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."

Flyers Notes: Connor McDavid comes to town; Matt Read to play?

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Flyers Notes: Connor McDavid comes to town; Matt Read to play?

Believe it or not, the Flyers are "aware" of 21-year-old Oilers phenom Connor McDavid. That doesn't make preparing for the 2017 Art Ross Trophy (most points in NHL) winner any easier, let alone slow him down.

“You have to be understated a little bit and say you're going to be aware when he's on the ice, but obviously there's more to it," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of McDavid Friday. "He's a heck of a player and a guy that can make something happen at any time.”

McDavid has picked up right where he left off last season when he led the NHL with 100 points and 70 assists. Six games into the '17-18 campaign, the third-year centerman already has three goals and five assists, and he's doing it in style. His two helpers helped lift Edmonton over the Blackhawks on Thursday, one of which led to the game-winner in overtime, the other — a no-look, behind-the-back pass — making highlight reels everywhere.

So, yeah, the Flyers are well aware of McDavid and what he's capable of. That doesn't mean he'll be easy to stop.

"We just have to take time and space away from him," defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. "That's the biggest thing. You just can't give him the space out there. He's going to wind it up and wheel.

“We're aware of it. We're going to stick to our gameplan, nothing special, but obviously be aware when he's on the ice.”

The Flyers knew all about McDavid last season, too. He still managed to find the back of the net twice and rack up three assists in those two meetings.

McDavid has also experienced success against both of the Flyers netminders. As a member of the Flames, probable starter Brian Elliott posted an 0-3-1 record with a .870 save percentage in four appearances against the Oilers in '16-17. Michal Neuvirth was 0-1 and allowed six goals in his only meeting.

It seems all the Flyers can do is be aware of the challenges McDavid presents.

"Probably everywhere they go, they have reporters asking the other team what their plan is against him," Elliott said.

“He's just a unique talent that you have to be aware of at all times. He's able to make plays that a lot of other guys aren't. You just have to be on your toes. You have to respect him, but you have to play your game and make sure you're tough no matter who it is out there.”

Laughton confident
Brandon Manning isn't the only member of the Flyers who has experience with McDavid.  Scott Laughton has been up close and personal with the budding superstar, having played against each other in juniors and gone to some of the same camps.

With Laughton centering the fourth line, he should have some opportunities to put his familiarity of McDavid to the test. The Flyers are going to need any advantage they can get — no matter how small or insignificant it might seem.

"I went to a pro camp with McDavid in Toronto in the summer, and he's special," Laughton said. "He's got the best hands I've seen. He's a world-class talent.

“At the same time, tomorrow I'm going to try to limit his space, get in his face and make it hard for him to get going and get speed. I think I can try to keep up with him once I get my speed going.”

Laughton seemed confident about potentially matching up against McDavid. At least he has a plan, anyway.

“There's not much you can do," Laughton said. You just have to be hard to play against, be in his face all night and kind of get him off his game that way.”

Injury report
Flyers forwards Wayne Simmonds and Taylor Leier both missed Friday's skate with what the club termed as maintenance days.

Simmonds was already dealing with a lower-body injury before he was clipped in the face by a stick during Thursday's 1-0 loss to the Predators. It doesn't sound like anything that should prevent the 10-year veteran from suiting up against the Oilers, but clearly, he's banged up right now.

Leier's absence was a bit more of a mystery, and given the 23-year-old rookie's inexperience, missing practice would seem to point to an injury of some kind.

In a bit of good news on the injury front, Jordan Weal returned to practice for the Flyers. However, he refused to let on as to whether he'll be on the ice Saturday.

“Just got out there, went for a twirl," Weal said. "It's day-to-day right now, so just taking it day-by-day.”

Matt Read replaced Simmonds during the skate, and could be preparing to make his regular-season debut. Read joined Weal and Valtteri Filppula on Simmonds' unit, while Jori Lehtera took Leier's place on the fourth line.

Don't read too much into those combinations, however, as the availability of Simmonds, Weal and Leier will no doubt play a role.

Sanheim sticks in the lineup
Following his strong showing against Nashville on Thursday, it appears rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim will suit up for his second game in a row.

Sanheim was a healthy scratch for the Flyers' previous two contests but drew rave reviews for his performance against the Predators. He was paired with Radko Gudas at practice, while Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg continued their partnership.

Manning may be the odd man out on Saturday, despite his history with McDavid. Ivan Provorov and Andrew MacDonald remained a unit at practice, with Manning getting some work in MacDonald's spot.

Manning was hopeful he would be in uniform. Hakstol, on the other hand, downplayed Manning's personal rivalry with McDavid as it pertains to any decision about which defensemen will skate.

“It's a situation for us every game where we have that tough decision," Hakstol said. "Regardless of whether it's one particular team, we'll look at it situationally and consider all of those factors as to who the six are that dress tomorrow. There's a lot of different factors involved."

Best of NHL: Red-hot Devils storm back to beat Senators in overtime

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Best of NHL: Red-hot Devils storm back to beat Senators in overtime

OTTAWA, Ontario -- John Moore scored 1:20 into overtime and the New Jersey Devils used three unanswered goals to beat the Ottawa Senators 5-4 in overtime Thursday night.

This year's No. 1 draft pick Nico Hischier scored twice for New Jersey. The Swiss center's opening goal was the first of his NHL career.

Kyle Palmieri and Marcus Johansson also scored for the Devils, who improved to 4-0-0 on the road and 6-1-0 overall. Cory Schneider allowed four goals on 24 shots before leaving with a lower-body injury. Keith Kinkaid started the third period and stopped nine shots. Taylor Hall chipped in with four assists.

Kyle Turris, Derick Brassard, Alex Burrows and Tom Pyatt scored for the Senators, and Craig Anderson made 41 saves (see full recap).

Bergeron sparks Bruins’ win over Canucks
BOSTON -- Patrice Bergeron had a goal and three assists in his season debut, moving up to seventh on Boston's career scoring list as the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks 6-3 on Thursday night.

Anders Bjork scored twice for Boston, Brad Marchand had a goal and two assists and David Pastrnak added a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who scored five straight goals after falling behind 1-0 early in the first period.

Anton Khudobin made 26 saves for Boston while starting in place of Tuukka Rask, who is out indefinitely with a concussion he suffered in practice Wednesday.

Derek Dorsett, Bo Horvat and Thomas Vanek scored for the Canucks, and Michael Del Zotto had two assists (see full recap).

Sergachev, Vasilevskiy help Lightning blank Blue Jackets
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Mikhail Sergachev scored his first two NHL goals and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 43 saves for his fifth career shutout in the Tampa Bay Lightning's 2-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Nikita Kucherov assisted on both goals to push his NHL-leading points total to 14. His goals streak was stopped at seven games.

The Lightning took advantage of the few openings offered by Sergei Bobrovsky, who stopped 19 shots for the Blue Jackets and lost for the first time this season. Columbus had won four straight.

The Lightning, coming off an overtime loss to New Jersey on Tuesday night, improved to 6-1-1 for their best start opening 7-0-1 in their Stanley Cup-winning 2003-04 season.

Columbus dropped to 5-2-0, hurt by uncharacteristic sloppy passing and continued power-play problems in its first shutout loss of the season (see full recap).