Flyers

NHL Playoffs: Maple Leafs stun Capitals in OT again to take series lead

NHL Playoffs: Maple Leafs stun Capitals in OT again to take series lead

TORONTO -- Tyler Bozak scored 1:37 into overtime to cap Toronto's comeback from two goals down in the second period, and the Maple Leafs beat the Washington Capitals 4-3 Monday night to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.

Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri each had a goal and an assist, and William Nylander also scored for Toronto. Frederik Andersen made 23 saves.

Toronto trailed 2-0 in the first period, and then 3-1 early in the second before Kadri and Nylander scored 4:07 apart late to tie the score in the final minute of the period.

Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov all scored for the Presidents' Trophy-winning Capitals. Braden Holtby stopped 24 shots.

All three games so far have been decided in overtime.

Game 4 is Wednesday night (see full recap).

Fiala plays OT hero as Preds put Blackhawks on the brink
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Kevin Fiala scored on a backhander 16:44 into overtime, and the Nashville Predators rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to push the Blackhawks to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 victory early Tuesday morning in Game 3 of the first-round series.

Filip Forsberg scored twice in the third period to force overtime. Pekka Rinne made 34 saves, even with his franchise playoff scoreless streak ending early in the second period at 141 minutes, 5 seconds.

Game 4 is Thursday night in Nashville.

Dennis Rasmussen and Patrick Kane each scored the first goals this series for the Western Conference's No. 1 seed.

But the Blackhawks, winners of three Stanley Cup titles in the past seven years, now trail 0-3 for the first time since the 2011 quarterfinals. They lost that series in seven games to Vancouver (see full recap).

Ryan nets OT winner as Sens grab series lead on Bruins
BOSTON -- Bobby Ryan scored on a tip-in on a power play 5:43 into overtime, and the Ottawa Senators recovered after giving up a three-goal lead to beat the Boston Bruins 4-3 Monday night to take a 2-1 lead in the first-round series.

Ryan got free in the zone, tapping it in on assists by Kyle Turris and Erik Karlsson. Mike Hoffman added two goals for Ottawa, with Derick Brassard scoring the other. Craig Anderson finished with 17 saves.

It was the second straight overtime game of the series, and second consecutive win for the Senators following their 4-3 victory in Game 2.

This time Bruins rallied from a 3-0 deficit with three goals in second period, tying the game on a power play goal by David Pastrnak.

Noel Acciari and David Backes also scored for the Bruins. Tuukka Rask stopped 28 shots.

Game 4 is Wednesday night in Boston (see full recap).

Perry's OT goal gives Ducks 3-0 stranglehold on Flames
CALGARY, Alberta -- Corey Perry scored 1:30 into overtime and the Anaheim Ducks rallied from three goals down to beat the Calgary Flames 5-4 Monday night, taking a 3-0 series lead in the first-round series.

Perry's sharp-angled shot deflected off several players and past Flames goalie Brian Elliott.

Shea Theodore had two goals, Nate Thompson had a goal and two assists, and Nick Ritchie also scored for the Ducks. Rickard Rakell, Kevin Bieksa and Hampus Lindholm each had two assists.

John Gibson gave up four goals on 16 shots before he was replaced by Jonathan Bernier in the second period. Bernier stopped all 16 shots he faced.

Sean Monahan had a goal and an assist, and Kris Versteeg, Sam Bennett and Michael Stone also scored for Calgary. Mikael Backlund and T.J. Brodie each had two assists, and Elliott finished with 22 saves.

Game 4 is Wednesday night (see full recap)

Flyers' focus shifts toward another busy NHL draft

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USA Today Images

Flyers' focus shifts toward another busy NHL draft

With the Flyers' elimination from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the team's third-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft was officially transferred over to the Red Wings.

What was originally a fourth-round selection in the acquisition of goaltender Petr Mrazek was upgraded to a third-rounder once Mrazek won five regular-season games and the Flyers qualified for the postseason.

The Flyers could potentially still owe the Red Wings a third-round pick in the 2019 NHL draft if Mrazek is re-signed. However, that seems unlikely with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth already under contract for next season and Mrazek’s poor play over the final five weeks of the regular season.

