NHL Wrap: Isles win, inch closer to playoffs

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NHL Wrap: Isles win, inch closer to playoffs

The Flyers kept their slim playoff chances alive on Tuesday night with a 4-2 victory over the Rangers (see recap).

They can thank goalie Steve Mason, who recorded 38 saves in his home debut.

“Yeah, it was an important game for myself and the team,” Mason said. “As a hockey player, you want to be part of it. It was a must-win. A playoff race with them being the eighth playoff spot right now. It was a good performance to win.”

Now, here's a quick recap of the other action Tuesday night in the NHL:

Islanders win, move closer to playoff berth
UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Michael Grabner scored twice and Evgeni Nabokov made 26 saves as the New York Islanders moved closer to a playoff berth with a 5-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Playing before a boisterous crowd at Nassau Coliseum, the Islanders earned their ninth time in 12 games while playing their final regular-season home game. The Islanders, 10-11-3 at home after starting 2-8-1, will begin a season-ending, five-game trip on Thursday in Toronto.

With a 14-5-3 mark since March 1, the Islanders hold seventh place in the Eastern Conference. New York, seeing its first postseason appearance since 2007, has allowed two goals or fewer in nine straight games.

Matt Moulson, Mark Streit and Radek Martinek also scored for the Islanders, who bounced back from a 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Saturday (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Red-hot Capitals win eighth straight
WASHINGTON -- Alex Ovechkin scored his NHL-leading 28th goal, and the Washington Capitals enjoyed a rare feeling of dominance outside their division Tuesday night, winning their eighth straight with a 5-1 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Jack Hillen, Martin Erat, Troy Brouwer and Marcus Johansson also scored, and Braden Holtby made 29 saves for the Southeast Division-leading Capitals.

The Capitals have moved into playoff position by feasting on the weak Southeast, going 14-3 within the division, but they entered Tuesday's game just 9-14-2 against the rest of the Eastern Conference. All but two of those nine wins were by one goal.

So it was a major morale boost that they were able to manhandle Toronto, which is closing in on the franchise's first playoff berth since 2004 (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Blues take down Canucks in shootout
ST. LOUIS -- Jay Bouwmeester tied the score midway through the third period, and Andy McDonald and Alex Steen scored in the shootout to lead the Blues to a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday night.

Brian Elliott made 21 saves in regulation and stopped Derek Roy and Alexandre Burrows in the shootout, solidifying the Blues' chances in a tight Western Conference race. Bowmeester's goal was his first since joining the Blues in a trade-deadline deal.

Alexander Edler scored on a power play late in the second period for Vancouver. Cory Schneider made 35 saves in regulation but surrendered two goals on three shootout chances.

The Canucks played for the third time in four nights, all on the road (see full recap).

-The Associated Press

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

Provorov, Schenn shine in Flyers' last scrimmage before preseason

VOORHEES, N.J. – Five games.

That’s what the Flyers are facing this coming week, which is why coach Dave Hakstol had his players involved in a full scrimmage Sunday morning at Flyers Skate Zone.

“I like it better than practicing,” Michael Raffl said. “A little more action. A little physical and it gets you in game shape. I enjoyed it.”

The Flyers have two split-squad games Monday – one in New Jersey against the Devils and other in Brookyln against the Islanders.

The scrimmage was uptempo. So much so, Raffl and defenseman Will O’Neill were involved in a dangerous collision in the left corner that could have been disastrous with both players getting up slowly, but uninjured on a puck chase.

“I don’t know, I was coming in hard,” Raffl said. “At first, I thought about playing the body and then I didn’t want to. So I was mixed in-between trying to slow down and there was a lot of contact as I fell into the boards. I felt fine afterwards.”

Raffl hit his neck awkwardly and was lucky to be uninjured. O’Neill took the hit.

“I went into the wall and knew he was coming and tried to be strong on my feet,” said O’Neill, a free agent signed over the summer. “Contact play in a bad area. Tough part of the ice.”

Hakstol held his breath there.

“It could have turned out differently,” he said. “It was kinda awkward play. You’re always happy to see him pop up and come out for another shift right after that.”

Raffl’s gray team won the scrimmage, 2-1, with rookie defenseman Ivan Provorov setting up a play that resulted in Brayden Schenn’s game-winning goal from Wayne Simmonds.

