Philadelphia Flyers

Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Rangers 2

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Instant Replay: Flyers 5, Rangers 2

BOX SCORE

You wanted a Game 7, Flyer fans?

You got it.

In spectacular, hat-trick fashion, too, as Wayne Simmonds did the honors on Tuesday night during the Flyers' 5-2 thrashing of the Rangers in Game 6 of this Metropolitan Division semifinal at Wells Fargo Center.

Game 7 is Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden.

The Flyers, who promised en masse a more aggressive approach, were tenacious from the drop of the puck and stayed that way the entire game (see 10 observations).

However, the hero in this one is tough to call. Sure, Simmonds had the hat trick but "Stone Cold" Steve Mason played out of his mind in net with 34 saves.

The crucial turning point came at 12:11 when Derek Dorsett sold a high-stick call to the official on Erik Gustafsson, who didn’t appear to even touch the Rangers’ winger. Gustafsson went to the box and Mason had an incredible glove stab on Benoit Pouliot near the end of a Rangers power play.

Coming out of the box with speed, Gustafsson, who was inserted into the lineup for speed on the blue line, took a pass from Braydon Coburn and drilled a shot past Henrik Lundqvist for a 3-0 lead.

That play changed the game right there and the Flyers had it.

It was 4-0 when the third period began and Rangers coach Alain Vigneault pulled Lundqvist for Cam Talbot because ... resting up for Game 7.

Injuries
Before the game, the Flyers announced that defenseman Nick Grossmann, who was injured in Game 4, will miss the remainder of the playoffs following surgery to repair tendon damage in his right ankle. His recovery time is 8-10 weeks (see story).

Playoff history
The Rangers came into the game having lost an NHL record 11 straight games when up in a series dating back to 2009, according to Elias Sports Bureau.

Game 7
The Flyers are 9-6 all-time in Game 7s and 3-3 on the road.

Line changes
Flyers coach Craig Berube replaced Scott Hartnell on the top line with Michael Raffl. Hartnell dropped to the second line with Brayden Schenn and Simmonds. That dropped Vinny Lecavalier back to his original fourth-line spot.

Won’t be denied
Simmonds talked about the Flyers not being “scared” to go at the Rangers and make something happen. He backed up his words with his second goal of the series during a first-period power play. Simmonds, outworking a double-team in the paint, had three shots on that power play, and scored off his own rebound in the second half of the power play for a 1-0 lead at 7:08.

First period
Easily the best first period the Flyers have played in this series. They came out with some “jam” and it carried through the entire stanza. That said, they also had far too many turnovers in their own end. Even sure-handed Sean Couturier had several gaffes that led to Rangers scoring chances. Tuesday marked only the second time this series the Flyers scored first in the opening period (Game 1).

Missed
In the opening four minutes, the Rangers had the Flyers pinned in their own end and missed four shots while Mason had to make several saves on those that were on net.

Second period
The Flyers scored three times as Simmonds notched the first hat trick of the series. His second goal came at 1:32 on a broken pass from Schenn. Then came Mason’s great save on Pouliot, followed by Gustafsson’s burst out of the penalty box to make it 3-0. Simmonds made it a rout at 15:19 on the power play with a deflection at the net for his hat trick.

Hat trick
It was Simmonds’ first career hatter in the playoffs (see video) and the first one since Claude Giroux and Couturier each scored one on April 13, 2012, in Game 2 of the Pittsburgh series, won by the Flyers, 8-5.

Hats
639 were thrown onto the ice.

Special teams
The Flyers won this battle, hands down.

Power play
The Flyers were 2 for 3, while the Rangers were 0 for 5.

Penalty kill
The Flyers came into the game having killed off 15 straight Rangers power plays. That number grew to 20 as they went 5 for 5.

Point blank
Mason had two such saves in stride from the paint in the first period, robbing Rick Nash and Anton Stralman.

Shots
The Flyers had 23 shots through two periods and 29 for the game.

No shutout
Carl Hagelin scored with 6:34 left in the game to ruin Mason’s shutout.

Fight
One large one in the stands; Brian Boyle over Adam Hall on the ice.

