Flyers to retire Eric Lindros' No. 88 on Jan. 18

Flyers to retire Eric Lindros' No. 88 on Jan. 18

Updated: 1:40 p.m.

Eric Lindros has his place locked in the Hockey Hall of Fame forever.

He'll soon have his place hanging in the rafters above the Flyers' home ice forever, too.

The Flyers announced on Monday that Lindros' iconic No. 88 will be retired during a ceremony on Thursday, Jan. 18, prior to the game vs. his hometown Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center.

"I'm extremely excited. [Flyers president Paul Holmgren] gave the call and I'm overwhelmed, really," Lindros said Monday afternoon on a conference call. "It's a real special honor. I mean, jeez, you look into those rafters and there's been a lot of great players, terrific players that have passed through and have had a chance to play in Philadelphia. To be up top and hang high up there, it's a real special thing when you look up at the names."

Lindros will join Bobby Clarke, Barry Ashbee, Bill Barber, Bernie Parent and Mark Howe as the only Flyers to have their numbers retired by the club.

"I'm not going to lie to you, I glance above every once and a while and look at that," Lindros said of the numbers above the Wells Fargo Center ice where his No. 88 will soon join them. "I don't think it really sinks in until you kind of walk through it and have it a little bit. I'm certainly excited about it."

After he was acquired from the Quebec Nordiques in 1992, Lindros became the face of a new era of hockey in Philadelphia in the 1990s with his skill, speed and hulking, dominating frame.

In his incredibly productive and often controversial 486-game Flyers career from 1992-2000, Lindros recorded 290 goals and 369 assists for 659 points, good for fifth on the franchise's all-time point-scoring list. "Big E's" 290 tallies are eighth most in team history. His 369 assists are seventh most in team history.

Despite the often contentious relationship between Lindros and the club, which reached its apex with the 2001 trade to the New York Rangers, ties have been mended and the two sides have remained in connection since Lindros played in the outdoor Alumni Game at Citizens Bank Park prior to the 2012 Winter Classic vs. the Rangers.

That connection has remained and grown stronger over time, leading to the honor Lindros received word of Monday morning.

"I think that years have gone by here and I've really talked at length with Homer and we've had great conversations," Lindros said. "We have a good sense of trust and understanding in one another. Things have just evolved since we began speaking at the outdoor game and prior to that."

"Eric has made an incredible and lasting impact on the Flyers organization, our fans and the game of hockey as a whole," Holmgren said in a release sent by the team. "We could not be more proud to raise his No. 88 to the rafters."

The Flyers became Lindros' team prior to the 1994-95 season when he was named the 11th captain in franchise history at the tender age of 21. To this day, he is still the youngest captain in Flyers history.

That same season, Lindros won the Hart Trophy for NHL MVP after he posted 29 goals and 41 assists for 70 points in the 48-game strike-shortened season. He and Clarke are the only two Flyers to win the Hart Trophy.

Lindros was a six-time NHL All-Star, all coming during his seasons with the Flyers. He also participated in three Olympic tournaments, winning gold with Team Canada in 2002 in Salt Lake City.

"Big E" was inducted into the Flyers Hall of Fame alongside "Legion of Doom" linemate John LeClair in November 2014. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame last fall.

"I'm just extremely honored and fortunate," Lindros reiterated.

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers

Pleasant surprises in a first for Flyers


When asked what he thought about the current Flyers team prior to his retirement ceremony, Eric Lindros admitted he really didn’t know all that much regarding this year’s team. 

After Thursday night’s 3-2 win over Lindros’ hometown Maple Leafs (see observations), "Big E" and a sold-out Wells Fargo Center crowd learned something about the Flyers that no one in Philadelphia had been privy to.

The Flyers capped off their first win this season when trailing by two or more goals entering the third period. Interestingly, the only other third-period comeback that led to a victory was when they trailed this same Toronto team, 2-1, on Dec. 12. Prior to this game, the Flyers were 1-12-2 this season when trailing after two periods.

Certainly, the Flyers needed goal scoring, but more importantly, they also received a handful of momentum saves from goaltender Michal Neuvirth.

“Huge," Neuvirth said regarding his 29-save performance. “When we tied it, it was like, 'OK, here we go. You gotta be at your best right now.' So I was just focusing on the next shot. Just happy the way the guys responded in the third.”

Neuvirth had little, if any, margin of error after the Leafs scored twice in a 28-second span to grab a 2-0 advantage, but the Flyers' backup netminder provided a handful of momentum saves that allowed the Flyers to win in overtime.

• A minute after Wayne Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with a shorthanded goal, Neuvirth stopped Auston Matthews and Connor Brown on back-to-back shots, including an impressive blocker save on Brown from up close.

