Flyers

NHL Notes: P.K. Subban guarantees Predators will win Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final

NHL Notes: P.K. Subban guarantees Predators will win Game 3 of Stanley Cup Final

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- A good night's sleep has P.K. Subban more confident than ever about what the Nashville Predators will do on their own ice trailing the Pittsburgh Penguins 0-2 in the Stanley Cup Final.

He delivered an All-Star guarantee for Saturday night.

"There's no question," Subban said Thursday. "We're going to win the next game, and then we'll move forward."

Subban came very close to guaranteeing a win in the moments after Pittsburgh's 4-1 win Wednesday night. The Penguins turned a 1-1 game into a rout by scoring three goals in the first 3:28 of the third period , forcing Nashville coach Peter Laviolette to pull star goaltender Pekka Rinne for rookie Juuse Saros.

On Thursday, the All-Star defenseman channeled Mark Messier, who backed up his own guarantee of a Rangers' win against New Jersey in the 1994 Eastern Conference finals. Subban explained why he was so confident, noting the Predators know they deserve to be playing for the Stanley Cup.

"We're capable of playing even better than we did in Pittsburgh, and I thought we played some great hockey," Subban said. "I mean, out of 120 minutes, maybe we'd like to take back six of them. Ultimately, we have to be realistic with where we're at. We're down 2-nothing. We're coming back in our barn, and we don't lose here. So it starts Saturday" (see full story).

Sabres: Team relinquishes rights to Estephan, Possler
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have relinquished the rights to prospect forwards Giorgio Estephan and Gustav Possler by not signing them to contracts before an NHL deadline struck Thursday.

Estephan will re-enter the pool of players eligible to be selected in the draft this month. Possler becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The 20-year-old Estephan was Buffalo's sixth-round pick in 2015, and Possler was a fifth-round pick in 2013.

Estephan scored a career-best 35 goals and 89 points in 68 games last season with Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League. He added 11 goals and 24 points in 18 playoff games.

The 22-year-old Possler had two goals and four points in 21 games for Swedish League's Djurgardens IF in a season cut short by an ankle injury.

Panthers: Thornton hired as business executive
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Shawn Thornton is now a Florida Panthers executive.

The recently retired forward was announced Thursday as the Panthers' new vice president of business operations. Thornton revealed in April that he would join the team's front office and work under Panthers president and CEO Matthew Caldwell after taking a bit of time after the season to prepare for his new career.

"It's a humbling day for me and I'm excited to begin the next chapter of my career in hockey," Thornton said.

Thornton played for two Stanley Cup winners as part of the Boston Bruins. He played professionally for 20 years, spending the first half of that toiling in the minors before eventually breaking through and logging 705 NHL games with the Bruins, Panthers, Anaheim and Chicago.

He is one of two players to play more than 600 games in the American Hockey League and at least 700 in the NHL. The Panthers said Thornton also is the only player this century to record 10 fights, score 10 goals and win the Stanley Cup in the same season.

"Shawn's work ethic, enthusiasm and passion for the Panthers organization is second to none," Caldwell said. "We are thrilled to welcome him to our executive team and know that he will bring the same level of professionalism, experience and leadership to the business side of our organization as he did in the locker room" (see full story).

Wild: Brunette promoted to assistant GM
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild have promoted Andrew Brunette to assistant general manager, the latest post in the organization for one of the best players in franchise history.

Brunette's elevated role was announced Thursday, with 10 other hockey operations and business side promotions.

Brunette was a hockey operations adviser last season after serving as an assistant coach the two years before that. He played six seasons for the Wild, ranking in their all-time top five in games played, goals, assists and power-play points.

Shep Harder, who was director of hockey administration, was also named an assistant general manager. Brent Flahr was promoted from assistant general manager to senior vice president of hockey operations.

Matt Majka, the chief operating officer and executive vice president, was named president of the Wild.

Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

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Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby scored the tying goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Evgeni Malkin put in the winner 58 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the struggling New York Rangers 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel and ex-Ranger Carl Hagelin also scored for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who handed New York (1-5-1) its fourth straight loss.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over in overtime and Kessel set up Malkin for the game-winning goal. Just before that, the Rangers iced the puck, leading to a faceoff in their zone.

Michael Grabner put New York ahead 4-3 when he and David Desharnais completed a nifty give-and-go at the 8-minute mark of the third period.

Desharnais, Pavel Buchnevich and J.T. Miller scored in a span of 2:30 as the Rangers got three straight goals early in the second to take a 3-2 lead.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray and counterpart Henrik Lundqvist each made 28 saves in the first of four meetings this season between the division rivals (see full recap).

Devils top Lightning in shootout
NEWARK, N.J. -- Kyle Palmieri scored the lone goal in a shootout, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Drew Stafford scored twice in regulation as New Jersey improved to 5-1-0. Palmieri and Brian Gibbons each had a goal in the first period, and Cory Schneider made 33 saves.

Vladimir Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which had its four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-1-1.

