Flyers Notes: Rinaldo gets first goal of season

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Flyers Notes: Rinaldo gets first goal of season

One is the loneliest number.

So says Three Dog Night, if anyone knows who that group was.

Anyway, one was a lonely number for Zac Rinaldo this season. As in one lone assist in 43 games this season … until Thursday night.

Rinaldo finally mated his assist with a goal during the Flyers' 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at Wells Fargo Center (see game recap).

“It feels great to get that monkey off my back,” Rinaldo said. “It’s about time, too.”

The goal came on a nice backhand rebound of his own shot.

“I walked over the blue line and shot it,” Rinaldo said. “I was praying to God that puck came back to me. It came back to me and I threw it on net and it went in for me.”

It hit a stick as it snuck inside the left post on goalie Peter Budaj. A wobbly puck, too

“It did, it did, a good bounce,” Rinaldo said. “I’m not going to complain about it.”

Rinaldo played just 4:53 in the game with four shots. He actually finished with the most shots on the Flyers in this game despite playing the fewest minutes.

Almost half those minutes -– 2:15 -- were played on the penalty kill, which doesn’t afford all that much offense.

Rinaldo has played in a number of different roles on top, middle and bottom lines and the PK lately.

“He’s played good hockey,” coach Craig Berube said. “We’re using him killing penalties at times. His physical skating I think really rubs off on our team. He can really skate. He’s been physical and not taking penalties, which is important.”

He got the club riled up by fighting Brandon Prust after the Flyers made it 3-0 in the second period. As he went to the penalty box, Rinaldo raised his arms high, imploring the fans to make noise and get into the game.

“We’re feeding off each other,” Rinaldo said. “I’m doing a good job getting the crowd into it. And I’m going to keep them into it and they got to keep me in the game, too.”

Several of his teammates spoke about how great it’s been during this 10-game home win streak to have fans cheering and not booing them like they were in October and November.

Asked about the impact of fans booing earlier and how it’s been turned around, Rinaldo was stunned.

“What’s that? he asked.

The booing.

“I thought you said the booze affected us,” Rinaldo replied, as laughter erupted. “No, no, no, the booing obviously sucked. If we’re not working hard, they’re going to tell us.

“Guys respect that. Some guys take it differently. But the fans are behind us. We worked for the fans to get back on our side and we have them on our side now and we’re not going to stop.”

White flag?
There was less than two minutes left to play. The Canadiens were deep in the Flyers’ zone and trailing by a pair of goals.

So why didn’t Canadiens coach Michel Therrien pull Budaj out of net?

The answer won’t please Habs fans.

“In the third period we got four shots on net,” said a clearly displeased Therrien. “And when you have momentum, when you’re creating a lot of chances, there’s a reason why you could take your goalie out, especially when you’re down by two goals.

“But when you have four shots on net and you’re down by two goals, there’s no reason.”

Nice at home
The Flyers have won 10 straight at home. That is their longest home winning streak since an 11-game streak from Oct. 27–Dec. 5, 2003. All 10 wins have been in regulation, and they haven’t done that since a 14-game regulation home winning streak from Feb. 10-April 4, 1985, when they actually won the last 14 home games of the regular season before making a run to the Stanley Cup Final.

Penalty kill
The Flyers were 4 for 4 on the penalty kill, giving them their sixth consecutive perfect game in that category. They are 19 for 19 in that stretch.

Back-to-backs
The Flyers have swept both games in four of their last five back-to-backs. They are 9-1 overall this season in that situation. They’ll play another back-to-back this weekend, facing Tampa Bay on Saturday before meeting the Rangers on Sunday in New York.

Sarah Baicker contributed to this report.

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs topple Blue Jackets to boost playoff hopes

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs topple Blue Jackets to boost playoff hopes

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- William Nylander and Leo Komarov each had a goal and an assist and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri also scored, and Frederik Andersen had 32 saves as Toronto stayed in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Atlantic Division. Nikita Zaitsev scored an empty-net goal after the Blue Jackets pulled their goalie for a sixth skater near the end.

David Savard and Brandon Saad scored for Columbus, which lost for the first time in the last five games. Backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stopped 26 shots. The Blue Jackets stayed in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind leader Washington and one behind Pittsburgh. They play the Capitals in Washington on Thursday night (see full recap).

Ladd rallies Islanders past rival Rangers
NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored the tiebreaking goal with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the third period and the New York Islanders rallied for 3-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Wednesday night.

Anders Lee had a goal and an assist, and Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Islanders, who pulled two points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. Anthony Beauvillier had two assists and Thomas Greiss stopped 34 shots.

Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash scored, and Antti Raanta finished with 25 saves for the Rangers, who remained six points behind Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Islanders, who beat the Rangers for the third time in four games this season and seven of eight over the last two, won for just the second time in six games (1-3-1). The Islanders also improved to 17-9-4 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano (see full recap).

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As far as he can remember, in his six years with the Flyers, Matt Read hasn't played on a line with both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Read has spent time with each of the Flyers' top two scorers at various times but never together. The Flyers hope the cohesiveness comes together quickly after making changes to three of the lines on Wednesday in an attempt keep their sagging playoff hopes.

"We're running out of time here, so hopefully a couple line changes here gives us a little spark offensively," Read said. "We've still got to play better defensively, but you know it's kind of do-or-die right now. So hopefully chemistry clicks right away and things can start going off the bat."

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol had hinted at adjusting the lines recently but stuck with the current structure in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss at Winnipeg (see game story). With the ability to practice Wednesday in Minnesota before Thursday's game against the Wild, Hakstol followed through with the adjustment.

Hakstol met with the four centers before practice and then had Giroux with Voracek and Read. Valtteri Filppula centered Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was teamed with Travis Konecny and Chris VandeVelde.

Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Dale Weise stayed together.

"That line, it's been a good line for us," Hakstol said of Schenn, Couturier and Weise. "Off their game a little bit yesterday, but they've been a good line and I'm confident they'll come back and do a good job tomorrow. The other changes are just looking at different things coming off a road performance yesterday… just looking at a way to inject a little bit more into our lineup for a real tough road game here tomorrow night."

The Flyers didn't lose any ground with Tuesday's loss with Boston, Tampa Bay and Carolina also losing. But the Flyers now have just 10 games remaining as they trail Toronto by seven points for the final wild-card spot.

"We didn't take advantage of the opportunity we had for two points," Hakstol said. "At the end of the day, you can't sit back and watch what's happening elsewhere. You've got to take care of your own backyard, and that's what our focus is. We didn't get it done yesterday. Point blank, we didn't get it done. So, we've got an opportunity tomorrow night for two points and that's what our job is."

Reuniting Giroux and Voracek, along with Read, is one way he hopes to solve the issue. Voracek said he knows the onus is on his line to lead the way.

"We know what to expect from each other," Voracek said. "When we move our feet, we are dangerous. So that's what we've got to do. We've got to have fun. We've got to find a way to score the goals and help the team to win the games, because we're going to play a lot of minutes."

Another possible change for Hakstol could come along the defense. Brandon Manning practiced on Wednesday and Hakstol said it's possible he could rejoin the lineup against the Wild.

Manning hasn't played since March 11 because of a right shoulder injury. Hakstol said he's confident Manning is ready and a decision will be made Thursday morning on which of the seven defensemen will play in the game.

"He's practiced well," Hakstol said. "He got extra work in yesterday. He practiced well today. We'll have a decision to make tomorrow."