Flyers

Streaking Flames scorching everything in sight

uspresswire-flames-team-celebrate.jpg
USA Today Images

Streaking Flames scorching everything in sight

TAMPA, Fla. -- Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist, Mike Smith made 33 saves, and the Calgary Flames beat the NHL-leading Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1 on Thursday night for their fifth straight victory.

Micheal Ferland, Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski and Matthew Tkachuk also scored to help the Flames improve to 11-5-4 on the road. Gaudreau has nine assists and 10 points during a five-game points streak.

Brayden Point scored for Tampa Bay.

The Lightning lost All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman midway through the second with a lower-body injury.

Hedman was hit on side of his left knee during a collision with Calgary's Garnet Hathaway and needed assistance to the locker room. In Tuesday night's game against Carolina, Hedman could not put any weight on his left skate heading to the bench with three minutes left in the second but returned two minutes later.

Ferland opened the scoring 29 seconds into the game during a 2-on-1 off a pass from Sean Monahan. Ferland added an assist and has a four-game points streak (four goals, eight points), while Monahan has points in five straight (five assists, eight points) (see full recap).

Hurricanes beat Caps on day team sale is finalized
WASHINGTON -- Victor Rask broke a tie on a delayed penalty with 9:06 left to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on Thursday night, hours after the team's sale to Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon was finalized.

Rask's 11th goal of the season came with goalie Scott Darling pulled for the extra attacker after Tom Wilson was whistled for a penalty. The puck pinballed off several players in front and went to Rask at the side of the net.

By improving to 9-7-8 in one-goal games, Carolina leapfrogged the idle Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins to move into a playoff position after 42 games. Winger Justin Williams, who left Washington after two seasons, said the difference between the Capitals being in first place in the Metropolitan Division and the Hurricanes down the standings was success in tight games.

Co-captain Jordan Staal also scored and Sebastian Aho added an empty-netter for Carolina, which got 26 saves from Darling. Lars Eller scored and Braden Holtby stopped 30 of 32 shots for Washington, which had its five-game winning streak and NHL-best 11-game home winning streak snapped.

It's the Capitals' first home loss since Nov. 30 (see full recap).

Okposo, Sabres snap 5-game losing skid
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Kyle Okposo had a goal and assist, and the Buffalo Sabres snapped a five-game skid with a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Benoit Pouliot and Jack Eichel, with an empty-netter with 6 seconds left, also scored. Linus Ullmark stopped 44 shots in his first NHL game of the season.

Ullmark stopped the first 39 shots he faced before having his shutout bid foiled on Artemi Panarin's power-play goal with 6:15 remaining.

The Sabres ended an 0-4-1 skid and won in regulation for the first time in nine games. Buffalo's last victory was a 4-2 win over Philadelphia on Dec. 22.

The Blue Jackets had a two-game win streak snapped and failed to complete their sweep of a three-game season series against Buffalo. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots, but had little chance in stopping either of the two goals he allowed (see full recap).

It's back to school for Flyers prospect Noah Cates

philadephia_flyers_noah_cates_development_camp.jpg
Philadelphia Flyers

It's back to school for Flyers prospect Noah Cates

Noah Cates became a hit in high school.

His first year after graduation, though, he didn't exactly mind being away from the classroom. From Stillwater, Minnesota, Cates traveled south to Omaha, Nebraska, for a full season of USHL hockey with the Lancers.

A nice, little perk to the decision?

"No school that year for me, so that was fun just to play hockey," Cates said with a smile three weeks ago at Flyers development camp. "Develop, work on everything."

Despite not hitting the books, Cates, a 2017 fifth-round draft pick of the Flyers, learned a lot, gaining a knowledge base he'll use moving forward.

Because it's back to school.

In mid-to-late August, the 19-year-old is headed to the University of Minnesota Duluth to continue his education and hockey career with the 2018 national champions, where he'll be joined by his older brother Jackson Cates.

"Very excited," the younger Cates said.

A year away from home to prepare for the college hockey life did Cates well. He grew on and off the ice, which built confidence — especially important ahead of development camp, a world junior summer showcase and his freshman season.

