James O'Brien

Ghost was there for Flyers in clutch, but Panthers win shootout

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Who knew that, when we were marveling at that Jaromir Jagr assist, we’d be in for quite a bit more drama between the Philadelphia Flyers and Florida Panthers?

The Flyers were up 3-2 when that post was up, but there were twists and turns in between that great play and the Panthers’ 5-4 shootout win.

For one thing, Jagr added another assist on Saturday, getting the secondary helper on Aleksander Barkov‘s power-play tally 8:24 into the third period. About a minute-and-a-half later, Reilly Smith stunned the Flyers to give Florida a 4-3 lead.

More than a few Flyers fans languished in thinking that Philly gave up two points when every night matters … but other Flyers fans remembered that this team boasts ultra-clutch, Calder-caliber defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

We may need to begin calling him “Ghost is here in the Clutch” (or … something a lot snappier), as he scored a huge goal to send the game to overtime:

To some extent, losing in the shootout tarnishes that great moment, but “Ghost” at least helped Philly secure a point. He has a knack for getting his team those crucial goals, after all:

The Flyers now find themselves just two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the East’s final wild card spot, and with news surfacing of Evgeni Malkin‘s regular-season-ending injury, this race could be frantic.

… And the Flyers might just have the rookie defenseman who can make the big difference when games matter the most, as he’s done basically since the moment he was given a chance.

***

The win means quite a bit for the Panthers, too. While the Boston Bruins currently hold the top spot in the Atlantic Division, Florida is now just one point behind with two games in hand.

Expect plenty of plot twists and exciting nights with the stretch run truly in gear.

You still got it: Jagr sets up a sweet assist vs. Flyers

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The spellbinding thing about Jaromir Jagr‘s romp through the record book is that he’s not just doing this in a “quantity over quality” kind of way.

Instead of hanging around to pad his stats, Jagr is a go-to guy for the Florida Panthers, and he’s an unusually strong possession player for anyone … but especially for a 44-year-old.

He put what still makes him work on display when he made a great assist on Saturday, holding onto the puck for what must have been an agonizing time for his former Flyers teammates, then showing dazzling creativity in finishing the play by sending a soft pass.

Enjoy that moment in the video above.

Right now, Philly leads Florida 3-2, so perhaps he’ll need to conjure some more magic.

Oh yeah, he also enjoyed another milestone moment today:

Update: The drama really kicked up a notch later on in this game, with the Panthers winning via a shootout. More here.

Red Wings reportedly hope to get Kronwall (knee) back by end of season

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) scores on Edmonton Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens (30) in the second period of an NHL hockey game in Detroit Monday, March 9, 2015. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
AP
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It’s been a day of bad news for teams hoping to cement Eastern Conference playoff spots so far.

First, word came that Evgeni Malkin is likely sidelined through a round or two of the playoffs. Now the Detroit Red Wings are grappling with worries about a lower-body injury for crucial defenseman Niklas Kronwall.

While the early reports indicated that it wasn’t serious, perhaps that’s a matter of semantics; Kronwall had an MRI on his knee and the Red Wings hope he can be back by the end of the regular season, according to Sportsnet’s Damien Cox.

Perhaps it’s all about how you’re looking at it, as there were some who were concerned that it was pretty significant.

After a home game tomorrow, the Red Wings face a significant stretch of four road games:

March 15: at Flyers
March 17: at Blue Jackets
March 19: at Panthers
March 22: at Lightning

Three of those four teams have something on the line, and Columbus has at least some spoiler potential, so facing even that short-term hurdle hurts without Kronwall.

Then again, if they can slog through the season and keep their playoff streak alive, perhaps Kronwall will be there to dish out big hits and a nice bit of offense.

Video: Mike Condon is going to want this one back

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In a way, this moment captures the feel of Mike Condon‘s season.

It starts out with optimism: there Condon was, looking for a Montreal Canadiens teammate to hit with an outlet pass.

In the middle, there’s horror, as it’s clear that the pass is likely to go to a Minnesota Wild player, instead.

The ending is a combination of misery and humiliation. You know, kind of like the Habs’ lost season.

Goals like the one in the video almost kind of make you feel bad for the guy.

Alexei Emelin‘s injury made a bad day worse, too.

Flyers say Andrew MacDonald (lower body) is day-to-day

The Philadelphia Flyers announced that defenseman Andrew MacDonald is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

The polarizing defenseman’s absence may be considered “addition by subtraction” to some, at least judging by the narrative surrounding his season, particularly when he was demoted to the AHL despite his $30 million contract.

That said, MacDonald’s been averaging about 21 minutes of ice time per game, so that’s a consideration for a Flyers team hoping to chase the wounded Pittsburgh Penguins for a playoff spot during the stretch run.