Flyers

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs score late power-play goal to beat Bruins

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs score late power-play goal to beat Bruins

TORONTO -- Tyler Bozak scored the go-ahead power-play goal with less than two minutes left and the Toronto Maple Leafs earned a 4-2 victory over the Boston Bruins on Monday night.

The win pulled the Leafs (81 points) within one point of the Bruins (82 points) for third place in the Atlantic division.

Toronto, holding the final wild-card position in the Eastern Conference, also has a game in hand.

Morgan Rielly, William Nylander and Nazem Kadri also scored for the Leafs, who swept the season series with Boston. Frederik Andersen was sharp with 32 saves, James van Riemsdyk added two assists.

David Backes and Dominic Moore scored for the Bruins, Tuukka Rask allowed two goals on 27 shots (see full recap).

Lehtonen notches 36 career shutout in Stars’ win
DALLAS -- Kari Lehtonen made 30 saves for his 36th career shutout and second this season as the Dallas Stars edged the San Jose Sharks 1-0 on Monday night.

Curtis McKenzie scored his fifth goal on a tip-in from the slot that beat Sharks goalie Aaron Dell in the second period.

Adam Cracknell took the shot from the left point. Jiri Hudler also assisted on the goal.

Pacific Division leader San Jose (42-23-7) lost a third straight game for only the second time this season. Dallas (29-33-10) is barely alive in the playoff race with 10 games remaining.

The Sharks outshot the Stars 30-20, including 12-6 in the third period.

Lehtonen's other shutout this season was a 3-0 win Dec. 3 at Colorado (see full recap).

Ellis lifts Predators over Coyotes
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Ryan Ellis scored twice, Pekka Rinne made 25 saves and the Nashville Predators beat the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 on Monday night.

Viktor Arvidsson also scored for the Predators, who have won four of five. Craig Smith added two assists.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson had the lone goal and Mike Smith stopped 28 shots for Arizona, which has lost three straight.

Rinne was lightly tested in the first period, making just five saves, but the action picked up after that as the Finn made 11 saves in the second and nine in the third. His best sequence came midway through the second, when he denied two attempts by Josh Jooris and one by Jamie McGinn in an 11-second span (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.