Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid is seriously a handful

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Connor McDavid is seriously a handful

EDMONTON, Alberta -- Connor McDavid scored four goals and added an assist, and the Edmonton Oilers knocked off the top team in the NHL, defeating the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-2 on Monday night.

Leon Draisaitl and Iiro Pakarinen also scored for the Oilers, who have gone 5-1-1 in their last seven.

Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde replied for the Lightning, who fell to 5-3 on their eight-game road trip (see full recap).

Hanzal, Stars edge skidding Rangers
DALLAS -- Martin Hanzal returned from injured reserve and scored the game-winning goal in the Dallas Stars' 2-1 victory over the slumping New York Rangers on Monday night.

On the power play, Hanzal skated across the goalmouth and tipped in Julius Honka's shot from the right point to break a 1-all tie 4:05 into the third period. Hanzal missed the previous five games because of a strained muscle in his lower body.

The Stars' third straight win moved them within one point of St. Louis for third place in the Central Division. The Rangers, who have lost six of seven, are last in the rugged Metropolitan Division and three points out of a postseason spot in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race.

New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist lost his fifth game in a row despite making 39 saves.

Ben Bishop had 31 saves for Dallas (see full recap).

Maple Leafs pull away as Andersen injured
TORONTO -- William Nylander scored twice, including the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Anaheim Ducks 7-4 on Monday night.

Auston Matthews also had two goals for the Maple Leafs. Mitch Marner, Leo Komarov and Zach Hyman scored one apiece, but the win might have come at a cost.

Toronto starting goaltender Frederik Andersen left at 6:15 of the second period after he was struck in the head by Corey Perry's left skate.

Andersen stopped 25 of 28 shots before being replaced by backup Curtis McElhinney, who improved to 6-4 this season with 16 saves on 17 shots.

The severity of the injury was unknown, and no update was provided by the Maple Leafs before the end of the game.

Rickard Rakell scored twice for the Ducks, and Perry assisted on all four of their goals. Ryan Getzlaf and Ondrej Kase also scored (see full recap).

Malkin lifts Penguins past Bruins in high-scoring thriller

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Malkin lifts Penguins past Bruins in high-scoring thriller

PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin got his second goal of the game at 2:51 of overtime to rally the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-5 victory over the Boston Bruins on Sunday night.

Phil Kessel set up Malkin, who one-timed a shot over Tuukka Rask's pad during a 2-on-1.

Malkin and Kessel scored power-play goals in regulation, while Kris Letang, Jamie Oleksiak and Riley Sheahan also scored for Pittsburgh. The Penguins, coming off a 4-0 win at the New York Islanders on Friday, got consecutive victories for the first time since Dec. 1-2 when they defeated Buffalo twice by a combined score of 9-1. The Penguins, who have just six wins in their last 11 games, moved into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but are one point from last place in the Metropolitan Division.

Sidney Crosby had three assists after getting a season-high four points against the Islanders. Crosby, with points in five straight against Boston, had four points in 11 games before the last two.

Matt Murray stopped all six shots he faced in relief of Tristan Jarry, who made 14 saves on 19 shots before he was pulled after the Bruins' fifth goal (see full recap).

Forsberg makes 32 saves as Blackhawks beat Oilers
CHICAGO -- Anton Forsberg made 32 saves, Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat scored in the first period, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the slumping Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Sunday.

Brandon Saad and Jordan Oesterle also scored for the Blackhawks, who got their first home win since a 4-1 victory against Minnesota on Dec. 17. Jonathan Toews extended his point streak to four games.

It was Forsberg's first win since Nov. 11 and just the second of his first season in Chicago. Forsberg had been the backup all year, but his role had come into question after Jeff Glass came up the minors and played well with starter Corey Crawford sidelined by an upper-body injury.

Edmonton has dropped six of seven, including a 5-1 loss at Dallas on Saturday. The Oilers have been outscored 20-3 in their last five games (see full recap).

Islanders down Devils in shootout
NEW YORK -- Brock Nelson scored the only goal in the shootout to lift the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 5-4 on Sunday.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Islanders, who trailed 4-2 early in the third period.

Nelson beat Devils netminder Cory Schneider in the fifth round of the shootout.

Jaroslav Halak made 42 saves for the Islanders.

The Devils lost their fifth straight before both teams start a league-mandated five-day break.

Cal Clutterbuck and rookie Sebastian Aho tied the game with third-period goals after Miles Wood and Taylor Hall had given the Devils a 4-2 lead early in the period.

Clutterbuck's tying goal came at 15:43 after Aho narrowed the deficit to 4-3 with his first career goal at 7:58. Aho's power-play score was assisted by John Tavares and Mathew Barzal, who leads all rookies with 26 assists (see full recap).

Anderson lifts Blue Jackets past Panthers in shootout
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Josh Anderson scored the deciding goal in the eighth round of the shootout, lifting the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped Jared McCann's attempt to secure the win for the Blue Jackets, who also got goals from Artemi Panarin and Jack Johnson in the tiebreaker. Aleksander Barkov, who tied the score with 1:34 left in the third period, and Mike Matheson scored in the shootout for Florida.

Nick Foligno and rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois scored power-play goals for Columbus -- just the second time this season the NHL's worst man-advantage unit has come through twice, and both against Florida. Bobrovsky, who took an errant stick under his chin in the final period, had 42 saves through overtime to help the Blue Jackets win for just the fourth time in 11 games (4-6-1).

Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for the Panthers and James Reimer stopped 46 shots. Florida has lost three straight after a five-game winning streak to close December (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).