Flyers

Best of NHL: Penguins strike quick in OT for win over Sabres

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Best of NHL: Penguins strike quick in OT for win over Sabres

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby ended a long goal drought and assisted on Conor Sheary's game-winner 16 seconds into overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Buffalo Sabres 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Crosby scored his sixth of the season, Sheary had a pair of goals and Patric Hornqvist added one for Pittsburgh. Phil Kessel got his eighth of the season and has goals in four straight games. Kessel, the team's leading scorer, has at least one point in five straight games -- and 16 of 20 this season.

Matt Murray made 28 saves for the Penguins, who won their sixth in a row at home. Pittsburgh is 12-0-1 in its last 13 games against the Sabres, including seven consecutive wins at home.

Pittsburgh, which lost six of its previous eight games, played 13 of its first 19 on the road, including six back-to-backs, and is 4-7-2 away from home. The Penguins play 13 of their next 19 at home, where they have won six of their last seven.

Jack Eichel also ended a scoring drought with his fifth goal of the season. Sam Reinhart, Benoit Pouliot and Evander Kane also scored for Buffalo.

Kane has 10 goals in 18 games this season. He's off to the best start of his career, topping his mark of 10 goals in 22 games during the 2011-12 season.

Robin Lehner made 40 saves for the Sabres, who lost for the sixth time in eight games and haven't won in Pittsburgh since April 2, 2013 (see full recap).

Ekholm, Fiala help Predators double up Capitals
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Mattias Ekholm and Kevin Fiala each had a goal and an assist to lead the streaking Nashville Predators past the Washington Capitals 6-3 on Tuesday night for their fifth straight victory.

Craig Smith, Nick Bonino, Filip Forsberg and Miikka Salomaki also scored for Nashville. Pekka Rinne made 26 saves, and 12 players had at least one point for the Predators.

T.J. Oshie scored twice and Alex Chiasson also had a goal for Washington, which had won two consecutive games.

Smith scored the first goal at 11:48 of the opening period. On a delayed penalty to the Capitals, he redirected Fiala's shot past Capitals goalie Braden Holtby for his sixth of the season.

The goal came on Nashville's 12th shot of the period. Washington had not registered a shot on Rinne to that point. The Predators ended the first with an 18-3 shots advantage.

Bonino made it 2-0 at 17:43. Standing just to Holtby's right side, Bonino tipped Roman Josi's wrister from the top of the left circle for his second goal of the season.

Bonino missed Nashville's previous 11 games with a lower-body injury (see full recap).

Werenski gives Blue Jackets overtime victory
MONTREAL -- Zach Werenski scored 1:09 into overtime, lifting the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Montreal Canadiens 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Josh Anderson had a goal 2:29 into the game for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 28 saves, allowing only a goal to Paul Byron early in the third period.

Charlie Lindgren, making his fifth consecutive start for Montreal, stopped 23 shots. Werenski beat him with a wrist shot to the roof of the net on his glove side.

Anderson got his team-leading seventh goal after Montreal's Brandon Davidson tipped Markus Nutivaara's point shot right to Anderson. He let the puck drop before batting it past Lindgren. Davidson was also at fault seconds earlier when Nutivaara intercepted his failed clearance at the blue line.

The goal came on Columbus' second shot of the game.

Byron, playing his 300th NHL game, came close to equalizing midway through the second period. With the Canadiens playing short-handed, Byron stole the puck from Seth Jones at the blue line and moved in alone on Bobrovsky, but the Blue Jackets goalie got his pad on the shot.

The Canadiens upped the pressure in the third period, but Bobrovsky was again up to the challenge (see full recap).

2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: Blues can advance to Cup Final with Game 6 win over Sharks

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2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs schedule, live stream: Blues can advance to Cup Final with Game 6 win over Sharks

Craig Berube and the Blues are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final.

They can earn that victory Tuesday night when they host the Sharks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final.