• With 2:48 remaining in regulation, Neuvirth made the save of the game with the Leafs coming down on a 2-on-1. Neuvirth expected Nazem Kadri to shoot. Instead, he passed it to his left, forcing Neuvirth to make a full extension on Patrick Marleau, turning aside the shot with the tip of his right pad (see highlights).

• Neuvirth denied Matthews from in tight with another pad save just 10 seconds into overtime. That save created a 2-on-1 scoring chance resulting in Sean Couturier’s game-winning score. 

“At least three 10-bell saves by Neuvy. He was tremendous,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We generated a lot in the third period, but when you give up those chances against, Neuvy stole the show in my opinion and you need those saves sometimes to win games. For me, he was first star.”

Neuvirth and the rest of the Flyers needed an initial spark and 19-year-old rookie Nolan Patrick was surprisingly the one to provide it. After taking a shot that hit the side of the net and caromed behind it, Patrick chased down Mitch Marner, stole the puck and fired a quick shot on goaltender Frederik Andersen for his first goal in his last 25 games.

“I tried to forget how many games it was in a row without a goal and just keep playing,” Patrick said. “I thought I was playing some good hockey lately and I knew it would come.”

A minute and 52 seconds later, Simmonds tied the game at 2-2 with the Flyers' second shorthanded goal of the season, extending his point streak to six games.

Struggling to find the right overtime combinations, Hakstol elected to go with the trio of Couturier, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov to start the extra session. Couturier continued his magical run and now has 11 goals in his last 12 games, while also providing five game-winning goals in the Flyers' last 10 victories. 

“He’s hot. We keep calling him ‘Rocket,’" Simmonds said, referring to Hall of Famer Maurice “Rocket” Richard. “You just keep giving him the puck and he’s going to find the back of the net. When you’re hot, you want to keep giving it to a guy like that. Hopefully, he’s going to continue to score for us.”

More Couturier goals and more game-changing saves, and the Flyers will find themselves rocketing up the standings.

Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

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Golden Knights make statement in clash of conference leaders

TAMPA, Fla. -- Marc-Andre Fleury made 28 saves, David Perron had a goal and an assist, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 Thursday night in a matchup of conference leaders.

James Neal, Nate Schmidt and William Karlsson also scored for the Golden Knights, who swept the two-game season series with the NHL-leading Lightning.

Tampa Bay, coming off its bye week, got a goal from Ondrej Palat, and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 26 shots. Vasilevskiy, an All-Star this season, has allowed 19 goals over his last four games.

Fleury made a number of impressive stops, including a left-circle shot by Steven Stamkos and in-close chance from Nikita Kucherov during the second period. The goalie, who spent most of career with Pittsburgh, is 19-11-4 against the Lightning.

Neal opened the scoring with a nifty deflection 56 seconds into the first, and Schmidt made it 2-0 with 3:57 left in the period. Deryk Engelland got his 100th NHL assist on Neal's goal.

Vegas is 19-1-0 when scoring first, with the lone loss coming Oct. 30 to the New York Islanders (see full recap).

Devils beat Caps in OT on Hall’s goal
NEWARK, N.J. -- Taylor Hall scored on a breakaway 34 seconds into overtime and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 on Thursday night.

Sami Vatanen collected his third assist of the game on the winning goal, a shot over the shoulder of goaltender Braden Holtby.

Drew Stafford, Andy Greene and Miles Wood also scored for the Devils, who have won two straight after breaking a six-game winless streak (0-3-3). Keith Kinkaid had 16 saves and the Devils killed off all five Washington power plays.

Brett Connolly scored twice and Dmitry Orlov had a goal for the Capitals, who lost for only the second time in eight games. The Capitals, however, extended their streak of getting a point against New Jersey to 14 games (12-0-2).

Holtby made 28 saves, but gave up three breakaway goals (see full recap).

Panarin puts Stars over the top in shootout
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Artemi Panarin scored in the second round of a shootout, and the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 on Thursday night.

Joonas Korpisalo had 35 saves for Columbus (26-18-3), which returned from its five-day break after losing both ends of a back-to-back last week. Jordan Schroeder scored his first goal of the season in the first period.

Korpisalo blocked a shootout try by Jason Spezza before Alexander Radulov and Tyler Seguin came up empty. Dallas goaltender Ben Bishop blocked Jussi Jokinen's shootout attempt before Panarin beat him.

Korpisalo got the start ahead of Vezina Trophy-winner Sergei Bobrovsky, who struggled in the recent losses. The 23-year-old Finn got his first win in nearly a month in his ninth game this season.

Dan Hamhuis scored for Dallas with 2:15 left in regulation. Bishop had 25 stops, including a terrific glove save on Alexander Wennberg with 30 seconds left in the third.

Dallas (26-17-4) had won two in a row (see full recap).