Flyers stave off playoff elimination, receive scare in shutout of Devils

Flyers stave off playoff elimination, receive scare in shutout of Devils


One second he's crouched over in his crease looking at a neutral-zone faceoff and then the next second, he's flat on his back, fully outstretched on the ice.

A bizarre day of hockey ended Saturday night for the Flyers with a 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils and their two goalies ill (see Instant Replay).

The Flyers are still six points out of the wild card, but Boston reduced the Flyers' tragic number for elimination to just two points with its win Saturday.

Several players and even general manager Ron Hextall acknowledged some colds and flu bugs have been going around in the locker room.

It could be why Michal Neuvirth collapsed about eight minutes into the game and why Mason became ill earlier in the day, resulting in the Flyers having to recall Anthony Stolarz from Lehigh Valley.
"You've seen things like that in a game," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "But in that particular instance, I don't know what another word than shocking at that time. I give credit to all the medical people. They were right on top of it and did an outstanding job."

Stolarz, who wasn't even on the bench at the start of the game, came in relief and finished with 26 saves, earning a shared shutout but didn't get the win because Neuvirth was the goalie of record, leading 1-0 at the time of his exit.
"There was a lot going on in this hockey game tonight," Hakstol said, "but I liked the way our guys handled everything and stayed with it."

Brayden Schenn's 17th power-play goal of the season -- tying him for the NHL lead -- at 7:28 of the opening period gave the Flyers a rare 1-0 lead.

Then came the neutral zone faceoff followed by Neuvirth collapsing on the ice (see story).

"It was definitely scary right off the bat there," said Jordan Weal, who was on the ice when the event occurred. "It's good to see he's feeling. There's a bug going through the team right now. It could have had something to do with that. Sometimes those colds dehydrate you."

Players were told as the game progressed that Neuvirth was OK.

"I think there is a flu around and has been here most of the season," Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said.
When play resumed with Stolarz in goal, the Flyers got a rush up the ice, culminating with Colin McDonald's first goal for the Flyers this season to make it, 2-0.
"The next three or four shifts were a little off," Bellemare said. "Then somehow we got back on track."

McDonald, who now has two career goals as a Flyer, was called up from the Phantoms on Saturday morning to replace Matt Read, who is done for the season with a broken right arm.
Stolarz faced some pretty good shots immediately, including during a Devils power play -- and finished with four saves that period.
You'd never have guessed he had no warmups here.
"I was on the bus to Wilkes-Barre -- I want to say around 4:15, so I had to wait for the bus to get to Wilkes-Barre, unpack my gear for the car to come down," Stolarz said. "I didn't get in until 6:55."
Stolarz could have only won the game had he given up a goal -- that's ironic, too.
"Going in, I kind of knew that," he said. "We had a scenario like that a few weeks ago with the Phantoms. I'm familiar with the rule. When it's all set and done, I'm fine with Neuvy getting the win."
Stolarz played well being very cold, too.
"You kind of get used to it as a goalie," Stolarz said. "You don't take too many warmup shots at the backup, anyway. Then you kind of sit around for a while. You kind of get cold so it didn't make too much of a difference."
The game disintegrated near the eight-minute mark of the second period when Devils defenseman Dalton Prout blind-sided Radko Gudas with a head shot. Gudas had to be taken off the ice while Wayne Simmonds fought Prout, who was ejected.
Gudas later returned in the second period but then did not return for the third period.
Following the timeout, Hakstol put Dale Weise on the ice. He went tearing up the right boards and threw a shoulder-high elbow into Kyle Palmieri after the puck was gone and after Jakub Voracek had already checked the Devils' forward. Palmieri struck the stanchion.
Naturally, Weise was thrown out of the game, too, for boarding. Both Prout and Weise are likely facing suspensions.
Before the period ended, Jordan Weal scored his fourth goal in as many games on the power play for a 3-0 Flyers lead.
With 25 seconds left, Hakstol attempted to insert his emergency backup, Eric Semborski, and he even got in the net before the officials made him leave the ice.

Why? He wasn't a roster player and was only available if Stolarz got hurt.
"I was thinking of using him around the two or three-minute mark," Hakstol said. "At that point, it was do it or don't. But we couldn’t do it. It turned out for the best we got him out of there before the drop of the puck."
The Flyers would have been penalized.
"I didn't check the rules," Hakstol said. "He got out on the ice for a second, anyway."
Hextall, watching from above, was amused at Hakstol even attempting such.
"I was shocked," Hextall said with a laugh.

Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

USA Today Images

Dadonov's hat trick helps Panthers beat Penguins

SUNRISE, Fla. — Evgenii Dadonov scored with 1:53 to play to complete a hat trick and give the Florida Panthers a 6-5 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night.

Dadonov beat goalie Matt Murray on a one-timer off Aleksander Barkov's pass for the winner. Dadonov has 18 goals this season.

Vincent Trocheck, Jamie McGinn and Derek MacKenzie also scored. Barkov had three assists, Keith Yandle added two, and Roberto Luongo made 24 saves.

Evgeni Malkin had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, and Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust added goals. Tristan Jarry made 13 saves for Pittsburgh before he was replaced in the second period. Murray had 11 saves in relief.

