Flyers

Flyers Injury Update: Sean Couturier expected to return after 16-game absence

Flyers Injury Update: Sean Couturier expected to return after 16-game absence

VOORHEES, N.J. — After missing 16 games with an MCL sprain to his left knee, Sean Couturier is expected to be in the Flyers' lineup Wednesday night in St. Louis as the Flyers begin a three-game road trip.
 
Travel issues forced the Flyers' top checking center to miss practice Tuesday at Skate Zone, but he will join the club later today.
 
“Coots has a shot at playing soon,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “Hopefully he plays [Wednesday]. We will probably flip Reader (Matt Read) to LTIR.”
 
Coach Dave Hakstol would like to see Couturier play against the Blues, as well.
 
“I haven’t seen him or talked to him in a few days, but he’s a huge part of our team and we’ve seen that time after time, when he’s in the lineup versus out,” Hakstol said. “If he’s available, it would be nice to have him back.”
 
If Couturier plays, Hakstol said he doesn’t intend to touch Brayden Schenn’s line with Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds. He wants Schenn to remain at center.
 
That means Couturier drops into a true third-line role between Nick Cousins and Dale Weise.
 
“Brayden, for the most part, he’s done a pretty good job,” Hakstol said. “Everything can be adjusted but right now, that’s [a line] I want to stay with.”
 
Read, who has an oblique muscle pull, practiced with the team wearing the white “injured” jersey but left the practice early, although Hextall said he didn’t suffer a setback and it was planned that way.
 
“We knew it would be January,” Hextall said of Read’s full recovery, adding it would be a “long shot” for him to play in either game in San Jose or Anaheim by the weekend when this road trip finishes.
 
Goalie Michal Neuvirth (left knee), who practiced four times on his own in recent weeks, rejoined teammates Tuesday and will make the trip, but won’t play.
 
“He has some time,” Hextall said. “I’d be shocked if he played within the week.”
 
Anthony Stolarz will remain on the roster as the Flyers take three goalies on the road.
 
“Feeling good and will go day by day,” said Neuvirth, who’s missed 20 games. “For me, it’s just getting back to 100 percent and to feel good about myself again. Today was a real good practice — I was doing everything and it was the first good test for me.”
 
Loose pucks
• Jakub Voracek had a maintenance day, a curious designation after four days off.

• Mark Streit (left shoulder) took full practice but remained uncertain as to whether he would play this week. “I’m not quite there yet,” Streit said. “Just going through some drills. It’s going to be a process but I felt pretty good out there.”  

• Michael Raffl (right knee) did not practice. Taylor Leier replaced the injured Raffl on the top line with Claude Giroux and Voracek. 

• Steve Mason, who left the game last week in New Jersey with back tightness, practiced and said he is fine.

Flyers' Muhammad Ali-type mentality behind season-high winning streak

Flyers' Muhammad Ali-type mentality behind season-high winning streak

BOX SCORE

The Flyers developed a Muhammad Ali-type mentality Saturday night.

It was hockey’s version of the rope-a-dope, where the Flyers took the Dallas Stars' best punches early on before going the distance, eventually wearing down an opponent that was playing their third game in four nights.

The end result was a 2-1 Flyers victory, extending their season-high winning streak to six games (see observations).

In fact, the Stars attempted to set the tone on the opening shift when Stars captain Jamie Benn tried to rattle the cage of Claude Giroux. They tangled on their way back to the bench with Benn extending his glove underneath Giroux’s chin.

“We knew they were going to have a good push at the start of the game,” Brian Elliott, who has started all six games of the winning streak, said. "We knew they wouldn't be able to keep it up playing a back-to-back. I thought our guys did a really good job of sticking to that game plan and staying patiently persistent."

The Flyers also knew the Stars would come out of the gates flying after a disappointing 5-2 loss at New Jersey the night before.

“We’ve been on the other side of it,” Giroux said. “Playing a back-to-back, it’s not easy, especially when you’re traveling and we really wanted to take advantage of that. Other teams took advantage of us before.”

The Flyers started to turn up the heat in the opening minutes of the second period when they controlled play with extended shifts in the Stars' end of the ice, coupled with a pair of breakaway opportunities from Travis Konecny and Jakub Voracek.

“That (second) period was the one for me where we pushed the game in our direction,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “It was during the second period we were able to use everybody. Everybody was going and that allowed us to raise the pace of play a little bit.”

The Flyers were also propelled by their power play that finished the game 2 for 6 and a whopping 12 shots on net. After scoring on a rebound that deflected off the backboards, Shayne Gostisbehere landed the knockout blow with 1:10 remaining in overtime when "Ghost" blasted an overtime slapper during the 4-on-3 man advantage.

