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Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

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Best of NHL: Penguins blow lead, rally to top Rangers in overtime

NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby scored the tying goal with less than a minute remaining in regulation, Evgeni Malkin put in the winner 58 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the struggling New York Rangers 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Patric Hornqvist, Phil Kessel and ex-Ranger Carl Hagelin also scored for the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions, who handed New York (1-5-1) its fourth straight loss.

Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh turned the puck over in overtime and Kessel set up Malkin for the game-winning goal. Just before that, the Rangers iced the puck, leading to a faceoff in their zone.

Michael Grabner put New York ahead 4-3 when he and David Desharnais completed a nifty give-and-go at the 8-minute mark of the third period.

Desharnais, Pavel Buchnevich and J.T. Miller scored in a span of 2:30 as the Rangers got three straight goals early in the second to take a 3-2 lead.

Penguins goalie Matt Murray and counterpart Henrik Lundqvist each made 28 saves in the first of four meetings this season between the division rivals (see full recap).

Devils top Lightning in shootout
NEWARK, N.J. -- Kyle Palmieri scored the lone goal in a shootout, lifting the New Jersey Devils to a 5-4 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Drew Stafford scored twice in regulation as New Jersey improved to 5-1-0. Palmieri and Brian Gibbons each had a goal in the first period, and Cory Schneider made 33 saves.

Vladimir Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos scored for Tampa Bay, which had its four-game winning streak snapped and fell to 5-1-1.

Kucherov's goal was his eighth in seven games. He has scored at least once in every game this season, and the 24-year-old right wing became the sixth player in modern NHL history to score at least one goal in the first seven games of a season.

Mario Lemieux, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Ken Hodge and Tony Tanti are the others. Lemieux holds the record with at least one goal in the first 12 games of the 1992-93 season.

Peter Budaj made his first start of the season for the Lightning and had 30 saves (see full recap).

Anderson helps Maple Leafs blank Capitals
WASHINGTON -- Connor Brown scored the game-winning goal in the third period and Frederik Andersen stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout as the Toronto Maple Leafs continued their tremendous start by beating the Washington Capitals 2-0 on Tuesday night.

Toronto has won five of its first six games. Washington has now lost two in a row since top defenseman Matt Niskanen went out with a long-term upper-body injury.

After getting a promotion to the third line, Brown picked up his second goal of the season and broke a 0-0 tie with 14:07 left in the third. Brown corralled a rebound of Morgan Rielly's point shot and poked the puck between Braden Holtby's legs.

Holtby made 28 saves but couldn't help as the Capitals' offense couldn't cash in on limited high-quality chances. Nazem Kadri scored an empty-net goal in the final minute (see full recap).

Sam Morin sees work with Kjell Samuelsson pay off in Flyers' OT preseason win

Sam Morin sees work with Kjell Samuelsson pay off in Flyers' OT preseason win


Since the day he was drafted in June 2013, the Sam Morin comparisons have been made to Chris Pronger, but the credit since then can be given to Kjell Samuelsson.

Samuelsson, a 14-year NHL veteran and the Flyers' director of player development, has worked extensively with Morin over the past few years to refine the rookie’s all-around game. It’s a constant work in progress, but if Morin was a piece of pottery, Samuelsson would have to admire the way it's taking shape.

“I’m really confident in my game and I really believe I can make it," Morin said following Tuesday’s 4-3 overtime preseason victory against the Rangers (see observations). “It’s not over. I just need to stay focused. Work hard. Every day, every practice I’ll earn my spot and I know it.”

In the first period, Morin was able to pick his spots. With the Flyers trailing, 2-0, late in the stanza, the defenseman joined the rush, filled the slot and wristed a shot in the top corner over the blocker side of Rangers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.

“The game now is too quick for a slap shot, except for the power play. The release is everything,” Morin said after his first goal at the NHL level. “I work a lot with Kjell with that. When I came my first year, my draft year, I was taking those big slappers, and scoring big goals, but you can’t do that here. Guys are going to block it, and that’s something I learned from Kjell. I think I have a pretty good shot. I’m pretty confident with that.”

