Flyers rout Islanders behind 5-goal 1st period

Flyers rout Islanders behind 5-goal 1st period


Dave Hakstol actually smiled at the end of his presser.
"It's old-time hockey," the Flyers coach said.
It was genuine Weise of Fortune for the Flyers, who thumped the New York Islanders 6-3 Thursday at Wells Fargo Center to remain six points behind Boston in the wild-card standings (see Instant Replay).
Now the bad, but the Bruins won once again to lower the Flyers' tragic number to four points. Four points by the Bruins eliminates the Flyers, who lose the first tiebreaker (wins in regulation) to every team ahead of them in the wild-card chase.
"It's tough," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "We know we could be in a better position. That's on us. We can't control what other teams do … we gotta hope for some help."
Not happening. Just the opposite, in fact. Boston, Toronto, Tampa Bay and even Carolina all won (see wild-card standings).
Back to the here and now.
It took less than nine minutes for 28-year-old Dale Weise to record his second career Gordie Howe hat trick -- and the fastest Gordie in Flyers history.
"I didn't know that," Weise said. "It's a nice record to have."
Wait, it gets better. The Flyers had two Gordies in that first period -- another franchise first. Wayne Simmonds added one, also.
The only other times this happened:
Jan. 9, 1972 -- Bob Clarke and Gary Dornhoefer both had Gordie Howe hat tricks during a 10-3 rout of the California Golden Seals.
Jan. 5, 1985 -- Lindsay Carson and Rick Tocchet had Gordies in a 6-3 win over St. Louis.
Weise's Gordie beat out Tocchet's, which took 11:02 to occur against the Blues.
Five different Flyers scored in a 5-0 start to the game.
Weise began with a goal at 4:30, his fourth in nine games. Weise later picked up an assist on Radko Gudas' point shot and immediately dropped gloves with Travis Hamonic to notch his Gordie Howe hat trick with a draw.
"Just a lot of credit to our line there, Cootsy (Sean Couturier) and Schenner (Brayden Schenn) on the first couple of ones," Weise said. "Obviously, Gudas made a good shot on my assist. 
"And then Hamonic kind of comes over and asks me for a fight. He's a good Winnipeg boy, so I thought I'd give him one there. … We're both from Winnipeg. I kind of got excited. I couldn't say no."
Thomas Greiss started in net for the Isles and left after giving up his third goal (Gudas) on just eight shots. Jaroslav Halak entered and immediately gave up another to Jordan Weal, who now has goals in three consecutive games.
"The last couple of nights we've had to watch other teams do favors for us," Weise said. "This is a team we are chasing here and we finally have the chance to gain some ground.  We knew this is a head-to-head matchup and we had to handle our business."
Since Sunday in Pittsburgh, the Flyers have scored 15 goals in three games. They could have used some goals in Winnipeg and Columbus, but that's old news.
"We came out strong and we came prepared and ready to play," said Couturier, who had the Flyers' second goal. "I'm not sure if they were ready for us."
Couturier has 14 points in 14 games. Valtteri Filppula has been a member of the Flyers for 15 games. He's helped with matchups, making things easier for Couturier and Claude Giroux.
Routs such as this tend to make it tough on the winning goalie because he's getting no action. That wasn't the case here.
That's because the Flyers coasted after the first period and were outshot 22-3 in the middle stanza. Steve Mason saved their collective fannies as he finished with 38 saves.

"It's really hard to reset after that. It's really hard on emotion when we come out early, a couple fights, a start like that," Weise said. "It's really hard to ramp up the intensity after that. We knew they would come with a push."

Mason had two saves within 10 seconds of each other -- on Andrew Ladd and Brock Nelson -- both of which were rockets on open looks on separate rushes to keep the game 5-1.
"The second period, we were under pressure almost the entire period," Mason said. "We weathered the storm for the most part."
Hakstol knew that second-period letdown was coming, too.
"Human nature. No matter how much you talk about it, you want to have a different outcome and the intensity drops a little bit and that's all it takes," Hakstol said.
"When a team is going to push as hard as they did in the second, Mase did a great job to get through that."
Shame of it is, the Flyers remain in limbo with no clear path to heaven.

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Why Nolan Patrick is such a power-play fit

Replacing Wayne Simmonds on the power play may be one of the toughest assignments in the NHL.

After all, the guy is second to only Alex Ovechkin with 85 man-advantage goals since the 2011-12 season.

