Defense provides offensive spark as Flyers top Hurricanes

Defense provides offensive spark as Flyers top Hurricanes


RALEIGH, N.C. — When your penalty-kill units are ranked 26th among 30 teams, the last thing you would expect is to snap a two-game losing skid with a shorthanded goal.
Yet that’s what happened Sunday evening as Brandon Manning scored the Flyers' first shortie of the season to give them a 4-3 win over the Hurricanes at PNC Arena (see Instant Replay).
“Our penalty kill has been doing a good job lately, but we haven’t been getting bounces,” said Manning, who took a breakaway pass from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and beat 'Canes goalie Cam Ward near the circle.
“Belly did a great job winning a puck battle and their forwards were sagging low on our guys. I saw an opportunity.”

Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas and Claude Giroux added tallies for the Flyers.
Sunday's victory completed a stretch of six games in nine days (3-3 record) and came less than 24 hours after Saturday’s wrenching 5-4 loss to the Penguins.
“We wanted to build on the good habits and it’s three of four games where we’re working toward playing a full 60-minute game,” said Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol.
“We played a good hockey game in Montreal, a good game last night and we wanted to come in here and do that again. We knew how critical the two points were.”
It wasn't easy for the Flyers to get up for the 'Canes after an emotional loss to their hated rival from Western Pennsylvania.
“Back to backs are hard and there’s not much atmosphere down in Carolina,” Manning said. “They’re a little harder to get up for. Coming off last night, we had a bit of momentum and something to build off of.”
Michal Neuvirth, who relieved Steve Mason against the Penguins, picked up just his second win of the season. His last? The season opener in Los Angeles.
Neuvirth had a mixed-bag game with 26 saves. He was very sharp as the start, so-so in the second period and sharp again at the finish.
That the Flyers came into play with a 3.89 goals against (ranked 29th) tells you their goaltending has been poor.
“I don’t think I am playing any different but the bounces are not going your way,” Neuvirth said. “Stuff like that. You just have to believe in yourself and your game.
“I came into the game confident and wanted to build on my game last night. I thought I had a good first period. It wasn’t easy to give up three goals. But mentally, I battled hard. It’s a big win for me to grind it out like. I should feel better about myself.”
Neuvirth barely settled into net in the opening minute before having to make two outstanding glove saves – one on Sebastian Aho and the other on Jeff Skinner.
It was a strong opening period for the Flyers with 13 shots. Shayne Gostisbehere gave them a 1-0 lead late in the stanza on the power play with a shot from the left point through traffic that found its way past Ward. It was Ghost’s first power-play goal this season. He had eight during his rookie season.
“I was just trying to keep the puck in real quick,” he said. “They didn't pressure too hard, they went to Jake's (Voracek) side. I had a lane and was just focused on getting by the D, who was in front.”
The 'Canes tied it to open the second period when Neuvirth got distracted trying to push Lee Stempniak out of the paint just as Justin Faulk wristed one under the crossbar.
Radko Gudas gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead, but it didn’t last long as Skinner retied it on a delayed penalty. Then an Ivan Provorov turnover led to Viktor Stalberg’s breakaway goal that gave the 'Canes their first lead of the game at 3-2.
Just as the middle period was about to expire, however, Wayne Simmonds fed Claude Giroux for a blast in the slot to make it 3-3, tying Giroux with Edmonton’s Connor McDavid for the NHL points lead (12).
“I’m more worried about the minuses,” said Giroux, who is minus-7 for the season. “You want to be a good player and need to be responsible offensively and defensively. We got some work to do in there.”
He’s not alone. Twelve other Flyers are in the minus, as well, as they try to climb out of sixth place in the Metro Division.
“They came at us hard and playing back to back with a 5:00 p.m. game, I don’t think I’ve ever done that before,” Giroux said. “Maybe we didn’t have our legs tonight but we played the way we wanted to.”
Besides this being five games over seven days, it was also the Flyers third set of back-to-back games over 16 days. Guess what? They have another set coming up in mid-week - at home Wednesday vs. Detroit and Thursday in Brooklyn against the New York Islanders.
Of a possible 12 points among those back to backs, the Flyers have seven (3-2-1 record).
“It’s a lot of games,” Giroux said. “But it’s a good thing. We’re working on our game a lot. To do that early in the season is pretty good. It’s not the record we want right now but I really believe we are getting better as a team.”

Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

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Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

SUNRISE, Fla. — Evgenii Dadonov scored with 1:53 to play to complete a hat trick and give the Florida Panthers a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Dadonov beat goalie Matt Murray on a one-timer off Aleksander Barkov's pass for the winner. Dadonov has 18 goals this season.

Vincent Trocheck, Jamie McGinn and Derek MacKenzie also scored. Barkov had three assists, Keith Yandle added two, and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves.

Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, and Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust added goals. Tristan Jarry made 13 saves for Pittsburgh before he was replaced in the second period. Murray had 11 saves in relief.

