Cam Tucker

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 17:  Anthony Stolarz #41 of the Philadelphia Flyers skates in warm-ups prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at the Wells Fargo Center on November 17, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Stolarz wins NHL debut as Flyers defeat the Flames


It didn’t start out the way Anthony Stolarz had probably hoped for.

His NHL debut for the Philadelphia Flyers came Sunday, as they faced the Calgary Flames. T.J. Brodie opened the scoring with a backhander on the penalty kill. Again, not an ideal start. It’s a goal Stolarz would probably like to have back. But he settled in the rest of the way.

The Flames tested the 22-year-old Stolarz with 32 shots and the Flyers netminder stopped 29 of them for his first NHL win, as Philly earned a 5-3 victory.

So far this season, goaltending has been a huge issue for the Flyers.

It changed — for one night, at least. Philly is still without Michal Neuvirth, who was expected to miss four to six weeks with a knee issue. But even before that, the numbers between Neuvirth and Steve Mason were brutal and have been well documented as one of the reasons why the Flyers have struggled out of the gate.

The Flyers host the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

There were some anxious moments early in the first period for Philly.

Rookie forward Travis Konecny fell hard into the boards and left the game briefly. But he did return later in the period.

Panthers fire Gerard Gallant (update)

Florida Panthers head coach Gerard Gallant asks the referee to review the game winning goal in overtime by Pittsburgh Penguins' Evgeni Malkin during an NHL hockey game in Pittsburgh, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. The goal was allowed, and the Penguins won in overtime 3-2. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The Florida Panthers have reportedly made a coaching change — minutes after a loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday.

Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet reported on Twitter that Gerard Gallant has been relieved of his duties as head coach following the team’s 3-2 loss to journeyman netminder Michael Leighton and the Hurricanes.

(The initial report has since been confirmed by George Richards of the Miami Herald.)

Update: The Panthers made the move official on Monday morning.

The news comes as a surprise, not just for its timing so quickly after a game. Last season, Gallant was a finalist for the Jack Adams Award after helping guide the Panthers to their best regular season in franchise history. They lost in the first round, but their showing in the regular season set high expectations on the ice for this team moving forward.

This season? He didn’t make it to the beginning of December, with the Panthers, a team that began dealing with injury problems right away, holding a record of 11-10-1 and two points out of a Wild Card spot in the East.

To be sure, it’s a polarizing decision within the hockey community. (See: Twitter)

Tom Rowe, who was named general manager in May, will now take over as head coach.

This move follows a hectic offseason for the Panthers. There were plenty of changes and big re-signings when it came to on-ice personnel, but the franchise underwent a seismic and controversial shift with its front office and scouting department.

Gallant expressed his surprise with all the turnover in Florida this summer and had recently stated his belief the Panthers needed to add toughness to their lineup.

From Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet:

Gerard Gallant would never admit it (at least not before Sunday), but he hated seeing Erik Gudbranson traded. In a cap world, someone had to go. Losing him and Willie Mitchell changed the complexion of the blue line. Gallant valued Gudbranson’s game, how hard he could make it on opposing forwards. But Florida’s front office values a different kind of defender, and with one season remaining until his free agency, they weren’t going to ante up for Gudbranson’s skillset.

That, as much as anything else, is why Gallant (and close friend Mike Kelly) are no longer on the Florida bench. There was plenty of anger in the NHL community over the dismissal. There were a lot of surprised and angry texts from people I rarely hear from. Gallant righted a wayward ship and won a franchise-record 47 games last season, getting them to the playoffs for the second time in 15 years.

The Panthers are on the road against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday.

Six years after his last NHL win, Leighton backstops Hurricanes to victory over Panthers

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Welcome back to the NHL, Michael Leighton.

Recalled to the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the week after goalie Eddie Lack suffered a concussion, Leighton got the start Sunday against the Florida Panthers.

After a tough first period, he was unbeatable the rest of the way, as the Hurricanes came back to beat the Panthers 3-2. That’s his first regular season win in the NHL since Dec. 30, 2010. (That was his first NHL start since 2013.)

And when you have a performance like that — 31 saves for Leighton — you get a special belt.

“It’s good to be back. Good to get a win,” he said in a post-game interview.

That’s an important win for the Hurricanes, after playing last night in Ottawa, as they were able to avoid a third straight loss.

They fell behind by a pair of goals in the opening period, but came alive thanks to a sudden offensive outburst in the second period with three goals — from Viktor Stalberg, Jeff Skinner and Derek Ryan — in the span of 3:28. Suddenly, this game turned in their favor.

That’s the good news.

The bad news: Jordan Staal left the game after the first period and didn’t return due to an upper-body injury. Check back here for an update.

The Coyotes’ dominance over the Oilers continues

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 07:  Goaltender Mike Smith #41 of the Arizona Coyotes during the preseason NHL game against San Jose Sharks at Gila River Arena on October 7, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Sharks 3-1  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Only a few days after an “awful” night against the Vancouver Canucks, Mike Smith redeemed himself Sunday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers.

Smith was impressive, stopping 41 of 42 shots faced as the Coyotes were able to leave Edmonton with a 2-1 victory. Jamie McGinn scored the winner late in the third period and the Coyotes continued their dominance over the Oilers.

Arizona now has a point streak of 25 straight games against the Oilers. In that time, they’ve gone 21-0-4. Per Elias Sports, that’s the longest point streak against one team since the Philadelphia Flyers went 32 straight games with at least a point against the L.A. Kings.

That is a streak that dates back from Oct. 22, 1974 to Feb. 5, 1983.

The Coyotes, a team clearly in a rebuild, have now won two in a row, although they remain at the bottom of the Western Conference standings.

“When I look at it, we had plenty of chances to win. Plenty of chances,” said Oilers coach Todd McLellan. “Their goaltender won them the game tonight, in my opinion.”

Jordan Staal suffers upper-body injury, will not return versus Panthers

Jordan Staal

The Carolina Hurricanes fell behind the Florida Panthers by two goals after the first period of Sunday’s game. But the bad news didn’t end there.

Hurricanes forward Jordan Staal left the game with an upper-body injury. The Hurricanes announced he will not return.

In 20 games this season, Staal has five goals and nine points.

The Hurricanes, who played in Ottawa on Saturday, are looking to avoid a third straight loss.