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).

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Replacing Wayne Simmonds on the power play may be one of the toughest assignments in the NHL.

After all, the guy is second to only Alex Ovechkin with 85 man-advantage goals since the 2011-12 season.

So when the predicament actually faced Dave Hakstol this week, the Flyers' head coach turned to … a 19-year-old rookie.

Why Nolan Patrick?

Three components of the decision stand out:

Intelligence factor
Leading up the NHL draft, the overwhelming strength of Patrick's scouting report was his hockey sense.

Those close to him, as well draft experts, lauded Patrick for comprehending plays before they even happen and being above the ice in understanding spacing.

Those characteristics are crucial when having an extra man.

Patrick has two goals over two games filling in for the injured Simmonds on the Flyers' top power-play unit. Patrick exhibited his IQ with Thursday's game-winner, where he quickly planted himself right in front of the net, had the presence of mind to find the puck and then bury it past Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We told him, just stand in front, if you see a puck, bring it home," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We tried to simplify it for him and he's going to take care of it himself, he's a great hockey player. It's paying off for him."

All about the touch
Patrick has excellent hands.

Put him around the net, and he'll know how to deflect pucks and find holes in a goalie. His vision, skill and finesse are why he's regarded as such an all-around playmaker.

In Tuesday's win, Patrick found immediate success with the first power-play group. Making his way to the middle, Patrick took a Claude Giroux pass and showed off that touch, adeptly going top shelf as Carey Price went low.

Studying Simmonds' net-front proficiency hasn't hurt, either.

"I watch him every game, he's unbelievable there and good at tipping pucks and making plays," Patrick said. "You learn from just watching every day."

Building up the kid
With time, Hakstol and the Flyers have allowed for Patrick to become comfortable instead of putting the world on his shoulders from the get-go.

That's part of Patrick's makeup.

"He almost always wants to be comfortable and then he really starts to exert himself," Patrick's uncle, James, said to NBC Sports Philadelphia last June

We're starting to see Patrick let loose.

As the Flyers have gradually upped his opportunity and responsibility, Patrick has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his last 12 games after putting up six (two goals, four assists) over his previous 34.

Placing Patrick among the team's best talent on the man advantage will only help with his confidence moving forward, in all situations.

The Flyers' power play entered Friday with the NHL's sixth-best percentage at 21.6.

It'll need more of Patrick — but the Flyers couldn't have asked for a much better start to life without Simmonds over the next two to three weeks.

Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

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Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each had two goals and an assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins routed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Friday night for their season-best sixth straight victory.

Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists, Sidney Crosby scored a late goal and Olli Maatta also scored. The Penguins took control with three goals -- two by Kessel -- in a 7:39 span in the second period.

Matt Murray made 27 saves for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 13 to overtake idle Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Since the Penguins were shut out by Carolina on Jan. 4, they are 16-3-1.

They were just as busy off the ice, completing a mid-game trade in which they picked up center Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. As part of the complicated three-team deal, they sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Teuvo Teravainen scored and Cam Ward stopped 33 shots for the short-handed Hurricanes, who have gone 0-3-1 during a four-game slide that's keeping them outside the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Wild dominate skidding Rangers for New York sweep
NEW YORK -- Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal each scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves in the Minnesota Wild's 4-1 victory over the free-falling New York Rangers on Friday night.

The Wild completed a three-game sweep of New York-area teams after beating the Monday night and New Jersey on Thursday night.

The Rangers lost for the sixth straight time in regulation. New York is 6-17-0 since beating Buffalo in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 (see full recap).

Blackhawks’ Berube dominant in 1st Chicago start
CHICAGO -- Jean-Francois Berube made 42 saves in his first start for Chicago to help the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Friday night.

Defenseman Jan Rutta, activated from injured reserve Friday, and Nick Schmaltz scored, and Artem Anisimov added an empty-netter with 30.5 seconds left.

Anthony Duclair had two assists for the Blackhawks. They won their second straight and third in four games following an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to last place in the Central Division.

Berube lost a bid for this first NHL shutout when Timo Meier scored his 15th goal on a screened shot with 7:51 left in the third period.

Martin Jones stopped 33 shots for the Sharks, coming off a 7-1 loss at Nashville on Thursday night (see full recap).