Kevin Hayes

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The Buzzer: Matthews reaches new heights; Flyers defeat Capitals

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Three Stars

1) Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets

Scheifele recorded a regulation goal and a critical shootout tally to help the Jets win their second straight game. The underrated center is second in the NHL with 25 points since December 3rd, according to Sportsnet. Midway through the second period, Scheifele wired a wrister from the right face-off circle to give the Jets a 3-2 lead. In the shootout, he scored a timely goal in the bottom half of the third round to force extra innings.

2) Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Matthews became the first American-born skater and first Maple Leafs player to score 30 or more goals in each of his first four NHL seasons in Toronto’s 4-3 shootout loss against the Winnipeg Jets. His second goal of the game came with 14 seconds remaining to force overtime. The 22-year-old also evened the score at 1-1 early in the first period when his wrist shot sailed past Connor Hellebuyck.

3) Kevin Hayes, Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers center converted a nifty shorthanded breakaway in the final minutes of the second period to help Philadelphia capture a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals. Scott Laughton forced John Carlson to turn the puck over and Hayes dashed up ice to take advantage of the opportunity. Hayes deftly moved the puck from his forehand to his backhand to beat Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.

Highlights of the Night

The overtime session between the Maple Leafs and Jets was exhilarating. John Tortorella was right when he said we should eliminate the shootout and play more three-on-three hockey. Frederik Andersen made a number of impressive saves during the extra period, including this beauty.

In addition to the overtime, the shootout didn’t disappoint with some incredibly quick releases.

Blooper of the Night

Drew Doughty tests out a new position

Stats of the Night

NHL Scores

Winnipeg Jets 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 3 (SO)

Philadelphia Flyers 3, Washington Capitals 2

Dallas Stars 2, Los Angeles Kings 1

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

Hart, Hayes lead Flyers past Capitals

Carter Hart #79 and Kevin Hayes #13 of the Philadelphia Flyers
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The Philadelphia Flyers responded after a disappointing road trip with a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday Night Hockey.

Kevin Hayes scored a go-ahead shorthanded goal in the second period, Carter Hart made 26 saves and the Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak.

Nicklas Backstrom and Jakub Vrana scored, but the Capitals’ three-game winning streak came to an end. Braden Holtby added 24 saves.

Home is where Hart is

The young Flyers goaltender has been excellent on home ice and improved to 12-1-2 in 15 starts at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia.

It is common for an inexperienced goaltender to be more comfortable in his natural surroundings, but Hart does need to take the next step in order to solidify the Flyers goaltending position. In 15 road games, Hart is 2-9-1 with a 4.01 GAA and .850 save percentage.

Hart’s strong play at home is an encouraging sign for his development, but the Flyers need Hart to round out his game to be considered a threat in the Eastern Conference.

Ovechkin still tied with Selanne

The Capitals captain scored twice on Tuesday to tie Teemu Selanne for 11th place on the NHL’s all-time goals list but failed to pass the “Finnish Flash” in the loss against the Flyers.

Alex Ovechkin is currently 211 goals short of Wayne Gretzky’s record of 894 goals and Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan believes he might be able to achieve something that was thought to be impossible.

“Health is obviously going to play a big factor,” MacLellan said on Sportsnet Wednesday. “He still shoots the puck well. As long as he has the shot, and we have a good enough team surrounding him, and our power play stays in the top 10, he has a chance to play for a long time. I think longevity is the key to him.”

Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.

The Buzzer: Huberdeau sparks Panthers; Stars complete comeback

Jonathan Huberdeau #11 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his second goal of the game
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Three Stars

1) Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers

After recording two assists in the first half of the Panthers’ 6-5 win against the Montreal Canadiens, Huberdeau added two goals of his own in a 35-second span in the second period. The 26-year-old forward benefitted from a fortuitous bounce when his cross-ice pass attempt deflected off a Canadiens player into the back of the net. Moments later, Huberdeau wired a wrist shot to extend Florida’s lead to 5-3 at the time. Huberdeau is currently the Panthers’ leading scorer and is well on his way to matching or surpassing his 92-point total from last season.

2) Jack Hughes, New Jersey Devils

When selected at the top of the draft, you are expected to be one of the players leading the way for that organization. Sunday, Hughes recorded his first NHL overtime-winning goal and helped lead the Devils to a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. The 18-year-old forward showed a lot of maturity during his breakaway attempt, wisely keeping the puck out of reach from the chasing Senators skater. The simple, yet effective move to the forehand allowed Hughes to lift the puck over Craig Anderson’s glove. Hughes also recorded an assist earlier in the game giving him his third multi-point game of the season.

3) Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

In their final game before the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, the Stars erased a two-goal third-period deficit in a 4-2 win over the Coyotes. Benn had a nifty goal and added an assist during the comeback. The Stars captain showed off his net-front skills as he collected a loose puck in front of the crease then cleverly kicked it over to his backhand to help jumpstart the rally and get Dallas on the scoreboard early in the third period.

Other notable performances from Sunday

John Tortorella – The Blue Jackets were the recipient of some bad fortune, and Tortorella let everyone know the facts of the situation in a clear, concise message after the game. More on the referee’s costly mistake here

Jaden Schwartz – The undersized forward scored two goals Sunday as the Blues captured their eighth straight victory.

