Flyers

Best of NHL: League-best Lightning dispatch of Sharks

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Best of NHL: League-best Lightning dispatch of Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Vladislav Namestnikov had two goals, Nikita Kucherov scored his 15th of the season and the Tampa Bay Lightning ended San Jose's four-game winning streak by beating the Sharks 5-1 on Wednesday night.

Jake Dotchin got his first career goal and Slater Koekkoek also scored for the Lightning (12-2-2), who lead the NHL standings with 26 points.

Steven Stamkos had three assists for Tampa Bay. Kucherov added two and Namestnikov had one as all three players finished with three points. Stamkos (28 points) and Kucherov (26) rank 1-2 in the league in scoring.

Joonas Donskoi scored for the Sharks, who allowed five goals for the third time this season. They gave up a total of six during their winning streak.

Donskoi scored 25 seconds into the game as the Sharks peppered Andrei Vasilevskiy with a myriad of shots before Donskoi found a hole.

Vasilevskiy was a wall the rest of the way, stopping 32 shots on the night. Sharks starter Martin Jones allowed four goals on 21 shots and was pulled after two periods (see full recap).

Vesey, Rangers top Bruins for 5th straight win
NEW YORK -- Jimmy Vesey scored two first-period goals 29 seconds apart, Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves and the New York Rangers beat the Boston Bruins 4-2 on Wednesday night for their fifth straight win.

Pavel Buchnevich and Rick Nash also scored for the resurgent Rangers, who improved to 8-7-2 despite losing seven of their first eight games.

David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron had the goals for Boston.

The Rangers came out strong against their old rivals, outshooting the Bruins 16-7 in the opening period and scoring three times. The Bruins had the better of play in the scoreless second, with a 13-8 shots advantage.

New York led 3-1 heading into the third period before Bergeron cut the margin to one at 6:44 with his third goal of the season. Lundqvist was able to hold off the Bruins before Nash scored into an empty net with 7.7 seconds left (see full recap).

Matthews-less Maple Leafs defeat Wild
TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen made 35 saves to help the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on Wednesday night.

Nazem Kadri, Patrick Marleau, Connor Carrick and Connor Brown scored for Toronto. Playing with star center Auston Matthews out day to day with an upper-body injury, Toronto improved to 10-7-0.

Jason Zucker scored twice for Minnesota, and Devan Dubnyk stopped 15 shots. The Wild have lost three in a row to fall to 5-7-2.

Toronto coach Mike Babcock shifted Marleau to the middle with Matthews out. Matthews was scratched for the first time since being drafted in 2016, playing in 98 straight games including all 82 last year in his Calder Trophy winning campaign (see full recap).

Are Flyers next? How Carter Hart won over his junior GM

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Zack Hill/Philadelphia Flyers

Are Flyers next? How Carter Hart won over his junior GM

Carter Hart approached Garry Davidson with a message.

For that brief moment, Davidson didn't have to answer his phone, hang up and then wonder.

The general manager's decision was made — and by the teenager who sought him out like a 30-year-old pro.

"Had he not come in and pushed those buttons," Davidson said, "who knows what I would have done."

The Everett Silvertips' 2016-17 season had just ended in the second round of the WHL playoffs. Davidson, the team's GM, was fielding trade call after trade call regarding his goalie.

It felt like everyone wanted a piece of Hart's final go-around in junior hockey.

"In the offseason this time last year, I was already being approached by several teams," Davidson said last week in a phone interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia. "'Would you move Hart?' There were probably six, seven teams that came after us. As a GM, I had to weigh everything out to see how it might work out."

Until Hart, the Flyers' exciting goalie prospect, had a word with him.

Hart was an eighth-round Bantam draft pick of Everett at 14 years old before he signed his WHL educational contract at 15. He eventually turned himself into a record-setting junior goalie and wanted Davidson to know he had goals of finishing what they started.

