Wayne Simmonds Preys on Predators in Flyers Victory

Wayne Simmonds Preys on Predators in Flyers Victory

Plenty of great story lines from the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night, as the Orange and Black pick up their first win coming out of the All Star Break by downing the Nashville Predators 4-1. Ilya Bryzgalov played well for the second consecutive game, Matt Read extended his lead on rookie goal scorers, and Claude Giroux snapped out of his funk, albeit on an empty net.

But like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny Glover before him, Wayne Simmonds took down the Predators, drowning two goals to lead the Flyers, and it wasn't just what showed up on the scoreboard that impressed. Simmonds had 10 shots on goal to pace the entire offense, as he and linemates Brayden Schenn and Zac Rinaldo outworked Nashville all night long -- and in the end, the shot Simmonds didn't take that wound up being one of the plays of the game.

Down 3-1 with under two minutes to go, Nashville pulled their goalie and went to work in Philly's zone. Simmonds eventually wound up with the puck with an opportunity to wing it the length of the ice for an attempt at a hat trick. Not square to the target and surrounded by white jerseys, Simmonds instead made the smart play, simply banking it off the boards and out of the zone rather than risk icing it.

It seems so simple, and maybe it should not be overstated as there really was no other play to be made in that situation. That said, it capped off a brilliant night for one of the key pieces from the Mike Richards trade.

A few moments later, Jaromir Jagr wound up with the disc, and unselfishly handed it off to Giroux, who really needed one to get his stroke back. It was his 19th of the season, but his first in a month, going all the way back to the Winter Classic.

While everybody is happy to see G break the curse, regardless of circumstance, the opportunity only came about thanks to the club's consistent effort in every phase of the game.

After the Flyers caught a few posts early on, Simmonds finally got the scoring started late the first period. Schenn stayed strong on the puck as Mike Fisher harassed him along the sideboards until Simmonds popped out of the corner. Schenn made the exchange as Simmonds skated into the slot, then spun around and snapped the biscuit into the far side of the net as Rinaldo screened Anders Lindback.

The goals were Simmonds's 14th and 15th of the season, which puts him one away from his career high with the Kings in 09-10. Barring major injury, it's safe to say he'll eclipse that total.

While this was by no means an easy win, the entire contest turned out to be a slam dunk. The Flyers established themselves at home with timely goal scoring and solid goaltending, plus had the added bonus of getting their star player back on track. In that sense, they made hockey look easy for one night, earning a very satisfying two points.

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).

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

Best of NBA: Noel scores 9 points, grab 10 boards in Mavs debut

DALLAS -- Harrison Barnes scored 19 points and Dirk Nowitzki had 18 points and nine rebounds as the Dallas Mavericks ended a three-game losing streak by beating the New Orleans Pelicans 96-83 on Saturday night.

The Pelicans fell to 0-2 since trading for DeMarcus Cousins and pairing him with Anthony Davis.

Davis had 39 points and 14 rebounds but scored only 12 in the second half. Cousins finished with 12 points and 15 rebounds.

Seth Curry scored 10 of his 13 in the fourth quarter to help Dallas pull away. His 3-pointer with 4:49 to play gave the Mavericks an 84-72 lead, and the Pelicans never got closer than six after that (see full recap).

Harden leads Rockets past Timberwolves in 142-130 shootout
HOUSTON -- James Harden had 24 points and 10 assists to lead the Houston Rockets to a 142-130 victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves as both teams set season scoring highs in a Saturday night shootout.

Houston won for the sixth time in seven games, handing the Timberwolves their first road loss in more than three weeks.

Minnesota committed a season-high 25 turnovers that led to 38 points for the Rockets.

Playing against Houston's guard-heavy rotation, Minnesota went inside all night and outscored the Rockets 68-44 in the paint. Karl-Anthony Towns had 37 points and 22 rebounds, and Andrew Wiggins added 30 points (see full recap).

Bulls benefit as James sits with strep, beat Cavs 117-99
CLEVELAND -- Dwyane Wade scored 20 points and Jimmy Butler recorded a triple-double, leading the Chicago Bulls to a 117-99 victory Saturday night over the Cleveland Cavaliers, who played without LeBron James.

James missed the game with strep throat, and coach Tyronn Lue said he wasn't sure how long the Cavaliers would be without the four-time MVP. Cleveland struggled as it often does without its star - they are 4-19 without him since he returned to Cleveland in 2014, including 0-4 this season.

Chicago has won all three games against Cleveland this season. It took advantage of James' absence to win its fourth straight overall (see full recap).

George ejected, Heat stay hot with 113-95 win over Pacers
MIAMI -- Paul George had another frustrating night in Miami.

Hassan Whiteside scored 22 points and grabbed 17 rebounds, Dion Waiters added 22 points and the red-hot Miami Heat pulled away late to beat the Indiana Pacers 113-95 on Saturday night. Miami outscored Indiana 42-22 in the final 16 minutes, all with George watching from the Pacers' locker room after an ejection.

"It felt like a playoff-type game," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said (see full recap).