Flyers Celebrate Kimmo Timonens Birthday and 1,000th NHL Game, but Nothing Else

Flyers Celebrate Kimmo Timonens Birthday and 1,000th NHL Game, but Nothing Else

Prior to the Flyers’ 4-2 loss in Tampa Bay, Kimmo Timonen
reflected on the significance of turning 38 on Monday, and the career milestone
he would achieve that night. Ever the professional, what mattered most to
Timonen wasn’t blowing out a few candles, or even getting his name into the
record books by appearing in his 1,000th NHL game.

The important thing was coming away with two points.

Unfortunately, predictably, a fairy-tale ending was not to
be. Timonen is another year older, and he can always be proud of his
accomplishments, but the Flyers once again were unable to gain any traction in
the postseason race.

The defeat was like virtually any other the Orange &
Black have suffered this year. They fell behind early, suffered defensive
breakdowns, turned the puck over, generally lost the battles, took dumb
penalties, and failed to squeeze at least one point out of their effort despite
being tied with the Lightning after two periods.

As is becoming an epidemic for Philadelphia sports, they
didn’t exactly catch many breaks, either. Flyers shooters rang at least three
shots off the post and were denied on each, while Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell
scored the game winner on a jumping, spinning deflection that looked like
something Brian Boitano might try to pull off if he was handed a hockey stick -->.

Of course, players have to make some of their own luck, too.
The Flyers were 0-for-4 on the man advantage, and when it came time to mount
one last attack in the final minutes, they could barely move the puck out of
their own end. Meanwhile, Ilya Bryzgalov played well, but not quite well enough
steal one – fair or not.

That’s more or less where we are all at given the team’s dire
situation in the standings, pointing fingers and holding each individual’s
performance under the microscope. No one is pleased as the losses mount and the
Flyers’ chances of making the playoffs become increasingly distant and/or
irrelevant.

Nobody is enjoying it at all – least of all the man who was
supposed to be celebrating a birthday and a milestone.

Notes

Peter Laviolette demoted Scott Hartnell from the top line for parts of
the second and third periods after he took a completely unnecessary roughing
penalty on Cory Conacher. Hartsy leveled Conacher with a perfectly legal check,
then continued taking out his frustrations on the rookie forward as he jumped back
into the play. Zac Rinaldo skated with Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek until the late stages of the game, while Hartnell’s time on the ice was reduced to minimal fourth-line
minutes and power plays.

Max Talbot was the best player on the ice for the Flyers, beating
Tampa netminder Anders Lindback with the backhand after an absolutely dazzling
move to get to the net -->. It seemed like he could be everywhere at once, registering a team-high six shots in 16-plus minutes of action.

>> BOX SCORE

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Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).