Flyers

NHL Playoffs: Justin Williams' OT goal gives Capitals Game 5 win over Maple Leafs

NHL Playoffs: Justin Williams' OT goal gives Capitals Game 5 win over Maple Leafs

WASHINGTON -- Justin Williams scored the overtime winner as the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 Friday night in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in their first-round series.

The Capitals survived a scare when captain Alex Ovechkin left the game late in the first period with an apparent left leg injury, but he returned in the second. Thanks to Williams' goal 1:04 into overtime, the Presidents' Trophy winners go to Toronto for Game 6 on Sunday with a chance to advance to face the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round.

Braden Holtby made 24 saves for the Capitals, who got a goal from T.J. Oshie on the power play that came from Nazem Kadri's hit that injured Ovechkin.

Rookie of the year finalist Auston Matthews scored the only goal for the Maple Leafs, and Frederik Andersen made 26 saves before being beaten in overtime.

Williams' goal was his third of the series. It's also the 16th of his career in 43 tries in Games 5-7 as his team improved to 26-18 in those situations.

Four of the first five games of the series have been decided in overtime. What looked lopsided on paper going in has been as tight as anyone could have possibly imagined with the teams separated by one goal in the series (16-15 Capitals) and tied in shots (175 apiece).

As if this tense series didn't provide enough drama, the Ovechkin injury silenced Verizon Center 17:32 in. Ovechkin clutched his left knee, was down on the ice for several minutes and didn't put weight on his left leg as he was helped off (see full recap).

Kuraly's 2nd goal of game lifts Bruins past Senators in 2OT
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Sean Kuraly's second goal of the game at 10:19 of the second overtime gave the Boston Bruins a 3-2 win over the Ottawa Senators in Game 5 on Friday night, avoiding elimination in the first-round series.

David Pastrnak also scored and Tuukka Rask finished with 41 saves to help the Bruins rally from two goals down early in the second period and cut the Senators' lead to 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

Game 6 is Sunday in Boston.

Mark Stone and Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored for the Senators, and Craig Anderson stopped 36 shots.

The Bruins had the best chances to end the game in the first overtime.

Boston failed to capitalize on a power play when Clarke MacArthur was called for high sticking and then had Noel Acciari's apparent goal waved off at 14:25 due to goalie interference. The Bruins challenged the call to no avail (see full recap).

NBC Sports Philadelphia looks back at life and career of Eric Lindros in 'The Case for 88'

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AP Images

NBC Sports Philadelphia looks back at life and career of Eric Lindros in 'The Case for 88'

PHILADELPHIA — As the Flyers get ready to retire Eric Lindros’ jersey,  NBC Sports Philadelphia looks back at Eric’s life and career as a Philadelphia Flyer.  In addition to live coverage of his jersey retirement ceremony during Thursday’s game, NBC Sports Philadelphia will air “The Case for 88,” a look back at his storied career.
 
Earlier today, John Boruk posted a story to NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com on Eric’s coming full circle in Philadelphia: Eric Lindros Coming Home
 
Lindros will have his No. 88 jersey retired on January 18, making him only the sixth player in Flyers history bestowed with such an honor. NBC Sports Philadelphia will have complete coverage of the ceremony. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. and can be streamed through NBCSportsPhiladelphia.com or through the NBC Sports App.
 
The Case for 88
From the drama around him being drafted, the chaos surrounding his trade from the Nordiques to the Flyers, to his up and down career with the team, and ultimately his trade to the Rangers, “The Case for 88” covers it all. Lindros also reflects on his return to the Flyers during the 2012 Winter Classic Alumni Game, and his induction into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2014.  We’ll hear from team executives and former players including former Flyers President, Jay Snider, former Flyers GMs Bob Clark and Russ Farwell, and teammates John Leclair, Mark Recchi and Keith Jones during the one-hour retrospective.
 
“The Case for 88” will air on the following dates and times

NBC Sports Philadelphia
Wednesday, January 17: 10 p.m. (Premiere)
Thursday, January 18: 11 a.m. & Midnight
Saturday, January 20: 5 p.m.
 
NBC Sports Philadelphia+
Wednesday, January 17:  2 a.m.
Friday, January 19: 9:30 p.m.
 
Preview here: The Case for 88

Debating Brayden Schenn trade? Sean Couturier playing role in it

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USA Today Images

Debating Brayden Schenn trade? Sean Couturier playing role in it

NEW YORK — For two straight seasons, Brayden Schenn made a living doing it.

