Flyers

Best of NHL: Bruins, Maple Leafs win to further dent Flyers' playoff hopes

Best of NHL: Bruins, Maple Leafs win to further dent Flyers' playoff hopes

BOSTON -- David Krejci scored after a poor clearing attempt by Florida goaltender Reto Berra, lifting the Boston Bruins over the Panthers 5-2 Saturday and helping them maintain an edge for a playoff spot heading into the regular season's final week.

Patrice Bergeron scored twice, Brad Marchand got his team-leading 39th goal and Noel Acciari also scored for the Bruins, who moved one point ahead of Toronto for third in the Atlantic Division. The Maple Leafs played later Saturday.

Boston entered the day with a three-point lead over Tampa Bay for the Eastern Conference's last wild-card spot.

Jaromir Jagr recorded his 765th career goal and Thomas Vanek also scored for the Panthers, who lost for the 11th time in 15 games and were eliminated from playoff contention earlier this week.

Krejci capitalized on the gaffe by Berra, moving Boston ahead 3-2 with 5:30 left in the second period. The goalie came far out of the crease, but his clearing pass from the right circle caromed off the boards directly to Krejci, who fired the puck into the empty net (see full recap).

Matthews leads Leafs past Red Wings
DETROIT -- Auston Matthews scored twice to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs past the Detroit Red Wings 5-4 on Saturday night.

Matthews' second goal of the night at 18:51 of the third period gave Toronto a 5-3 lead, but proved to be the winner when Detroit's Mike Green tallied with 44.2 seconds left in regulation.

With two goals and an assist, Matthews tied Peter Ihnacak's Leafs rookie points record of 66, set in 1982-83.

James Van Riemsdyk scored with 2:36 left in the third period to snap the 3-3 tie and put the Leafs ahead for good. Van Riemsdyk slipped a backhander past Detroit's Jimmy Howard.

Mitchell Marner and William Nylander also scored for the Leafs, who moved into a second-place tie in the Atlantic Division with Ottawa.

Gus Nyquist, Nick Jenson and Niklas Kronwall had the other goal for the Red Wings (see full recap).

Lightning fall to Habs in OT but earn critical point
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Alexander Radulov scored 51 seconds into overtime to lift the Montreal Canadiens to a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

Phillip Danault also scored and Carey Price stopped 21 shots for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Radulov scored from the right circle on the game-winner.

Yanni Gourde scored for the Lightning and Andrei Vasilevskiy had 34 saves.

Gourde got a goal in his third straight game, coming on a redirection of Victor Hedman's shot tying it at 1 at 11:38 of the third. The forward has four goals in 17 career games.

Danault put a back-hander past Vasilevskiy with 5:36 left in the second to open the scoring after Hedman lost the puck near the Lightning net. Max Pacioretty got his 200th assist with Montreal on Danault's goal (see full recap).  

Stars blank Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Jason Spezza scored, Kari Lehtonen earned his third shutout of the season and the Dallas Stars beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-0 on Saturday night.

John Klingberg and Devin Shore added empty-netters and Lehtonen stopped 25 shots in his second shutout in six starts to help the Stars snap a two-game losing streak and deal a serious blow to the Hurricanes' already slim playoff chances.

Cam Ward stopped 21 shots for Carolina, which began four points behind Boston for the East's final playoff spot with six games left and Tampa Bay between the teams.

The Hurricanes failed to earn a point for the first time since losing at Colorado on March 7 -- a club-record stretch of 13 straight games with either a win or an overtime loss. They fell to 2-4-2 against the bottom four teams in the Western Conference: Dallas, Vancouver, Arizona and Colorado (see full recap).

It's back to school for Flyers prospect Noah Cates

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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.

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

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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."

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