Trocheck finished a 2-on-1 cross-ice pass from Malgin after a breakout pass from Yandle early in the first period. Trocheck tapped in the pass at 3:44 for his team-leading 24th goal (see full recap.)

Maple Leafs win ninth straight at home
TORONTO — Ron Hainsey broke a tie with 1:23 left to give the Toronto Maple Leafs their franchise record-tying ninth straight home victory, 4-3 over the Boston Bruins on Saturday night.

Hainsey's one-timed William Nylander's pass past goalie Tuuka Rask for his fourth goal of the season.

Toronto moved a point ahead of Boston for the second seed in the Atlantic Division.

Nazem Kadri scored twice, Mitch Marner had a goal and three assists, and Nylander had two assists. Frederik Andersen made 23 saves to improve to 10-1-0 against the Bruins.

Brad Marchand scored twice, and Jake DeBrusk also connected for Boston. Rask made 32 saves (see full recap.)

Point leads Lightning to shootout win over Canadiens
MONTREAL — Brayden Point scored in regulation and added the shootout winner and the Tampa Bay Lightning regained the top spot in the NHL with a 4-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday night.

Nikita Kucherov and Ryan Callahan also scored in regulation to help the Lightning (42-17-3) win their third straight and move a point ahead of idle Vegas for the overall NHL lead.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for his league-leading 36th victory of the season.

Byron Froese, Joe Morrow and Max Pacioretty scored for Montreal. Antti Niemi, making his second straight start in relief of the injured Carey Price, stopped 36 shots. Price is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion (see full recap.)

Ovechkin scores twice in Capitals victory 
WASHINGTON — Alex Ovechkin added to his NHL lead with two goals on the night he tied the Washington record for most games played, and the Capitals beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-1 on Saturday.

Evgeny Kuznetsov scored 50 seconds into the game and had two assists. Andre Burakovsky and Lars Eller also had goals for Washington, which leapfrogged Pittsburgh and moved back into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Capitals had lost two in a row and five of seven.

Ovechkin's 37th goal came on the power play with 9:47 remaining after Buffalo closed to 2-1 on Sam Reinhart's goal 14 seconds into the third period. Ovechkin redirected a shot past Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner with 1:24 left for his 38th goal.

The 32-year-old Ovechkin played in his 983rd NHL game, tying Calle Johansson for most in Capitals history. Ovechkin holds franchise records for goals (596) and points (1,105) (see full recap.)

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way

Even the bounces are going Flyers' way


OTTAWA, Ontario — An early goal, a beautiful goal, a lucky goal and a disallowed goal. That’s all you need to know about the Flyers' 5-3 win over the Ottawa Senators Saturday afternoon (see observations). Just for fun though, here’s a little more detail.

Ivan Provorov scored 28 seconds into the game to get the Flyers going in what eventually turned out to be their fifth consecutive win and 11th consecutive game with a point.

With the score 2-1 in favor of the Flyers late in the second period, Zack Smith looked like he had tied the game for the Senators, but coach Dave Hakstol issued a challenge and the goal was overturned on an offside that wasn’t originally called.

Well done.

In the third period, Claude Giroux scored a beautiful breakaway goal when he contorted his body to his backhand than back to his forehand before depositing the puck behind Craig Anderson in the Ottawa goal, who was left in a twisted heap in the corner of the crease.

That goal made it 3-1 four minutes into the third and after Nolan Patrick made it 4-1, Brandon Manning dumped a shot in just passed the red line, but the puck hit a stanchion in the glass and redirected into the net. Anderson had a great view of the goal from behind the net where he was standing after he went out to play the puck.

“We’re getting the bounces,” Giroux said.

“Brandon Manning’s goal, you can’t draw that up, but we’re definitely going to take it.”

Ivan Provorov and Robert Hagg also scored for the Flyers, who have now slipped into a first-place tie with the Pittsburgh Penguins atop the Metropolitan Division, pending the outcome of the Penguins' game Saturday night.

Considering they were last in the division about two months ago, that’s a pretty nice turnaround.

“I think it was always in the room and that we just had to believe in ourselves and know that we were capable of doing good things,” said forward Travis Konecny.

“We just had to stick with it and eventually things were going to pay off for us.”

That they have, and although Saturday might not have been their best effort, it was good enough. The Senators got two late goals from Matt Duchene and Ryan Dzingel to make the final count a little more respectable. Mike Hoffman also scored.

“We’re playing some good hockey right now and everyone has bought into what we want to do here,” Giroux said, adding the overturned goal was big.

“Anytime you get a goal like that turned (over), it’s a relief and a walk-up call at the same time,”

Nolan Patrick scored just his ninth goal in his rookie season, but he has six in his last 13, including goals in four straight.

“I think I’ve been playing good in the last 15 to 20 games and not just because of the goals; I think I’ve improved on both ends of the puck,” Patrick said.

He was standing at the top of the crease when Manning’s pass/shot hit his stick and redirected in past Anderson.

On a final note and not to be lost in all the offense, Petr Mrazek made 25 saves and has won both starts with the Flyers since being acquired last week from the Detroit Red Wings.

All is good on Broad Street.