Scratches
Defenseman Hal Gill; forwards Jay Rosehill, Tye McGinn, Steve Downie (post-concussion syndrome), and Chris VandeVelde; goalie Cal Heeter.

Black Aces
Defensemen Brandon Manning, Oliver Lauridsen and Mark Alt; forwards Scott Laughton, Ben Holmstrom, Nick Cousins, Brandon Alderson, Petr Straka; goalie Yann Danis.

NHL Notes: Devils lose Travis Zajac for 4-6 months with pectoral injury

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NHL Notes: Devils lose Travis Zajac for 4-6 months with pectoral injury

NEWARK, N.J. -- The New Jersey Devils have lost top center Travis Zajac for four to six months with a pectoral injury.

Devils executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero announced that Zajac had surgery to repair the pectoral muscle on Thursday.

Shero said the Zajac was hurt last week during offseason training.

Dr. Jonathan L. Glashow performed the surgery and estimated that Zajac's recovery time could last until February. The season starts in October.

The 32-year-old Zajac had 14 goals and 31 assists last season. He has 155 career goals and 280 assists. He has played for the Devils since the 2006-07 season.

The 20th overall pick in the 2004 NHL Draft, Zajac signed an eight-year, $46 million contract in 2013.

Sabres sign Zemgus Girgensons to 2-year deal

Sabres: Team signs forward Girgensons to 2-year deal
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Buffalo Sabres have signed forward Zemgus Girgensons to a two-year contract.

The team announced the deal Thursday that carries an average value of $1.6 million.

Girgensons, from Latvia, is the last of the Sabres' restricted free agents to sign with the team. Buffalo's first-round pick in 2012 has 37 goals and 49 assists in 277 career games over four seasons.

He skated in a career-best 75 games last season after signing a one-year extension last September.

NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

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NHL Notes: Oilers sign star Leon Draisaitl to mega 8-year contract

EDMONTON, Alberta -- The Edmonton Oilers have signed center Leon Draisaitl to an eight-year contract extension with an average annual value of $8.5 million.

The extension runs through the 2024-25 season, similar to the eight-year, $100-million extension superstar captain Connor McDavid signed with the team in July.

With the signings, the Oilers are banking on McDavid and Draisaitl providing a potent one-two punch for the team as it looks to build on last season's return to the playoffs after a decade of futility.

Draisaitl, a 21-year-old German, had 77 points (29 goals, 48 assists) last season, his third in the NHL.

He finished eighth among NHL scorers, and second on the Oilers behind McDavid.

He led the Oilers in scoring during the 2017 playoffs, posting 16 points (six goals, 10 assists) in 13 games.

Draisaitl was selected third overall by the Oilers at the 2015 draft (see full story).

Avalanche: Hobey Baker winner Butcher now free agent
College hockey's top player is an NHL free agent after former University of Denver defenseman Will Butcher allowed a deadline to pass without signing with the Colorado Avalanche.

The Avalanche selected Butcher in the fifth round of the 2013 draft and had until Tuesday to sign the Hobey Baker Award winner who led Denver to a national championship in April.

A person with direct knowledge of the discussions told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Butcher already has had discussions with the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils and NHL-expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The person said Butcher has not yet narrowed his list, and is also talking with other teams.

The person spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity because the talks are private.

The Denver Post first reported the three specific teams expressing interest in Butcher (see full story).

Wild: Cullen comes home for 21st NHL season
The Minnesota Wild and center Matt Cullen have agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract, bringing him back to his home state for a 21st season in the NHL.

The Wild announced the deal, which includes $700,000 in potential performance bonuses, on Wednesday.

Cullen played the last two years with Pittsburgh, winning consecutive Stanley Cups with the Penguins. He played three seasons for the Wild from 2010-13, his first return to Minnesota since launching his career at Moorhead High School and St. Cloud State.

Cullen, who will turn 41 on Nov. 2, had 13 goals and 18 assists in 72 games in 2016-17 for the Penguins, plus two goals and seven assists in 25 playoff games. He has played in 1,366 career regular season games, the sixth-most among active players (see full story).