Flyers

Flyers-Flames: 5 things you need to know

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Flyers-Flames: 5 things you need to know

The Flyers (29-23-6) and Flames (22-28-7) meet for the final time this season today.

It’s also the last game for both teams for a few weeks as the NHL breaks for the Olympics.

Puck drop is set for 1 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Center (CSN).

Here are five things you need to know:

1. Finish strong
The Flyers are rolling right now and it’s important to head into the break with two more points, especially considering the quality of opponent they’re facing today.

Winning four of their last five, the Flyers have three straight wins over three of the best teams in the Western Conference -- the Kings, Sharks and Avalanche. They had a tough 5-3 loss to the Ducks last week, but played Anaheim extremely well.

This is the problem with the Flyers and their inconsistency. They beat teams you’d expect them to lose to, but then fall to teams you’d expect them to beat. There is no excuse for the Orange and Black to leave Wells Fargo Center today without a victory.

Calgary is a team in transition and six games under .500. However, it is riding a hot streak of its own. The Flames have won six of their last seven games, but they’re still a team the Flyers should beat.

The Flyers beat the Flames, 4-1, on New Year’s Eve. Losing to Calgary to enter the break would be a dagger in the Flyers’ hearts. It’s a critical game.

2. Loving the West
Steve Mason misses the Western Conference, because this season he’s tearing it apart.

In his last 10 games vs. Western Conference teams, Mason is 7-2-1 with a 2.26 goals-against average and .928 save percentage, including a shutout. This year, he’s 10-6-2 with a 2.30 GAA and .925 save percentage against his former conference.

The 25-year-old has rebounded quite nicely in the last couple of weeks after a rough patch. He’s allowed seven goals in his last five games, including two shutouts. His confidence appears back, which is great because the Flyers’ defense still has its warts.

Mason has faced the Flames a fair amount in his career, posting pedestrian numbers. In 13 games vs. Calgary, Mason has a 5-4-3 record with a 2.97 GAA and .892 save percentage with one shutout.

In the prior meeting between these two teams this year, Mason had the night off. While the Flyers would probably like to get Ray Emery one more start before the break, it’s not a good idea to let Mason have more time off than needed.

3. Getting offensive
What’s behind the Flames’ recent stretch?

Calgary’s offense has been electric in its last seven games, scoring 25 goals -- 3.57 goals per game, 1.25 more goals per game than its season average.

The Flames' only loss during the span was a 2-0 shutout in Montreal.

Youngsters Mikael Backlund, 24, and Sean Monahan, 19, have carried the offense of late. Backlund has 10 points in his last six games, while Monahan has five points -- three goals -- during the stretch.

Monahan, the Flames’ first-round pick in 2013 (sixth overall), leads the team with 16 goals.

Jiri Hudler leads the team with 43 points. He has just three points in the Flames’ last seven games.

4. Three's Company
With Karri Ramo battling a lower-body injury, Reto Berra will get the call again in net.

Berra has started the last three games and he’s been good enough to win but not spectacular. He’s 2-1-0 in those games, but he allowed one goal in the loss; in the two wins, he allowed five goals.

The 27-year-old was in net when the Flyers scored four goals on Calgary on Dec. 31. He stopped 17 of 20 shots in the loss, as the Orange and Black also added an empty netter.

On the season, Berra has a 3.06 GAA and .896 save percentage. Given how well Mason has been playing, three goals on Berra today should be enough for a victory.

5. This and that

• Mark Streit has power-play goals in his last two games. He had two in the first 56 games.

• The Flyers have a PP goal in each of their last eight games. It's the longest active streak in NHL.

• Calgary has won four of its last five games in Philadelphia.

• Monahan’s 16 goals are the most goals by a Flames rookie since Dion Phaneuf had 20 in 2006-07.

• When Claude Giroux scores, the Flyers are 15-2-1 this season.

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.