San Jose Sharks

Senators pull off improbable comeback

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Senators pull off improbable comeback

OTTAWA, Ontario -- Matt Duchene scored his second goal of the game seven seconds into overtime and the Ottawa Senators capped a four-goal comeback with a 6-5 win over the San Jose Sharks on Friday night.

Down 5-2 to start the third period, the Senators got goals from Derick Brassard, Duchene and Mike Hoffman. Ryan Dzingel and Mark Stone also scored for Ottawa, and Craig Anderson made 30 saves.

Hoffman and Duchene raced for a 2-on-1 off the OT faceoff, and Hoffman slipped a backhand pass across the slot to Duchene, who pushed the puck past goalie Aaron Dell.

Tomas Hertl led the Sharks with two goals. Melker Karlsson, Chris Tierney and Brett Burns also scored. Dell stopped 37 shots (see full recap).

Penguins shut out Islanders
NEW YORK -- Sidney Crosby had a goal and three assists, Tristan Jarry stopped 31 shots for his second shutout of the season and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the New York Islanders 4-0 Friday night.

Daniel Sprong had two goals and an assist, Evgeni Malkin also scored and Dominik Simon added two assists for the Penguins, who had dropped four of six and were coming off a 4-0 loss at home to Carolina the previous night. The two-time defending Stanley Cup champions pulled within one point of the Hurricanes for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Jaroslav Halak finished with 31 saves as the Islanders lost their season-high fifth straight -- all in regulation -- while getting outscored 25-8 during the skid.

The Islanders lost right wing Josh Bailey to a lower-body injury early in the first period and he did not return. Bailey leads the team with 38 assists and is tied with captain John Tavares for tops with 50 points (see full recap).

Golden Knights keep rolling
CHICAGO -- Reilly Smith had a goal and two assists, and the Vegas Golden Knights topped the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on Friday night for their ninth win in 10 games.

Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson each had a goal and an assist as expansion Vegas got the win in its first trip to Chicago. Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin also scored, and Malcolm Subban made 28 saves.

The game was tied at 4 when Smith stole a pass and beat Jeff Glass on a breakaway for his 11th of the season 13:53 into the third. The Blackhawks pulled Glass in favor of an extra attacker with about two minutes left, but the Golden Knights held on.

Vinnie Hinostroza had a goal and two assists for Chicago, which was coming off a 2-3-1 trip. Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist, and Glass finished with 38 stops (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin stars in Capitals' rare win over Sharks

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Best of NHL: Alex Ovechkin stars in Capitals' rare win over Sharks

WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 20th goal and assisted on another, helping the Washington Capitals snap their recent run of futility against the San Jose Sharks with a 4-1 victory Monday night.

The Capitals beat the Sharks for the fourth time in 18 meetings since Ovechkin entered the league in 2005-06. It's just Washington's second regulation win against San Jose in that time and first since Oct. 15, 2009. It ended a four-game skid in the series.

Halting the Sharks' recent mastery came at a cost: T.J. Oshie left in the second period with an upper-body injury and didn't return. As Oshie was already engaged with Logan Couture and falling down along the boards, he took Joe Thornton's backside to the head.

Tom Wilson took exception to Thornton's hit and fought him in the third period of a chippy game that also included a fight between Alex Chiasson and Barclay Goodrow.

Before those tensions rose, Ovechkin continued his climb up the career list with his 578th goal, passing Hall of Famer Mark Recchi for 20th. He's the 11th player in NHL history to score at least 20 goals in each of his first 13 seasons (see full recap).

Islanders overcome Luongo injury for SO win
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Mathew Barzal scored the winning goal in a shootout to lift the New York Islanders over Florida 5-4 on Monday night after Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo was injured in the second period.

New York's Anders Lee scored his 100th career goal. John Tavares, Brock Nelson and Thomas Hickey also scored in regulation for the Islanders. Jaroslav Halak made 39 saves and stopped all three attempts in the shootout.

Denis Malgin, Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad scored for the Panthers. Keith Yandle had a goal and two assists, and Vincent Trocheck added three assists.

Luongo allowed one goal on 13 shots before he left the game after he was injured when he stretched out his right leg to block a shot by Ryan Pulock at 17:29 of the second. Luongo was helped off the ice by trainers and wasn't able to put any weight on the leg. He did not return.

James Reimer replaced Luongo and finished with 16 saves (see full recap).

Smith’s 2 scores help Predators beat Bruins
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Craig Smith scored twice and added an assist to lead the Nashville Predators over the Boston Bruins 5-3 on Monday night.

Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist, and Nick Bonino and Filip Forsberg also scored for Nashville, which has won three of four. Pekka Rinne made 36 saves.

Charlie McAvoy, Zdeno Chara and David Pastrnak had the goals for Boston, which won its previous two games.

Smith scored the game's first goal at 1:26 of the opening period. Boston goalie Anton Khudobin stopped Alexei Emelin's slap shot from the left point, but Smith was positioned in the slot to bang home the rebound.

Smith struck again with 17.4 seconds remaining in the first.

From the left point, Mattias Ekholm sent a pass to Smith in the slot, sending him in on a partial breakaway. Smith beat Khudobin high to the glove side with a wrist shot for his 11th of the season (see full recap).

Flyers Weekly Observations: Crushing loss in Pittsburgh the tipping point?

Flyers Weekly Observations: Crushing loss in Pittsburgh the tipping point?

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse and that it was OK to step outside in your orange and black gear again, this past week happened.