So when the predicament actually faced Dave Hakstol this week, the Flyers' head coach turned to … a 19-year-old rookie.

Why Nolan Patrick?

Three components of the decision stand out:

Intelligence factor
Leading up the NHL draft, the overwhelming strength of Patrick's scouting report was his hockey sense.

Those close to him, as well as draft experts, lauded Patrick for comprehending plays before they even happen and being above the ice in understanding spacing.

Those characteristics are crucial when having an extra man.

Patrick has two goals over two games filling in for the injured Simmonds on the Flyers' top power-play unit. Patrick exhibited his IQ with Thursday's game-winner, where he quickly planted himself right in front of the net, had the presence of mind to find the puck and then bury it past Sergei Bobrovsky.

"We told him, just stand in front, if you see a puck, bring it home," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We tried to simplify it for him and he's going to take care of it himself, he's a great hockey player. It's paying off for him."

All about the touch
Patrick has excellent hands.

Put him around the net, and he'll know how to deflect pucks and find holes in a goalie. His vision, skill and finesse are why he's regarded as such an all-around playmaker.

In Tuesday's win, Patrick found immediate success with the first power-play group. Making his way to the middle, Patrick took a Claude Giroux pass and showed off that touch, adeptly going top shelf as Carey Price went low.

Studying Simmonds' net-front proficiency hasn't hurt, either.

"I watch him every game, he's unbelievable there and good at tipping pucks and making plays," Patrick said. "You learn from just watching every day."

Building up the kid
With time, Hakstol and the Flyers have allowed for Patrick to become comfortable instead of putting the world on his shoulders from the get-go.

That's part of Patrick's makeup.

"He almost always wants to be comfortable and then he really starts to exert himself," Patrick's uncle, James, said to NBC Sports Philadelphia last June

We're starting to see Patrick let loose.

As the Flyers have gradually upped his opportunity and responsibility, Patrick has eight points (five goals, three assists) in his last 12 games after putting up six (two goals, four assists) over his previous 34.

Placing Patrick among the team's best talent on the man advantage will only help with his confidence moving forward, in all situations.

The Flyers' power play entered Friday with the NHL's sixth-best percentage at 21.6.

It'll need more of Patrick — but the Flyers couldn't have asked for a much better start to life without Simmonds over the next two to three weeks.

Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

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Streaking Penguins move atop Metro Division

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Phil Kessel and Evgeni Malkin each had two goals and an assist and the Pittsburgh Penguins routed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-1 on Friday night for their season-best sixth straight victory.

Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists, Sidney Crosby scored a late goal and Olli Maatta also scored. The Penguins took control with three goals -- two by Kessel -- in a 7:39 span in the second period.

Matt Murray made 27 saves for Pittsburgh, which has won 11 of 13 to overtake idle Washington for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Since the Penguins were shut out by Carolina on Jan. 4, they are 16-3-1.

They were just as busy off the ice, completing a mid-game trade in which they picked up center Derick Brassard from the Ottawa Senators. As part of the complicated three-team deal, they sent defenseman Ian Cole to Ottawa and forward Ryan Reaves to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Teuvo Teravainen scored and Cam Ward stopped 33 shots for the short-handed Hurricanes, who have gone 0-3-1 during a four-game slide that's keeping them outside the Eastern Conference playoff race (see full recap).

Wild dominate skidding Rangers for New York sweep
NEW YORK -- Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal each scored twice and Devan Dubnyk made 22 saves in the Minnesota Wild's 4-1 victory over the free-falling New York Rangers on Friday night.

The Wild completed a three-game sweep of New York-area teams after beating the Monday night and New Jersey on Thursday night.

The Rangers lost for the sixth straight time in regulation. New York is 6-17-0 since beating Buffalo in the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 (see full recap).

Blackhawks’ Berube dominant in 1st Chicago start
CHICAGO -- Jean-Francois Berube made 42 saves in his first start for Chicago to help the Blackhawks beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1 on Friday night.

Defenseman Jan Rutta, activated from injured reserve Friday, and Nick Schmaltz scored, and Artem Anisimov added an empty-netter with 30.5 seconds left.

Anthony Duclair had two assists for the Blackhawks. They won their second straight and third in four games following an eight-game losing streak that dropped them to last place in the Central Division.

Berube lost a bid for this first NHL shutout when Timo Meier scored his 15th goal on a screened shot with 7:51 left in the third period.

Martin Jones stopped 33 shots for the Sharks, coming off a 7-1 loss at Nashville on Thursday night (see full recap).