A pair of sensational efforts for surging Maple Leafs

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A pair of sensational efforts for surging Maple Leafs

TORONTO -- Nazem Kadri had three goals and two assists, Frederik Andersen made a career-high 54 saves and the surging Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 on Wednesday night.

Patrick Marleau added a goal and two assists and Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist as Toronto closed out a perfect five-game hometand. It was Kadri's fourth career hat trick, and the five points set a career high.

The Blue Jackets recorded 50 or more shots for the third straight game, making them the first team to accomplish the feat in the post-expansion era (since 1967-68). Nick Foligno had a goal and two assists, and Joonas Korpisalo made 22 saves.

Toronto played much of the game without defenseman Jake Gardiner, who departed with a lower-body injury after one period. It was unclear when the injury occurred, but he took a hard slash to the legs from Matt Calvert.

The Maple Leafs had a 4-2 lead before Jack Johnson beat Andersen with a slap shot from the left circle that went off the post and into the net at 14:35 of the second. It was Johnson's third goal of the season.

Toronto then put it away with two in the third. Kadri got his 21st of the season at 11:21, and Marleau added an empty-netter with 1:47 left (see full recap).

Varlamov stops 43 shots to secure shutout
DENVER -- Semyon Varlamov made 43 saves for his first victory in more than a month and the Colorado Avalanche matched the franchise record of 10 straight home wins, beating he Montreal Canadiens 2-0 on Wednesday night.

Carl Soderberg and Alexander Kerfoot scored to help Colorado match the longest home winning streak in franchise history, set in 1994-95 when the team was the Quebec Nordiques.

Antti Niemi stopped 23 shots for Montreal. The Canadiens are 8-17-1 on the road.

Varlamov's last win came against Toronto on Dec. 29, and he left his next start against Winnipeg with a groin injury. He missed 10 games before returning against the Jets on Feb. 3.

Wednesday was his fourth since coming back and one of his best of the season. He denied the Canadiens on several chances in the third for his second shutout of the season.

With Montreal pressing for the equalizer late in the third, Kerfoot scored at 16:58 to give the Avalanche a two-goal cushion.

Colorado had more than two consecutive minutes of play in Montreal's end early in the second period but didn't score until Soderberg beat Niemi with a wraparound to make it 1-0 at 15:55 (see full recap).

Different roads meet for Flyers prospects Carter Hart, Anthony Stolarz

Different roads meet for Flyers prospects Carter Hart, Anthony Stolarz

VOORHEES, N.J. — The locker room designated for prospects at Flyers Skate Zone is starting to become bleak.

It's a natural occurrence as the days of preseason dwindle.

There wasn't much to see Saturday. With a small group of reporters hovering near a specific locker stall, a few prospects quipped about which player was being awaited.

"I've got 79 ideas," Anthony Stolarz said.

Carter Hart is No. 79. You get the joke.

Hart is the kid in net dominating the discussion of goalies, a beloved topic in Philadelphia — always. The noise is reaching a new pitch as injuries have hit Alex Lyon and Michal Neuvirth in a four-day span. Lyon (lower body) is out approximately four weeks, while Neuvirth remains a mystery. The oft-injured goalie had another issue crop up Friday and general manager Ron Hextall expects him to miss time, how much unknown.

Outside of Hart and Stolarz, Brian Elliott is the healthy goalie. And even he's coming off core muscle surgery last season and a summer of recovery.

Suddenly, the situation is breathing life into the notion of Hart cracking the roster at 20 years old.

Following a junior career full of accolades (see story), Hart owns the spotlight, one that has steadily grown ever since he was selected by the Flyers in the second round of the 2016 draft. He has stopped 45 of 47 shots during the preseason and is used to the attention, so he won't change much as the doorway widens.

"I haven't really looked at that," Hart said. "For me, just taking things day by day. For now, I'm just focusing on we have a preseason game on Monday. I'm not sure who's going to play or not, but you just have to be prepared. I have to come to the rink every day and be prepared for anything.

"Go with the flow, really."

Creeping into the spotlight is Stolarz, an outcast of sorts entering training camp. He played in just one AHL game and three ECHL contests last season because of a torn meniscus in his left knee suffered during early September.

He understands the outside perception of where he stands.