The bruises got darker and the cuts got deeper this week as the Flyers’ prolonged misery and embarrassment continued with three more painful losses, each in unique fashion, to push the losing streak to 10 games. It’s the longest losing streak for the Flyers since 2008, when they also lost 10 in a row. For those keeping score at home, the longest winless streak (losses and ties) in franchise history is 12 games way back in 1999.

The week kicked off in stunning fashion with a disheartening 5-4 loss in OT to the rival Penguins on Monday in Pittsburgh. It continued back home Tuesday night with a lifeless 3-1 loss to the San Jose Sharks. And then the week ended with yet another dud, a 3-0 shutout loss at home to the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon.

So, as you may be able to infer, there is plenty to get to in this week’s observations, and not much, if any of it, is good.

Let’s get to it.

• The feeling heading into this week was that the Flyers, losers of seven straight contests, could benefit from the energy, ill will and overall rivalry with the Penguins, and get some momentum going to turn the ship around. And for 40 minutes, it looked like that feeling was reality.

Until the third period began and the Flyers blew yet another two-goal lead, the fourth such lead they’ve blown during this streak. But they struck back thanks to a sweet power move by Michael Raffl, only to have that lead evaporate with less than a minute left. So of course you knew the nightmare would come full circle with a Sidney Crosby OT winner.

This loss was so demoralizing on so many levels. Here, you had the defending two-time Stanley Cup champs and your blood rival on the ropes to end a long losing streak, and then in the blink of an eye it all swirled down the drain in a most painful, needling fashion while your goalie, Brian Elliott, basically stood on his head with 47 saves and gave you a chance to win yet again.

The question that still lingers almost a week after: was that the tipping point for the Flyers? Was that black eye what finally pushed them off the cliff? If we’re status quo in April and we look back at when the wheels fell off for good, will that be what we point back to? Shake the orange and black Magic 8-ball right now and “all signs point to yes” will appear. And the proof was in how the Flyers responded in the next two games.

• Last week, I wrote that the 5-2 loss to Vancouver on Nov. 21 was the Flyers’ worst performance of the season. Well, ladies and gentlemen, we have an new leader in the clubhouse and it’s the dismal showing back home vs. San Jose on Tuesday night, just 24 hours after the meltdown in Pittsburgh.

After Claude Giroux scored just 48 seconds into the contest, the Flyers barely had a pulse for the next 59:12. The Sharks grabbed the game by the throat and the Flyers put up little resistance or pushback.

Yes, the Flyers were a tired team coming off a heartbreaking loss and the Sharks are a big, strong contender from the Western Conference. But still, the Flyers should have more than five measly third-period shots when trailing by two goals. The night was a breeze for Sharks goalie Aaron Dell, who had to make just 22 saves, and not many of the challenging variety.

Just not a good effort whatsoever. And more importantly, an awful response to adversity from the night before.

• The Flyers lost again Saturday, of course, to the Bruins, 3-0, and were shut out for the sixth time in 26 games. That marks the most in the league. But while the Bruins carried the game, the Flyers shouldn’t have been shut out as Giroux cleanly beat Tuukka Rask on the power play near the end of the second period to cut Boston’s lead to 3-1.

But not so fast, as the officials erased the tally for supposed goalie interference on Wayne Simmonds, who had cut in front of Rask and made contact with the Bruins’ netminder, according to the powers that be. And it was an egregiously terrible call by the powers that be.

Simmonds, who is entitled to his ice, barely grazed, if even touched Rask, who was inching out of his crease. That was and still is a good goal, except to the league, which has different rules and standards on different days. That move by Simmonds will be goalie interference one game and not even an afterthought the next. The lack of consistency is baffling. If you’re going to call it tight, call it tight all the time. If you’re going to let some things go, let those things go all the time.

The way the rule is enforced one game and period and play to the next is laughable, to be quite frank.

• Some curious lineup decisions by Dave Hakstol this week, benching young forwards Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier as healthy scratches and inserting veterans Dale Weise and Jori Lehtera into the lineup Monday in Pittsburgh and Tuesday vs. San Jose.

OK, a veteran presence is one thing. But it doesn’t help all that much when those veterans are giving you next to nothing right now. Weise has only two goals on the season and just one point in his last 14 games played. The stats are just as ugly for Lehtera, who has just two assists in 17 contests this season.

Yes, the scoresheet isn’t pretty for Weal or Leier, respectively. Weal, who was counted on coming into the season to provide a secondary scoring jolt in a top-six role, has just two goals and four assists on the campaign and is scoreless in his last 11 contests. Leier, pegged into a fourth-line role that isn’t asking for offense all the time, has a goal and two assists on the season.

But what those two guys do bring night in and night out is energy. And if there’s anything this Flyers team needs desperately right now, it’s an injection of energy. Those two guys should be playing every night.

• Funny (alright, maybe not so much in this case) how things can change over the course of a year. On Dec. 3 last season, the Flyers topped the Chicago Blackhawks to win their fourth of eventually 10 straight games. Fast forward a year and the Flyers are drowning in the quicksand that is this 10-game skid and morale is as low as has been in recent memory. "It's f----ing brutal," according to Shayne Gostisbehere. "Everything we touch right now turns to s--," explained Jake Voracek on Saturday.

Hey, nowhere to go but up, right?

Right?

Coming up this week: Monday at Calgary (9:00 p.m. on NBCSP+), Wednesday at Edmonton (9:30 p.m. on NBCSP), Thursday at Vancouver (10:00 p.m. on NBCSP).