Trocheck finished a 2-on-1 cross-ice pass from Malgin after a breakout pass from Yandle early in the first period. Trocheck tapped in the pass at 3:44 for his team-leading 24th goal (see full recap.)

Maple Leafs win ninth straight at home
TORONTO — Ron Hainsey broke a tie with 1:23 left to give the Toronto Maple Leafs their franchise record-tying ninth straight home victory, 4-3 over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Hainsey's one-timed William Nylander's pass past goalie Tuuka Rask for his fourth goal of the season.

Toronto moved a point ahead of Boston for the second seed in the Atlantic Division.

Nazem Kadri scored twice, Mitch Marner had a goal and three assists, and Nylander had two assists. Frederik Andersen made 23 saves to improve to 10-1-0 against the Bruins.

Brad Marchand scored twice, and Jake DeBrusk also connected for Boston. Rask made 32 saves (see full recap.)

Point leads Lightning to shootout win over Canadiens
MONTREAL — Brayden Point scored in regulation and added the shootout winner and the Tampa Bay Lightning regained the top spot in the NHL with a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan also scored in regulation to help the Lightning (42-17-3) win their third straight and move a point ahead of idle Vegas for the overall NHL lead.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for his league-leading 36th victory of the season.

Byron Froese, Joe Morrow and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal. Antti Niemi, making his second straight start in relief of the injured Carey Price, stopped 36 shots. Price is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion (see full recap.)

Ovechkin scores twice in Capitals victory 
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin added to his NHL lead with two goals on the night he tied the Washington record for most games played, and the Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-1 on Saturday.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 50 seconds into the game and had two assists. Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller also had goals for Washington, which leapfrogged Pittsburgh and moved back into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals had lost two in a row and five of seven.

Ovechkin's 37th goal came on the power play with 9:47 remaining after Buffalo closed to 2-1 on Sam Reinhart's goal 14 seconds into the third period. Ovechkin redirected a shot past Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner with 1:24 left for his 38th goal.

The 32-year-old Ovechkin played in his 983rd NHL game, tying Calle Johansson for most in Capitals history. Ovechkin holds franchise records for goals (596) and points (1,105) (see full recap.)

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way


OTTAWA, Ontario — An early goal, a beautiful goal, a lucky goal and a disallowed goal. That’s all you need to know about the Flyers' 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon (see observations). Just for fun though, here’s a little more detail.

Ivan Provorov scored 28 seconds into the game to get the Flyers going in what eventually turned out to be their fifth consecutive win and 11th consecutive game with a point.

With the score 2-1 in favor of the Flyers late in the second period, Zack Smith looked like he had tied the game for the Senators, but coach Dave Hakstol issued a challenge and the goal was overturned on an offside that wasn’t originally called.

Well done.

In the third period, Claude Giroux scored a beautiful breakaway goal when he contorted his body to his backhand then back to his forehand before depositing the puck behind Craig Anderson in the Ottawa goal, who was left in a twisted heap in the corner of the crease.

That goal made it 3-1 four minutes into the third and after Nolan Patrick made it 4-1, Brandon Manning dumped a shot in just passed the red line, but the puck hit a stanchion in the glass and redirected into the net. Anderson had a great view of the goal from behind the net where he was standing after he went out to play the puck.

“We’re getting the bounces,” Giroux said.

“Brandon Manning’s goal, you can’t draw that up, but we’re definitely going to take it.”

Robert Hagg also scored for the Flyers, who momentarily slipped into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division. The Penguins lost in regulation at Florida, but Washington downed Buffalo, so the Capitals have moved back into first with 76 points, one more than both the Flyers and Penguins. The Flyers are in second in the Metro right now because they have played 62 games, one less than the Pens. But Pittsburgh currently owns the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker 34-32 and that could come into play down the line when the games played even out.

Still, the Flyers are four points clear of New Jersey and a wild-card spot and nine points clear of Columbus and the playoff brink.

Considering they were last in the division about two months ago, that’s a pretty remarkable turnaround.

“I think it was always in the room and that we just had to believe in ourselves and know that we were capable of doing good things,” said forward Travis Konecny.

“We just had to stick with it and eventually things were going to pay off for us.”

That they have, and although Saturday might not have been the Flyers' best effort, it was good enough. The Senators got two late goals from Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to make the final count a little more respectable. Mike Hoffman also scored.

“We’re playing some good hockey right now and everyone has bought into what we want to do here,” Giroux said, adding the overturned goal was big.

“Anytime you get a goal like that turned (over), it’s a relief and a walk-up call at the same time,”

Patrick scored just his ninth goal in his rookie season, but he has six in his last 13, including goals in four straight.

“I think I’ve been playing good in the last 15 to 20 games and not just because of the goals; I think I’ve improved on both ends of the puck,” Patrick said.

He was standing at the top of the crease when Manning’s shot-pass hit his stick and redirected in past Anderson.

On a final note and not to be lost in all the offense, Petr Mrazek made 25 saves and has won both starts with the Flyers since he was acquired last week from the Detroit Red Wings.

All is good on Broad Street.