Devils inch closer to idle Flyers with rout

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Devils inch closer to idle Flyers with rout

LAS VEGAS -- Blake Coleman scored twice, Michael Grabner and Nico Hischier each had a goal and an assist, and the New Jersey Devils beat the Vegas Golden Knights 8-3 Wednesday night.

Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Stefan Noesen and Kyle Palmieri also scored for the Devils, who improved to 9-6-0 in their last 15 and moved one point ahead of idle Columbus for the top wild card in the Eastern Conference. Keith Kinkaid stopped 39 shots.

Erik Haula had two goals and Colin Miller also scored for Vegas, which just completed a 4-1 road trip. The Golden Knights gave up eight goals for just the second time this season while suffering their worst home loss. They have dropped three straight games in regulation at home for the first time.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who earned his 400th career victory against Philadelphia on Monday, gave up four goals on 11 shots before being pulled early in the second period. Backup goalie Maxime Legace came on and also allowed four goals on 17 shots (see full recap).

Zibanejad helps rally Rangers for OT victory
NEW YORK -- Mika Zibanejad scored the tying goal late in the third period and then got the winner 2:53 into overtime to rally the New York Rangers to a 4-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night.

Chris Kreider had a goal and three assists for his first career four-point night, and Jesper Fast also scored to help the Rangers get their second straight win after a three-game skid. Neal Pionk had three assists and Alexandar Georgiev, making his second consecutive start, finished with 37 saves.

On the winner, snuck a wrist shot past Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith for his 100th career goal.

Bryan Rust, Riley Sheahan and Carl Hagelin scored for the Penguins, who lost for just the fifth time in their last 15 games (10-4-1). DeSmith, filling in for injured starter Matt Murray, stopped 29 shots in his ninth career start. Murray has missed eight straight game safter a concussion during practice Feb. 26.

Evgeni Malkin had a chance to win the game in the final 11 seconds when the referees awarded the Penguins a penalty shot because Georgiev knocked the net off the moorings with under two minutes remaining but the rookie goalie stopped Malkin with his right pad to force overtime.

The Rangers, who are likely going to miss the playoffs for the first time since 2010, are 2-0-1 in their last three games, and 5-2-2 in their last nine. New York is seven points out of the last postseason spot in the Eastern Conference with 11 games remaining (see full recap).

SO win helps Maple Leafs extend home streak 
TORONTO -- Mitch Marner scored the winner in the shootout to lift Toronto to a 6-5 victory over the Dallas Stars on Wednesday night, extending the Maple Leafs' franchise-record home winning streak to 11 games.

Marner beat Kari Lehtonen in the third round of the shootout, completing Toronto's comebacks from 4-2 and 5-4 deficits in the third period.

James van Riemsdyk had his third career hat trick, and Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau also scored in regulation for the Maple Leafs. Frederik Andersen allowed three goals on 20 shots before getting lifted just past the game's midway point with an upper-body injury. Curtis McElhinney came on and stopped 13 shots -- including two big saves on Jamie Benn during a power play in overtime -- the rest of the way to help Toronto improve to 3-2-2 overall since star center Auston Matthews went down with a shoulder injury on Feb. 22.

Tyler Bozak, who also scored in the shootout, and Marner each added two assists to keep the Maple Leafs perfect at home since losing to Colorado on Jan. 22.

Tyler Seguin had a goal and two assists, Benn added a goal and an assist, and Radek Faska, Remi Elie and Brett Ritchie also scored in regulation for Dallas. Lehtonen made 26 stops through overtime (see full recap).

Flyers 'can't keep doing this' ... but they do

Flyers 'can't keep doing this' ... but they do

BOX SCORE

The Flyers' margin of error is paper thin right now.

Against the Bruins last Thursday, it was a failure to clear the puck out of their zone in the final minute that set up the game-winning goal.

Facing the expansion Golden Knights Monday, all it took was losing one board battle late in the third period that led to another regulation loss and a 3-2 setback at the Wells Fargo Center (see observations).

“It was a scrum in the corner and they play a good triangle down low and we knew that before the game,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “We just needed a little winger support, and they made a great play.”

Former Flyer Pierre-Edouard Bellemare fought off Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula and Radko Gudas to gain possession along the boards and behind the Flyers' net, which ultimately led to Ryan Carpenter’s one-timer goal from the left circle that beat Petr Mrazek with 2:40 remaining in regulation.

“I felt like we controlled this one,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “We didn’t get a puck out and that whole shift we didn’t get the puck under control. We had an opportunity to push it out at the blue line, and then we got caught outside of our coverage down in the slot.”

One mistake overshadowed another solid 60-minute effort in which the Flyers controlled possession and neutralized the Golden Knights' fast-paced attack, limiting Vegas to just 19 even-strength shots.