“A lot of that power play was going rover," Gostisbehere, who scored his fifth career overtime winner, said, "but you could tell we were feeding off each other, finding lanes and we were just relentless and a goal at the end just showed we weren't giving up there."

Stars coach and former Flyers bench boss Ken Hitchcock was attempting, for the second time, to become the third coach in NHL history to win 800 career games. Much of the reason he didn’t achieve the milestone was the careless penalties of forward Alexander Radulov, which led to both of the Flyers' power-play goals.

“It’s not team discipline, it’s individual,” Hitchcock said. “It’s disappointing to fight like we fought and battle. Come off, playing hard like this off a back-to-back, it’s really disappointing to take those two penalties at the end of the game.”

The Flyers also snapped a seven-game losing streak in contests that extended after regulation. The Flyers had dropped five of those in overtime and another two in the shootout.

“I thought we had a really positive attitude,” Elliott said. “I think everyone thought we would go out there for overtime and win. I didn’t think anybody had any doubts or anything. That’s all you can ask for going into those situations.” 

“I liked the way we approached overtime,” Hakstol said. “I didn’t think we pressed or pushed anything. We weren’t taking any long shifts, no high risk plays. I thought guys just went out and did their job and did it the right way.”

Right now, it’s a Flyers team that may not be floating like a butterfly, but they can certainly sting like a bee.

Craig Anderson leads Senators to 4th-ever outdoor shutout

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Craig Anderson leads Senators to 4th-ever outdoor shutout

OTTAWA, Ontario — Craig Anderson stopped 28 shots for his 40th career shutout, leading the Ottawa Senators to a 3-0 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night in the NHL 100 Classic outdoor game.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Bobby Ryan and Nate Thompson scored for the Senators, who have consecutive wins for the first time in more than a month.

Carey Price was kept busy as he stopped 35 shots for the Canadiens, but didn't get any offensive support.

The temperature at puck drop was about 12 degrees. Despite the frigid temperatures 33,959 fans filled the stands at TD Place for the first outdoor game for the current Ottawa franchise. The game was part of the NHL's 100th anniversary celebration (see full recap).

Hutton saves 48 shots, outduels Mason in battle of former Flyers 
ST. LOUIS — Carter Hutton made a career-high 48 saves to earn his ninth career shutout as the St. Louis Blues beat the Winnipeg Jets 2-0 Saturday night.

Vladimir Tarasenko and Vince Dunn scored for St. Louis, which snapped a two-game skid.

Hutton improved to 5-2-0 a day after being activated from injured reserve after sustaining a lower body injury. He was tested early and often as Winnipeg peppered him with 15 shots in the first period and 21 more in the second.

Steve Mason, making his first appearance since Nov. 25, stopped 28 shots as Winnipeg lost for the fifth time in six games.

Tarasenko opened the scoring on a power play 9:16 into the first period when he buried a pass from Alexander Steen. That goal was Tarasenko's 15th of the season and third in his last 12 games. It snapped a streak of four games for St. Louis without a power-play goal (see full recap).

Ovechkin's goal gives Capitals OT win over Ducks
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin scored on a slap shot at 1:58 of overtime, and the Washington Capitals rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 Saturday night for their sixth straight win at home.

Ovechkin's 23rd goal of the season came on a blast from the top of the right circle that beat Anaheim's John Gibson.

Washington took only 15 shots over the first 40 minutes and trailed 2-0 before Nicklas Backstrom knocked in the rebound of a shot by Ovechkin at 3:05 of the third period.

Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it just over four minutes later, beating Gibson on the stick side with a shot from the left circle.

Braden Holtby had 28 saves for the Capitals, who have won in a row and 10 of 12 (see full recap).

​Eberle's OT goal lifts Islanders past Kings
NEW YORK — Jordan Eberle scored 1:54 into overtime to lift the New York Islanders to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.

John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Anders Lee also scored to give the Islanders the lead after they trailed 2-0. Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots to help New York win for just the second time in seven games (2-4-1) and improve to 10-2-2 at home.

Oscar Fantenberg, Tyler Toffoli and Anze Kopitar scored for the Kings, who have lost three straight after an eight-game winning streak. Darcy Kuemper finished with 29 saves.

Kopitar tied the score 3-3 with 13 seconds remaining in regulation when he knocked the puck past Greiss after a scramble in the crease. Kopitar's team-leading 17th goal came after Lee had given New York a 3-2 lead with 3:16 left (see full recap).