Flyers

Flyers explode for 6 even-strength goals in crucial win over Sabres

Flyers explode for 6 even-strength goals in crucial win over Sabres

BOX SCORE

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Power plays have propelled the Flyers to most of their victories this season. On Tuesday night, they flexed their even-strength muscle.

The Flyers scored all of their goals in 5-on-5 situations in a 6-3 victory over the Sabres (see Instant Replay). It was the third six-goal game of the season for the Flyers, and the first time they scored that many goals at even strength.

Entering Tuesday night, the Flyers had been outscored 127-91 in 5-on-5 situations and had scored 69 percent of their goals at even strength, the lowest rate in the NHL.

What did the Flyers do differently against the Sabres?

"I wouldn't be able to put my finger on it," captain Claude Giroux said. "I think we've been playing well 5-on-5. We're not changing anything. We're playing the same. We're just getting the results now. The pucks are going in and we are getting traffic and our goals are around the net."

"Tonight shows what we're capable of 5-on-5," said rookie Travis Konecny, who had a goal and an assist in the third period in his second game back after missing nine with knee and ankle injuries. "We moved the puck well and we just stuck to our game."

In dominating at even strength, the Flyers made up for a lackluster special teams performance. They went scoreless on three early power plays and are now 0 for 13 with the man advantage over the past three games. Meanwhile, the Sabres needed only 18 seconds of power-play time to score their first two goals.

But after successfully killing a penalty midway through the second period, the Flyers took control of the game, scoring four goals over the next 15 minutes (see feature highlight).

"We won a lot of battles and cycled the puck down low hard," said Sean Couturier, who tallied two assists. "We kind of beat guys down low and brought the puck to the net hard after so it's a little different and it paid off tonight."

Defensemen Radko Gudas and Michael Del Zotto were on the ice for five of the Flyers' six goals. Gudas had a goal and two assists for his first three-point night of the season and first multi-point game since Nov. 17. Del Zotto assisted on two goals for his first multi-point game of the season. Both had season-high plus-five ratings.

"These nights don't come for me very often," Gudas said. "If I can contribute for the team, it's very fun for me and it makes the game extra special."

Giroux scored for the first time in 13 games when he knocked in a rebound of Del Zotto's shot from the point late in the second period to give the Flyers a 4-2 lead.

"It's good to see him score, but I think he could have buried one the last couple of games," Gudas said. "The bounces just didn't go his way."

Matt Read, Jordan Weal and Chris VandeVelde also scored for the Flyers. Ten different players had points.

"It's a boost for the confidence," Couturier said. "Everyone contributing, we've got all four lines rolling and that's what we need the rest of the year if we want to make the playoffs."

The Flyers have now earned seven points over their last four games. With 70 points on the season, they remain three behind the Islanders for the final wild-card spot. They are one point behind Toronto, which they visit on Thursday.

"This week is definitely the biggest week of the year to date," Konecny said. "I'm sure there will be more of these as we go through the end of the season here. It's important and it's big that we're getting wins like that and we're starting to play our game."

Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

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Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby scored the tying goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Evgeni Malkin put in the winner 58 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the struggling New York Rangers 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel and ex-Ranger Carl Hagelin also scored for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who handed New York (1-5-1) its fourth straight loss.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over in overtime and Kessel set up Malkin for the game-winning goal. Just before that, the Rangers iced the puck, leading to a faceoff in their zone.

Michael Grabner put New York ahead 4-3 when he and David Desharnais completed a nifty give-and-go at the 8-minute mark of the third period.

Desharnais, Pavel Buchnevich and J.T. Miller scored in a span of 2:30 as the Rangers got three straight goals early in the second to take a 3-2 lead.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray and counterpart Henrik Lundqvist each made 28 saves in the first of four meetings this season between the division rivals (see full recap).

Devils top Lightning in shootout
NEWARK, N.J. -- Kyle Palmieri scored the lone goal in a shootout, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Drew Stafford scored twice in regulation as New Jersey improved to 5-1-0. Palmieri and Brian Gibbons each had a goal in the first period, and Cory Schneider made 33 saves.

Vladimir Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which had its four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-1-1.

Kucherov's goal was his eighth in seven games. He has scored at least once in every game this season, and the 24-year-old right wing became the sixth player in modern NHL history to score at least one goal in the first seven games of a season.

Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Hodge and Tony Tanti are the others. Lemieux holds the record with at least one goal in the first 12 games of the 1992-93 season.

Peter Budaj made his first start of the season for the Lightning and had 30 saves (see full recap).

