family now.”

Of course, it also helps I’ve yet to see Neuvirth yawn or show up to practice with bags under his eyes. He has escaped any late-night drama with an eight-day road trip to start the season, and for now, he apparently has a rare lifetime pass for any early morning feedings.  

“I have an amazing fiancee. She takes care of her (Emily) as much as she needs to,” Neuvirth said. “I usually put her to bed at 10-10:30. During the night, Karolina goes and feeds her in the living room, and I’m a deep sleeper, so she doesn’t wake me up.”

As Gudasová has kept an eye on the cradle, Neuvirth has secured the crease. He’s allowed three goals in his two starts this season with a .956 save percentage, which has initiated the debate for more playing time.

Interestingly, adapting to a new addition is something Neuvirth has also discussed with teammate and fellow netminder, Brian Elliott, who went through a similar set of circumstances with his son, Owen, last season in Calgary. Elliott called that first month with the Flames “a huge adjustment” and his October numbers reflected that.

Six games into the season, Neuvirth apparently has it all figured out. 

Of course, a good night’s sleep has a way of bringing clarity to the situation.