For Jakub Voracek, Sochi was a 'great experience'

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For Jakub Voracek, Sochi was a 'great experience'

VOORHEES, N.J. -- Jakub Voracek was visibly exhausted. His flight back from Sochi on Thursday was 11 hours long -- and that doesn’t count the time it took him to drive home from Newark, N.J.

But for the 24-year-old first-time Olympian, representing the Czech Republic was entirely worth it.

“It was a great experience,” Voracek said Friday at a stop by Skate Zone. “I think it was a great setup -- the village, Olympic Park. I really enjoyed it. It’s too bad it was short like that. Unfortunately, we had to play a very hard team in the quarterfinals. But it’s good to be back now.”

The Czech Republic made it to the quarterfinals, where it was eliminated by the U.S. in a 5-2 loss. But playing against such tough competition was a learning experience for the young Flyers forward, who said he was able to take away a lot from the opportunity

In addition to the U.S., the Czech Republic faced Sweden (who made it to the gold-medal game), Latvia, Switzerland and Slovakia. They finished 2-3.

“You have to learn from every game, every shift that you play there,” Voracek said. “For some, it happens only once in a lifetime. It was another step in my hockey career. I’m just going to take it and hopefully use it in the future and especially in the season.”

Voracek played very well through the entire tournament, perhaps best of all in the Czech Republic’s 4-2 win over Latvia in which he scored the tiebreaking goal. That night was the on-ice highlight of his time in Russia.

“It was a big goal in that game,” he said, “but it’s too bad I didn’t score more. I really enjoyed every shift I played in the Olympics. But now I’m happy to be back.”

He was happy to be in Sochi, too. And like his Flyers teammate Andrej Meszaros (see story), Voracek had a great time in the Olympic Village and didn’t have any problems like the ones publicized widely in the media.

“I think the setup, the way it was, everything was great,” he said. “I think the media blew it up here a little bit too much. But as an experience for me, my first Olympics, it was just awesome.”

If his NHL career continues as it has, Voracek will be a likely candidate for the next Winter Olympics, which will be held in 2018 in South Korea. That is, of course, if NHL players are permitted to participate.

It’s no surprise that, after his time in Sochi, Voracek is firmly in the camp of those who believe players should be allowed to play in the Olympics if they so choose.

“Once every four years, I don’t think it’s going to hurt to go to the Olympics,” he said. “For every player from the NHL, I think it’s a great experience.

“Representing your country in the Olympics, every athlete dreams of it since he’s growing up.”

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

Box Score

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Flyers passed a freshness test Sunday night — barely.

After building a 3-0 lead in the first 23 minutes, the Flyers held on for a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 at Rogers Arena.

The Flyers were the more rested team. They had two days off here following Thursday’s loss in Edmonton — and a three-day break before the start of the trip.

But they almost allowed the Canucks to come back in their second game of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip.

The Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference. The Canucks (26-28-6) were denied a chance to gain ground on the final postseason berth in the Western Conference.

Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn — who added the goal that proved to be the winner — scored for the Flyers. Two of the three goals came on the power play. Both teams failed to score in the third period.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen replied for the Canucks.

With the win, the Flyers avoided going winless on a three-game tour through British Columbia and Alberta. They posted their first victory in Western Canada in the past nine attempts.

Goalie report
Coach Dave Hakstol showed loyalty in goaltender Michal Neuvirth, after he allowed four goals on his first 12 shots in Thursday’s one-sided loss in Edmonton. The goaltender started off much better Sunday, as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close early and stopped all eight shots that he faced in the first period.

Power play
Hakstol was looking for the Flyers to rediscover their “swagger” on the power play. He got his wish early as Simmonds jammed in a Shayne Gostisbehere rebound only 5:45 into the game. The puck barely crossed the line but was clearly in, as confirmed by a video review. Vancouver winger Alex Burrows was off for hooking at the time. In the second period, Schenn padded his NHL power-play goals lead as he gave the Flayers a 3-0 lead at 2:38. Schenn scored his 14th power-play goal of the season on a shot from the slot as Simmonds screened Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. With his goal, Simmonds moved into a tie for second in NHL man-advantage markers with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Both players have 12.