"[Lyon, Hart, Felix Sandstrom], they've had pretty good seasons and you miss the entire year, don't play any games, you're obviously going to get lost in the shuffle," Stolarz said. "But at the same time, it was more motivation for me to rehab and try to get back as soon as possible and show that I'm 100 percent and ready to go."

On Saturday, a new September represented a new Stolarz, who has made 51 saves on 57 shots throughout exhibition play. The 24-year-old looks refreshed and sounds confident. The challenge makes the climb back worth it.

"You get hurt right around training camp, you're obviously going to be a little upset, a little depressed," Stolarz said. "At first, it kind of took its toll seeing guys going back down to Allentown, guys making the big club. But I had a great support staff, my family, my teammates, Jimmy McCrossin, Sal Raffa, I worked with Jarrod Spencer, the mental coach with the Phantoms."

One of the positives Stolarz took out of the grind was going to "a ton of Flyers games," he said, getting the chance to watch and learn by studying other netminders like Carey Price and Pekka Rinne.

While he was doing so, Hart was on the ice, finishing a mastery of the junior level. They were in drastically different spots. Now, they're side by side with the same opportunity in sight.

And not just at Lehigh Valley.

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Flyers lose Danick Martel off waivers to Lightning, make more roster cuts

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Flyers lose Danick Martel off waivers to Lightning, make more roster cuts

VOORHEES, N.J. — Danick Martel will get his NHL shot.

It just won't be in orange and black.

Martel, who made his NHL debut with the Flyers last season over a four-game stint, was plucked off waivers Saturday by the Lightning.

Of all the players placed on waivers Friday across the league, Martel was the only one claimed. Cole Bardreau, T.J. Brennan, Greg Carey and Phil Varone all cleared and were assigned to AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley, along with Radel Fazleev.

Martel was an undrafted product in the organization. The speedy 5-foot-8, 162-pound winger put up nice numbers at the AHL level after a 102-point 2014-15 campaign (48 goals, 54 assists) at the junior level. He scored 20 or more goals in each of his three seasons with the Phantoms. Overall, he had 120 points in 199 games at Lehigh Valley, with a career-high 25 goals and plus-16 rating last season.

"He's a good player," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said Saturday after practice. "It's a good opportunity for him, he's worked hard and you hate to lose a player like that out of the organization, but that's the business."

If Martel has a future at the NHL level, it will be as a bottom-six forward. His diminutive size makes it difficult for him to fill such a role that requires a bit more physicality and defensive focus.

But the 23-year-old brings positional versatility and some dynamic scoring ability. The Flyers, however, have grown their forward depth significantly and Martel ultimately did not seem seriously in the picture.

How much Martel actually plays and how long he stays in Tampa Bay is a whole different question. He joins a Lightning team that finished the 2017-18 regular season with an Eastern Conference-best 113 points and fell one series victory shy of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

The Flyers' roster now stands at 35 and it must be trimmed to 23 by the Oct. 4 season opener.

Forwards (20)
Travis Konecny, RW, No. 11
Michael Raffl, RW, No. 12
Sean Couturier, C, No. 14
Jori Lehtera, C, No. 15
Wayne Simmonds, RW, No. 17
Nolan Patrick, C, No. 19
Taylor Leier, LW, No. 20
Scott Laughton, C, No. 21
Dale Weise, RW, No. 22
James van Riemsdyk, LW, No. 25
Claude Giroux, RW, No. 28
Corban Knight, C, No. 38
Tyrell Goulbourne, LW, No. 39
Jordan Weal, C, No. 40
Mikhail Vorobyev, C, No. 46
Oskar Lindblom, LW, No. 54
Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, No. 62
Pascal Laberge, C, No. 75
Carsen Twarynski, LW, No. 81
Jakub Voracek, RW, No. 93

Defensemen (10)
Radko Gudas, No. 3
Samuel Morin, No. 5
Travis Sanheim, No. 6
Robert Hagg, No. 8
Ivan Provorov, No. 9
Christian Folin, No. 26
Andrew MacDonald, No. 47
Shayne Gostisbehere, No. 53
Mark Friedman, No. 59
Philippe Myers, No. 61

Goaltenders (5)
Michal Neuvirth, No. 30
Alex Lyon, No. 34
Brian Elliott, No. 37
Anthony Stolarz, No. 41
Carter Hart, No. 79

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