“We should have gotten a point obviously,” Simmonds said. “We've got to be focused. We played solid but we didn’t get the two points and that’s what matters. I guess it doesn’t really matter here. We've just got to make sure we play the full 60. If it’s not 60, it’s not good enough.”

And right now, as well as the Flyers have played recently, it simply isn’t good enough. In seven of their last eight games, the Flyers have scored two or fewer goals.

“We’re pretty pissed. We’re letting these games get away from us right now,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s March. We can’t keep doing this. We need every point we can get.” 

After racing to the top of the Metropolitan Division following a 1-0 shootout victory over the Canadiens on Feb. 26, the Flyers have mustered just three points (1-5-1) over their last seven games.

Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury came up with some spectacular saves to earn his 400th career victory. Perhaps the biggest was a sprawling glove save on rookie Travis Sanheim in the first four minutes of the third period. 

The former Pittsburgh Penguin also beat the Flyers for the 28th time in his career, which ranks third all-time behind New Jersey’s Martin Brodeur and New York Rangers great Henrik Lundqvist.

“We’ve had such a good rivalry,” Fleury said. “I thought it was always intense games and tough games, tough place to win. The crowd is into it, too, usually. With this team, it’s still fun to win here.”

As for the Flyers, they need to discover that enjoyment rather quickly. 

Thursday they host the Blue Jackets, who are now just two points behind the Flyers in the standings. 

March is not a good time to be a bubble team, no matter what sport it is.

Flyers handed fool's gold by expansion power

Flyers handed fool's gold by expansion power

BOX SCORE

The NHL’s feel-good story of the year is leaving Philadelphia feeling a whole lot better.

Golden Knights winger Ryan Carpenter fired a snap shot past Petr Mrazek wth 2:40 remaining in regulation to give Vegas a 3-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center Monday night. It marked Marc-Andre Fleury’s 400th career win to become the 12th goaltender in NHL history to reach that milestone.

Flyers captain Claude Giroux extended his point streak to seven games after scoring his 25th goal of the season. That marked the fifth season Giroux has reached the 25-goal mark in a season.

Wayne Simmonds scored his first goal in nearly a month that tied the game at 2-2.

The Flyers outshot the Golden Knights, 40-29, including a 16-8 advantage in the second period.

The Golden Knights and Flyers split their two regular-season matchups with each team winning on the road.

• Sean Couturier has been so good on faceoffs, but he lost a crucial one in the defensive zone with 17 seconds remaining on the Knights’ power play in the first period. That gave Vegas one last chance before time expired. The resulting draw led to Erik Haula beating Petr Mrazek from the goal line and a 1-0 Golden Knights’ lead. Haula tried a centering pass that Mrazek attempted to poke check and instead it ramped up over his shoulder and into the net.

• In a game featuring two players that should receive a high number of votes for the Selke trophy, Couturier along with Travis Konecny set up the Flyers’ first goal. They intercepted a pass in the offensive zone and gave it up to Giroux, who fired a snap shot that beat Fleury high and to the glove side. Once again, Giroux scored the Flyers’ first goal and now has points in 15 of his last 17 games.

• The Golden Knights made it a perfect 2 for 2 on the power play when William Karlsson scored on a wide-open net after the initial shot from the point was blocked and then kicked aside reactively by Mrazek.

• Mired in a 2-for-28 slump, the Flyers’ power play came through when it desperately needed it against Vegas. Shayne Gostisbehere lasered a perfect saucer pass to Simmonds down low, who roofed a shot after Fleury dropped into the butterfly position. For Simmonds, that was his first goal since Feb. 16.

• If I’m a good lip reader, then I could have sworn Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said, “What the f--- are you talking about?” in regards to the too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty in the first period. Giroux and Hakstol clearly felt the Flyers didn’t have a sixth skater out when the whistle was blown. Regardless, it’s the most animated you’ll see Hakstol on the bench challenging an official.

• There were shades of Fleury during his time wth the Penguins on Monday night. Fleury was all over the place as he tossed his body around the ice in the first period. The Flyers had him out of his net on several occasions, but they couldn’t capitalize. The goalie, who had a history of falling apart against the Flyers, finished with 38 saves.

• The Flyers survived a near catastrophe when Andrew MacDonald hung on to the puck too long just inside the Knights’ blue line, which resulted in a turnover and a 3-on-1 chance. However, Vegas couldn’t failed to take advantage and just settled for a shot that Mrazek saw all the way.

• Much like the game in Vegas between these two teams, the Golden Knights attempted to catch the Flyers leaky on those sharp-angled shots and get the goalie out of position with very quick east-west passes.