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.

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs topple Blue Jackets to boost playoff hopes

Best of NHL: Maple Leafs topple Blue Jackets to boost playoff hopes

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- William Nylander and Leo Komarov each had a goal and an assist and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2 on Wednesday night.

Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri also scored, and Frederik Andersen had 32 saves as Toronto stayed in the thick of the playoff hunt in the Atlantic Division. Nikita Zaitsev scored an empty-net goal after the Blue Jackets pulled their goalie for a sixth skater near the end.

David Savard and Brandon Saad scored for Columbus, which lost for the first time in the last five games. Backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo stopped 26 shots. The Blue Jackets stayed in third place in the Metropolitan Division, two points behind leader Washington and one behind Pittsburgh. They play the Capitals in Washington on Thursday night (see full recap).

Ladd rallies Islanders past rival Rangers
NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored the tiebreaking goal with about 7 1/2 minutes remaining in the third period and the New York Islanders rallied for 3-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Wednesday night.

Anders Lee had a goal and an assist, and Nikolay Kulemin also scored for the Islanders, who pulled two points behind Boston for the Eastern Conference's second wild-card spot. Anthony Beauvillier had two assists and Thomas Greiss stopped 34 shots.

Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash scored, and Antti Raanta finished with 25 saves for the Rangers, who remained six points behind Columbus for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

The Islanders, who beat the Rangers for the third time in four games this season and seven of eight over the last two, won for just the second time in six games (1-3-1). The Islanders also improved to 17-9-4 since interim coach Doug Weight replaced the fired Jack Capuano (see full recap).

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

Matt Read on Flyers' changes: 'We're running out of time here'

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As far as he can remember, in his six years with the Flyers, Matt Read hasn't played on a line with both Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek.

Read has spent time with each of the Flyers' top two scorers at various times but never together. The Flyers hope the cohesiveness comes together quickly after making changes to three of the lines on Wednesday in an attempt keep their sagging playoff hopes.

"We're running out of time here, so hopefully a couple line changes here gives us a little spark offensively," Read said. "We've still got to play better defensively, but you know it's kind of do-or-die right now. So hopefully chemistry clicks right away and things can start going off the bat."

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol had hinted at adjusting the lines recently but stuck with the current structure in Tuesday night's 3-2 loss at Winnipeg (see game story). With the ability to practice Wednesday in Minnesota before Thursday's game against the Wild, Hakstol followed through with the adjustment.

Hakstol met with the four centers before practice and then had Giroux with Voracek and Read. Valtteri Filppula centered Jordan Weal and Wayne Simmonds. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare was teamed with Travis Konecny and Chris VandeVelde.

Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Dale Weise stayed together.

"That line, it's been a good line for us," Hakstol said of Schenn, Couturier and Weise. "Off their game a little bit yesterday, but they've been a good line and I'm confident they'll come back and do a good job tomorrow. The other changes are just looking at different things coming off a road performance yesterday… just looking at a way to inject a little bit more into our lineup for a real tough road game here tomorrow night."

The Flyers didn't lose any ground with Tuesday's loss with Boston, Tampa Bay and Carolina also losing. But the Flyers now have just 10 games remaining as they trail Toronto by seven points for the final wild-card spot.

"We didn't take advantage of the opportunity we had for two points," Hakstol said. "At the end of the day, you can't sit back and watch what's happening elsewhere. You've got to take care of your own backyard, and that's what our focus is. We didn't get it done yesterday. Point blank, we didn't get it done. So, we've got an opportunity tomorrow night for two points and that's what our job is."

Reuniting Giroux and Voracek, along with Read, is one way he hopes to solve the issue. Voracek said he knows the onus is on his line to lead the way.

"We know what to expect from each other," Voracek said. "When we move our feet, we are dangerous. So that's what we've got to do. We've got to have fun. We've got to find a way to score the goals and help the team to win the games, because we're going to play a lot of minutes."

Another possible change for Hakstol could come along the defense. Brandon Manning practiced on Wednesday and Hakstol said it's possible he could rejoin the lineup against the Wild.

Manning hasn't played since March 11 because of a right shoulder injury. Hakstol said he's confident Manning is ready and a decision will be made Thursday morning on which of the seven defensemen will play in the game.

"He's practiced well," Hakstol said. "He got extra work in yesterday. He practiced well today. We'll have a decision to make tomorrow."