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Malkin lifts Penguins past Bruins in high-scoring thriller

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Malkin lifts Penguins past Bruins in high-scoring thriller

PITTSBURGH -- Evgeni Malkin got his second goal of the game at 2:51 of overtime to rally the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-5 victory over the Boston Bruins on Sunday night.

Phil Kessel set up Malkin, who one-timed a shot over Tuukka Rask's pad during a 2-on-1.

Malkin and Kessel scored power-play goals in regulation, while Kris Letang, Jamie Oleksiak and Riley Sheahan also scored for Pittsburgh. The Penguins, coming off a 4-0 win at the New York Islanders on Friday, got consecutive victories for the first time since Dec. 1-2 when they defeated Buffalo twice by a combined score of 9-1. The Penguins, who have just six wins in their last 11 games, moved into the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, but are one point from last place in the Metropolitan Division.

Sidney Crosby had three assists after getting a season-high four points against the Islanders. Crosby, with points in five straight against Boston, had four points in 11 games before the last two.

Matt Murray stopped all six shots he faced in relief of Tristan Jarry, who made 14 saves on 19 shots before he was pulled after the Bruins' fifth goal (see full recap).

Forsberg makes 32 saves as Blackhawks beat Oilers
CHICAGO -- Anton Forsberg made 32 saves, Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat scored in the first period, and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the slumping Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Sunday.

Brandon Saad and Jordan Oesterle also scored for the Blackhawks, who got their first home win since a 4-1 victory against Minnesota on Dec. 17. Jonathan Toews extended his point streak to four games.

It was Forsberg's first win since Nov. 11 and just the second of his first season in Chicago. Forsberg had been the backup all year, but his role had come into question after Jeff Glass came up the minors and played well with starter Corey Crawford sidelined by an upper-body injury.

Edmonton has dropped six of seven, including a 5-1 loss at Dallas on Saturday. The Oilers have been outscored 20-3 in their last five games (see full recap).

Islanders down Devils in shootout
NEW YORK -- Brock Nelson scored the only goal in the shootout to lift the New York Islanders over the New Jersey Devils 5-4 on Sunday.

The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Islanders, who trailed 4-2 early in the third period.

Nelson beat Devils netminder Cory Schneider in the fifth round of the shootout.

Jaroslav Halak made 42 saves for the Islanders.

The Devils lost their fifth straight before both teams start a league-mandated five-day break.

Cal Clutterbuck and rookie Sebastian Aho tied the game with third-period goals after Miles Wood and Taylor Hall had given the Devils a 4-2 lead early in the period.

Clutterbuck's tying goal came at 15:43 after Aho narrowed the deficit to 4-3 with his first career goal at 7:58. Aho's power-play score was assisted by John Tavares and Mathew Barzal, who leads all rookies with 26 assists (see full recap).

Anderson lifts Blue Jackets past Panthers in shootout
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Josh Anderson scored the deciding goal in the eighth round of the shootout, lifting the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stopped Jared McCann's attempt to secure the win for the Blue Jackets, who also got goals from Artemi Panarin and Jack Johnson in the tiebreaker. Aleksander Barkov, who tied the score with 1:34 left in the third period, and Mike Matheson scored in the shootout for Florida.

Nick Foligno and rookie Pierre-Luc Dubois scored power-play goals for Columbus -- just the second time this season the NHL's worst man-advantage unit has come through twice, and both against Florida. Bobrovsky, who took an errant stick under his chin in the final period, had 42 saves through overtime to help the Blue Jackets win for just the fourth time in 11 games (4-6-1).

Jonathan Huberdeau also scored for the Panthers and James Reimer stopped 46 shots. Florida has lost three straight after a five-game winning streak to close December (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Capitals' top line dominates in win over Blackhawks

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Best of NHL: Capitals' top line dominates in win over Blackhawks

WASHINGTON -- Tom Wilson had two goals and two assists and Alex Ovechkin had a goal and three assists in the Washington Capitals' 6-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Nicklas Backstrom ended a 21-game stretch without a goal and added two assists, and Washington's top-line trio each scored a goal in the first period when the Capitals opened a 3-0 lead. Backstrom hadn't scored since Oct. 14 in Philadelphia, matching the longest drought of his career.

Braden Holtby made 37 saves for Washington to help the Capitals win for the sixth time in seven games. Brett Connolly scored in his third straight game, and Evgeny Kuznetsov added a goal. Wilson had his first four-point game, and Ovechkin also extended his goals streak to three games.

Lance Bouma and Jonathan Toews scored for Chicago. The Blackhawks are 0-3-2 in their last five (see full recap).

Andersen makes 47 saves in Maple Leafs’ SO win
TORONTO -- Frederik Andersen made 47 saves in regulation and overtime and stopped three more shots in a shootout in the Toronto Maple Leafs' 2-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.

William Nylander scored the winner in the fourth round of the shootout, deking to the backhand to beat Mike Smith.

Morgan Rielly scored in regulation for the Maple Leafs. Toronto improved to 18-10-1 and moved into second place in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Tampa Bay.

Mark Giordano scored for Calgary, and Smith stopped 28 shots. The Flames have dropped three in a row.

Calgary had control early when Toronto's Matt Martin went to the box midway through the first period. Giordano made Martin pay for his hooking penalty when his wrist shot from the point went through traffic and beat Andersen midway through the first.

Later in the period, Martin checked Troy Brouwer into the boards between the benches, leading to a brief scrum. Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk appeared to spear Martin from the bench while the altercation ensued, but it went undetected by officials (see full recap).

Henrique shines in home debut in Ducks’ shutout
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Adam Henrique scored his first two goals for the Ducks in his home debut, and Ryan Miller made 29 saves for his first shutout for Anaheim in a 3-0 victory over the slumping Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.