Kucherov's goal was his eighth in seven games. He has scored at least once in every game this season, and the 24-year-old right wing became the sixth player in modern NHL history to score at least one goal in the first seven games of a season.

Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Hodge and Tony Tanti are the others. Lemieux holds the record with at least one goal in the first 12 games of the 1992-93 season.

Peter Budaj made his first start of the season for the Lightning and had 30 saves (see full recap).

Anderson helps Maple Leafs blank Capitals
WASHINGTON -- Connor Brown scored the game-winning goal in the third period and Frederik Andersen stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their tremendous start by beating the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Toronto has won five of its first six games. Washington has now lost two in a row since top defenseman Matt Niskanen went out with a long-term upper-body injury.

After getting a promotion to the third line, Brown picked up his second goal of the season and broke a 0-0 tie with 14:07 left in the third. Brown corralled a rebound of Morgan Rielly's point shot and poked the puck between Braden Holtby's legs.

Holtby made 28 saves but couldn't help as the Capitals' offense couldn't cash in on limited high-quality chances. Nazem Kadri scored an empty-net goal in the final minute (see full recap).

Michal Neuvirth earns his Ric Flair robe as Flyers roll again at home

Michal Neuvirth earns his Ric Flair robe as Flyers roll again at home

BOX SCORE

Every season the Flyers come up with a unique prop handed down from one player of the game to the next following each home victory.

Tuesday night, it was goaltender Michal Neuvirth who was rewarded with the Ric Flair black and silver feathered robe, made popular by the WWE superstar. Neuvirth’s 40-save performance helped pave the way for the Flyers' 5-1 victory over the Panthers (see observations).

“I think Neuvy gave us some confidence,” Claude Giroux said. “He made some big saves for us. He was solid. We’re happy for him that he played a great game. We were hoping to give him a shutout in the end there. He stood on his head tonight.”   

The robe, hand-tailored by the daughter of Flyers head equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, seems rather appropriate in the manner in which the Flyers have body-slammed their opponents in their first two games at the Wells Fargo Center, outscoring Washington and Florida by a combined score of 13-3.

“I think we have a lot of depth. We can roll all four lines,” said Sean Couturier, one of 10 Flyers to register a point. “Our depth has been really good and we've got to keep it that way.”

“It’s fun when you’re winning and making plays. That’s the biggest thing,” said Shayne Gostisbehere, who scored his first goal of the season on a give-and-go with Wayne Simmonds. “As a team, we’re making a lot of plays and Coach is giving us the leeway to do that, and like you said, it’s fun hockey out there.”

The Panthers could have seized some of the Flyers' early momentum. With roughly 6:45 remaining in the second period, Gostisbehere broke up a potential 2-on-1, which led to Valtteri Filppula’s long stretch pass to Giroux, who was all alone at the Panthers' blue line. Giroux skated in and snapped a shot through Roberto Luongo’s five-hole to give the Flyers a 3-0 lead, when just seconds earlier the Panthers had a chance to cut the Flyers' lead to a single goal.

“It was up-and-down hockey,” Giroux said. “It was fun hockey to play and after we got that first goal, we kind of relaxed and started playing.”

Playing for the first time in 12 days, Neuvirth certainly needed a goal to relax. Not only was he fighting the puck early on, but also a few butterflies.

“When you don’t start for awhile, you start questioning yourself,” Neuvirth said. “I was a little bit more nervous than what I was used to before the game, but I handled it well.” 

Tuesday’s game may not have been predetermined WWE style, but the Flyers certainly followed Dave Hakstol’s script, as they had the Panthers pinned to the ice leading, 4-0, after two periods — scoring three of those goals off the rush (see highlights). Coming into Tuesday’s game, Florida led the NHL averaging 42 shots on net.

“I said it this morning, they’re a dangerous team,” Hakstol said. “They make a lot of plays. They put a lot of pucks to the net. Sometimes a shot chart isn’t everything. If you can defend and get a save when you need it, and then turn around in transition and get after them at the other end of the rink, you can generate some chances and we did that tonight.” 

As Neuvirth walked away for the night, he left the gimmicky robe hanging from his locker room stall.

It’s not exactly a look that would inspire confidence, especially with the words “Nature Boy” written across the back shoulder.

Simmonds update
Simmonds left Tuesday’s game for precautionary reasons with approximately eight minutes remaining in the third period because of a lower-body injury. He’ll be evaluated further over the next day or two.

Simmonds has missed just one game since the beginning of the 2015-16 season.

A point is a point
Defenseman Robert Hagg collected his first NHL point by simply getting in the way. Hagg collected the secondary assist after he blocked Mark Pysyk’s shot that led to a Flyers rush and Gostisbehere’s eventual goal.

“I mean, yeah, I’ll take it,” Hagg said. “It’s not going to say in the newspaper how I made it, so I’ll take it.”

With Hagg's assist, 16 of the Flyers' 19 skaters have recorded at least a point this season. Only Michael Raffl, Radko Gudas and Travis Sanheim have yet to crack the scoresheet.