Including the playoffs, the Blues are 49-24-8 under Berube, who took over Nov. 19 as interim head coach.

For some context on the Blues' run, St. Louis visited the Wells Fargo Center Jan. 7 with the same number of points as the Flyers. The Blues were 29th in the NHL at 16-19-4 and 36 points, while the Flyers were 30th at 15-20-6 and 36 points.

St. Louis has never won a Cup, but it's on the verge of being one step closer to a title.

Below is the schedule for Day 39 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs. You can watch the entire playoffs on the networks of NBC. 

San Jose Sharks at St. Louis Blues (STL 3-2)
Game 6, Western Conference Final
8 p.m. ET | TV: NBCSN | Live stream here

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

If Alain Vigneault can't work his magic with Flyers' roster, pressure mounts for Chuck Fletcher

Chuck Fletcher was brought in because things weren't going well enough and quickly enough for the Flyers.

The predicament he inherited required eventual change.

After all, sitting alongside team president Paul Holmgren back in November, Comcast Spectacor chairman and CEO Dave Scott said the Flyers were eyeing a general manager with a "bias for action," among other qualities.

With time and evaluation, Fletcher has begun providing the desired action.

A new head coach is on board, bringing extensive experience and outside perspective, while two new assistants with strong pedigrees have been hired.

But perhaps the most influential part in shifting the Flyers' course has remained mostly intact: the roster. That could drastically change this upcoming offseason with free agency and potential trades. However, Fletcher, facing his first offseason as the Flyers' GM, doesn't see an exodus needed with the current roster — or at least not yet.

"The Flyers are a great opportunity. You guys are in this market, for me coming in from the outside, I know when Paul Holmgren approached me about being the general manager of the Flyers, I'm like, 'Wow.' This is a premium job in the National Hockey League and we're set up where we should have an opportunity to get better quickly," Fletcher said April 18. "I know we need more good players, but we have a lot of good players. It's not like you have to gut this thing — we have cap space, we have picks. We have really good staff, really good staff. On the scouting and management side, I've added one person, I haven't subtracted anything. There's a good group here and we have the ability to get better quickly if we all do our job."

Therein lies a poignant and undeniable pressure on Fletcher in Year 1 with the Flyers under Alain Vigneault's watch.

Aside from Wayne Simmonds, who became an inevitable piece to move given the circumstances, the Flyers' core has survived. So, too, has the overall makeup of the roster.

Fletcher, Vigneault and the Flyers believe this team can win with a refined system and different guidance. They don't exactly see a team that has missed the playoffs every other season since 2012-13, a stretch consisting of three first-round exits.

Will Fletcher add this summer? Of course — the ability to do so is one of the reasons why Vigneault found the Flyers as an attractive destination. When Fletcher was hiring Vigneault, the two established a list of areas in which the Flyers can improve.

"We're looking at some options and if we can put the right things in place," Vigneault said at his introduction, "it's going to be a lot of fun."

Significant subtraction was not featured on the list.

"There's some solid youth with a lot of upside here that is coming into its own," Vigneault said. "There's great goaltending, being one of those youth pieces. There's a solid core group that, in my mind, needs the right direction. And you've got the combination, also, of some solid veteran players that have been in the league a few years, that can still contribute at a high level in this league. … After discussing it with a lot of people that I respect their opinion in the NHL, I feel that the Flyers are a very good team that with the proper direction, proper mindset, proper culture and people working together, will be a very good team in the near future."

That's why Year 1 will be so telling.

Vigneault is a coach with a tremendous track record of winning during his first season on the job. He did so at three separate stops (see story). Michel Therrien has 38 postseason victories under his belt as a head coach and took a team to the Stanley Cup Final. Mike Yeo owns three playoff series victories as a head coach and has a ring as an assistant.

If this group can't produce the results with the Flyers' roster, Fletcher will have to take a longer, much more serious look at the players in place and make his hardest decisions yet.

At that point, it may be the only action left.

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