Best of NHL: Senators clinch playoff berth with shootout win over Bruins

Best of NHL: Senators clinch playoff berth with shootout win over Bruins

BOSTON -- Craig Anderson stopped 28 shots in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout Thursday night to help the Ottawa Senators beat Boston 2-1, snapping the Bruins' six-game winning streak and pulling ahead of them in the Atlantic Division standings.

Kyle Turris scored the only goal in the shootout. Anderson stopped Drew Stafford, who scored Boston's only regulation goal, and Ryan Spooner before straddling the goalpost to turn away David Pastrnak's attempt at the end.

Tuukka Rask stopped 25 shots for Boston, which went 0-4 against Ottawa this season. The Senators had never swept the Bruins in a season series.

Ottawa, which got a goal in the second from Alexandre Burrows, now has 96 points to 95 for Boston after entering the night tied. The Senators still have two games remaining -- one more than the Bruins -- and also have the head-to-head tiebreaker but not the most important one: regulation and overtime wins (see full recap).

Leafs fail to clinch as Lightning stay alive
TORONTO -- Brayden Point scored two goals and the Tampa Bay Lightning kept their slim playoff hopes alive by beating the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 on Thursday night.

Nikita Kucherov and Michael Bournival also scored for the Lightning, who prevented the Maple Leafs from clinching their first postseason berth in four years. There is only one spot remaining in the Eastern Conference after Ottawa clinched a berth with a 2-1 shootout win at Boston.

Toronto, which would have clinched with a win, needs two points over its final two games -- against Pittsburgh and Columbus -- to beat out the Lightning and New York Islanders for the last spot.

Nazem Kadri scored the only goal for Toronto, with Frederik Andersen surrendering four goals on 30 shots (see full recap).

Hurricanes eliminated from playoff contention with loss to Isles
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jaroslav Halak stopped 29 shots in his second shutout of the season, and the fast-starting New York Islanders beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 on Thursday night.

Brock Nelson and Scott Mayfield scored early goals 3 minutes, 12 seconds apart, and Andrew Ladd added a power-play goal to help the Islanders win their fourth straight and preserve their long-shot playoff hopes for a little while longer.

Eddie Lack stopped 20 shots for the Hurricanes, who lost their fourth straight overall, a slide that coincides with their mathematical elimination from the playoff race for the eighth straight year -- the longest active postseason drought in the NHL. They've also been shut out in their last two home games.

Halak won his fourth straight start since his recall from Bridgeport of the AHL, and his first shutout since blanking Washington on Dec. 1 came in a must-win scenario for his team (see full recap).

Penguins lock up home ice for opening round
NEWARK, N.J. -- The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched home-ice advantage for their first-round playoff series against the Columbus Blue Jackets with a 7-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

The Penguins got goals from seven players, two assists from Sidney Crosby -- including a spectacular no-look, backhand pass to give Conor Sheary a shot into an open net -- and 34 saves from Matt Murray in picking up their 50th win of the season.

The win gave Pittsburgh 111 points -- the second-highest total in franchise history. Coupled with Columbus' 5-4 loss to Winnipeg, the Penguins will finish second ahead of the Blue Jackets in the Metropolitan Division, gaining home-ice for the best-of-7 first-round series.

Bryan Rust, Jake Guentzel, Josh Archibald, Patric Hornqvist, Matt Cullen and Nick Bonino also scored for the Penguins. Bonino also had two assists.

Stefan Noesen, John Moore, Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri scored for the Devils (see full recap).

Travis Konecny answering Flyers' call of duty

Travis Konecny answering Flyers' call of duty

Travis Konecny is one of a handful of young Flyers who thrives on confrontation, lining up an opponent in his crosshairs and going for the kill.

And that’s just his profile in Call of Duty — the popular war-based video game he plays occasionally with teammates.

And while Konecny didn't show up on the scoresheet Sunday evening, he still answered his call of duty, leading the charge in a variety of ways in the Flyers' 6-3 win over the Washington Capitals that inched the Flyers within four points of the division-leading Caps and two points of Pittsburgh for second place. All three teams return to action Tuesday with the Flyers in Detroit.

Battered, bloodied and perhaps a little beaten, Konecny was determined that the Capitals weren’t going to get the best of him.

“I just think I’ve learned in the two years I’ve been here it doesn’t matter what your role is on the team,” Konecny said after the game. “Everybody buys in, everybody blocks shots, everyone goes to the net, everyone backchecks. I think it’s a part of me that’s learned to become a Philadelphia Flyer.”

The orange and black uniform was only a cover for the black and blue bruises Konecny’s body endured. In the third period, he stood directly in the line of fire of Christian Djoos’s shot and then limped back to the locker room. On his next shift, Konecny blocked another shot from Dmitri Orlov.

Even after giving all the postgame interviews, Konecny was still limping. The playing surface at the Wells Fargo Center may not have had enough ice for all of his sore spots.

