Flyers Notes: Gordie Howe hat tricks, sides for line combinations

Flyers Notes: Gordie Howe hat tricks, sides for line combinations

When it comes to goals, 30 is considered a pretty decent mile-marker in the NHL.
For Wayne Simmonds, it was a pretty painful one too on Thursday night during the Flyers' 6-3 win over the Islanders at Wells Fargo Center (see game recap).
"Nah, I scored another one with my face once," Simmonds said. "That one [tonight] hurt pretty good, though."
Simmonds' 30th came on the power play in the first period as the Flyers opened up a 5-0 gap on the Isles. It was his 16th power-play goal of the season.
Shayne Gostisbehere's rocket from the left point hit Simmonds on his right knee, then caromed past goalie Jaroslav Halak.
"You never think you'll score five goals in a period, but I think we did the right things and we played well," Simmonds said.
"I wish we played that way the second period. I think the second period was a down period for us, but the first was great."
Simmonds also had his fourth-career Gordie Howe hat trick that same first period with an assist and a fight (decision) against Anders Lee.
Two Gordies in one period was a club record -- Dale Weiss fought Travis Hamonic.
"I thought it was pretty cool, not lying," Simmonds said. "Weise, Schenner (Brayden Schenn) and (Sean) Couturier have been playing really well since they've been put together.
"I thought Weise did a really good job. Mine just kind of happened. I think it's great. It's good for the team."
Simmonds' career high was 32 goals last season.
"I think it's pretty hard to score 30 goals in this league. It's definitely nice," he said.
The records
Some info on the Flyers' big victory, courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau:

• Fastest Gordie Howe hat trick (Weise, 8:28) in Flyers history.

• Fastest Gordie Howe hat trick in any NHL game since Nov. 27, 1985 when Kevin Dineen recorded one in 7:32 for Hartford.

• First occasion in team history for two Gordie Howe hat tricks in one period (Weise, Simmonds).

• Third occasion in team history for two Gordie Howe hat tricks in one game (others: Jan. 9, 1972 -- Bob Clarke, Gary Dornhoefer and Jan. 5, 1985 -- Lindsay Carson, Rick Tocchet). Tocchet's in that game was previously the Flyers' fastest Gordie Howe hat trick at 11:02.

• Second-career Gordie Howe hat trick for Weise.

• Fourth-career Gordie Howe hat trick for Simmonds.

• First-career three-point period for Couturier.

• First five-goal first period for the Flyers since Nov. 5, 2011 vs. Columbus (9-2 win).

• First five-goal period overall since Jan. 12, 2015 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (five goals in second period).

• Last time the Flyers scored four goals in 4:49 or less within one period was Nov. 29, 1998 vs. Vancouver (four goals in 4:33 in third period.
Left or right?
That's been the subject of some debate recently in terms of line combinations as it pertains to Weiss, who's been a right wing most of his NHL career, and Schenn, who's played every forward spot as a Flyer.
Some nights, you see Schenn, who is left-handed, on the left side. Others nights he's on the right wing and Weiss, who is right-handed, is on left.
Both players say not to overthink the matter and it doesn't have anything to do with matchups against the other side.
"On the forecheck, if we're on our off-side, it's easier for our D to get us the puck on the wall and I can make a play," Weiss said. "It's almost like, to be honest, I haven't played left wing until I came here this year and I almost prefer it defensively because of the way we play.
"It's easier. You are in the middle of the rink and can make plays, go to our weakside D or hit the center. When you are on your strong side, all you can do is eat the puck. Every D-man pinches in the NHL now.
"Every guy comes down the wall. I'm sitting there, the puck comes, all I can do is eat it and then we are hemmed into our own zone [on the breakout]. If we can, we want to be on our off-side."
Schenn has a different take.
"It's a straight-up read off me and Weiser," Schenn said. "It has nothing to do with matchups or positioning or anything like that. Sometimes I get stuck on the left or the right.
"We're both comfortable playing both positions. We kind of read off each other, look at each other. Don't read too much into this. I start on the right and he starts on the left and wherever we end up that shift, we just read off it."

Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

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Pekka Rinne notches milestone in Predators' rout

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Pekka Rinne made 33 saves in his 300th career win and the Nashville Predators routed the San Jose Sharks 7-1 on Thursday night.

Nick Bonino, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson each had a goal and an assist, and Scott Hartnell, Kevin Fiala and Mattias Ekholm also scored for Nashville, which has won three straight. The Predators moved within one point of expansion Vegas for the Western Conference lead.