David Pastrnak – The NHL’s leading goal-scorer picked up his 29th goal and 29th assist in the Boston Bruins’ 3-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres.

Tyler Myers – The defenseman had two goals early in the first period to help Vancouver start with a 2-0 lead against the Calgary Flames.

Highlights of the Night

Jake DeBrusk – Two power-play goals in 18 seconds helped the Bruins extend their point streak to seven games.

Jakub Voracek – The Flyers forward had two assists but his pass to set up Kevin Hayes’ overtime-winning goal was a thing of beauty. From the top of the left circle in the defensive zone, Voracek fired a pass up ice to Hayes as Anaheim made a poor line change. The Flyers improved to 5-1-0 in their last six games.

Andrej Sekera’s blind pass from behind the net set up Alexander Radulov’s game-tying goal.

Brayden Point found the smallest of openings when he scored the go-ahead goal in Tampa Bay’s 2-1 victory against Detroit.

Stats of the Night

NHL Scores

St. Louis Blues 4, Winnipeg Jets 1

New Jersey Devils 4, Ottawa Senators 3 (OT)

Chicago Blackhawks 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2 (SO)

New York Islanders 3, Minnesota Wild 1

Boston Bruins 3, Buffalo Sabres 2

Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Detroit Red Wings 1

Florida Panthers 6, Montreal Canadiens 5

Dallas Stars 4, Arizona Coyotes 2

Philadelphia Flyers 2, Anaheim Ducks 1 (OT)

Vancouver Canucks 5, Calgary Flames 2

PHT Morning Skate: World Juniors preview; Kurvers’ cancer fight

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• A preview of the 2020 World Junior Championship, which got under way Thursday in the Czech Republic. [Rotoworld]

• Examining which players at the World Juniors could be headed to the NHL come the June draft. [Sportsnet]

• An ankle injury puts Torey Krug on the IR. [Bruins]

Brent Seabrook and Calvin de Haan are done for the season, while Brandon Saad is gone for three weeks. What do the Blackhawks do now? [NBC Sports Chicago]

• How tragedy forged special bond between Dougie Hamilton and a grieving family. [Sportsnet]

• The Golden Knights are making their move up the Western Conference standings. [Yahoo]

• The Pacific Division race is one of the more interesting ones in the NHL. [TSN]

• How will Sidney Crosby‘s return affect the Penguins’ lineup? [Pensburgh]

• There have been plenty of ups and downs in the standings so far, but the Blues have been quite steady as they attempt to repeat. [Post-Dispatch]

• Wild assistant GM Tom Kurvers continues his fight with lung cancer. [Pioneer Press]

• Rangers netminder Alexandar Georgiev on going undrafted and his interest in photography. [Sports Techie]

• Great read on the Fort Wayne Komets’ Jermaine Loewen, the Jamaican-born forward who was adopted at age three and raised in Canada. [Journal Gazette]

• “Tabasco shots, wild commutes, fewer naps: Yes, faith and hockey can mix” [The Score]

• A look at which NHL players will likely be on the move before February’s trade deadline. [Yardbarker]

• Finally, Sweden’s Nils Hoglander loves to try “The Michigan” / “The Svech.” Here was his beautiful goal on Thursday vs. Finland:

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

It was Hayes, Sanheim time as Flyers overwhelm Rangers

Kevin Hayes and Travis Sanheim enjoyed quite the time as the Flyers beat the Rangers 5-1 on Monday.

The two teams entered the second intermission tied 1-1 thanks to Sanheim scoring with just two seconds left. With that, the Flyers extended their winning streak to four games, and they climbed to third in the Metro.

Philly rattled off four third-period goals to turn a goalie duel into a laugher.

Kevin Hayes heating up

Hayes generated 20 points through his first 36 games with the Flyers, which seems … fine. Fans obsessing over Hayes’ $7.14M cap hit are unlikely to be satisfied with a player whose career-high is 55 points.

Hayes looks better the deeper you delve into numbers, though. Although Hayes slipped a bit compared to his contract year, metrics like his HockeyViz heat map impress:

Hayes has been heating up lately, though, and it had to be satisfying to score two goals against his former team. By scoring twice, Hayes pushed his point streak to three games (3G, 2A) and also has seven points in his last five.

Each goal could land on highlight reels, with his first being the game-winner:

Sanheim time

Like Hayes, Sanheim would like to rekindle some of last season’s magic, as his 2019-20 has been a bit of a setback.

The promising defenseman found a way to be at the right place at the right time twice. His first goal screamed right time in a literal way, as he scored with less than two seconds left in the second period.

Sanheim also put himself in the right place at the right time for his second goal as the Flyers created havoc in front of Henrik Lundqvist. While neither Sanheim nor Hayes managed a hat trick, the fifth goal of the night was special, as Nicolas Aubé-Kubel notched his first NHL goal.

Again, the Rangers stuck with the Flyers for most of Monday. Perhaps Philly can point to this as the sort of game that can remind them of the considerable firepower they have on hand?

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.