Voracek busts his slump
The drought is over for Voracek. The winger busted his scoring slump as he gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 2:38 of the second period. The goal was Voracek’s first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

Shayne the unfriendly ghost
Gostisbehere did not live up to his nickname. Ghost was quite visible as he assisted on all of the Flyers’ goals. The Flyers started scoring as Simmonds tipped in Gostisbehere’s point shot during a power play.

Did you notice?
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto had a chance for a rare breakaway with about five and a half minutes left in the first period, but missed a well-placed lead pass as he was coming out of the penalty box. Instead of a scoring opportunity, the missed pass led to an icing call and a face-off in the Flyers’ end.

Best of NHL: Rangers stay hot with 2-1 win over Capitals

Best of NHL: Rangers stay hot with 2-1 win over Capitals

NEW YORK -- Mats Zuccarello scored a third-period goal and Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves, powering the Rangers to a 2-1 victory over the Capitals on Sunday.

Ryan McDonagh scored in the first period for New York, which has won seven of eight overall and five in a row at home.

Alex Ovechkin scored a second-period power-play goal for Washington. The first-place Capitals lost their second straight after a six-game winning streak. Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves for Washington.

Tied 1-1 entering the third period, Grubauer made two saves on Jimmy Vesey. Lundqvist answered with a nice glove stop on John Carlson's slap shot about seven minutes into the period.

Zuccarello broke the tie after Mika Zibanejad won a faceoff in the Washington zone and sent a pass to Chris Kreider. Kreider passed to Zuccarello, who beat Grubauer for his 12th of the season at 8:37 (see full recap).

Marchand's OT goal gives Bruins victory over Sharks
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Brad Marchand scored on a breakaway with 2:24 left in overtime and the Boston Bruins picked up where they left off before their six-day bye with a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

Ryan Spooner also scored for the Bruins, who improved to 4-0 under interim coach Bruce Cassidy. Tuukka Rask made 29 saves.

Patrick Marleau scored the lone goal for the Sharks, who have lost six of eight games heading into their bye week. Four of those losses came in overtime and another in a shootout, giving San Jose nine points during the span. Martin Jones made 25 saves.

The winning play started on a faceoff in the Bruins' defensive zone. Patrice Bergeron won the faceoff back to Torey Krug, who sent a stretch pass up ice that Marchand retrieved behind the Sharks defense. He skated in all alone on Jones and beat him (see full recap).

Strome's 2 goals lead Isles over Devils
NEW YORK -- Ryan Strome had two goals and an assist to lead the New York Islanders to a 6-4 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Sunday night.

John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Casey Cizikas and Jason Chimera also scored to help the Islanders improve to 9-0-2 in their last 11 at home. Jean-Francois Berube stopped 26 shots as New York pulled into a tie with Boston for the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bruins were playing at San Jose.

Taylor Hall had a goal and two assists, Kyle Palmieri added a goal and an assist, and Miles Wood and Joseph Blandisi also scored for the Devils, who beat the Islanders 3-2 at home on Saturday night. Keith Kinkaid, starting for first time since Jan. 29, finished with 26 saves. New Jersey had won six straight on the road and were 8-0-1 in their last nine away from Prudential Center (see full recap).

Red Wings pull away in third to top Penguins
PITTSBURGH -- Tomas Tatar and Thomas Vanek scored early third-period goals to lead the Red Wings to a 5-2 victory against the Penguins on Sunday.

Nick Jensen and Steve Ott also scored and Luke Glendening added an empty-netter for the Red Wings, who completed a back-to-back sweep of Washington and Pittsburgh, two of the top teams in the league. Petr Mrazek made 24 saves for his second win in as many days, having lost his previous four games.

Detroit defeated Washington in a shootout at home Saturday and followed with the win at Pittsburgh, the NHL's best home team. It was the Red Wings' second victory against Pittsburgh this season.

Detroit, which lost five straight before the weekend victories, remained near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, but within striking distance of the final playoff spot.

Sidney Crosby scored his league-leading 32nd goal and Tom Kuhnhackl added his third with the Penguins short-handed. The Penguins lost in regulation for the first time since the All-Star break (see full recap)