Nashville defensemen Roman Josi and P.K. Subban each had two assists.

All of Rinne's wins have come with Nashville. He tied former Predators goalie Tomas Vokoun for 33rd place in NHL history.

Logan Couture had the San Jose goal. The loss snapped the Sharks' three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Wild use big 2nd period to top Devils
NEWARK, N.J. -- Joel Eriksson Ek and Chris Stewart scored in a 39-second span during Minnesota's three-goal second period, and the Wild rallied from two down to beat the New Jersey Devils 4-2 on Thursday night.

Wild defenseman Mike Reilly also scored in the second period and Eric Staal iced the game with an empty-net goal, his 900th NHL point. Backup goalie Alex Stalock made 38 saves as the Wild moved into third place in the Central Division after winning for the 11th time in 17 games (11-3-3).

Taylor Hall and Stefan Noesen scored for the Devils, who have lost two in a row after a four-game winning streak. Eddie Lack made 21 saves.

Hall's 13-game point streak is the longest in NHL this season, one more than David Pastrnak of Boston.

Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau made the right moves in this one, inserting Reilly and Stewart into the lineup and electing to give No. 1 goaltender Devan Dubnyk a night off (see full recap).

Matthews exits Maple Leafs’ SO victory with injury
TORONTO -- Tyler Bozak scored the shootout winner and the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the New York Islanders 4-3 on Thursday night.

Auston Matthews tipped in Jake Gardiner's shot to tie it 3-all with 3:29 remaining in the third period, but later left the game favoring his right side after taking a hit from Cal Clutterbuck and did not return. The 20-year-old Toronto star missed six games in December with a concussion and another four games with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Mitch Marner and Morgan Rielly had the other Maple Leafs goals, and Frederik Andersen made 32 saves. Toronto (38-20-5) has won eight straight at home.

Ryan Pulock, Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle scored for the Islanders (29-26-7), and Jaroslav Halak turned aside 28 shots. New York, one point out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, dropped to 4-6-2 since the All-Star break and 13-15-3 on the road this season.

With his three points, Barzal has a team-leading 65 and a 14-point lead over Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks in the NHL's rookie scoring race (see full recap).

Here comes Nolan Patrick, just in time for Flyers

Here comes Nolan Patrick, just in time for Flyers


When Dave Hakstol was hired on May 18, 2015, to become the 19th head coach of the Flyers, there was an underlying belief that given his collegiate pedigree, Hakstol was the perfect bench boss to handle the team's homegrown prospects.

However, as we’ve seen over the course of three seasons, the progression of a young player doesn’t always continue on an upward trajectory from the moment they start their NHL career.

As he juggles a roster that is now the youngest in the Eastern Conference following injuries to Brian Elliott and Wayne Simmonds, Hakstol appears to be pushing all of the right buttons, including those connected with the organization’s most prized prospect, Nolan Patrick.

Thursday night’s 2-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets further exemplified that as Patrick scored a power-play goal in his second straight game (see observations). With the injury to Simmonds, Hakstol believed Patrick could slide seamlessly into Simmonds' net-front role on the top unit, and the rookie has yet to disappoint his coach or teammates.

“I think there’s a little less pressure,” Patrick said. “You don’t have the puck on your stick as much. I think my shots are something I need to improve on. It’s kind of nice for me to be there and not try and beat goalies with my shots. I like it there.”

Hakstol recognized early in the opening month of the season that Patrick wasn’t quite ready to handle the role of being a top-six forward, but over the course of an 82-game season, he has gradually given the 19-year-old center more responsibility and Patrick has proved he’s deserving of the coach’s trust.

“His approach, his hockey sense and his intelligence is what gives him an opportunity to be successful in any situation,” Hakstol said. “Each time we’ve been able to give him more of an opportunity, he’s taken advantage of that. Nolan is doing a lot of those little things on a nightly basis — up and down the middle of the rink, playing a good 200-foot game, and the fact he’s taken pride in that is the foundation of his game.”

“He’s been great,” Patrick said of Hakstol. “When I first got here, they made me work for everything. They didn’t put me in situations I wasn’t ready for. Even now, when I’m not playing great, he does what’s best for the team. He’ll hold me back or not put me out there when I’m struggling on faceoffs. He notices that and he’s been huge for me.”

And Patrick has been huge for the Flyers. He’s now scored a goal in three straight games. 

You’re never quite sure when the future will eventually catch up to the present, but with the help of his head coach, it’s coming at just the right time for Nolan Patrick.