Flyers finally face Shea Weber -- unfortunately


Flyers finally face Shea Weber -- unfortunately

The Flyers caught a break the first time they played the Nashville Predators this season. They weren’t so lucky the second time.

Back on Nov. 30, the Flyers beat the Predators in a shootout. Nashville defenseman Shea Weber missed that game with an eye injury. He didn’t miss Thursday’s rematch -- much to the chagrin of the Flyers and their fans.

Nashville beat the Flyers, 4-3 in a shootout, at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday evening (see Instant Replay). Weber was involved in all three goals during regulation. He had an assist on each of the first two and scored in the third period.

“It’s a tough place to play,” Weber said. “They’re a tough team. Obviously we would have liked to win in regulation, but they scored a power-play goal late and we were able to finish it off in a shootout. It was a confidence builder … obviously guys were squeezing their sticks a little bit. For a while there, we couldn’t score in the shootout. It was a pressure situation but we pulled it out.”

After Thursday's effort, the Predators’ captain has 20 points in his last 18 games. He also leads all NHL defensemen with 12 goals.

Weber, who was recently named to his second straight Winter Olympics for Team Canada, was frequently booed on Thursday evening. It wasn’t surprising. As Flyers fans are all too aware, Weber was awfully close to playing in Philadelphia. In the summer of 2012, the Flyers signed Weber to a 14-year, $110 million offer sheet. Weber was a restricted free agent at the time, and it was uncertain whether Nashville would match the offer. The Predators did and retained the services of the 6-4, 233-pound All-Star defenseman.

Thursday night was the first time since then that Weber has played against the Flyers. But when he was asked about that situation and what it was like to finally face a team he almost ended up playing for, Weber answered by skipping over the question.

“It was a good game,” Weber said. “They’re a good team. It’s unfortunate we didn’t get the win in regulation time. But we still got two points.”

That was it. That was all he offered -- until a Nashville reporter rephrased and asked Weber whether anyone got “chirpy” with him during the game.

“Just Hartsy,” Weber said about Scott Hartnell, “cause he’s always chirpy. That’s nothing new though."

Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

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Best of NHL: Jaden Schwartz hat trick lifts Blues over Blackhawks

ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Schwartz has four goals and six assists this season and has at least one point in six of the Blues' first seven games. It was his 51st career multi-point game and fourth this season.

Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist, Kyle Brodziak also scored, and Jake Allen made 22 saves. The Blues snapped a two-game losing streak

Duncan Keith and Ryan Hartman had late goals for Blackhawks, and Corey Crawford made 28 saves (see full recap).

Maple Leafs ride big 1st period to win
TORONTO -- Curtis McElhinney made 29 saves in his season debut and the Toronto Maple Leafs scored four times in the first period in a 6-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Starting in place of Frederik Andersen, McElhinney stopped 14 shots in the third period to hold off the Red Wings.

Nazem Kadri, Zach Hyman, Auston Matthews, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and William Nylander scored to help Toronto improve to an NHL-best 6-1-0. The Maple Leafs were coming off a 2-0 victory at Washington on Tuesday night.

Henrik Zetterberg, Tomas Tatar, Jonathan Ericsson scored for the Red Wings, and Nick Jensen had three assists.

Jimmy Howard gave up three goals on four shots before getting yanked in favor of Petr Mrazek late in the first period (see full recap).

How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

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How Michal Neuvirth found fresh inspiration in being a dad

For the first time in his nine-year career, Michal Neuvirth knows when he gets home at night after a game, there will be someone waiting for him with a smile.

Win or lose, it doesn’t matter to Neuvirth, or especially to his one-month-old daughter, Emily Gudasová Carolina.

“When you come home, there’s a baby waiting and it's such an amazing feeling that someone is waiting for you at home,” Neuvirth said after Tuesday's 5-1 win over Florida. “Last year, I was mostly here by myself, so I definitely like it better having a family with me now.”

Family now consists of his newborn daughter, his fiancee Karolína Gudasová and uncle Radko Gudas, Gudasová’s older brother and Neuvirth’s Flyers teammate.

To those of us on the outside, the responsibility of fatherhood seemingly has altered Neuvirth’s disposition. He smiles more, cracks a few jokes and elaborates just a little more with his answers to the media. Perhaps, he can tolerate us because there’s a deeper purpose and a sense of providing that comes with fatherhood.  

“It’s amazing feeling being a dad,” Neuvirth said. “For me, I just have another motivation to play for my family now.”

Of course, it also helps I’ve yet to see Neuvirth yawn or show up to practice with bags under his eyes. He has escaped any late-night drama with an eight-day road trip to start the season, and for now, he apparently has a rare lifetime pass for any early morning feedings.  

“I have an amazing fiancee. She takes care of her (Emily) as much as she needs to,” Neuvirth said. “I usually put her to bed at 10-10:30. During the night Karolina goes and feeds her in the living room, and I’m a deep sleeper, so she doesn’t wake me up.”

As Gudasová has kept an eye on the cradle, Neuvirth has secured the crease. He’s allowed three goals in his two starts this season with a .956 save percentage, which has initiated the debate for more playing time.

Interestingly, adapting to a new addition is something Neuvirth has also discussed with teammate and fellow netminder, Brian Elliott, who went through a similar set of circumstances with his son, Owen, last season in Calgary. Elliott called that first month with the Flames “a huge adjustment” and his October numbers reflected that.

Six games into the season, Neuvirth apparently has it all figured out. 

Of course, a good night’s sleep has a way of bringing clarity to the situation.