Calgary Flames

Penguins beat Rangers to tie season-high winning streak

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Penguins beat Rangers to tie season-high winning streak

PITTSBURGH -- Dominik Simon and Phil Kessel scored milestone goals to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-2 victory against the New York Rangers on Sunday night.

Simon got the first goal of his NHL career and Kessel scored his 20th of the season for his 700th point on back-to-back goals that put the Penguins ahead for good. Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin also scored as the Penguins got their season high-tying fourth straight win and fifth in six games.

Rookie Tristan Jarry, making his fourth straight start, stopped 26 shots to pick up his career-best fourth straight win.

Michael Grabner and Brendan Smith scored for the Rangers, who were coming off a 7-2 loss at home to the Islanders the previous day. New York has lost four of five and seventh of their last 10 (3-5-2). Henrik Lundqvist had 42 saves.

After Smith gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead with his first goal of the season in the final minute of the first period, the Penguins took over from there.

Simon scored on a rebound from the slot to tie the score with 6:45 left in the second period. Kessel then put the Penguins ahead for good 1:15 later with a wrist shot from the faceoff dot, becoming the 26th American-born player to reach 700 career points and the 11th with 20 or more goals in 10 different seasons (see full recap).

Flames down Hurricanes for 7th straight win
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Dougie Hamilton scored twice, Mike Smith made 38 saves and the Calgary Flames ran their winning streak to seven straight games with a 4-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Even with leading scorer Sean Monahan out with the flu, the Flames controlled the entire game.

Matt Stajan opened the scoring at 6:01 of the first period with his first goal of the season.

Hamilton made it 2-0 later in the first period. Hamilton scored again early in the third for his first multigoal game of the season.

Matthew Tkachuk added an insurance goal late and Johnny Gaudreau had two assists to extend his point streak to seven games in a row.

Scott Darling made 26 saves for Carolina, which has lost four of five. Lee Stempniak scored with 4:31 remaining to avoid a shutout.

The Flames were faster and physical from the start (see full recap).

Red Wings shut out sloppy Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi each had a goal and an assist, and the Detroit Red Wings beat the sloppy Chicago Blackhawks 4-0 on Sunday.

Dylan Larkin and Mike Green also scored for Detroit, which had dropped two in a row after a four-game win streak. Petr Mrazek made 27 saves in his second shutout of the season and 12th of his career.

Bertuzzi, the nephew of former NHL forward Todd Bertuzzi, made it 4-0 when he punched in his first career goal on a rebound 13:37 into the third period. He also has five assists in 10 games this season.

The Red Wings (18-18-7) played without forwards Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm, who were sidelined by lower-body injuries after they got hurt during Saturday's 4-1 loss at Pittsburgh. Dominic Turgeon, the son of former NHL star Pierre Turgeon, made his NHL debut after he was promoted from Grand Rapids of the AHL.

Chicago (22-17-6) had won three of four, including a 2-1 victory against Central Division-leading Winnipeg on Friday night. But the Blackhawks looked sluggish for most of their final game before their bye week.

Detroit grabbed control with a pair of goals in a 2:10 span in the first period (see full recap).

Streaking Flames scorching everything in sight

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Streaking Flames scorching everything in sight

TAMPA, Fla. -- Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist, Mike Smith made 33 saves, and the Calgary Flames beat the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.

Micheal Ferland, Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski and Matthew Tkachuk also scored to help the Flames improve to 11-5-4 on the road. Gaudreau has nine assists and 10 points during a five-game points streak.

Brayden Point scored for Tampa Bay.

The Lightning lost All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman midway through the second with a lower-body injury.

Hedman was hit on side of his left knee during a collision with Calgary's Garnet Hathaway and needed assistance to the locker room. In Tuesday night's game against Carolina, Hedman could not put any weight on his left skate heading to the bench with three minutes left in the second but returned two minutes later.

Ferland opened the scoring 29 seconds into the game during a 2-on-1 off a pass from Sean Monahan. Ferland added an assist and has a four-game points streak (four goals, eight points), while Monahan has points in five straight (five assists, eight points) (see full recap).

Hurricanes beat Caps on day team sale is finalized
WASHINGTON -- Victor Rask broke a tie on a delayed penalty with 9:06 left to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, hours after the team's sale to Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon was finalized.

Rask's 11th goal of the season came with goalie Scott Darling pulled for the extra attacker after Tom Wilson was whistled for a penalty. The puck pinballed off several players in front and went to Rask at the side of the net.

By improving to 9-7-8 in one-goal games, Carolina leapfrogged the idle Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins to move into a playoff position after 42 games. Winger Justin Williams, who left Washington after two seasons, said the difference between the Capitals being in first place in the Metropolitan Division and the Hurricanes down the standings was success in tight games.

Co-captain Jordan Staal also scored and Sebastian Aho added an empty-netter for Carolina, which got 26 saves from Darling. Lars Eller scored and Braden Holtby stopped 30 of 32 shots for Washington, which had its five-game winning streak and NHL-best 11-game home winning streak snapped.

It's the Capitals' first home loss since Nov. 30 (see full recap).

Okposo, Sabres snap 5-game losing skid
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Kyle Okposo had a goal and assist, and the Buffalo Sabres snapped a five-game skid with a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Benoit Pouliot and Jack Eichel, with an empty-netter with 6 seconds left, also scored. Linus Ullmark stopped 44 shots in his first NHL game of the season.

Ullmark stopped the first 39 shots he faced before having his shutout bid foiled on Artemi Panarin's power-play goal with 6:15 remaining.

The Sabres ended an 0-4-1 skid and won in regulation for the first time in nine games. Buffalo's last victory was a 4-2 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 22.

