Flyers

Best of NHL: Auston Matthews' legend grows with OT winner as Leafs top Canadiens

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USA Today Images

Best of NHL: Auston Matthews' legend grows with OT winner as Leafs top Canadiens

MONTREAL -- Auston Matthews scored his second goal of the game 48 seconds into overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on Saturday night.

Matthews finished a 2-on-1 counterattack with William Nylander, beating goalie Carey Price with a shot from the left circle for his fifth goal in five games.

James van Riemsdyk and Patrick Marleau also scored for Toronto, which ended a 14-game winless run against Montreal dating to January 2014.

Jeff Petry, Alex Galchenyuk and Jonathan Drouin scored for the Canadiens (see full recap).

Kucherov scores in 5th straight game, Lightning beat Blues
TAMPA, Fla. -- Nikita Kucherov became the first Tampa Bay player to score in each of the first five games of a season, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 28 saves and the Lightning beat the St. Louis Blues 2-1 on Saturday night.

Tyler Johnson also scored for the Lightning, who have won four of five.

Vladimir Tarasenko got his fourth goal and Jake Allen stopped 25 shots for St. Louis, which has lost two in a row following a season-opening four-game winning streak.

Kucherov made it 2-0 on a backhander at 6:27 of the third.

Tarasenko got the Blues with 2-1 with 3:23 to play. He has seven goals and nine points in nine games against Tampa Bay (see full recap).

Crosby scores twice, leads Penguins past Panthers
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored two goals, including a bad-angle deflection in the third period to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins past the Florida Panthers 4-3 on Saturday night.

Crosby has three goals this season. Patric Hornqvist and Greg McKegg also scored for the Penguins, who are 8-0-2 in their last 10 games against the Panthers -- their longest stretch without a regulation loss in the history of the series.

McKegg, who scored his first goal for Pittsburgh, spent time with the Panthers the last two seasons, compiling eight points in 46 games and appearing in a playoff game in 2016.

Matt Murray stopped 43 shots for Pittsburgh. He earned his 44th win, tying Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford for 10th in team history.

Jonathan Huberdeau scored twice and Aaron Ekblad also had a goal for Florida. Evgeni Dadonov added two assists for the Panthers, unable to win a third straight game (see full recap).

Ehlers gets 5th goal, lifts Jets over Hurricanes
WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Nikolaj Ehlers scored his team-leading fifth goal during the third period to lift the Winnipeg Jets over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1 on Saturday night.

Ehlers took a feed from captain Blake Wheeler and wired a shot from the high slot over the stick-side shoulder of goalie Scott Darling 6:03 into the third. Winnipeg won its third straight after an 0-2 start.

Bryan Little also scored for the Jets.

Jeff Skinner had a power-play goal for Carolina.

On the winner, Wheeler had the puck in the corner and waited for Ehlers to skate himself open. Ehlers, skating backward through the slot from Darling's right to his left, took the pass and caught the new Hurricanes goaltender going the wrong way, sniping a perfect wrist shot into the corner (see full recap).

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

How much will Flyers change? Another summer is here for Ron Hextall

This is a peculiar time for Ron Hextall.

In one facet, it's his time, precious for a build-from-within disciple who must feel like a kid on Christmas when the NHL draft arrives.

Then again, it's a weird time. Shortly after the Flyers' general manager unwraps his gifts and adds them to the toy bin, NHL free agency hits. Not a time when Hextall likes to play. Quickly, Christmas turns into the first day of school.

It's that time of year again for Hextall. The question is, have the times changed for the GM?

With the Flyers entering Year 4 under Dave Hakstol and looking to take the next step forward, some wonder if Hextall is ready to make free agency his new time. After all, much of the organization's youth is here and contributing, the core isn't getting any younger and the Flyers have more financial wiggle room — thanks to Hextall — with $17.2 million in cap space, according to CapFriendly.com.

But if Hextall's vision was ever in danger of shifting, an expansion team's marvelous story lent credence to his plan, reinforcing the belief in the way he operates and constructs his own hockey team.

When asked Thursday about the constant chatter regarding his core's clock and the team's youthfulness catching up to it, Hextall spoke with conviction and at length.

"They might have different roles; you almost might not depend on them quite as much because your younger guys are coming up and taking a bigger piece of the pie," Hextall said. "So all of a sudden you don't need one guy scoring 85 points, he can score 75 points or 70 points because we've got these kids coming up that are scoring more and more. 