In all likelihood, the Flyers will have the 19th overall pick in the June draft, which is scheduled for June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. If the Blue Jackets are eliminated before the Eastern Conference Finals, then they will select 18th with the Flyers slotted in at the 19th selection.

Once again, Flyers general manager Ron Hextall will be watching intently during Saturday’s NHL draft lottery, where the Flyers could also acquire the St. Louis Blues' first-round selection.

The Flyers have a 95 percent chance of obtaining the Blues' first pick as compensation in the Brayden Schenn trade that was completed at last year’s draft in Chicago. 

The Blues' pick is top-10 protected, but they have only a five percent chance of moving into the top three — 1.5 percent for No. 1 overall, 1.7 for No. 2, 1.8 for No. 3, 91.8 for No. 14 and 3.2 for No. 15. So, either the Blues draft in the top three, they remain at 14 or fall back to 15.

However, as Hextall discovered just a year ago, anything is possible.

Last year, the Flyers made the monumental leap from the 13th-worst record in the league to obtaining the second overall pick — a lottery move that had just a 2.4 percent chance of falling in their favor. With that selection, the Flyers chose Nolan Patrick.

Swedish defenseman Rasmus Dahlin is the consensus No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and a future cornerstone blueliner. 

The NHL draft lottery is held in Toronto.

Now the pressure really picks up for Dave Hakstol, Flyers

Now the pressure really picks up for Dave Hakstol, Flyers

Dave Hakstol lifted his arm effortlessly with his hand steadily inclining toward the ceiling, almost portraying the takeoff of an airplane.

He was discussing the timeline for young hockey players, which his Flyers have a lot of and will gain only more as the blocks are stacked one by one.

And as the head coach digested a topsy-turvy, season-ending loss, his demonstration depicted what he knew wasn't the case.

"You always want development to be this smooth path and this smooth climb; it doesn't work that way," Hakstol said. "It's kind of a jagged climb, and as long as you're seeing a steady push to improve, then you stick with it and keep pushing in that direction."

The Flyers have been allowed to hit those jagged edges on their climb, like Sunday's 8-5 Game 6 defeat to the Penguins (see story). It was the final swing (and miss) in a best-of-seven first-round playoff matchup with the two-time defending champs, another cut along the grand hike for the Flyers.

But with it came a signal.

This is no longer the bottom of the mountain. The trek has been underway for three seasons and the long view should, expectedly, be coming into focus. In 2018-19, Hakstol will enter the fourth year of a five-year contract, according to CapFriendly.com. The Flyers' core, looking at its peak, will be a year older, as will the foundation pieces, already here and being counted on to drive things forward. 

The Flyers played four rookies in the playoffs, while five of their top eight regular-season goal scorers were 25 years old or younger. 

"For the most part, I liked the growth of our young guys," Hakstol said. "I think they had an opportunity to really see some tough points during the year and figure out how to be a part of battling out of them. They had the opportunity to play through and be part of a playoff push that other teams weren't going away, and we knew that with eight to 10 games to go, we knew that we would have to win our way in. So they had the opportunity to be a part of that and gain that experience of understanding and knowing how hard that is. And they were successful in that."

It resulted in 42 wins and 98 points during the regular season, both highs under Hakstol, surpassing the 41 and 96 set in Year 1. It also led to another first-round exit, the second under Hakstol against a topflight opponent. In those series, the Flyers went 1-5 at home, where they were outscored 26-9.

Harsh yet clear reminders the Flyers aren't where they want to be.

The Penguins, no duh, are. 

"We're working to build toward something like that," Wayne Simmonds said. "I thought we took a step in the right direction this year."

Claude Giroux, the 102-point, 30-year-old captain, sees it, too.

"I know for a fact that we got better as the season went on," Giroux said. "Look at our team last year and look at our team this year. We improved a lot."

While patience is always of the essence with general manager Ron Hextall, Year 4 will demand much more, unlike seasons past. This is Hakstol's team — the blocks are in place, both old and now not so new.

"There's going to be a lot of good and a lot of things that we'll say, 'Hey, these are good steps for our team,'" Hakstol said of this season. "End of the day, we didn't come into this playoff series to make steps, though."

That undoubtedly won't be the objective in 2018-19. It can't be, and the Flyers should know it.