NHL

Best of NHL: Capitals' top line dominates in win over Blackhawks

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Best of NHL: Capitals' top line dominates in win over Blackhawks

WASHINGTON -- Tom Wilson had two goals and two assists and Alex Ovechkin had a goal and three assists in the Washington Capitals' 6-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Nicklas Backstrom ended a 21-game stretch without a goal and added two assists, and Washington's top-line trio each scored a goal in the first period when the Capitals opened a 3-0 lead. Backstrom hadn't scored since Oct. 14 in Philadelphia, matching the longest drought of his career.

Braden Holtby made 37 saves for Washington to help the Capitals win for the sixth time in seven games. Brett Connolly scored in his third straight game, and Evgeny Kuznetsov added a goal. Wilson had his first four-point game, and Ovechkin also extended his goals streak to three games.

Lance Bouma and Jonathan Toews scored for Chicago. The Blackhawks are 0-3-2 in their last five (see full recap).

Andersen makes 47 saves in Maple Leafs’ SO win
TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen made 47 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped three more shots in a shootout in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

William Nylander scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout, deking to the backhand to beat Mike Smith.

Morgan Rielly scored in regulation for the Maple Leafs. Toronto improved to 18-10-1 and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Tampa Bay.

Mark Giordano scored for Calgary, and Smith stopped 28 shots. The Flames have dropped three in a row.

Calgary had control early when Toronto's Matt Martin went to the box midway through the first period. Giordano made Martin pay for his hooking penalty when his wrist shot from the point went through traffic and beat Andersen midway through the first.

Later in the period, Martin checked Troy Brouwer into the boards between the benches, leading to a brief scrum. Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk appeared to spear Martin from the bench while the altercation ensued, but it went undetected by officials (see full recap).

Henrique shines in home debut in Ducks’ shutout
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Adam Henrique scored his first two goals for the Ducks in his home debut, and Ryan Miller made 29 saves for his first shutout for Anaheim in a 3-0 victory over the slumping Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.

Ondrej Kase also scored, and Henrique added an empty-netter to his second-period opening goal as the Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak, largely controlling a matchup of two conference finalists from last season.

Miller, the 37-year-old veteran signed by Anaheim last summer, posted his 40th career shutout with a confident performance. Although he hasn't played regularly behind John Gibson, Miller remained unbeaten in regulation for his new team (3-0-4).

Henrique has five points in four games with the Ducks, who opened a three-game homestand one night after ending a six-game trip with a shootout loss at Vegas.

Craig Anderson stopped 19 shots in the Senators' ninth loss in 10 games (see full recap).

Flyers-Oilers observations: A win streak!

Flyers-Oilers observations: A win streak!

BOX SCORE

EDMONTON, Alberta — The Flyers have followed up their 10-game skid with their first winning streak in a month and half after defeating the Edmonton Oilers, 4-2, at Rogers Place on Wednesday night.

Jordan Weal, Dale Weise and Michael Raffl all scored for the Flyers, and Wayne Simmonds added an empty-net goal. Weal scored his first goal in 13 games. For Weise, it was his first goal since Nov. 4. 

Raffl has been red hot with goals in four of his last seven games.

Brian Elliott stopped 24 of the Oilers’ 26 shots.

The Flyers completed the season sweep of the Oilers after beating them, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center on Oct. 21. They can sweep the Western Canada portion of this road trip with a win in Vancouver Thursday night. 

• Claude Giroux drew the first penalty when defenseman Matt Benning pretty much bear-hugged the Flyers’ captain. The Flyers’ first PP unit got a good down-low look early on, but not much more after that. The second PP unit moved the puck a little better, but couldn’t generate a shot on net as Travis Konecny’s attempt went just wide.

• Through the opening 10 minutes, there wasn’t much open ice for Connor McDavid and the Oilers’ top line. McDavid had a sliver of daylight entering the Flyers’ zone, but was swallowed up quickly by four Flyers defenders.

• The Flyers’ best chance early on came when Darnell Nurse attempted to clear the zone, but Shayne Gostisbehere jumped on the puck and kept it in before it crossed the line. That set up Jakub Voracek with a shot that Laurent Brossoit was just able to extend his right pad on and make the save.

• The Flyers earned a second power-play opportunity in the first period. The best look came when Weal worked down low on the goal line and fired a saucer pass to Nolan Patrick for a one-time attempt from the left circle.

• Sean Couturier showed why he’s a grade-A defender, essentially taking out McDavid and Jesse Puljujarvi with his strip of the puck behind the net. From that moment, the Flyers gained and maintained possession for a duration of 1:40, which resulted in a Voracek slap shot.

• Overall, it was a dreadful first period of action. I can’t remember so many stoppages of play (25 faceoffs) and a period that had very little flow.

• Patrick Maroon went after Taylor Leier with a cheap hit. Maroon received two minutes for interference and the Flyers got their third power play in the first 22 minutes of the game. 

• Not only did the PP look wretched in its two minutes, but Couturier had the puck stripped by McDavid. The result was nothing but open ice and a perfect 2-on-1 shorthanded opportunity that ended in a shorthanded goal for Leon Draisaitl. I know McDavid’s a great player, but Couturier has to do a better job of protecting the puck in that situation.