Anderson helps Maple Leafs blank Capitals
WASHINGTON -- Connor Brown scored the game-winning goal in the third period and Frederik Andersen stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their tremendous start by beating the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Toronto has won five of its first six games. Washington has now lost two in a row since top defenseman Matt Niskanen went out with a long-term upper-body injury.

After getting a promotion to the third line, Brown picked up his second goal of the season and broke a 0-0 tie with 14:07 left in the third. Brown corralled a rebound of Morgan Rielly's point shot and poked the puck between Braden Holtby's legs.

Holtby made 28 saves but couldn't help as the Capitals' offense couldn't cash in on limited high-quality chances. Nazem Kadri scored an empty-net goal in the final minute (see full recap).

Michal Neuvirth earns his Ric Flair robe as Flyers roll again at home

Michal Neuvirth earns his Ric Flair robe as Flyers roll again at home

BOX SCORE

Every season the Flyers come up with a unique prop handed down from one player of the game to the next following each home victory.

Tuesday night, it was goaltender Michal Neuvirth who was rewarded with the Ric Flair black and silver feathered robe, made popular by the WWE superstar. Neuvirth’s 40-save performance helped pave the way for the Flyers' 5-1 victory over the Panthers (see observations).

“I think Neuvy gave us some confidence,” Claude Giroux said. “He made some big saves for us. He was solid. We’re happy for him that he played a great game. We were hoping to give him a shutout in the end there. He stood on his head tonight.”   

The robe, hand-tailored by the daughter of Flyers head equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, seems rather appropriate in the manner in which the Flyers have body-slammed their opponents in their first two games at the Wells Fargo Center, outscoring Washington and Florida by a combined score of 13-3.

“I think we have a lot of depth. We can roll all four lines,” said Sean Couturier, one of 10 Flyers to register a point. “Our depth has been really good and we've got to keep it that way.”

“It’s fun when you’re winning and making plays. That’s the biggest thing,” said Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored his first goal of the season on a give-and-go with Wayne Simmonds. “As a team, we’re making a lot of plays and Coach is giving us the leeway to do that, and like you said, it’s fun hockey out there.”

The Panthers could have seized some of the Flyers' early momentum. With roughly 6:45 remaining in the second period, Gostisbehere broke up a potential 2-on-1, which led to Valtteri Filppula’s long stretch pass to Giroux, who was all alone at the Panthers' blue line. Giroux skated in and snapped a shot through Roberto Luongo’s five-hole to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead, when just seconds earlier the Panthers had a chance to cut the Flyers' lead to a single goal.

“It was up-and-down hockey,” Giroux said. “It was fun hockey to play and after we got that first goal, we kind of relaxed and started playing.”

Playing for the first time in 12 days, Neuvirth certainly needed a goal to relax. Not only was he fighting the puck early on, but also a few butterflies.

“When you don’t start for awhile, you start questioning yourself,” Neuvirth said. “I was a little bit more nervous than what I was used to before the game, but I handled it well.” 

Tuesday’s game may not have been predetermined WWE style, but the Flyers certainly followed Dave Hakstol’s script, as they had the Panthers pinned to the ice leading, 4-0, after two periods — scoring three of those goals off the rush (see highlights). Coming into Tuesday’s game, Florida led the NHL averaging 42 shots on net.

“I said it this morning, they’re a dangerous team,” Hakstol said. “They make a lot of plays. They put a lot of pucks to the net. Sometimes a shot chart isn’t everything. If you can defend and get a save when you need it, and then turn around in transition and get after them at the other end of the rink, you can generate some chances and we did that tonight.” 

As Neuvirth walked away for the night, he left the gimmicky robe hanging from his locker room stall.

It’s not exactly a look that would inspire confidence, especially with the words “Nature Boy” written across the back shoulder.

Simmonds update
Simmonds left Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons with approximately eight minutes remaining in the third period because of a lower-body injury. He’ll be evaluated further over the next day or two.

Simmonds has missed just one game since the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

A point is a point
Defenseman Robert Hagg collected his first NHL point by simply getting in the way. Hagg collected the secondary assist after he blocked Mark Pysyk’s shot that led to a Flyers rush and Gostisbehere’s eventual goal.

“I mean, yeah, I’ll take it,” Hagg said. “It’s not going to say in the newspaper how I made it, so I’ll take it.”

With Hagg's assist, 16 of the Flyers' 19 skaters have recorded at least a point this season. Only Michael Raffl, Radko Gudas and Travis Sanheim have yet to crack the scoresheet.