Wayne Simmonds selected to play in first NHL All-Star Game

Wayne Simmonds selected to play in first NHL All-Star Game

Updated: 3:35 p.m.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Wayne Simmonds is heading back to Los Angeles, this time as an All-Star.

Simmonds on Tuesday was named as the Flyers’ lone representative to the Metropolitan Division team for the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 29, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“It’s kind of surreal,” Simmonds said upon learning of his selection following the Flyers’ morning skate at KeyBank Center. “It makes me think when I was a young kid, watching the All-Star Games and watching all the great players who played in it. To even be mentioned in the same breath as All-Stars in the NHL, it’s pretty special and it’s a great accomplishment."

This marks Simmonds’ first selection to the All-Star Game in his nine-year career.

The 28-year-old winger has been exceptional for the Flyers this season with a team-leading 17 goals and 15 assists for 32 points in 42 games heading into Tuesday night’s contest with the Sabres (see game notes).

“He’s a guy that kind of epitomizes what it is to be a Philadelphia Flyer,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “And obviously, he has had a great season to this point.”

The All-Star selection means Simmonds will head back to where his career began in L.A. A second-round pick of the Kings in 2007, Simmonds was dealt to the Flyers along with Brayden Schenn in exchange for Mike Richards in June 2011 after playing three seasons in Southern California.

“It makes it that much more special,” Simmonds said. “I know Jakey (Jake Voracek) got a chance to play in the All-Star Game when it was in Columbus and I know that was pretty special to him. I think it goes the same for me.”

Simmonds has been Mr. Do-It-All for the Flyers as he’s an important piece of the league’s ninth-ranked power play with eight goals. This season, he’s become a key contributor in a new role on the penalty kill and even has a short-handed goal.

“Back [in L.A.] I was more of a defensive guy,” Simmonds said. “After my third year, I come to Philly and I completely switch roles to an offensive guy. Everything is kind of coming full circle now. I’ve got a chance to play on the PK. I’ve gotten better in my defensive zone over the years that I’ve been here. Just trying to put everything together and become a complete player.”

Simmonds has 149 goals and 134 assists for 283 points in his five-plus seasons with the Flyers.

“I think it’s terrific,” said general manager Ron Hextall, who was an assistant GM for the Kings when Simmonds was drafted. “He deserves it and sometimes players like him aren’t recognized and they should be because he’s a very good player. He’s one of those guys that just can grab the puck and muscle his way to the net. He’s got good hands in front of the net, he’s got speed, he’s good on the forecheck. He does a lot of good things.”

The NHL All-Star Game matches up the best from all four divisions and uses the league’s wildly popular 3-on-3 OT format. A skills competition will be held on Sat. Jan. 28 and Simmonds will participate, but the event he will participate in will be announced later.

“I don’t think I am the greatest at 3-on-3 but I think I can adjust a little bit,” said Simmonds, who has played often in overtime for the Flyers this season. “I’ll probably fly under the radar. It’s my first time going to the All-Star Game. I’m not trying to put on too big of a show or show anybody up. I’m just grateful.”

Mason in net
Steve Mason will be the Flyers’ goaltender for the second game in a row.

Michal Neuvirth returned for Saturday’s victory over the Lightning after missing 24 games with a knee injury, but Hakstol said he does not plan to rotate the goalies going forward.

“These guys are going to remain a tandem, they are going to work together, but no, I don’t have plan right now to go back and forth into a rotation,” Hakstol said. “[Mason] will go tonight and we play another three games in five days after that, so I’m sure somewhere along the way, we’ll use both of them.”

Power move
The Flyers are hoping to get their power play going again. Once ranked No. 1 in the NHL, the unit has scored in just 3 of its last 32 chances.

Tonight’s matchup should help the Flyers. Buffalo’s penalty kill ranks last in the league at 74.3 percent.

Projected lineup
F: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Matt Read

Dale Weise-Brayden Schenn-Wayne Simmonds

Travis Konecny-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek

Chris VandeVelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Roman Lyubimov

D: Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald

Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas

Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere

G: Steve Mason

Michal Neuvirth

Injured: Defenseman Mark Streit (shoulder)

Scratches: Forwards Nick Cousins (healthy) and Boyd Gordon (healthy), and defenseman Nick Schultz (healthy)

- CSNPhilly.com's Greg Paone contributed to this story.

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

Best of NHL: Blue Jackets crush Islanders, 7-0

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Unlike some other NHL teams coming off their bye week, there wasn't a spot of rust on the sleek Columbus Blue Jackets.

In their first game following a five-day break, the high-energy Blue Jackets blew out the New York Islanders 7-0 Saturday as backup goalie Joonas Korpisalo earned his first career shutout.

Josh Anderson and Nick Foligno each scored twice, and David Savard had a goal and three assists. Boone Jenner and Jack Johnson also scored to help the Blue Jackets end New York's three-game winning streak (see full recap).

Zibanejad scores in OT to help Rangers beat Devils again
NEWARK, N.J. -- The New York Rangers are finding ways to win, and the New Jersey Devils just aren't.

Moments after goaltender Antti Raanta stopped Kyle Palmieri on a breakaway, Mika Zibanejad scored 1:16 into overtime and the Rangers rallied to beat the Devils 4-3 on Saturday.