• The Flyers finally got a PP goal on their fourth attempt. Interestingly, Weal was in the spot occupied by Simmonds with the first power-play unit. The Flyers finally had some quick puck movement as Giroux made a slap pass to Couturier on the left wing (see highlights).

• Didn’t you love the perfectly executed hip check Ivan Provorov laid on McDavid? Textbook check!

• Credit Giroux with the Flyers’ second goal. Giroux won a foot race to the puck and left it for Weise. He fired a harmless shot through the legs of Oilers defenseman Eric Gryba that also went through Brossoit five-hole from between the circles in the high slot. A bad goal from a bad goalie.

• It appeared that Giroux lost coverage momentarily during the opening faceoff of the third period as Mark Letestu nearly scored on a shot that deflected off the post.

• Good passing set up the Flyers’ first three goals. For example, Voracek outraced his man to a puck along the boards and saw a streaking Raffl catch the Oilers’ defense flat-footed for a breakaway goal.

• The Flyers lost coverage on the Oilers’ second goal. Travis Sanheim followed his man behind the net and left Mark Alt as the only defender in front of the net. The Flyers just didn’t have the bodies down low as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was able to put in the rebound goal in a wide-open net. 

• Not a smart move on Scott Laughton’s part as he committed a holding penalty on the other end of his own net with three minutes to play and the Flyers nursing a 3-2 lead. Just an unnecessary penalty at that stage of the game.

Lineups, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Dale Weise

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Alex Lyon

Scratches: Forward Jori Lehtera (healthy), and defensemen TJ Brennan (healthy) and Radko Gudas (suspended).

Best of NHL: Red Wings dominate Jets to snap 7-game skid

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Best of NHL: Red Wings dominate Jets to snap 7-game skid

DETROIT -- Justin Abdelkader and Gustav Nyquist scored in a dominant first period for Detroit, and the Red Wings snapped a seven-game slide with a 5-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night.

Fresh off a 10-1 loss at Montreal on Saturday, the Red Wings outshot Winnipeg 16-3 in the opening period and took a 2-0 lead. They put the game away with three more goals in the third.

Winnipeg, which entered tied for the NHL lead in points, managed only a second-period goal by Patrik Laine on a two-man advantage. The Red Wings answered in the third with goals by Jonathan Ericsson, Darren Helm and David Booth.

Abdelkader opened the scoring, and Detroit had a two-man advantage for 1:55 later in the first. The Jets killed off both penalties, but seconds after the second one expired, Nyquist lifted a rebound past goalie Connor Hellebuyck to make it 2-0.

Laine's slap shot from the left circle beat goalie Jimmy Howard for his 14th of the season, and Detroit failed to take advantage of another two-man advantage later in the second.

With 15:05 left in the third, Ericsson took a shot that went into the net, with Hellebuyck ending up underneath both Nyquist and Winnipeg defenseman Josh Morrissey. After a long review, officials said Morrissey created the contact and there was no goalie interference (see full recap).

Schneider stops 41 shots in Devils’ win
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Stefan Noesen, Taylor Hall and Jesper Bratt each had a goal and an assist, and Cory Schneider stopped 41 shots to lift the New Jersey Devils over the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 on Tuesday night.

Travis Zajac also scored and rookie Nico Hischier had two assists for the Devils, one of several teams tussling with Columbus for first place in the rugged Metropolitan Division with a third of the season in the books. Schneider was outstanding in earning his 100th win with New Jersey during his fifth season with the franchise.

Nick Foligno scored and Sergei Bobrovsky had 32 saves for the Blue Jackets, who lost their second straight and continued to squander opportunities with the man advantage. They continue to have the NHL's worst power play, failing to find the back of the net on a half dozen opportunities Tuesday.

The Devils (16-7-4) struck first when Zajac picked up a loose puck in front of the Blue Jackets net and poked it past Bobrovsky 4:24 into the first period.

Foligno tied it later in the first period, just seconds after a Blue Jackets power play expired. He had his back to the net but deflected a shot from Oliver Bjorkstrand to beat Schneider. The Devils goalie held Columbus at bay from there (see full recap).

Gourde, Lightning surge to win over Islanders
TAMPA, Fla. -- Yanni Gourde scored two of Tampa Bay's three goals late in the second period and the Lightning beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Tuesday night.

After the Islanders dominated the first 16 minutes of the second, Gourde had a power-play rebound goal at 16:22 and then gave Tampa Bay a 4-2 lead 1:34 later on another rebound effort. The Lightning's top-ranked power play extended the advantage to three when Vladislav Namestnikov scored 50 seconds after Gourde's second of the game.

Tampa Bay also got goals from Brayden Point, Andrej Sustr and Chris Kunitz, and Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves. The Atlantic Division leaders are 11-2-1 at home.

Mathew Barzal and Jordan Eberle scored for the Islanders, who had won eight of 10. Thomas Griess stopped 28 shots.

Point opened the scoring 34 seconds into the game from low in the left circle and Sustr made it 2-0 from the blue line late in the first.

Both of Sustr's goals this season have come in the past three games, and the defenseman has 10 in 288 career NHL games (see full recap).