Earlier in the opening period, Morin showed some restraint after he leveled forward Gabriel Fontaine. Moments later, he answered a challenge to drop the gloves with Bobby Farnham, who came into the fight giving up eight inches to the 6-foot-6 Morin (see video).

Once again, Morin pointed to the Samuelsson effect, as well as offseason surgery, for taking a more passive approach to those five-minute majors.

“That guy jumped me and I was ready for him," Morin said. "I did my job. I pissed him off and he gets a penalty for it. I got hand surgery this summer, too. Especially earlier in camp, I didn’t want to destroy my camp by getting hurt, but I wasn’t really confident with my wrist, but I feel great and I can fight, that’s for sure.

“Kjell is real good with me for that. In juniors, I was pretty crazy for that. I was less patient and hungry for those things. I’m still learning and I try to get better every day.”

Interestingly, Morin has been engaged in a heated battle with teammate Travis Sanheim for one of the two open positions on the Flyers' blue line. The two former first-round picks have been roommates from the moment they reported to rookie camp and into training camp. Morin didn’t watch the game at Madison Square Garden in which Sanheim scored twice (see story), but said he heard about it.

Tuesday night, Morin finally heard his name called, and he’s on track to see his name with the rest of the NHL regulars. 

“He’s in a mix of eight right now. That’s the positive of it. He’s played well," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. "The other seven guys are doing a good job. I know the focus is always on the young guys, but it’s a group of eight right now."

“I’m ready," Morin said. "I win those 1-on-1 battles. My game is just about that.”

Forwards discover their scoring touch
• At one point, the Flyers had played seven-plus periods of hockey and their four goals were all scored by rookie defensemen (three from Sanheim, one from Morin). The forwards finally snapped that trend when center Scott Laughton tied the game at 2-2 less than three minutes into the second period. Oskar Lindblom added his first, redirecting Andrew MacDonald’s shot from the point, and Travis Konecny answered with the game-winner in overtime off a pass from Claude Giroux.

“I always find that in the two years that I’ve played in preseason games before, the defense always steps up in preseason and gets a majority of the goals, so I wasn’t surprised," Konecny said. "But it’s definitely nice that we’re starting to get a little bit of movement and start to put pucks away.

• For the second straight night, Giroux was operating on the left wing on a line with Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Giroux picked up the primary assists on Morin’s goal and the Konecny overtime winner as the line had more time in the offensive zone compared to Monday’s game in New York. The line generated nine shots on net while winning the possession battle with a 69 percent success rate in the faceoff circle.

“I thought it was a nice progression,” Hakstol said. “You’re not going to have a finished product overnight. I thought [Monday] was a good start. I thought tonight was a good progression from there. They created a lot tonight. They had the puck a lot, spent a lot of time in the offensive zone, and that’s what you want to see.”

• Like with Lindblom, the Flyers appear to have found another mid-round gem with center Mikhail Vorobyev, who was taken 104th overall in 2015. Vorobyev had an exceptional rookie game with a pair of assists and was called up from Lehigh Valley on Tuesday to center the Flyers' third line with Lindblom and Konecny. Vorobyev has a vision to see openings and plays that other guys would otherwise miss, which included an impressive cross-ice pass to Giroux. 

“I think he only played 10 or 11 minutes tonight. I thought he played a heck of a hockey game,” Hakstol said. “He didn’t get into much of a rhythm or flow in the first period with all the penalties. He made a couple of high-end plays offensively up and down the rink. He has a great sense of what’s around him. I thought he was reliable. It was really nice to see him come up, and he took advantage of a good opportunity.”

Flyers-Rangers preseason observations: Sam Morin does little bit of everything in OT win

Flyers-Rangers preseason observations: Sam Morin does little bit of everything in OT win


The Flyers are milking preseason hockey for every minute they can as they forced overtime for the fifth time in six games.

But in their first preseason game at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night, the orange and the black finally prevailed, 4-3, as Travis Konecny connected on a second-chance effort after his initial shot was stopped by Ondrej Pavelec. Konecny also added an assist in the game.

