Lecavalier, Hartnell help Flyers snap 2-game skid

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Lecavalier, Hartnell help Flyers snap 2-game skid

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Scott Hartnell's gritty and productive effort paved the way for Vincent Lecavalier to break out of his slump, ending the Flyers' two-game losing spell with a 4-3 comeback win in Buffalo on Tuesday night (see Instant Replay).

Hours after calling his team's recent play "soft," Hartnell posted a goal and two assists, playing through a blocked shot that had him limping off the ice during the second period. He received X-rays on his left ankle after the game.

"Sometimes you've gotta get hurt or whatever, but we showed a lot of character, especially late there, coming back," Hartnell said.

The Flyers trailed 1-0 and 2-1, but scored three third-period goals to bury a bottom-dwelling Buffalo Sabres team that came into the game 6-0-2 in their last eight home games.

"Never give up," Hartnell said. "That's probably the biggest thing. You gotta believe. You've gotta play the system. You've gotta skate like we did in that third period and you win battles and you work hard, you're gonna get chances."

That's the ethos Lecavalier was forced to focus on during a recent slump that ended, hopefully, with Tuesday night's game-winner with 14.8 seconds left.

"It felt good," Lecavalier said. "They've been hard to come by since I got back from my injury. Sometimes a goal like that will kinda, I don't want to say jumpstart, but get more confidence and keep going."

Lecavalier had recorded just three assists in 11 games since coming back from a non-displaced fracture in his back that caused him to miss just under a month of hockey.

"The last four games I've been feeling really good, my legs," he said. "It's good for the confidence any time you get out of the slump and hopefully that'll get me going and create more with my linemates. Hopefully that starts a streak."

Both players and head coach Craig Berube hailed the team's comeback spirit, as they admitted frustration with a first period that saw them go down 1-0 on a Cody Hodgson tally.

The team equalized in the second on Jakub Voracek's power-play goal, one of two Flyers goals on six power-play opportunities, but Buffalo again took a lead 6:37 into the third when Matt D'Agostini flipped a shot past Steve Mason.

"Our team doesn't quit," Berube said. "I know over the weekend with Tampa and the Rangers we had good third periods. They tried, it didn't happen, but the effort's always there. As long as the effort is there and the competitiveness is there, they'll give it their best to try and come back."

Mason wasn't in peak form, but the game was one of the inactive types that drive goalies nuts. He did enough to get the win despite facing just 19 shots to his team's 33 efforts on goal.

"Tough game from my standpoint to play," Mason said. "Not very busy, a lot of standing around and those are the games that when they're over with and you come away with the two points, you're happy about that."

The Flyers fought back with a Brayden Schenn goal with 13:28 gone and earned their first lead on Hartnell's hard power-play shot with 15:53 to go in regulation.

Tyler Ennis beat Mason from an odd angle on a goal that the goaltender would like back just 54 seconds later, but it was Matt Read's work down low in his first game back from a concussion that sealed the deal.

Lecavalier's initial shot was saved by Sabres goalie Jhonas Enroth, and Sean Couturier jammed a loose puck off the side of the net. Read dug the puck out from between Couturier's skates and fed Lecavalier, who didn't need a third try.

"I've gotta say it was a long two weeks watching the boys battle out there and I couldn't be a part of it," Read said. "I felt good. (Berube) talked about just getting the first shift, getting the hit, finding your legs and having fun out there. It was a seesaw battle out there, but it's good to get the first two points."

The Flyers will be back in action on Thursday when they play the Nashville Predators at the Wells Fargo Center. They won the opening game of the season series with Nashville, 3-2, in a shootout on Nov. 30 in Tennessee.

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Jason Chimera and Scott Mayfield also scored at the Barclays Center to help the last-place Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 28 saves. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in regulation in their last eight games.

Halak beat Lundqvist for the ninth time in their last 10 matchups. Halak had won eight straight -- including the last five after joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season -- before Lundqvist ended the streak in the Rangers' 5-3 win in the season opener Oct. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is now 1-6-1 in his last eight against the Islanders (see full recap).

Schwartz lifts Blues over Canadiens in OT
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz got his second goal of the game in overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis, which has won four of five. The Blues rallied from a 2-0 deficit and have a point in their last 13 home games.

Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron scored for Montreal, which completed a five-game trip 2-3.

Goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves to improve to 13-3-3.