"Carter came to me and said, 'Hey, I'd love to do something here with my team and my teammates,'" Davidson said. "He came in at 15 and didn't play obviously a lot but was around at 15 and then a regular member at 16 when he was allowed to stay here. When he came in and we had that discussion, then I dug in and tried to see what I could do to make us better."

Hart's plea and the circumstances offered revealing aspects of exactly why the 19-year-old has Flyers fans giddily awaiting his arrival. The competition after Hart's services speaks volumes about his ability in net; yet maybe even more impressive was the loyalty to his team and the maturity behind it.

"That's one of the big things that Carter has always been, old for his years," Davidson said. "He's all about doing things, day in and day out, the right way."

Davidson never imagined what Hart ultimately became.

But he saw the makeup.

"I always liked Carter because I thought he was athletic but I always liked his composure," Davidson said. "He played with a confidence and not on emotion.

"We had a pretty good goalie here, so we just signed [Hart] and said he'll be our No. 2 guy. He came in here at 16 and a month in he sat in my office and said, 'You know what, I think I can be the best goalie here and I'm going to prove it to you.' Not in a cocky way, but just in a confident way. And subsequently he went on to do that."

In more ways than one.

The Flyers' 2016 second-round draft pick became the first goaltender to win the Del Wilson Memorial Trophy (WHL's top goalie) three times, while his 26 career shutouts are tied for the most in Canadian Hockey League history. His WHL-leading 1.60 goals-against average and .947 save percentage this season make him a favorite to win CHL Goalie of the Year for the second time, something no netminder has ever done. He also rewarded Davidson by leading the Silvertips to the 2018 WHL Final, where they lost in six games to the Swift Current Broncos.

While all the accolades surprised Davidson, the success didn't. Not with a kid as detail-oriented as Hart, who with time, grew into his body at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds.

"He made a comment in our exit meeting the other day, 'Oh, we went out last night and I really actually enjoyed a double-patty burger,' and a whole bunch of foods that he wouldn't normally eat," Davidson said with a laugh. "Because he takes care of every aspect — his rest, his eats, his diet, his off-ice workouts. But that's Carter."

Hart's game will test the pro ranks in 2018-19 as he turns 20 years old in August. Given the big club's situation, a season in the AHL seems more than likely.

"That's a decision the Flyers are going to make," Davidson said, advising patience. "It's also a decision Carter will make because it'll depend on his performance and what he does between now and the start of the NHL season in October."

Long odds or not, Hart already has one thing going for him.

He knows how to make a GM believe.

Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

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Samuel Morin's future with Flyers grows murkier with torn ACL

Samuel Morin is taking the long and winding road to the NHL, one that’s now more rugged and elongated than ever.

The Flyers confirmed Thursday that Morin tore the ACL in his right knee when his skate caught a rut on the ice in Charlotte while he was attempting to check an opponent. The injury took place in the first period of the Phantoms' epic five-overtime game against the Checkers two weeks ago.

General manager Ron Hextall told the Courier-Post's Dave Isaac that Morin is facing a nine-month recovery process and that the 6-7 defenseman is “probably out until February” as he recovers from surgery — which Morin will undergo sometime in the near future.

Morin’s 2018-19 season will now be spent rehabbing from injury and utilizing what’s left of the regular season working his way back with the Phantoms.   

The Flyers' 2013 first-round pick is also a restricted free agent after playing out the final year of his three-year entry-level contract. In the five years since he was drafted, Morin has suited up for just three NHL games. 

Expect the two sides to reach an agreement on a one- or- two-year extension rather easily since Morin doesn’t have much leverage in negotiations at this point. Since Morin signed his rookie deal at the age of 18, he also had a five-year (or 160-game) waiver exemption that has now expired.

In other words, the Flyers will no longer have the luxury of shuttling Morin back and forth from Lehigh Valley without exposing him to the rest of the league if they attempt to send him back to the minors.

The Flyers have no choice but to give Morin the necessary time to ensure he’s not only ready physically, but also that his game can be trusted at the NHL level.  

Hextall has preached patience in the deliberate development of the organization’s prospects.

Right now, Samuel Morin is the poster child for that process.