“Good tempo, competitiveness … kind of like the first few days where tempo and work levels were good,” Hakstol said of the scrimmage. “It tends to be a little scrambly in those first scrimmages.”

Jordan Weal centered the top line with Schenn on the left. Hakstol has Schenn on the left right now to get him used to playing there again. Once Claude Giroux returns from the World Cup of Hockey, the top line of Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds will be reunited.

“I made the play up there to Simmer and a nice pass by Provy to me and then Simmer back door to Schenn,” Weal said of the game-winning goal. “It felt good … I’ve played just one game in nine months.

“I’m just trying to get a feel for being on the right side of pucks. It’s not going to come in the first game.”

Weal was impressed with Provorov.

“He’s a really good player,” he said. “You can see it in his skating, his passing. He’s got a lot of confidence. He tore up the WHL and that’s a great league. It’s going to be exciting to see him moving forward.”

Hakstol rated Provorov as “solid and efficient” in the scrimmage.

Loose pucks
Steve Mason worked with Carter Hart in goal. Alex Lyon and Anthony Stolarz worked for the black team. Mason didn’t give up a goal. “We have eight exhibitions on the schedule and I will get into three or four of those,” Mason said. “By the time those wrap up, I’ll be where I want to be. Right now, I am feeling great which is a good start.” … Hakstol said Mason won’t play Monday. … Rookie forward Travis Konecny sat the scrimmage out (maintenance day). He said he was given a day off, but Konecny was receiving treatment by the medical staff Saturday. “I see the trainer every day, I’m fine,” he said. Konecny will be with the Flyers' split-squad team in New Jersey against the Devils on Monday. … Greg Carey had the other goal for the gray squad; Nicolas Aube-Kubel had the lone goal for the black squad. … The defense rotated for both teams. Provorov was with Philippe Myers much of the game. … Jakub Voracek practiced on his own. He won’t see action in the first three games and neither will Shayne Gostisbehere because of the World Cup, Hakstol said. … The scrimmage consisted of two, 25-minute periods with a running clock. Sounds like the Public League, no?

Flyers ramp up intensity, physicality on Day 2 of training camp

Flyers ramp up intensity, physicality on Day 2 of training camp

VOORHEES, N.J. — Radko Gudas was so hyped up, he was having great difficulty trying to communicate his excitement after having crunched two players during battle drills.
 
“This is the fun where it starts … where the fun starts?” he said with a laugh. “Everybody wants to get the feeling of game-like situations. Everybody is trying their hardest.”
 
After two days of mostly drills with gradually advancing intensity, the Flyers wrapped up Saturday’s training camp with two-on-two battle drills.
 
Two guys going to the net and shooting, getting the rebound, all the while fighting off another player.
 
Gudas wants to demonstrate he can still maim guys along the boards with a taped-up right wrist (stress fracture). And he did.
 
“I haven’t used the wrist for a couple weeks so it’s nice to get a touch with somebody else and get into the battle situation with someone else and know I can still do it,” he said.
 
“This is more for the older guys who weren’t here for the rookie [camp] to get in there, get a feel for it.”
 
All this aside, Gudas might not participate in Sunday’s full squad scrimmage only because he has not been cleared to shoot pucks yet.
 
“I have to stay as much as I can off the heavy slapper,” he said.
 
The Flyers have two split-squad games Monday — one in New Jersey, the other in Brooklyn.
 
“The guys are anxious to have a scrimmage,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Couple good, hard workdays and they handled it really well. It’s time to get into a scrimmage situation, which leads into a game the next day.”
 
Hence the battle drills to get players to take their energy to that next level.
 
“You got to slowly keep moving toward game readiness,” Hakstol said. “There’s a difference from practice to a full preseason game.
 
“Today was a little more battle in practice than yesterday but some subtle detail mixed into each of the drills.”

Broadcast notes
Monday's game in New Jersey will be broadcast on radio on 97.5 The Fanatic, while the Islanders' game is slated to be a video webcast on PhiladelphiaFlyers.com.

Tuesday's game against the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center and Wednesday's game against the Devils in Allentown, Pennsylvania, will both air on TCN and 97.5.