"I had to redeem myself after that letdown on the breakaway the other way," said Zibanejad, whose mistake gave Palmieri a chance to complete a hat trick. "Rants came up big and it's nice to see that puck cross the goal line once again and win the game."

The goal was Zibanejad's first in 16 games and it gave the Rangers their ninth win in 11 games (9-1-1). Struggling New Jersey got its fourth loss in five games (1-3-1) (see full recap).

Shaw's OT goal gives Canadiens 14th straight win over the Leafs
TORONTO -- Andrew Shaw scored 1:06 into overtime and the Montreal Canadiens beat Toronto 3-2 on Saturday night for their 14th consecutive victory over the Maple Leafs.

Max Pacioretty and Alex Galchenyuk had the other goals for the Canadiens, who increased their Atlantic Division lead to four points over Ottawa and five on Toronto. They are 3-7-1 in the last 11 games and 2-2-0 under new coach Claude Julien.

Carey Price stopped 32 shots for Montreal, including a breakaway by Auston Matthews in overtime. The 19-year-old Matthews scored twice to reach 30 goals in his rookie season, and Frederik Andersen was sharp with 25 saves for Toronto (see full recap).

Flyers suffer deflating outdoor loss to Penguins, fall in playoff picture

Flyers suffer deflating outdoor loss to Penguins, fall in playoff picture

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH – They won the battle inside the faceoff circle. Outshot their opponent badly. Blocked more shots, too.

And the Flyers still lost. Sound familiar?

Saturday's 4-2 defeat (see Instant Replay) to the Penguins at Heinz Field in the Stadium Series outdoor game likely confirms for general manager Ron Hextall it’s time to be a seller at the trade deadline with a playoff berth seemingly out of sight.

"We gotta score goals. We got good opportunities, but it’s getting old," Jakub Voracek lamented. "If we don’t find a way to win a game, nobody cares."

Not enough scoring from their pop-gun offense, which now has just 25 goals over their last 16 games. Which is a major reason why they've lost seven of their last nine.

"It's that cliché, gripping your stick and I don’t like to use that," Voracek said. "The bottom line, if we want to make the playoffs we got to score the goals. We're not scoring."

It was 36 degrees at puck drop and there were swirling wind gusts. Players said the first period was tough, but they adjusted as the game went on.

"It feels good. It feels awesome," Wayne Simmonds said. "It's the way ice hockey should be played."

That good feeling didn't translate to offense Saturday. They played well enough to win but ...

"We got to get going here," Shayne Gostisbehere said. "We're [five] points back and that's the biggest thing and it's in all of our heads now. It's getting down to not a lot of games left and we've got to get two points."

Goalie Michal Neuvirth did not have a strong game facing 29 shots.

"We walk away with the wrong result," coach Dave Hakstol said. "We have a day in-between to turn the page and get back at it."

Things began Pittsburgh's way with Sidney Crosby scoring at 11:18, sneaking to the low right slot near the goal line to take a perfect pass from Jake Guentzel and one-time into the far side on Neuvirth for his 34th goal.

Brayden Schenn, centering a new line with Nick Cousins and Jakub Voracek, had a solid scoring chance in the final minute of the period, but Pens goalie Matt Murray turned his shot aside. Murray also had two good saves on Sean Couturier earlier from in tight.

Nick Bonino, one of the heroes from the Stanley Cup Final last season, made it 2-0 at 6:44 of the second period on the power play. He scored almost from the same spot where Crosby scored.

Minutes earlier, Guenztel took a questionable hit to the head area from Brandon Manning which the Penguins felt was illegal (see video). Pittsburgh came back with Chris Kunitz rocking Ivan Provorov two shifts later.

Manning’s hit energized the Flyers, who owned the second period.

Hours before the game, Voracek said what most people were already thinking.

"I would expect this to be the biggest game of the year," he said. "You look at the standings. We can’t afford to lose."

Voracek wasn't kidding when he said the Flyers needed to do something here. He went behind the net 4-on-4 with Justin Schultz and came around the front with the puck to muscle it past Murray at 11:14, cutting the Flyers deficit in half.

Voracek's goal, his second in three games, gave the Flyers even more of a lift and they made a strong push to tie the game before the period ended.

"We spent a lot of time in their zone and we were very strong on the forecheck," Voracek said. "We had comebacks early in the season … but two penalties in the end, it's tough … How do you rebound? You have no choice. We're not out. We have to start winning."

The Flyers killed off a carryover penalty to start the third but immediately after, the Pens got a strong forecheck with Eric Fehr behind the net, getting the puck over to 40-year-old Matt Cullen, who snuck up on Neuvirth and stunned him with a wraparound.

That was a terribly costly goal and made it 3-1, but Gostisbehere got it right back minutes later with his first goal in 34 games off a point shot during the power play.

It was as close as the Flyers got. Pittsburgh scored off a faceoff to make it 4-2 in the final six minutes. Sean Couturier lost a draw to Evgeni Malkin and the Pens scored off a point drive Neuvirth couldn't find.

"That was deflating," Gostisbehere said. "We can be sad for ourselves all we want … bad bounces or we can say, 'well, it's lucky.' But you know, it keeps happening for a reason."