Cam Tucker

Vancouver Canucks v New York Rangers
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Video: Rick Nash’s first goal since Dec. 30 helps lead Rangers over Panthers

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NEW YORK (AP) Rick Nash scored his first goal since returning from a leg injury and Henrik Lundqvist made 25 saves in leading the New York Rangers to a 4-2 victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday night.

Viktor Stalberg, Mats Zuccarello and Tanner Glass also scored for the Rangers, who moved two points ahead of idle Pittsburgh for second place in the Metropolitan Division. New York has nine games left in the regular season, one more than the Penguins, winners of six straight.

Nash gave New York a 3-1 lead at 11:14 of the third period with his 13th goal of the season and first since returning to the lineup March 12. He had been sidelined since Jan. 22 because of a bone bruise.

Vincent Trocheck and Jiri Hudler scored for the Panthers, who lost their second in a row. The Atlantic Division leaders are two points in front of Tampa Bay with nine games to go, one fewer than the Lightning have left.

Al Montoya stopped 28 shots for Florida, which had a goal waved off by the officials early in the third period.

This was a bounce-back game for the Rangers, who gave up a season-high 52 shots and were totally embarrassed in a 4-1 loss at San Jose on Saturday.

Lundqvist was lifted in that game after giving up four goals on 47 shots in 49 minutes. He had a relatively quiet start Monday until the Panthers got going with roughly 7 minutes left in the second period and applied pressure the rest of the way.

Stalberg gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead at 11:51 of the first, beating Jaromir Jagr to a puck at the point and converting a 2-on-1 with Dominic Moore.

Zuccarello snapped a shot from the inside of the right circle into the top corner on a second-period power play to extend the margin to 2-0.

Lundqvist got help from the post on a shot by Jussi Jokinen during a goal-mouth scramble in the second period. A goal by Florida defenseman Steven Kampfer was waved off early in the third because the officials thought his stick was too high when he batted in a rebound.

The play was reviewed and the call was upheld.

Trocheck cut the margin to 2-1 by deflecting in a pass from Jokinen at 6:51, and the Panthers had a chance to tie it when Jokinen broke in short-handed at 10:27. Lundqvist stopped him, and Nash restored the two-goal lead with a shot from the right circle as the power play ended.

Hudler cut the margin to 3-2 with 36 seconds to play, but Glass scored into an empty net in the waning seconds to ice the game.

NOTES: This was the opener of a three-game road trip for Florida that includes games at Boston and Tampa Bay. … Six of the Rangers’ final nine games will be played at home. … The Rangers played a video tribute to Jagr in the first period to honor him for moving into third place in NHL history in goals (746) and points (1,857). … Stalberg’s nine goals and 11 assists have all come at even strength this season. … Florida D Dmitry Kulikov got hit in the throat in the third period by a shot from Rangers D Keith Yandle. … New York has won five straight at home against Florida.

Sounds like Nylander will play in AHL playoffs, not world championships when Leafs season ends

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs
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Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander on Monday recorded the first three-point game of his young NHL career, as his team bested the Calgary Flames by a final score of 5-2.

With reports Swedish national team coach Par Marts was in attendance to scout the skilled 19-year-old forward, Nylander added a pair of assists and scored the winning goal 29 seconds into the third period. He has five points in his last two games — against Calgary and Buffalo.

From Chris Johnston of Sportsnet:

Marts and assistant coach Peter Popovic flew to North America over the weekend to take in Monday’s game between the Maple Leafs and Calgary Flames to scout Nylander ahead of the IIHF World Hockey Championship.

Even though they also saw four Swedes play in Sunday’s Columbus Blue Jackets-New Jersey Devils game, Marts made it clear during an interview with Sportsnet that the 19-year-old’s recent NHL promotion prompted the last-minute trip.

However, based on the comments of head coach Mike Babcock, it appears the Maple Leafs believe it would be best for Nylander to go back to the AHL Marlies instead of playing for Sweden at the world championships when the NHL regular season ends.

The Marlies have already clinched a Calder Cup playoff spot. In fact, they’re the only AHL team to do that so far, with a record of 46-15-5.

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.