The Flyers are 2-1-3 in the preseason with two games left before the Oct. 4 season opener.

• Oskar Lindblom broke a 2-2 tie 5:27 into the third period when he redirected Andrew MacDonald’s shot from just inside the blue line. It was Lindblom’s first goal of the preseason as he looks to secure his spot for opening night. 

• The ultra-speedy Michael Grabner answered with the game-tying goal with 2:21 remaining in the game.

• Coming off an outstanding performance Monday at Madison Square Garden, Travis Sanheim was stripped of the puck by David Desharnais behind the Flyers' net. Jimmy Vesey fed a wide-open Paul Carey on the left side of the net for a “gimme-putt” goal that opened the scoring, a 1-0 Rangers lead in the first period.

• Desharnais increased the Rangers' lead to 2-0 when he ripped a slap shot from the high slot over Brian Elliott’s blocker on New York’s first power play of the game in the opening stanza. Elliott appeared to have been screened as Michael Raffl’s attempt to block the shot came up short.    

• After dropping the gloves earlier in the first period (see video), Sam Morin cut New York’s lead to 2-1 with a snipe from the high slot over the shoulder of goaltender Pavelec. The Flyers took that momentum into the second period when fourth-liners Scott Laughton and Raffl teamed up on a 2-on-1 resulting in Laughton’s tap-in goal that tied the game at 2-2.

• How porous is the Flyers' power play? It set up the Rangers' penalty-kill unit with two uncontested scoring chances in the opening 7:30. Shayne Gostisbehere was stripped on the Flyers' first power play by Grabner, whose breakaway was denied by Elliott. On the Flyers' second power play, Gabriel Fontaine came around the right side with a backhand shot that an outstretched Elliott snagged with his glove.

• The Flyers' power play had some chances to break the ice, but finished the night 0 for 5 and is now 0 for 19 in the last three games.

• The intimidating Morin laid out Rangers forward Fontaine, and then had to accept Bobby Farnham’s challenge. With a size difference of eight inches, Morin was able to land a few rights before both guys were escorted to the penalty box. Farnham received an instigator and an ensuing game misconduct, which led to a Flyers power play. 

• Jordan Weal has quietly had a very solid preseason as he looks to solidify his place in the Flyers' top six. Working with the second power-play unit, Weal skated in alone through the slot but shot it into the midsection of Pavelec. 

Rating the rookie D-men
1. Sam Morin — Morin continues to string together solid games throughout the preseason. He has shown discipline and has dropped the gloves in response to the opponent, which has resulted in a power play on a couple of occasions. Tuesday, Morin added another line to his résumé with an accurate wrist shot on a feed from Claude Giroux (see story). When Morin makes a mistake (there have been few), he’s been quick in his recovery. Of the rookie defensemen, Morin has shown he’s most NHL ready. A virtual lock to make the opening night roster.

2a. Travis Sanheim — In a league that has become so defensive-minded, you need that second wave of offense, which precisely plays into Sanheim’s strength. He has displayed a wicked slap shot and awareness to jump into the play at the right time. He still has flaws in the defensive zone and has been turnover-prone at times. The question remains: Can you sacrifice the occasional defensive mistake for the tremendous offensive upside he brings?

2b. Robert Hagg — Hagg has seen his play dip slightly in these last two preseason games after a very strong first week of camp. He had a shaky opening 10 minutes in the game at Madison Square Garden, but  rebounded nicely. He seems comfortable as a stay-at-home defenseman, but doesn’t shy away from jumping into the play offensively when the opportunity presents itself. He’s been good on the penalty kill, and for the most part, Hagg has shown the poise and confidence to stick with the Flyers. 

Lines, pairings and scratches

Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Dale Weise
Oskar Lindblom-Mikhail Vorobyev-Travis Konecny
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Robert Hagg-Andrew MacDonald
Sam Morin-Shayne Gostisbehere
Brandon Manning-Travis Sanheim

Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Wayne Simmonds, Mike Vecchione, Jori Lehtera, Valtteri Filppula, Ivan Provorov, Matt Read