Posting Up: Briere Pipes in Game Winner for Flyers in Overtime

Posting Up: Briere Pipes in Game Winner for Flyers in Overtime

The post to Carolina goaltender Cam Ward’s right rang out
not once, but twice in denial of the Flyers’ advances, its shrill “ping”
erasing a pair of golden opportunities in the first period. Ward’s luck would not
carry the day however.

Danny Briere’s snipe found cold steel yet again in overtime,
only the Flyers finally got the benefit of the bounce. The puck hit the
netminder from behind off of the rebound, then finally crossed the goal line to
give Philadelphia the 4-3 victory over the Hurricanes – and the two points.

Briere rushed up the left boards carrying an outlet pass
from Nick Grossmann, but Hurricanes Jay Harrison was back to cut off his path
to the net. No problem for Danny, who hit the brakes and made his way to the
slot. Briere’s agility proved too much for Harrison, who was perhaps screened
ever so slightly by teammate Jussi Jokinen joining the play. Whatever the case,
Briere got off the clean snap shot, and the puck’s journey ended in Carolina’s
net.

It’s a good thing, too. Nobody was looking forward to the
prospect of another shootout to settle up.

While the finish was certainly exciting, the Flyers had to
play one of their most complete games of the season to fend off the Canes. The
offense put 32 shots on Ward, getting goals from Brayden Schenn (2), Matt Read
(5 – team high), and Jakub Voracek (3) in regulation. Despite allowing three
goals, they also gave a nice, physical defensive effort, scoring twice as many
hits (32 to 16) and almost twice as many blocked shots (20 to 11), with Luke
Schenn leading the charge (8 and 6).

The Hurricanes opened up the scoring just 17 seconds into
the tilt. Sean Couturier lost a faceoff in the Flyers’ zone, and Joe Corvo
immediately sent a blast on Ilya Bryzgalov. Bryz seemed fooled by the puck’s trajectory,
kicking a rebound right in front of his net. Jiri Tlusty skated in unattended
and found twine with relative ease.

The Flyers answered later in the period with Brayden Schenn’s
sweet redirection of Kimmo Timonen’s launch to knot the score at one a piece.
You’ve got to see this one.

Then they took the lead coming out of the first intermission,
capitalizing on a big mistake by the Hurricanes. Eric Staal came away with
possession of the puck following a battle in his zone, but tried to make a
quick dish up the ice before he was out of trouble. Mike Knuble was in perfect
position, deflecting the disc back to center ice, setting up this walk in the
park for Read. Too easy.

A questionable call midway through the frame resulted in
some 4-on-4 hockey, setting up a frantic back-and-forth. Impressive youngster
Jeff Skinner came away with a bouncing puck in the Flyers’ zone and fired a
quick shot on Bryzgalov. He recovered his own rebound, and with two fewer men
on the ice, found plenty of room to skate. Skinner got back in front, wheeled
around and fired the puck over the netminder’s shoulder on the short side to
make it a 2-2 game.

Aside from breakaways, Bryz has been very consistent, but we
have seen him get beat over his left shoulder like that before.

Voracek returned fire a mere 15 seconds later though.
Brayden Schenn simply skated the biscuit into the Carolina zone, then fed it to
the middle for a hungry Voracek, who slammed it home. We’ve seen Voracek make
plays with his speed before, and that was certainly the case here, but the
Hurricanes’ vulnerability defensively was on full display as well. They’ve got
to get a better effort than this.

Carolina was able to force overtime via a dirty goal in the
third. The Flyers were simply unable to clear the puck, and the Hurricanes just
kept on ripping shots from the point. One of them was bound to go eventually,
and it did when Corvo’s hammer from the blue line hit Kurtis Foster up front –
part of a massive tangle of bodies in front of the net – and fluttered past a
blind goalie. Bryz had no chance.

Otherwise Bryzgalov played well yet again, making some great
saves in the process. There was a healthy contribution from the offense, and
the Flyers were flat out the more physical team on the ice in this one. They
deserved the win.

That puts Philadelphia’s record at 5-6-1 with 11 points for
the season. 7 of those points have come in their last four games. You can feel
the momentum growing.

Notes

Hurricanes center Tim Wallace was given a game misconduct and ejected for a boarding penalty on Tye McGinn early in the first period. McGinn slipped a little, and Wallace ended up hitting him up high, sending the rookie's skull into the glass. McGinn would stay on the ice for awhile, but returned to the game quickly and show no ill effects.

We'll see if any discipline is coming for Wallace. The collision was unquestionably a penalty, but there did not appear to be a malicious intent. Again, McGinn slipped, so Wallace likely did not expect his target to be in such a prone position.

The Flyers only wound up with about two-and-a-half minutes of 5-on-4 time out of the possible five. Braydon Coburn received a minor when he tried to come to his teammate's aid, and Mike Knuble picked up an interference toward the end of the advantage.

Philladelphia's power play conversion rate is down to 18.4% for the season.

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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).