Cam Tucker

Flyers continue charge for playoff spot, regroup to defeat struggling Islanders

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OK. Maybe the Philadelphia Flyers suffered a setback against their rivals, the Pittsburgh Penguins, over the weekend.

The disappointment was only temporary.

In the thick of a playoff race for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Flyers got back in the win column on Monday, defeating the New York Islanders by a final score of 4-1. Philadelphia moves back within a single point of the Detroit Red Wings for the final playoff spot in the East, with a game in hand on Detroit, as well.

Meanwhile, the Islanders, holders of the first Wild Card spot in the East, have lost four straight — including a shootout defeat to Pittsburgh — and are now only three points ahead of Philadelphia.

The Flyers, on a four-game road trip, enter the second half of a back-to-back on their schedule, as they play the Columbus Blue Jackets, a team in contention for a high lottery pick, on Tuesday.

Brandon Manning, playing in his 66th NHL game, scored his first career NHL goal on a wrist shot to the top corner late in the second period. Turns out, that goal would be the winner.

Philadelphia added to its lead with goals from Sam Gagner and an empty-netter from Claude Giroux to secure the win.

Sabres sign Minnesota Gophers forward Fasching, hope to ‘bring him in as soon as possible’

2014 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Championship - West Regional
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Coming off a career season at the University of Minnesota, Hudson Fasching has signed an entry-level contract with the Buffalo Sabres, opting to forgo his senior year with the Golden Gophers.

In his junior year this season with Minnesota, Fasching recorded career highs in goals (20) and points (38) in 37 games. He’s also listed at six-foot-two-inches tall and 216 pounds, and represented the U.S. at the 2014 and 2015 world junior championships.

The Sabres initially acquired Fasching from the L.A. Kings in March of 2014.

“Hudson showed us the kind of player he can be during his college career and we are pleased to sign him,” Sabres general manager Tim Murray said in a statement.

“We believe he has the potential to be an effective NHL player and wanted to bring him in as soon as possible.”

Video: Brandon Manning’s first NHL goal gives Flyers lead over Islanders

Brandon Manning‘s first NHL goal could be huge for the Philadelphia Flyers and their playoff hopes.

The 25-year-old Manning, who has played in 65 NHL games, including 44 this season prior to Monday, had never scored in the big league. That changed against the New York Islanders, when he came down the left wing and snapped a wrist shot by goalie Thomas Greiss to the top corner.

That goal gave the Flyers, a team fighting for a playoff spot, a 2-1 lead late in the second period.

Philadelphia is only three points back of the Detroit Red Wings — they don’t play until Tuesday — for the final Wild Card spot in the East. A win would put the Flyers one point back still with a game in hand on the Wings.

Goalie controversy in Anaheim? Andersen earns the shutout versus Bruins

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — While Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has gone out of his way to downplay any potential goaltending controversy, the continued outstanding play of Frederik Andersen keeps the questions coming.

Andersen made 38 saves to earn his fifth career shutout in the Ducks’ 4-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night.

Boudreau broke from the usual rotation in goal when John Gibson felt slightly ill before the game. Andersen seized the opportunity, picking up his 15th win in 17 starts to keep the pressure on in their friendly goaltending rivalry heading toward the playoffs.

“It wasn’t supposed to be his start,” Boudreau said. “Some of the 10-bell chances that they had, I’m sure they were shaking their head after he stopped them.”

Andersen punctuated a night of big stops with two emphatic saves in the second period. After Patrice Bergeron plowed into Andersen while firing a one-timer into the Dane’s chest and dislodging the net, Andersen made a backhanded glove save while falling forward to deny Loui Eriksson.

“I just focus on being ready,” Andersen said. “It’s not in my hands. I just play to the best of my capability and everything is going to take care of itself.”

Boudreau doesn’t have to make any decisions right now, but he acknowledged the Ducks could deploy both Gibson and Andersen during the postseason.

“It doesn’t happen too often, but I don’t think too often you have goalies as equal as we have,” Boudreau said.

Instead, Boudreau tinkered with the offense by playing Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf together again. Anaheim got goals from Jamie McGinn, Ryan Kesler, Hampus Lindholm and Rickard Rakell.

Jonas Gustavsson stopped 22 shots for the Bruins, who dropped consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 11-13. With losses in the first two stops of a three-game California road swing, Boston remained three points behind Atlantic Division-leading Florida.

“We didn’t play a bad game,” Boston forward Brad Marchand said. “They got a couple of early ones, and their goalie made a few really big saves at the right time. They’re a big team. When you’ve got that many big guys with that much skill, sometimes it’s tough to take the puck away from them.”

McGinn was credited with Anaheim’s opening goal early in the first period, the beneficiary of effective positioning in front of the net and a couple of lucky bounces. Perry’s shot hit Boston defenseman Adam McQuaid in the leg before redirecting off McGinn and Torey Krug as they wrestled at the top of the crease.

McGinn has four goals in nine games since being traded from Buffalo.

Anaheim added to its advantage 76 seconds later when Kesler put in a rebound off Andrew Cogliano‘s breakaway shot for his 16th goal.

Lindholm scored 58 seconds into the third, capitalizing on Getzlaf’s pinpoint pass after the Anaheim captain ripped the puck away from John-Michael Liles behind the goal. Rakell notched his 19th goal of the season in the closing minutes.

Before heading out on a five-game Canadian road trip, Anaheim cut its deficit to four points behind the Los Angeles Kings for the Pacific Division lead with 12 games remaining.

Anaheim has earned a point in 11 of its last 12 home games. After losing four of their previous five games during their first poor stretch of play since Christmas, the Ducks avoided consecutive home losses in regulation for the first time since Oct. 14-16.

Longtime Ducks forward Matt Beleskey returned to Anaheim for the first time since signing with Boston as a free agent last summer, but barely avoided a serious injury. Beleskey was accidentally hit in the face by Simon Despres‘ stick late in the first period, dropping him to the ice in pain.

Beleskey, who returned to begin the second period wearing a clear visor, was drafted by Anaheim and played seven seasons with the Ducks before joining Boston.

“It was fun. Well, it was fun to come back here,” Beleskey said of his return. “Obviously, the outcome is not what you want, but it was kind of weird sitting on the other bench tonight, but the first one is out of the way, and I’ve got to move on.”

NOTES: Anaheim has won five consecutive games against Boston, including three straight at home. … Boston dropped to 6-3-1 in the first of back-to-back games this season. … Zdeno Chara got into a fight on his 39th birthday. The Boston captain tussled with Clayton Stoner for his first fighting major since the 2013-14 season.

MacKinnon (knee) to be re-evaluated, Avalanche come back to beat Flames

Minnesota Wild v Colorado Avalanche - Game Seven
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The good news for the Colorado Avalanche? They earned a come-from-behind shootout win over the Calgary Flames, securing two important points in the Western Conference playoff race.

The potentially bad news? Nathan MacKinnon (knee) played his last shift with about three minutes left in the third period and will be re-evaluated tomorrow, according to the Avalanche after their 4-3 shootout victory on Friday.

Colorado defenseman Eric Gelinas also left the game late in the second period due to injury.

Mikkel Boedker scored the lone goal in the deciding skills competition. The Avalanche erased a two-goal deficit, with Carl Soderberg scoring the tying goal just before the midway point of the third period.

The win puts the Avalanche three points ahead of the Minnesota Wild for the final Wild Card spot in the West. The Wild have a game in hand.