The Blue Jackets had a two-game win streak snapped and failed to complete their sweep of a three-game season series against Buffalo. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots, but had little chance in stopping either of the two goals he allowed (see full recap).

Flyers Weekly Observations: Secondary scoring behind Western Canada surge

Flyers Weekly Observations: Secondary scoring behind Western Canada surge

A three-game win streak?!?!?! All through the daunting Western Canada road gauntlet?!?!?!

Here’s something we haven’t said in a while: what a week it was for the Flyers.

Ah, refreshing, isn’t it? I’m sure the guys in the locker room will tell you it is.

The Flyers’ kicked off the winning run with a 5-2 win Monday night vs. the Flames in Calgary to snap the dreadful 10-game losing skid. On Wednesday night, they skated past the Oilers in impressive fashion with a 4-2 victory in Edmonton. And capping things off the next night with by jumping out to a big lead in Vancouver and holding on to it for a 4-1 triumph.

Per usual, plenty of things to go through this week, but on the good side this time around.

So let’s get this party started, shall we?

• In their three victories this week, the offensively challenged Flyers scored 13 goals. They scored just 20 goals total throughout the prolonged misery of the 10-game losing streak. So what changed?

Like Frankenstein, the Flyers’ secondary scoring sat up and came to life. While Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek each still put up their points, they weren’t forced to do all of the heavy lifting this week. In Calgary, Scott Laughton scored for the first time in 22 games, Valtteri Filppula tallied for the first time in 18 games, Wayne Simmonds struck for just the second time in 19 games and Michael Raffl cashed in for just the third time all season. In Edmonton, Jordan Weal scored for the first time in 13 games and just the third time all year while Dale Weise beat a netminder for just the second time in 16 games. And in Vancouver, Shayne Gostisbehere scored for the third time in 20 games.

Now that … that is what the Flyers were drastically missing during the skid. If Giroux, Voracek and or Couturier weren’t scoring, it was basically game, set and match from the get-go and the Flyers would be fortunate to even get a single marker on the board. Heck, at one point a few weeks ago that trio had accounted for nearly 50 percent of the Flyers’ goals for the entire season.

Giroux, Voracek and Couturier will continue to get theirs. That’s just what they do. But when the others get theirs as well, you see it makes all the difference in the world.

• Have a good number of Dave Hakstol’s lineup decisions dating back to last season raised eyebrows and garnered legitimate questions? Yes, absolutely. But you have to give credit where credit is due as he made a bold decision and broke up the potent Giroux-Couturier-Voracek trio heading into the Calgary game Monday.

That was a gutsy decision to break up a line that was that lethal and one of the best in the league. I’m sure that decision raised a few more eyebrows across the Delaware Valley, but when you’re on a putrid skid and haven’t won a game in almost a month, you can try some crazy things.

This crazy thing worked as the Flyers’ goal-scoring pulse is alive again with those 13 goals in the last three games. Hakstol deserves a lot of credit for pushing the right button there.

• Perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the recent line changes has been Raffl.

The 29-year-old Austrian started the season as part of an effective fourth line with Scott Laughton and Taylor Leier. But as the Flyers started to flounder like a fish out of water, Raffl was juggled up and down the lineup with no set spot. That was until this week when Hakstol injected Raffl into the top six on the second line with Voracek and Filppula. It was one of Hakstol’s bold moves, considering Raffl hadn’t scored since January prior to his goal vs. the New York Islanders on Nov. 22, a span of 42 games (Raffl missed the final month and change last season with an injury).

And the confidence the coach put in the winger is paying off. Raffl looks like a new player out there. He’s using his speed and strength to his advantage, barreling down the ice and setting up shop in front of the net to wreak havoc and cash in. And that’s his game — he’s got a power game and is more than capable of putting the puck in the net. And he’s got noted chemistry with Voracek. Remember, the two were on the Flyers’ top line three seasons ago when Raffl potted a career-high 20 goals. Raffl could be quite the important piece moving forward if the Flyers are to dig out of this hole.

• I’d be remiss beyond comprehension if I didn’t show Brian Elliott some love here. He was pretty darn good for the Flyers over that 10-game losing skid when he went 0-3-5 with a 3.06 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. The best numbers in the world? No. But he made the saves he needed to make and gave the Flyers chances to win night in and night out, exactly what they needed. Elliott’s teammates in front of him just couldn’t pick him up.

But Elliott took his game to another level this week as he was stellar in the three games the Flyers took out in Western Canada. All told, he made 103 stops on 108 shots with a 1.67 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. His best showing of a sterling week came Monday vs. his old mates in Calgary when he stopped 43 of 45 shots faced. The Flames were pouring it on, especially in the second period when they fired 21 pucks on net. But Elliott stood firm and righted the Flyers’ ship with his play. He then stopped 24 of 26 Wednesday in Edmonton and 36 of 37 Thursday in Vancouver.

The guy has been the steadying veteran presence in net and in the locker room. He’s been invaluable to the team so far. He’s taken the reigns of the No. 1 job, and that was even before Michal Neuvirth’s most recent injury. The Flyers clearly have their No. 1 goalie. And Elliott has earned every ounce of that role.

• If you haven’t yet, check out my colleague Jordan Hall’s column from Saturday morning on Hakstol and how the Flyers’ current philosophy has put him in a tricky spot behind the bench.

The Flyers have been toeing this line between development and trying to win for a while now and it’s been a tug of war for Hakstol with his coaching decisions. While some are rightfully questioned, he is still in a tricky spot. It’s a deep dive into that position for Hakstol. Well worth any Flyers fan’s time.

Coming up this week: Tuesday vs. Toronto (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Thursday vs. Buffalo (7 p.m. on NBCSP), Saturday vs. Dallas (7 p.m. on NBCSP).