“He’s got the heart of a lion and I think you’ve seen that all year long,” said Wayne Simmonds, who tallied twice in the win. “I kept telling him that’s what winners are made of. It’s the type of effort we’re going to need from every single guy in this dressing room. He blocks one shot, he gets up slowly, gets back on the ice, blocks another.”

The clean-cut and rather reserved Konecny that came to the Flyers as a 19-year-old rookie last season has now been replaced with a more brash, tattoo-sporting, always-chirping Konecny with a longer hair style and the appearance of facial hair.

The only missing element to complete the look is a leather biker’s jacket.  

That rugged toughness was on display again when he dropped the gloves with Washington winger T.J. Oshie and bloodied his knuckles 7:41 into the third period.

“I just got high-sticked right before,” Konecny said. “I got frustrated and I finished my hit on him. Not a bad guy to take off the ice when they’re trying to score."

“It was awesome. It was great to see,” said Simmonds. “You see him get high-sticked there. He didn’t quit on the play and kept going. He battles with a guy who’s probably 20 pounds bigger, maybe more than that. It was a great emotional leap for the team in the third period there. Unbelievable job and kudos to him.”

Konecny, who has 19 goals and 22 asissts on the season and has earned Dave Hakstol's trust with a bump up to the first line alongside Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier, has quickly rounded into a five-tool player this season with speed, playmaking, a scoring touch with a hard-nosed edge. Much like Brad Marchand with the Bruins, that type of player becomes vital once the postseason rolls around.

“It gives the bench a good injection of life,” said Hakstol. “They love it and guys love to see that on the bench. I think that’s what our guys expect, but it’s always great when you see one guy doing it.”  

Which is probably why Konecny enjoys that other Call of Duty. Another game with a similar approach, except a lot less painful.

Raffl out
General manager Ron Hextall announced Monday morning that forward Michael Raffl will miss two weeks with an upper-body injury suffered in the second period against the Capitals Sunday. Raffl, who has 11 goals and eight assists this year, had been seeing some time on the top line with Giroux and Couturier recently.

Future Flyers Report — Anthony Stolarz's long road back to playing

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Future Flyers Report — Anthony Stolarz's long road back to playing

Before this week begins, it’s time for our weekly check-in on the Flyers’ prospects.

Anthony Stolarz, G, 24, 6-6/232, Reading (ECHL)
It was a long road back but Stolarz found his way back on the ice last week.

Stolarz began his rehab stint with the Royals and it doesn’t appear to be a long one. Per Jason Guarente, Stolarz packed up his gear Saturday and appears headed back to Lehigh Valley.

With Reading, Stolarz allowed six goals on 61 shots. As of this post, he has yet to be recalled.

The 24-year-old had been out since last April and underwent left knee surgery in September. Now that he’s back on the ice, expect Stolarz to see some AHL action. He’s on a one-year deal.

Carter Hart, G, 19, 6-1/177, Everett (WHL)
Well, some disappointing news first. He failed to break the WHL shutout record, allowing one goal in Everett’s final regular-season game. He finishes his junior career with 26 shutouts.

Hart enjoyed one of the best junior seasons ever from a goalie and dominated the WHL. He led the league in goals-against average (1.60), save percentage (.947) and shutouts (7). The disparity between Hart and the No. 2 goalie, Cole Kehler, in GAA is remarkable. Hart finished with more than a goal better average than Kehler’s 2.77. Griffin Outhouse was second in save percentage, with .914. Hart was head and shoulders above his peers in the WHL.

Up next, the WHL playoffs. Then next season, the AHL. Hart watch is ramping up.

Morgan Frost, C, 18, 5-11/172, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Frost’s quest to lead the OHL in points came up short but the Flyers' “other” 2017 first-round pick finished his draft-plus-1 season as a 1.67 point-per-game player.

The 18-year-old’s regular season ended Sunday with a goal and an assist. He finished the season with 42 goals, 70 assists and 112 points and led the OHL as a plus-70 player. Next up is the OHL playoffs.

Let’s cool the jets on the Frost on the Flyers talk next season. There is a chance he outshines the competition in training camp but he still needs to bulk up a considerable amount.

March Madness
The NCAA Tournament begins Friday. It’ll feature four Flyers prospects, Michigan’s Cooper Marody and Brendan Warren, Ohio State’s Tanner Laczynski and Clarkson’s Terrance Amorosa.

Quick Hits
• Phantoms center Mikhail Vorobyev remained hot last week with two assists in three weekend games. He has eight points in his last nine games.

• Pascal Laberge’s point streak reached nine games before ending Friday. He finished the regular season with 47 points in 64 games between Quebec and Victoriaville.

• Matthew Strome, who signed his entry-level contract last week, finished the regular season with Hamilton with 37 goals and 68 points.

Isaac Ratcliffe’s season wrapped up on a four-game point streak and three-game goal streak. Ratcliffe led Guelph with 41 goals and 68 points.

• The Flyers signed Maksim Sushko to his entry-level contract. Sushko finished with 31 goals and 60 points. Five of the Flyers’ seven 2017 draft picks have signed.