Flyers

Flyers rally past Sharks to cap California trip

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Flyers rally past Sharks to cap California trip

BOX SCORE

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- There was a common thread to the Flyers' three-game road trip to the West Coast.

They skated with all three clubs -- Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose. They were competitive in the one-on-one battles. And they had solid goaltending from Steve Mason.

All of that was evident in Monday’s 5-2 Flyers' victory over the Sharks that gave them four points in three games, a terrific road trip for Craig Berube’s club.

“A good trip,” Berube said. “We battled hard against all three teams. We got results.”

It was the Flyers first win here since Nov. 5, 1999, snapping a 13-game winless streak. Berube was a player on that Eric Lindros-led team back then.

“Feels pretty good,” Berube said. “I might have scored [in that one].”

He didn’t.

But the Flyers did in this one.

They trailed 2-1 going into the third period and you could feel they were on the upswing against goalie Antti Niemi, barely missing on two great scoring chances in the middle period.

When the final period began, the Flyers scored three goals over a 2:45 span to blow it open at 4-2.

It was a franchise-record 10th third-period comeback win for the Flyers this season, breaking their previous record of nine set in 1996-97.

“We stayed calm. It was awesome,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We knew we had ‘em. We were playing great. Tonight was one of our best games of the year, start to finish. Everyone was going, lines one through four.

“Our defensemen were going, Mase [Mason] played great. The third period we had a little outburst there, but that was because we stuck with the program.”

Matt Read, Michael Raffl and Claude Giroux scored quickly to open the period and chase Niemi from the game for backup Alex Stalock.

Raffl’s goal became the game-winner on a rebound in the slot off Erik Gustafsson’s point shot.

“This is a really good hockey team and to come back in the third period is huge for us,” Raffl said. “We played well the whole game.

“Sooner or later the goals were going to come. We kept putting pucks on the net. It worked out for us.”

Giroux posted his third multi-point effort in the last four games and fifth in the last nine games.

He had two goals and three assists for five points in the last two games (including Los Angeles) of the trip -- both Flyer wins.

“This was our best game,” said Giroux, who tied Simmonds with 18 goals as the club leaders. “We were down 2-1 pretty much the whole game, but we liked the way we played.

“We had chances and when we had them in the third, it went in. Our defense was coming in and we had chances to score. This was one of our best games that our defense played.

“When they broke out of the zone, going D to D, they were skating and it made our job easier. We weren’t spending time in our zone. We were breaking out as five guys.”

Indeed, Gustafsson and Luke Schenn -- who were a defensive pair on the trip -- were a combined plus-6. Mark Streit had a key goal early on to jump start the Flyers, as well.

“I didn't really see how it went in,” Streit said of his hard laser from the point that gave them a 1-0 first-period lead. “Simmer made a great screen in front and that definitely made a difference.

“Everything is so tight, and it was three tough games. We won two. We can be pretty happy with ourselves. Gives us a lot of confidence for the next two games before the Olympic break.

“Defensively, we have been playing pretty well. We close faster on guys in the corner and were getting help from second and third guys. And we were able to break the puck out, which makes a huge difference.

“We got to skate, got to skate. As long as we’re skating, we’re OK. Sometimes we were too passive in the past. We didn’t initiate games and we did that tonight.”

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 an 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.