Richards, Carter excited to face Flyers together

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Richards, Carter excited to face Flyers together

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Talk to any NHL player who’s been around a while and they will tell you that winning a Stanley Cup changes you.

Changes how you see the game. How you view your career. How you see yourself among your peers. 

Mike Richards says it made him more determined.

“You almost have more of a drive to win another one,” Richards, the ex-Flyer who won a Cup with the L.A. Kings in 2012, said.

“How much fun it is. The day with the Cup is pretty special. I had almost two days with it [at his home in Kenora, Ont.]. 

“It’s something you want to have happen again. You don’t know how it feels until you actually go through it and the excitement of winning with the team and to do it with Jeff [Carter] was obviously special, too.

“You set your career out and plan and then get the opportunity here -- obviously not the city we envisioned, but everything happens for a reason. You get that hunger more to win it again.”

They thought they’d win in Philly, but both were traded on the Thursday prior to the 2011 NHL draft.

Winning the Cup, Carter said, made him reflect on how close he and Richards came in 2010 with the Flyers during the Stanley Cup final against Chicago.

“You know what it takes to win,” Carter said. “We came close in Philly. Then going through it here, you see what it takes to win and how hard it is. You kind of look back on the Chicago series and think about some stuff. It’s not an easy thing to do.”

The Flyers and Kings will meet Saturday at Staples Center. It’s been decades since the two played each other during the afternoon in California. This is part of an NHL/NBA doubleheader with the Clippers playing Saturday night.

It will be the Carter’s first appearance against the Flyers since being traded, and the first time both him and Richards face their former team as L.A. Kings.

When Richards played the Flyers in Philadelphia during the 2011-12 season, Carter was still in Columbus.

“Yeah, I played but for him it might be different,” Richards said. “It was three years ago. It’s been a while.”

There are only five players left from the 2010-11 Flyers roster that Carter and Richards played on -- Braydon Coburn, Claude Giroux, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen and Andrej Meszaros. Ray Emery was on the 2009-10 roster with Richards and Carter.

“We were looking at the roster this morning and I think it’s only four ... five guys on that team,” Richards said. “It’s quite the turnover on that team just 2½ years [later].”

Carter said it will be fun to finally play against the Flyers.

“A lot of good memories and people there,” he said. “It’s been a while. Obviously, I looked at it when the schedule came out, but once you get out there, it’s just another game. A big game for us. We’ve been throwing away some points. We need to get a win.”

Darryl Sutter’s Kings have lost seven of their last eight games. This will be only the second home game at Staples Center -- not including an outdoor game at Dodger Stadium -- in the last 17 days for the Kings.

In some ways, Richards said, this current stretch of losses seems to resemble what the Kings went through in 2011-12 under Terry Murray and then Sutter before coming out of it, eking into the playoffs as the No. 8 seed in the West on their unexpected Cup run.

“It’s all the same guys [now], so everyone’s been through it before,” said Richards, who has seven goals this season. “We’ve gone through some spells, probably not this long. We’ve had some ups and downs. There is no consistency with us right now.

“Everyone has good and bad games. We have it at different times when half the team is not on some nights and the other half the next night. You have to get everybody on the same page and playing well together.

“We know we’re capable of doing it. We have the same team we’ve had success with. Just a matter of putting everything together.”

Carter said it’s frustrating because the team is pretty even keel.

“We don’t give up a lot, but we haven’t been getting a lot lately,” he said. “I wish I could kind of pinpoint one reason. We’re getting 30, 40, 50 shots a game and coming up with nothing. At the end of the day, it all comes down to bearing down on our chances.

“We’ve had a lot of chances that should have been in the net. The way we play, one of two goals, a lot of nights, gives us a chance to win. We haven’t even been getting that.”

The Kings lost, 4-1, to Pittsburgh Thursday night. They remain third in the Pacific Division with 66 points and sixth overall in the West.

Their saving grace? The Kings’ goaltending is No. 1 in the NHL with Jonathan Quick owning a 2.13 goals-against average and .914 save percentage.

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

Flyers answer Ron Hextall's plea with comeback OT win over Islanders

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — Shayne Gostisbehere’s fist pump was so vicious and mighty, the celebration was probably felt back in Philadelphia.

This was an exultation the entire Flyers felt, too.

When it started to look like the bye week wasn’t the break they needed, the Flyers reached down deep and got one Sunday night at the Barclays Center in the form a 3-2 overtime victory over the Islanders (see Instant Replay).

“It allows you to take a breath,” head coach Dave Hakstol said. “That’s one thing for sure.”

A sigh of relief for a team beaten and bruised — losers of three straight by a combined score of 15-4, not to mention 3-9-3 in its past 15 games. The Flyers had lost the day prior on home ice to the Devils, 4-1, with a performance not exactly inspiring confidence following five days off.

On Sunday, they trailed 2-0 in the second period.

“We've got to get better at dealing with adversity when something goes wrong,” general manager Ron Hextall said bluntly before the game. “We need to get back on the horse and get back going. Big deal, a team scored a goal. We need to react better to it.”

Finally, the Flyers reacted the way their GM had been hoping.

They flipped the deficit into a victory when Gostisbehere skated behind the net and put the puck on Claude Giroux’s stick for the game-winner with 1:40 left in the extra session. Gostisbehere whipped his arm through the air and embraced Giroux, along with Jakub Voracek, who started the play by stripping Islanders captain John Tavares.