Schwartz lifted a backhander past goalie Al Montoya with 1:22 left in overtime.

Stastny and Schwartz scored in a 2:51 span in the third period to tie it at 2 (see full recap).

Blackhawks blank Coyotes to snap modest skid
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.

Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help Chicago maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn't heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game -- surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests (see full recap).

Confident Flyers extend winning streak to 6 straight games

Confident Flyers extend winning streak to 6 straight games

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They’ll admit it was choppy, sloppy hockey much of the night.

They didn’t bring their “A” game. Or “B” for that matter.
 
What the Flyers did have, however, was the confidence of a winning streak. And a hot goaltender in Steve Mason.
 
That was all they needed Tuesday to nudge the injury-riddled Florida Panthers, 3-2, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).
 
That’s six wins in succession for the Flyers, who moved to within two points of the Rangers and Penguins, both atop the Metropolitan Division. This equals the Flyers’ longest winning streak in five seasons, going back to December 2011.
 
“That's part of it, but the biggest thing was the saves we got,” Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said. “No doubt about that throughout the game. One of those nights where Mase was our best player.”
 
Mason had 42 saves, including a game-saver on Aaron Ekblad in overtime (see highlights).
 
Meanwhile, Wayne Simmonds continued his personal tear with another two-goal effort to give him 15 tallies on the season. One of the goals came on the power play as Simmonds now leads the NHL with eight power-play goals and 14 power-play points.
 
“I’m playing with great linemates and trying to give pucks up and get to the net,” Simmonds said. “It’s not all on me. It has a lot to do with my teammates.”
 
During the Flyers’ winning streak, Simmonds has seven points (five goals) as does Jakub Voracek, who nailed the game-winner with 8.6 seconds left in OT.
 
“Sometimes, it’s important for us if we don’t necessarily play great hockey, to win the game or get at least a point,” Voracek said. “That’s how you make it to the playoffs. Mase was outstanding with a lot of big saves. And we scored when we needed [to].”
 
Voracek notched the winner off a broken play from Claude Giroux.
 
“I was tired,” Voracek said. “It was a long hockey game. Three [games] in four [nights]. I lost the puck, G made the turnover happen and I knew if I turned around and shot it quick, he (goalie James Reimer) wouldn’t be able to get down.”
 
You’d never know this was a tired Panthers squad finishing up a six-game road trip given the way it out-skated and out-hustled the Flyers throughout the night.
 
“I think Florida played a great game. They played an outstanding game and they might have deserved better, but so many times this year we played teams and lost a game,” Voracek said. “So, it’s kind of good to get out of it [with a win].”
 
Florida outshot the Flyers, 14-3, at one point in the first period and led, 1-0, on Aleksander Barkov’s third goal in four games. He had a sweet give-and-go with Mark Pysyk across the high slot.
 
With less than three minutes remaining in the period, Reimer looked like a shortstop muffing a ground-ball hop as he fanned on Simmonds’ shot from 45 feet to tie the game. That was Simmonds’ first goal of the evening.
 
“I think the puck hit the top of their defenseman’s stick,” Simmonds said. “It was a lucky goal.”
 
Reimer made up for it during the second period with a sensational glove stab of Michael Raffl’s tip that was headed under the crossbar.
 
Yet he couldn’t do anything to stop Simmonds’ tip of Giroux’s shot from the high slot during a second-period power play.
 
Florida was energized for the third period while the Flyers tried to sit on that 2-1 lead. Mason stood on his head as he faced 17 shots.
 
“We have to change our mindset,” Simmonds said. “That’s the first time we’ve done that in a while.”
 
Mason had an incredible stop on Jussi Jokinen, but Jokinen got the tying goal nonetheless with 4:48 left in regulation to force overtime.
 
“It was a game where you had to come up with big saves,” Mason said. “Good game to come out with two points, but we all understand we have to be better.”
 
Speaking of better, rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov, evoking memories of Chris Therien, did a number on Jaromir Jagr to hold the all-time great without a point.
 
Also, that’s five games in a row now the Flyers haven’t allowed more than two goals. Don’t think that isn’t huge in their surge in the standings, as well as climbing out of their team goals-against hole.
 
“That’s unbelievable for us,” Simmonds said. “At the beginning of the year, to say we’d have five straight without giving up more than two would be a stretch.
 
“We’ve locked it down defensively and Mase has played unbelievable. We’ve been pretty good as five-man units.”