"That's how you build a team. You don't build a team by having three top players and they go out every power play and they win you games. It's just not the way it works. You saw — Vegas is a good example. They were the best team in the league. Not the best talent, they were the best team. Teams still win. Teams still win. And that's what we've got to continue to build."

So if you were hoping Hextall was tinkering with the thought of making a free-agent splash, think again. He will stick to his guns and always has, constantly stressing the importance of never deviating from the course set at the journey's start.

None of which is to think Hextall won't utilize free agency to improve. He will make additions strategically and judiciously, but doling out money and years to a stud won't happen.

And the moment Hextall reaffirmed his M.O., the pressure picked up.

On all levels.

On Hextall's faith in Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and the mainstays delivering star-like production.

On the young foundation pieces taking heftier strides to lighten the loads for the veterans.

On the scouting and development personnel finding and molding game-changing talent.

And on the confluence of Hextall's motives and ultimate goal.

"We are still the ultimate team sport and I think Vegas proved that to all of us this year. The more we move along here, the more society, pro sports seem to put a spotlight on a star, and that's fine, but that star has got to have his teammates in our sport or you're not going to win," Hextall said. "You look at Washington, they had a lot of really good players in the playoffs. Devante Smith-Pelly. Do they win without Devante Smith-Pelly? A couple guys get all the credit but look what this guy did. We are still the ultimate team sport, we really are."

The ultimate test will be the Flyers proving it themselves.

More on the Flyers

2018 NHL draft profile: Rasmus Sandin, a defenseman Flyers should know and like

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Terry Wilson/OHL Images

2018 NHL draft profile: Rasmus Sandin, a defenseman Flyers should know and like

In the weeks leading up to the 2018 NHL draft, we're providing prospect profiles and how those players would fit with the Flyers, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 14 and 19.

The NHL draft takes place June 22-23 at American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Flyers have nine picks with two in the first, fifth and seventh rounds and one in the second, fourth and sixth. They do not own a third-rounder as it went to the Detroit Red Wings for Petr Mrazek. The 14th pick conveyed from the Brayden Schenn trade. The final details were Schenn to the St. Louis Blues for Jori Lehtera, a 2017 first-round pick (Morgan Frost) and the 14th pick.

Our prospect profiles will touch mostly on prospects projected to go in the 10-20 range but some may require the Flyers having to trade up to select. We’ll identify those prospects.

Rasmus Sandin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 185
Shoots: Left
Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

Scouting report
The Swedish blueliner is a slick skater who looks like a pro with the puck on his stick. The 18-year-old sees the ice extremely well and can shoot and pass with precision.

As good as he is handling the puck, Sandin is also adept without it. He exploits gaps in the opposition's defense and attacks the net when the opportunity is ripe to create more offensive chances instead of simply floating around the perimeter.

His decision to come to North America and play for the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds did wonders in his vital draft year. Sandin's plus-35 rating was best among all OHL rookies, while his 12 goals, 33 assists and 45 points over 51 regular-season games led all first-year defensemen. He also had a strong postseason with 13 points (one goal, 12 assists) in 24 contests.

Sandin isn't the biggest or quickest skater, but he makes up for it in many other ways.

Fit with Flyers
General manager Ron Hextall said the Flyers need to "restock a little bit" on defense given their previous prospects are either with the big club or flirting with making the NHL jump.

"I would be shocked if we don't draft a couple of defensemen," Hextall said Thursday.

Sandin could be an option at both Nos. 14 and 19. He projects to go in that range or possibly a tad later. Hextall's staff likely saw a good bit of Sandin while checking in on Flyers prospect Frost's 112-point season with the Greyhounds.

So Sandin has had the eyes of the Flyers and will have them watching on draft night as defensemen start going off the board.

More on the 2018 NHL draft

Profile: Ryan Merkley

• Profile: Dominik Bokk

• Profile: Noah Dobson

• Profile: Rasmus Kupari

• Profile: Martin Kaut

• Profile: Grigori Denisenko

• Profile: Jesperi Kotkaniemi

• Profile: Serron Noel

• Profile: Joel Farabee

• Profile: Barrett Hayton

• Profile: Isac Lundestrom

• Profile: Joseph Veleno

• Profile: Vitali Kravtso