“On a lot of different levels, it’s an important win,” Hakstol said. “It’s huge. And more importantly for us, a great effort. Thought we deserved the two points. Sometimes maybe that’s what it takes to get over the hump — a tremendous effort for 60-plus minutes. I thought we got that out of everyone tonight.”

For Giroux, it was his first goal since Dec. 21.

For Steve Mason, his first win since Dec. 21.

And for the Flyers, their first road victory since Dec. 14, as they went 0-6-3 in the previous nine games away from home.

Yeah, “it was needed,” as Wayne Simmonds said of the win.

“We’ve been fighting it lately and I thought that was a good game from start to finish,” he said. “I thought everyone played well. I think we made bounces go our way tonight instead of hoping and waiting.”

Simmonds scored what might have been the biggest goal of the game. The Flyers, down 1-0 in the second period, came up empty for 33 seconds of a 5-on-3 power play and the proceeding 5-on-4 advantage. The Islanders then padded the lead to 2-0 moments later, putting the Flyers’ backs against the wall.

But Simmonds kept his team from uncoiling with a goal at 14:10 of the period, giving the Flyers life at second intermission. If not for that score, who knows how the Flyers come out in the third period, trailing by multiple goals yet again.

"I think we were plying well,” Giroux said. “We had a lot of chances and [the puck] wasn't going in. Everybody on the bench was frustrated. When Wayne got that first goal, I think [there was] a little relief on the bench. I haven't see a team celebrate so much just for a first goal. It was kind of a relief and we had a little boost out of that.”

Ivan Provorov scored the equalizer 1:47 into the final period when he maintained possession from the blue line to the circle, adeptly skating around two Islanders to put the puck on net. Provorov’s pass to Travis Konecny hit off the skate of New York’s Adam Pelech and into the net.

“I came off the bench and I saw [Brayden Schenn] was going into the zone, so I took a few hard strides, got the puck from him and I saw it was kind of an odd-man situation,” Provorov said. “I held on to the puck a little bit, saw T.K. going backdoor, passed it there and it went off their D skate.”

Just as important as the timely goals was the Flyers’ discipline. Against the Devils, the Flyers compiled 19 penalty minutes, forcing them on seven penalty kills. This time, the Flyers sharpened up, not allowing the Islanders a power play until midway through the third period. In total, they had just four penalty minutes and killed off both power plays faced.

That gave them a chance.

“We just kept saying it the whole time, ‘Keep going, keep going, guys,’” Simmonds said. “We just need one [goal] and from one comes two, and Mase held the fort.”

Mason made 17 of his 36 saves in the third period and overtime combined.

Now, the Flyers at least go into another important back-to-back — starting Wednesday at the Rangers before welcoming the Maple Leafs Thursday — with some confidence instead of a lost weekend.

“I thought the focus was purely on going out and playing well,” Hakstol said. “And you know, that’s harder to do than you might know — when you start to feel some of the pressure without a win in a little bit. I really liked that side of it. Even in that situation, all the guys played well. Hopefully that puts our entire team in the right direction.’’

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

Best of NHL: Crosby scores league-leading 28th goal in win vs. Bruins

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored two goals, Sidney Crosby added his league-leading 28th and the Pittsburgh Penguins won their fourth straight game, 5-1 over the Boston Bruins 5-1 on Sunday.

Pittsburgh led 2-1 through two periods before breaking out in the third with three goals in a span of 2 minutes, 57 seconds.

Sheary scored his 17th and has nine goals in nine games. Bryan Rust added his 12th and Patric Hornqvist his 11th for the Penguins, who won a season-high seventh straight at home. Pittsburgh the NHL's best home team, is 13-0-1 in its last 14 home games.

Evgeni Malkin had two assists for a season-best seven-game point streak. Crosby added two assists for a three-point game. Matt Murray made 44 saves to win his fourth straight game.

David Krejci scored his 11th for the Bruins, who have lost four straight and five of their last six (see full recap).

Rangers shut out Red Wings in 1-0 OT win
DETROIT -- J.T. Miller scored at 1:56 of overtime to lift the New York Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday.

Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season and 61st of his career. The Rangers managed only 19 shots in a game that featured few memorable chances by either team.

The winner came when Mats Zuccarello and Miller swooped in alone on Detroit goalie Jared Coreau. Zuccarello made a simple pass to Miller, who lifted the puck over Coreau for his 16th goal of the season.

Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall played for the first time since Jan. 4, returning from a lower-body injury. The Red Wings put forward Drew Miller on waivers (see full recap).

Atikinson lifts Jackets over Senators in wild OT win
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Cam Atkinson's second goal of the game at 1:09 of overtime lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets a 7-6 win over the Ottawa Senators on Sunday night.

Atkinson had a breakaway after a shot by Senators captain Erik Karlsson missed the Columbus net and went around the boards out to Atkinson, who was at center-ice.

The Blue Jackets trailed 5-3 after two periods before Lukas Sedlak and Matt Calvert scored 31 seconds apart to tie it less than 2 1/2 minutes into the third. Atklnson then gave Columbus a 6-5 lead with 9:10 remaining, before Kyle Turries tied it for Ottawa on the power play less than 2 minutes later.

Nick Foligno, Scott Harrington and Zach Werenski also scored for the Blue Jackets, and Joonas Korpisalo finished with 28 saves.

Zach Smith and Mike Hoffman each had two goals and Mark Stone also scored for the Senators. Mike Condon had 22 saves (see full recap).