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Best of NHL: Ovechkin's hat trick leads Capitals to victory

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Best of NHL: Ovechkin's hat trick leads Capitals to victory

TORONTO — Alex Ovechkin had a hat trick to help the Washington Capitals beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Saturday night.

Ovechkin scored two of his three goals in the opening period for the Capitals. Jakub Vrana also scored, and Braden Holtby made 27 saves for his 13th victory of the season.

Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaitsev replied in the third period for Toronto. Curtis McElhinney stopped 17 shots.

Ovechkin opened the scoring when he skated with the puck through the neutral zone before taking a wrist shot from just outside the left face-off circle and beating McElhinney at 12:03. It was Ovechkin's 574th goal, which moved him past Mike Bossy for 21st on the career list (see full recap).

Gibbons scores in OT to lift Devils over Red Wings
DETROIT — Brian Gibbons scored with 2:28 remaining in overtime to give the New Jersey Devils a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.

The Devils squandered a 3-1 lead in the third period, but Gibbons was able to get his stick on a pass by Red Wings defenseman Nick Jensen and took control of the puck in front of the Detroit net. He beat Jimmy Howard for the game-winner, his 11th goal of the season.

David Booth scored twice for the Red Wings and Anthony Mantha started Detroit's third-period rally with his 11th goal of the season. Brian Boyle and Taylor Hall scored in the first period for New Jersey, and Nico Hischier added a goal in the third.

New Jersey moved past Columbus into first place in the Metropolitan Division. The Devils have points in four straight games and eight of nine (see full recap).

Price returns to make 36 saves, Canadiens top Sabres
MONTREAL — Carey Price made 36 saves in his return from a lower-body injury and the Montreal Canadiens beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-0 on Saturday night to snap a five-game losing streak.

Jeff Petry, Alex Galchenyuk and Paul Bryon scored. Montreal's last previous victory was against the Sabres two weeks ago.

Price missed 10 games with the injury. The shutout was his 40th in the NHL and first since Feb. 28, 2017.

Robin Lehner made 23 saves for the Sabres. They have lost eight of their last nine games.

Price had a shaky start to the season prior to getting hurt, but the 30-year-old looked like his old self Saturday. The goalie, whose specific injury was never disclosed, made key saves to keep his side in the game (see full recap).

Crosby, Kessel carry Penguins past Lightning
PITTSBURGH — Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel each scored twice and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2 on Saturday night to end a season-high three-game losing streak.

Tristan Jarry, making his first home start, stopped 33 shots for his first NHL win. He also assisted on the first goal of the game.

Pittsburgh hasn't lost four straight in regulation overall since Dec. 14-19, 2015, the first four games of coach Mike Sullivan's tenure. The Penguins, playing without injured star forward Evgeni Malkin, also ended a two-game home regulation losing streak.

Kessel also had two assists, and Crosby had one, fueling a Penguins offense that scored three power-play goals and added another short-handed. Kessel, with seven goals in his last nine games, scored his team-best 11th. Crosby, who has points in five of his last six, added his ninth (see full recap).

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

Flyers re-sign restricted free agent Anthony Stolarz

General manager Ron Hextall is nearly finished wrapping up contracts for his restricted free agents.

And his goalie picture is now clear for 2018-19.

The Flyers on Wednesday re-signed netminder Anthony Stolarz to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal is worth $761,250, according to a report by hockey writer John Hoven.

With Stolarz back, defenseman Robert Hagg remains the Flyers' lone restricted free agent.

Stolarz, a 2012 second-round pick, underwent a nightmarish 2017-18 season just a year after he made his NHL debut and performed well in seven games with the Flyers. The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his left knee during early September, the same injury he suffered at the end of 2016-17 with AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley.

He played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests as a result. In 2016-17, he made his way to the big club and put up a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in a small sample. Then the injury occurred with the Phantoms and it's been an uphill battle ever since for the 6-foot-6, 210-pounder.

