NHL

A pair of sensational efforts for surging Maple Leafs

uspresswire-mapleleafs-kadri-andersen.jpg
USA Today Images

A pair of sensational efforts for surging Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Nazem Kadri had three goals and two assists, Frederik Andersen made a career-high 54 saves and the surging Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 on Wednesday night.

Patrick Marleau added a goal and two assists and Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist as Toronto closed out a perfect five-game hometand. It was Kadri's fourth career hat trick, and the five points set a career high.

The Blue Jackets recorded 50 or more shots for the third straight game, making them the first team to accomplish the feat in the post-expansion era (since 1967-68). Nick Foligno had a goal and two assists, and Joonas Korpisalo made 22 saves.

Toronto played much of the game without defenseman Jake Gardiner, who departed with a lower-body injury after one period. It was unclear when the injury occurred, but he took a hard slash to the legs from Matt Calvert.

The Maple Leafs had a 4-2 lead before Jack Johnson beat Andersen with a slap shot from the left circle that went off the post and into the net at 14:35 of the second. It was Johnson's third goal of the season.

Toronto then put it away with two in the third. Kadri got his 21st of the season at 11:21, and Marleau added an empty-netter with 1:47 left (see full recap).

Varlamov stops 43 shots to secure shutout
DENVER -- Semyon Varlamov made 43 saves for his first victory in more than a month and the Colorado Avalanche matched the franchise record of 10 straight home wins, beating he Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Carl Soderberg and Alexander Kerfoot scored to help Colorado match the longest home winning streak in franchise history, set in 1994-95 when the team was the Quebec Nordiques.

Antti Niemi stopped 23 shots for Montreal. The Canadiens are 8-17-1 on the road.

Varlamov's last win came against Toronto on Dec. 29, and he left his next start against Winnipeg with a groin injury. He missed 10 games before returning against the Jets on Feb. 3.

Wednesday was his fourth since coming back and one of his best of the season. He denied the Canadiens on several chances in the third for his second shutout of the season.

With Montreal pressing for the equalizer late in the third, Kerfoot scored at 16:58 to give the Avalanche a two-goal cushion.

Colorado had more than two consecutive minutes of play in Montreal's end early in the second period but didn't score until Soderberg beat Niemi with a wraparound to make it 1-0 at 15:55 (see full recap).

Devan Dubnyk saves the day for Wild

uspresswire-wild-devan-dubnyk.jpg
USA Today Images

Devan Dubnyk saves the day for Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Devan Dubnyk made 32 saves, and Minnesota's early three-goal lead held up in 3-2 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

Eric Staal, Zach Parise and Marcus Foligno all scored in the first 6:17 for Minnesota, which ran its home point streak to a franchise-record 13 games (10-0-3).

John Gilmour scored his first NHL goal in his third game for New York, and Kevin Hayes added his 13th goal of the season. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 26 shots for the Rangers.

The Wild haven't lost at home since Dec. 16 against Edmonton and own the league's longest home point streak of the season. They've outscored opponents 46-23 during the run.

Minnesota went ahead 3-0 for the third straight game. The Wild lost in overtime to Arizona and followed with a shutout of Chicago (see full recap).

Guentzel, Aston-Reese spark Penguins’ win
PITTSBURGH -- Jake Guentzel scored twice, Zach Aston-Reese scored his first two NHL goals and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Ottawa Senators 6-3 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin scored his 31st and Kris Letang his fourth for the Penguins, who have won seven of nine and 12 of their last 16. Sidney Crosby, who scored his 400th career goal on Sunday, finished with three assists.

Pittsburgh is riding a nine-game home winning streak, the longest since a franchise-record 13-game run during the 2013-14 season. The Penguins haven't lost in Pittsburgh since a 4-0 defeat by Carolina on Jan. 4.

Matt Murray stopped 30 shots for Pittsburgh.

Derick Brassard, Colin White and Mike Hoffman all scored for the Senators, who lost for the third time in five games. The Senators dropped to 7-16-4 on the road. They were 22-17-2 away from home last season.

Guentzel scored his 17th on the power play and his 18th in the second period. Aston-Reese scored the first of his career in the second period and added an empty-net goal with 1:05 to play.

Mike Condon made five saves on nine shots before he was pulled after Aston-Reese's goal. Craig Anderson stopped 17 of 18 shots (see full recap).

Hurricanes’ Faulk notches 1st hat trick
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Justin Faulk had his first career hat trick, Jeff Skinner scored twice, and the Carolina Hurricanes routed the short-handed Los Angeles Kings 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Faulk's three goals came in a span of 12:21 as Carolina raced out to a 5-0 lead and he became the 10th defenseman in NHL history to score a natural hat trick.

Jacob Slavin and Sebastian Aho also scored for the Hurricanes, who won their third straight and finished their eight-game homestand 5-2-1. Cam Ward made 27 saves.

Slavin opened the scoring 6:40 into the game and Faulk scored just over two minutes later. He scored again on a slap shot in the waning minutes of the first period, and completed his hat trick with another slap shot 1:17 into the second period.

Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, and Torrey Mitchell scored for Los Angeles, which was without key forwards Dustin Brown (suspension) and Trevor Lewis (injury). Jonathan Quick saved 16 of 20 shots before being pulled following Faulk's third goal (see full recap).

Flyers whiff on the high five

Flyers whiff on the high five

BOX SCORE

After burning off some jet fuel coming off a weekend sweep out West, the Flyers simply ran out of gas back home.

