Best of NHL: Maple Leafs fall to Blackhawks in OT, but move 9 points ahead of Flyers

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs fall to Blackhawks in OT, but move 9 points ahead of Flyers

TORONTO -- Ryan Hartman scored with 17 seconds left in overtime to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on Saturday night.

John Hayden notched his first NHL goal, and Corey Crawford stopped 25 of 26 shots for Chicago, which holds the top spot in the Western Conference with 97 points following their fourth straight win.

Auston Matthews had a goal to snap a seven-game drought, while Frederik Andersen made 37 saves for the Maple Leafs, who hold the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 79 points.

Toronto took a 1-0 lead in the first period when William Nylander took a quick pass from Matthews and then sent it right back to Matthews, who crashed the front of the net and redirected a shot through Crawford's pads.

Matthews inched within two goals of Wendel Clark's franchise rookie record (34 in 1985-86) with the goal. The 19-year-old rookie hadn't registered a goal or point since Feb. 28 in San Jose (see full recap).

Skinner helps Hurricanes stay hot against Predators
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Jeff Skinner scored in each of the first two periods and the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Nashville Predators 4-2 Saturday night.

Jordan Staal added a goal and an assist while Jaccob Slavin had two assists for Carolina, which swept the two-game season series and snapped Nashville's three-game winning streak. Elias Lindholm scored a short-handed empty-netter with 25.6 seconds to go.

Carolina won the teams' other meeting, 3-2 in a shootout on Nov. 5 in Nashville.

Skinner had his fifth multi-goal game and sixth multi-point effort of the season.

Hurricanes goalie Eddie Lack, starting his second straight game, stopped 27 shots for his first two-game winning streak with Carolina. The Hurricanes improved to 4-0-2 in their last six games.

Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros had 33 saves (see full recap).

Capitals clinch playoff spot by beating Lightning
TAMPA, Fla. -- T.J Oshie had three goals and an assist, Justin Williams and John Carlson had early third-period goals, and the Washington Capitals clinched a playoff spot by beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3 on Saturday night.

Oshie scored twice, including an early power-play goal, as the Capitals took a 2-0 lead midway through the first. He completed the hat trick with an empty-netter during the final minute. Oshie has 10 goals and 19 points in 14 games against Tampa Bay.

Williams had a redirection goal 3:14 into the period before Carlson swatted a thigh-high puck home to make it 4-2 at 5:30.

Washington also got four assists from Nicklas Backstrom, and Braden Holtby stopped 26 shots.

Nikita Kucherov had two goals, and Alex Killorn had the other goal for the Lightning. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves (see full recap).

Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier know Flyers by now, ready for anything at NHL draft

Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier know Flyers by now, ready for anything at NHL draft

CHICAGO — Nico Hischier was nervous, swaying a bit as he spoke to the media, admitting he had some jitters as this NHL draft approaches on Friday.

About 60 feet away, Nolan Patrick leaned on a stick and said not only was he not nervous, he also really couldn't care less whether he's picked first overall Friday by New Jersey or second by the Flyers because his goal is just to get into the NHL.

"Doesn't matter to me," Patrick said Thursday. "A lot of guys will tell you what you want to hear. That they don't care, but deep down, they do.

"I don't care. It's not going to change my chances in the NHL if I go No. 1 or 4. I'm gonna take it. Where I go is not gonna help me any more. At the end of the day, I've got to work hard."

That said, Hischier is poised to become the highest-drafted Swiss player ever and if he went first overall …

"I would make history and that would make me proud," Hischier beamed. "Really happy, for sure."

Both players participated in Thursday's ball-hockey clinic in a parking lot just across the street from United Center where one of them will go to the Devils and one to the Flyers on Friday night.

"Yeah, I little bit nervous," Hischier admitted. "It's not up to me. I just have to enjoy it."

Flyers general manager Ron Hextall took both players out to dinner separately in Buffalo, New York, earlier this month at the NHL Scouting Combine to try and get a peek behind their personalities (see story).

"We talked about Philadelphia, talked about the club, the goals, what's important for them," Hischier said. "It was good dinner and went well."

Patrick, who is from Winnipeg, Manitoba, said he was impressed with the steakhouse and said what he liked best about the meal was getting into arguments with fellow Manitoban, Hextall, who is from Brandon.

"He's a really nice guy," Patrick said. "It was a fancy steakhouse. I'll take those dinners any day. He knows what he is doing in Philly. If I were lucky enough to go there, I'd be happy.

"I know all about him. He's a Brandon Wheat King. Us Manitobans always going at each other. We got into a few arguments about some of his guys. Manitoba is the best place in the world."

Right now, for a couple hundred hockey players, Chicago is the best place in the world because this is the NHL draft and what happens Friday and Saturday will impact their lives forever.

Which is why Hischier brought his older brother, Luca, here. He plays for Bern in Switzerland where Hischier also was before transferring to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League to play for Halifax this past season.

"My idol is my brother," Nico said. "He is playing pro in Bern. We have a good relationship. I'm happy he is here because I can ask him everything, on and off the ice."

Both players have some Flyers familiarity.

Hischier skated with Mark Streit last summer but hasn't talked to him since.

"Last summer, I skated with Streit, [Roman] Josi, [Shea] Weber and those guys," Hischier said. "It was fun."

Patrick played with Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov two years ago in Brandon.

"Talked to Provy two weeks ago," Patrick said. "I was talking to Brayden Schenn the last couple days. Provy works out 10 hours a day."

A few weeks from now, one of these guys will be at the Flyers' developmental camp working out in Skate Zone.

"It's not up to me," Hischier said. "I don't focus on expectations, I don't focus on teams. Everything can happen.

"I'm going to be open for everything and happy, for sure. If it's No. 2 or 3, I'm gonna be happy anyway."

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

Flyers begin 2017-18 season out West, face Vegas for 1st time in February

For the second straight year, the Flyers are beginning the season out West.

The NHL on Thursday released its 2017-18 schedule and as reported Wednesday, the Flyers open the season in San Jose on Oct. 4 as part of a four-game road trip that includes games in Los Angeles, Anaheim and concludes in Nashville on Oct. 10.

They'll return home on Oct. 14 for their home opener against the Washington Capitals that kickstarts a five-game homestand (see story). The Flyers will host the Islanders on Black Friday.

Flyers fans will have to wait a while for their first taste of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Flyers will face the Golden Knights for the first time on Feb. 11 in Vegas.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and the Golden Knights come to Philadelphia on March 12

The Flyers will end the season at home against the New York Rangers.

You can see the Flyers' full schedule here (and buy tickets here).