Ondrej Kase also scored, and Henrique added an empty-netter to his second-period opening goal as the Ducks snapped a three-game losing streak, largely controlling a matchup of two conference finalists from last season.

Miller, the 37-year-old veteran signed by Anaheim last summer, posted his 40th career shutout with a confident performance. Although he hasn't played regularly behind John Gibson, Miller remained unbeaten in regulation for his new team (3-0-4).

Henrique has five points in four games with the Ducks, who opened a three-game homestand one night after ending a six-game trip with a shootout loss at Vegas.

Craig Anderson stopped 19 shots in the Senators' ninth loss in 10 games (see full recap).

Flyers Weekly Observations: As the top line turns

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Flyers Weekly Observations: As the top line turns

Only two games were played over the past seven days, but we still have plenty to talk about in the world where the Flyers roam.

Of course, we do … there’s always plenty to talk about with the Flyers.

The not-so-busy week gave the Flyers time to heal up. When the skates returned to the ice, we were shown glimpses of the potential the Flyers possess but also saw the deficiencies that could anchor them going forward.

The week kicked off in a big way Thursday with a commanding 3-1 victory over the visiting Chicago Blackhawks and swiftly ended with a thud thanks to a deflating 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild Saturday evening.

Let’s dive into this week’s main course, shall we?

• What you saw Thursday from the trio of Claude Giroux, Sean Couturier and Jakub Voracek, now that’s what an elite NHL top line looks like. The triumvirate made the Blackhawks look silly with the way they controlled the puck and had helpless defenders guessing the night away. Each player scored and each was sparkling in its own separate way. Giroux’s was a torpedo off a great Voracek steal and pass. Voracek's was a missile of his own off a threaded Shayne Gostisbehere cross-ice feed. And Couturier’s was the exclamation point of a lovely rush featuring a Giroux primary assist that was so good Corey Crawford’s head is still spinning and looking for the puck three days later.

Oh happy day, indeed. But … not so much two nights later as the Wild stymied the top line and the Flyers were left scoreless for a league-leading (?) fourth time already this season. There’s a theme here and it’s not the best one for the Flyers. Look, it’s great for them the top line is producing the way it is. But what about everyone else? The top line can’t score all the goals. That’s a recipe for disaster.

My colleague Tom Dougherty astutely pointed out earlier this week that Couturier’s scoring surge has been masking this secondary scoring wart. But as time goes on here, that mask will wash away. The top line has combined for 23 of the Flyers’ 50 goals thus far. That’s a whopping 46 percent. The unit has also combined for 60 of the 140 points the team has recorded. That’s good for 42.9 percent of the pie. This is not sustainable and something is going to have to change soon for the Flyers to find continued success. It’s not a coincidence they haven’t reeled together consecutive wins in almost a month.

• Is it time to worry about Nolan Patrick as a concussion has knocked the prized rookie out for the last couple weeks? I’ll put it like this: there is always worry about any concussion. But, sure, when a concussion has sidelined a player for this long, it’s worrisome. The plan is for Patrick to practice with the team Monday before the trip to Minnesota, but who knows from there. Remember he practiced back before the game in Toronto? GM Ron Hextall said prior to Saturday’s game Patrick hasn’t experienced any setbacks but is still trying to work back. It’s a scary thing because everyone responds differently to a concussion and you can’t push the envelope. The Flyers are rightfully being cautious with Patrick. Right now isn’t as important as the 19-year-old’s future.

• Wayne Simmonds hasn’t scored since he wired the game-winner Oct. 21 late against Edmonton, an uncharacteristic span of nine games. Hextall admitted Saturday evening Simmonds hasn’t been completely healthy in recent weeks but has been battling through for the team. And that has been evident as Simmonds hadn’t been his noticeable self over the last couple weeks. Something was just missing in his game. But this week, Simmonds was noticeable again. While he didn’t find his way onto the score sheet, he had that spark and jump that we’ve become accustomed to. And that’s excellent news for the Flyers. A healthy Simmonds obviously takes some of the scoring pressure off the top line, which is just what the doctor ordered right about now.

• Count this guy as one who thought Michal Neuvirth would take the lion’s share of starts in net this season. Well, that’s why they play the games, right? Brian Elliott has played very well in net and given the Flyers plenty of chances to win on most nights. In 11 starts this season, Elliott is 6-4-1 with a 2.73 goals-against average and .908 save percentage. Yes, Neuvirth’s numbers (2,17 GAA, .928 save percentage) are better, but that’s in only six games.

Elliott has the early trust of Dave Hakstol, who is notoriously fickle with his goalie decisions. And this was Elliott’s best week in a Flyers uniform yet. He was superb against Chicago, stopping 38 shots in the 3-1 win. His breakaway stop on Brandon Saad was excellent, as he waited Saad out and didn’t give him much real estate to shoot at. He followed that performance up Saturday with 27-save outing but took the hard-luck defeat after a bad bounce victimized him early in the third. Things can change with the snap of Hakstol’s finger, but it sure looks like Elliott has the No. 1 job on lock right now.

• The Blackhawks’ regular-season winless streak in Philadelphia, now at 14 since 1996, is just befuddling. How is that even possible? It’s like that 23-year winless streak the Flyers had at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit that was only snapped a few years back. I mean, it’s not like the Blackhawks have never won in South Philly … OK, I’ll just end that sentence and this column here for your health.

Coming up this week: Tuesday at Minnesota (8:00 p.m. on NBCSP+), Thursday at Winnipeg (8:00 p.m. on NBCSP), Saturday vs. Calgary (1:00 p.m. on NBCSP)