Roaming the middle from circle to circle on the power play, ready to let a shot rip, punch home a tip pass or flush a rebound.

Schenn mastered the role by understanding how to complement the playmakers surrounding him. He turned the art into 28 man-advantage goals from 2015-17, fourth-most in the NHL over that span.

When Schenn was traded to the Blues on draft night last June, the Flyers' top power-play unit suddenly had a job opening.

It caught Couturier's eye.

"Yeah, I saw an opportunity," he said Tuesday following morning skate at Madison Square Garden. "Didn't get it early in the year, but as the year went on, got the chance to get a look in that spot and just trying to capitalize on it."

As part of a career year that still has half a season to go, Couturier is seizing the opportunity to fill Schenn's skates. Three of his seven goals during the Flyers' four-game winning streak have come on the power play. On the season, he has six man-advantage markers in 43 games after scoring just three over 416 games the six seasons prior.

"He's a smart player, he watched someone for such a long time like he did with Schenner," Jakub Voracek said. "He knows what to do and we talk about it a lot, we talk a lot of power play, how to get better, what to do when we have a bad game to make sure it doesn't happen again."

With perimeter weapons in Voracek, Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere to go along with a net-front presence like Wayne Simmonds, Couturier's intelligence of proper spacing and finding open areas has made the transition for the power play seamless.

"When you're such a smart hockey player, you know when to go the net, you know when to stop. I wish I had that gift. I always swing it away around the net," Voracek said with a laugh. "It's different with me, too, because I always try to create something. He knows when he plays with me and G that he's going to get the puck around the net eventually. So he stops there, he goes there and he's having a great year so far."

So is the power play, which entered Tuesday's game against the Rangers sixth among the NHL in success rate with a 21.9 percentage, while posting a 24.3 percentage on the road, good for third best.

"My job being in the middle is to be ready to jump on loose pucks, let the guys on the outside — Jake, G and Ghost — to do plays and I just try to create myself a shooting spot, or if it's a loose puck, try to be strong on it and get it back," Couturier said. "Just supporting all over the ice is probably the biggest thing."

Simmonds, second in the NHL since the 2013-14 season with 66 man-advantage tallies, said his teammates saw the ability in Couturier.

"He's done really well, extremely well, obviously you can tell by his 25 goals," Simmonds said. "Point-per-game player, I think a lot of people didn't expect this kind of offense to come out of Coots, but everyone knew he could do it. He's got his confidence, he's got his swagger and I think if you watch him with the puck, he's a completely different player. When you have your confidence, it just propels you to the next level.

"He's having a coming out party this year and it's really great to see."

Couturier continued the party last time out when the Flyers beat the Devils, 5-3, on Saturday night. The 25-year-old center scored two more goals, one off a nice power-play connection with Giroux.

"I think he's getting more opportunities. When you're in that spot on the power play, you get to showcase a few different abilities," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "The quick release that he scored on the other night — first of all, it's a hell of a play from G through the three sticks and it's a real good finish by Coots. I think with success, you probably feel a little bit better about those opportunities, but I haven't seen a great difference because I've seen Coots score probably four of five goals this year on second and third opportunities at the goal crease. I think there's some depth to his abilities in and around the net."

Notes and tidbits
• The Flyers are looking for their fifth straight win as they open their four-game regular-season series with the Rangers tonight at Madison Square Garden (7 p.m./NBCSP). With a regulation win, the Flyers (48 points) can leapfrog the Rangers (49) in the Metropolitan Division standings. They come in two points behind the Islanders (50) for the Eastern conference's second wild-card spot.

• Forward Taylor Leier reenters the lineup after three straight healthy scratches. Tyrell Goulbourne, who made his NHL debut on Jan. 6 and has played the previous three games, will sit in Leier's place.

"Taylor's case, Taylor has been out of the lineup for the last couple of games, but he didn't come out because he played a poor game," Hakstol said. "We put a different player with different abilities in the lineup. So for Taylor, just come back, do the things that he does well and he'll help our team.

"Taylor is a confident player and the biggest challenge sometimes in that role, when you're in and out of the lineup, is the work that you do on the days when you're out. And Taylor does that work."

• Here is the Flyers' projected lineup, which sees the return of Gostisbehere, who missed Saturday's game with an illness:

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Travis Konecny

Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek

Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Wayne Simmonds

Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Jori Lehtera

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere

Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald

Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott

Michal Neuvirth

Healthy scratches: Forwards Tyrell Goulbourne (healthy) and Dale Weise (healthy), and defenseman Travis Sanheim (healthy).