"Just how to be a pro, show up every day," Cates said. "It's a long season but you have to be consistent — that was a big part for me. Consistently, doing the right thing, day in and day out.

"It's all about confidence. If you're confident you can play with those guys and that your body can hold up, you can do it. That's just a big part of it and what I developed this year."

Cates, a left winger with a true offensive skill set, came on strong after a feeling-out start to the season in which he totaled 14 points (six goals, eight assists) over his first 22 games. From then on, he broke out for 41 points (15 goals, 26 assists) in his final 38 contests, finishing second on the Lancers with 55 points (21 goals, 34 assists) in 60 games, while posting a plus-21 rating. 

"Second-half league for me, just got more comfortable with the team, the coaches, the league," Cates said. "The team did well, so I kind of fit in, did my part."

The offense has always been a part of Cates' game. Beyond the statistics, what truly stood out from the 2017-18 season was the added strength to his 6-foot-1 frame. Cates weighed 165 pounds at 2017 development camp. He said he started the year with Omaha at 170. Impressively, by season's end, he was a solid 180 to 185.

"That was a big part, how I progressed throughout the season," Cates said. "That was my main goal going there to step into college hockey and get ready to play against those older guys, so it was a really good season in that case."

Cates will now take his next test — back in class and on the ice.

More on the Flyers

Nolan Patrick selected as No. 1 breakout player for 2018-19 by NHL Network

usa_nolan_patrick.jpg
USA Today Images

Nolan Patrick selected as No. 1 breakout player for 2018-19 by NHL Network

Nolan Patrick's rookie season can be split into two halves, but his performance down the stretch has caught the attention of one national pundit.

NHL Network analyst Mike Johnson, who played 12 years in the league, selected Patrick as his No. 1 breakout player for the 2018-19 season during Friday night's "NHL Tonight."

Johnson scored 375 points in 661 NHL games from 1996-2008 and last played in the league during the 2007-08 campaign with the St. Louis Blues.

Behind Johnson's reasoning for picking Patrick as his No. 1 breakout player was the Flyers' center's two-way instincts, ability to finish, size and a full summer of training ahead of him.

"We know his injury history, his lack of proper training, his lack of ability to hit the gym properly," Johnson said, "and he's still strong on the wall. That's only going to get better as he matures physically."

For what it's worth, Connor McDavid was NHL Network's No. 1 breakout candidate for the 2017-18 season — that was a bit of a softball.

As for Patrick, the center joined "NHL Tonight" on Friday to discuss the honor and also provide an update on how his summer is going.

"Coming off that surgery last year," Patrick said, "I had a slow start. It took a while to get my body back to where I wanted it to be. I missed two summers of training. It's been the first summer for me in a while that I've been back in the gym."

Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, finished with 13 goals and 30 points in 73 regular-season games. He missed nine games in October and November because of a concussion and spent most of the first half of the season getting his mobility back after undergoing offseason abdominal surgery. In fact, he's lost his past two summers of training because of surgery.

Prior to his final junior season and his draft year, Patrick underwent sports hernia surgery. Then 10 days before the Flyers drafted him, he went under the knife again.

Now he's fully healthy and has a full summer of training.

"First time I can get after it," Patrick said during the team's exit interviews in April (see story). "It's going to be a big summer for me. I'm not satisfied with how the year was or how my year was, so I'm looking to take big steps here."

Once Patrick began feeling healthier, he started getting a bigger role with the Flyers. He was elevated to the team's second-line center and stuck. He also found a role on the power play.

The 19-year-old posted 17 points in the final 25 games, which translates to a respectable 0.68 points per game clip and 55 points over an 82-game schedule. Not too bad for a rookie who couldn't actually train during his previous two offseasons.

"My coaches pushed me throughout the year. Then they gave me more opportunity," Patrick told the NHL Network. "Jake Voracek was huge for me. He thinks the game so well. The puck protection that guy has, you just got to get open for him.

"I think my body also just felt better as the year went on. I kind of took a while to get my skating legs there, so I think in the second half, I had a little more pep in my step."

More on the Flyers