Devils forward Taylor Hall scored the game-tying goal — his second of the game — with 1:21 remaining in regulation to help New Jersey gain a much-needed point. The Devils picked up the second point by scoring the lone goal in a shootout for a 5-4 win Tuesday. Drew Stafford scored the only goal in the three-round shootout as New Jersey closed to within two points in the Metropolitan Division (see standings).

On the same day starting goaltender Brian Elliott underwent successful core muscle surgery (see story), Michal Neuvirth fought through an up-and-down night in net. He allowed a soft goal to Hall, but rebounded and made some big saves over the final 20 minutes. In all, Neuvirth made 32 saves on 36 shots. 

A day after he was named the NHL’s First Star of the week, Claude Giroux continued his torrid scoring pace with a goal in his fourth straight game. Giroux also added an assist and now has eight points over the last five games.

Travis Konecny continued his second-half surge with his 14th goal of the season. Eight of those goals have come in the Flyers’ last 12 games with Konecny excelling on the top line. Radko Gudas and Scott Laughton also scored for the Flyers.     

The two teams completed the four-game season series with the Flyers finishing with a 2-1-1 record and the Devils 2-2-0.  

• You think these teams are tired of seeing each other with this the fourth meeting in the past month? Wayne Simmonds and Miles Wood were jawing with each other before the linesman could drop the puck for the opening faceoff. 

• The Flyers had a tremendous start to this game as they outshot the Devils, 6-0, out the gate. All four lines actively jumped into the offensive zone and applied constant pressure. The 13 shots on net in the first period were provided by 12 different players.  

• Konecny’s presence on the top line has created more chances and scoring opportunities off the rush, and it didn’t take long to get behind the Devils’ defense. Giroux once again showed why he’s one of the best playmakers in the NHL with a cross-ice, two-line backhanded pass right on the tape to Konecny, who is playing and shooting the puck with pure confidence. Giroux said at intermission he was at the end of his shift and was just trying to chip the puck out of the zone.

• Konecny scored his eighth goal in his last 12 games and is now on the verge of his first 20-goal season.

• Neuvirth did a horrific job of sealing the near post on Hall’s goal that tied the game at 1-1. For whatever reason, Neuvirth’s pad wasn’t parallel to the pipe, which allowed daylight for the puck to carom into the net. Unlike the goal he gave up against the Capitals from the same area, Neuvirth was at least in position to make a save. However, he must eliminate these soft goals on low-percentage shots.

• Just 43 seconds after Hall tied the game, the Flyers’ third line came right back and answered emphatically. Michael Raffl, who had a solid game, caught the Devils and goaltender Keith Kinkaid off guard as he threw the puck on net to Laughton. As we’ve seen over the past few weeks, the Raffl-Laughton combination is one that deserves to stick around. They’re hard on pucks and, most often, they draw third- and fourth-line matchups.

• Gudas is red hot as he scored a goal in his second straight game. This time it came with a goalie in front of the net after scoring an empty-netter in Vegas. Gudas has taken shots with regularity this season, averaging two shots on goal per game, but he hasn’t had success until now. In his Flyers career, Gudas been a streaky goal scorer.

• It was also refreshing to see Gudas lay some lumber as he leveled Hall on the Devils’ power play. I think Gudas is at his best when he brings a controlled physical element to his game. For much of this season, Gudas has been busy chasing the puck in his own end and hasn’t put himself into position to be that punishing player. Gudas also airlifted Hall after he scored the soft goal on Neuvirth. 

• The Devils refused to die and they capitalized on a neutral-zone takeaway. Once again, the Flyers’ fourth line was abused by the Devils’ top line without Hall. Jori Lehtera was driven into the bench-side boards and coughed up the puck to Nico Hischier. Hischier converted a give-and-go with Jesper Bratt, who was filling in for the banged-up Hall. It’s beyond time to bench Lehtera, who’s been plodding over the past weeks. 

• Sean Couturier has a future as a battering ram as he continued to crash the net at every opportunity. Couturier had a couple of high-danger zone scoring chances and then laid out a Giroux-like backhand pass to the captain. Couturier had a team-high four attempted shots in the first period.

• The Flyers got caught late with their fourth line of Valtteri Filppula, Lehtera and Dale Weise on the ice against the Devils’ top line of Hischier, Hall and Kyle Palmieri. Needless to say, it was the Devils’ best scoring chance of the first period. The Flyers displayed some careless, sloppy play to close out the first period. 

• Wood was screaming at Shayne Gostisbehere from the penalty box as the two players were assessed matching minors — “Ghost” for crosschecking and Wood for roughing. On further inspection, Wood was bleeding from his lip and was trying to challenge Gostisbehere to a fight. As the penalties expired, Wood was jawing with Gostisbehere, but nothing transpired. 

• Gostisbehere had a tremendous opportunity to score in the final seconds of the second period as he filled the slot and launched a missile that missed the net.

• The Flyers’ second power-play unit was on point early in the third period with a handful of chances to extend the Flyers’ lead to two goals. The combination of Jordan Weal, Nolan Patrick, Ivan Provorov, Konecny and Filppula has formed a consistent threat since Dave Hakstol put it together.  

Lineups, pairings and scratches

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

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Shayne Gostisbehere
Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Brandon Manning-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Michal Neuvirth
Alex Lyon

Scratches: Forward Taylor Leier (healthy) and defenseman Mark Alt (healthy).