Stolarz will have his work cut out for him — if he hasn't already — as playing time will be earned at Lehigh Valley with Alex Lyon back in the fold and Carter Hart joining them.

"It's just competition. No one is going to go in there and hand you a job, so you have to earn it,” Stolarz said in June after an on-ice workout at Flyers Skate Zone. "I think the thing for me is to prove I'm healthy. I don't think I've skated since the end of January. I had the one flare up before one of my games and it had nothing to do with my knee injury. It was a separate injury. I think the biggest thing is proving I'm healthy and going out there and working to prove I'm still a high-caliber goalie."

The Flyers' goaltending tandem is set with Brian Elliott and Michal Neuvirth, both of whom are in the final year of their contracts. Things obviously can change this offseason, as Neuvirth and Stolarz seemed like realistic trade candidates.

But as of now, it's Elliott and Neuvirth with the younger trio pushing and competing.

"I'd rather have too many goalies than too few," Hextall said earlier this month. "If something makes sense and we can make something happen, we'd at least look at it. We saw it last year. All of a sudden, a couple goalies go down and you're scrambling for goalies. If we start with five, we start with five. Not a perfect situation, but again, I'd rather start with five than with three."

More on the Flyers' goalies

• Following 'gloomy' time, what's next for Elliott?

• Why Neuvirth's NHL career hinges on this offseason

• Hart says so long to Twitter, hello to pro life

• No arbitration needed for Flyers and Lyon

• Sandstrom hungry to prove he's not the 'other' goalie

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goalie Ray Emery dies at 35

Former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery died Sunday morning. First responders pulled his body out of Hamilton Harbour, where he had been swimming with friends. An investigation into the cause of death is still ongoing. 

Emery was 35.

According to local authorities, Emery was checking out a friend’s boat docked at Royal Hamilton Yacht Club when the group he was with decided to jump in the water around 6:30 a.m. Emery’s body never surfaced and was eventually recovered around 2:50 p.m. Sunday afternoon. Hamilton police say Emery’s body was recovered in close proximity to where he was last seen.

Emery was last seen publicly with a handful of his former teammates Saturday night as the goaltender participated in Zac Rinaldo’s charity hockey game in Hamilton. Emery can be seen standing during the playing of “O Canada.”

"The Philadelphia Flyers are stunned and extremely saddened to hear of the tragic passing of former Flyers goaltender Ray Emery," president Paul Holmgren said in a statement from the team. "Ray was an outstanding teammate and an extremely gifted goaltender. He had exceptional athleticism, was a fierce competitor and battled in every game he played with the Flyers.

"His performances through the 2009-10 season were a very big part of the team's success in making the playoffs and reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Ray's talent, work ethic and determination helped him enjoy a successful 11-year NHL career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends during this difficult time."

Several of Emery’s former teammates over the years offered their condolences via Twitter after learning of the tragedy.

Former Flyer Daniel Carcillo shared the he was crushed by the news (NSFW).

Jakub Voracek also shared his condolences (NSFW).

Emery joined the Flyers in June 2009 on a one-year contract, shutting out the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 in his Flyers debut. The goaltender’s first stint in Philadelphia was cut short when he suffered a muscle tear in his abdomen in December missing the remainder of the season. Emery was later diagnosed with avascular necrosis — a degenerative condition to the bone tissue in his hip.

After undergoing successful surgery, Emery eventually joined the Ducks before winning a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2013. Impressively, Emery finished the regular season with a 17-1-0 record. He re-signed with the Flyers that summer as a backup to Steve Mason.

Emery’s most infamous moment in Philadelphia came during an ugly 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on November 1, 2013, as the Flyers netminder pummeled Caps goalie Braden Holtby during a line brawl in the early stages of the third period.

Emery faced criminal charges over a handful of off-the-ice incidents and altercations. Most recently, he was arrested for assault with a weapon in 2017 against former fiancé Keshia Chanté. 

Emery played a total of 287 NHL games, 88 with the Flyers.