Michael Raffl

Jakub Voracek #93 of the Philadelphia Flyers is congratulated by teammates
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Flyers recover in OT after squandering third-period lead

Like many NHL teams at this juncture of the season, the Philadelphia Flyers are trying to determine if they are playoff contenders or pretenders.

After learning Carter Hart will be sidelined two to three weeks with an abdominal strain, the Flyers put together an impressive 4-3 win against the defending Stanley Cup Champions in St. Louis.

Jakub Voracek scored a crafty goal at 3:33 of overtime as the Flyers captured their third win in the past four games.

Tyler Pitlick, Michael Raffl and Travis Konecny also scored for Philadelphia while Brian Elliott added 30 saves.

Justin Faulk, Ryan O’Reilly and Alexander Steen scored as the Blues fell for the first time at home since December 7th.

Important Road Victory

The Flyers have struggled on the road this season and have only won 10 games in 25 opportunities and went 1-4-1 on their latest six-game road trip.

After surrendering the opening goal, Philadelphia scored three straight only to allow two in the final period to force the extra session. The Flyers proved to themselves that they can skate with the NHL’s best and can now remember this game when looking for confidence during the stretch run of the season.

With Hart sidelined and other obstacles in their path, the Flyers will need to battle adversity to remain in the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

Blues Home Winning Streak

The Blues have been stellar on home ice this season but failed to set a franchise record by extending their winning streak to 10 after falling in overtime against the Flyers. St. Louis showed its resiliency with a rally in the third period to overcome a two-goal deficit but couldn’t finish the job.

During the nine-game home winning streak, the Blues won each game in regulation as they climbed to the top of the standings in the Central Division. For the Blues to be on top of the most competitive division in the League without Vladimir Tarasenko is extraordinary.

Note: Flyers coach Alain Vigneault passed Mike Keenan for sole possession of 11th place on the NHL all-time wins list for coaches with his 673rd victory.

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: Tarasenko’s three-point night; Nyquist nets OT penalty shot

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Three Stars

1. Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues: The Blues forward had a hand in all three of their goals during a 3-1 defeat of the Avalanche. The loss was Colorado’s first regulation defeat of the season, while St. Louis snapped a four-game losing streak. Tarasenko assisted on goals by Brayden Schenn and David Perron before being on the receiving end of this nice bank pass by Jaden Schwartz:

2. Michael Raffl, Philadelphia Flyers: The Flyers built up a 5-0 lead by the end of the second period en route to a 6-2 win over the Golden Knights, snapping a four-game losing streak in the process. Raffl chipped in a pair of goals and added an assist for his first multi-goal game since March 15, 2016. Oskar Lindblom and Travis Konecny each recorded a goal and an assist, while Brian Elliott turned away 33 shots.

3. Anders Nilsson, Ottawa Senators: The Senators netminder put forth a strong effort during a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars. Nilsson stopped 41 shots as the Stars won consecutive games for the first time this season. This was the second straight start for the Swedish netminder where he faced at least 43-plus shots.

Highlights of the Night

• Raffl showed off his moves on this one:

Gustav Nyquist‘s penalty shot goal in overtime put the Blue Jackets over the Maple Leafs 4-3:

Factoids

Scores
Flyers 6, Golden Knights 2
Blue Jackets 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Blues 3, Avalanche  1
Stars 2, Senators 1

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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.

Penguins’ Malkin ejected after swinging stick at head of Flyers’ Raffl

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Oh, boy. This is a no-no. And Evgeni Malkin will have to answer for his stick-swinging antics.

The Pittsburgh Penguins forward let his emotions get the best of him and it could cost him more than just the match penalty he received in Monday’s 4-1 win against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Late in the third period with the Penguins leading the game comfortably 3-0, Flyers forward Michael Raffl and Malkin got tangled up in the neutral zone.

Raffl took a swipe at the back of Malkin’s head with his fist. Malkin, displeased with this, swung around, bringing his stick with him up high and grazing Raffl in the head.

Thankfully, Raffl was fine as that could have ended up much, much worse. Sure, the punch to the back of the head wasn’t nice, but trying to Marty McSorely someone is no way to respond to it.

Malkin, who was quickly escorted off the ice, just returned to the lineup on Monday after missing five games with an upper-body injury. The Penguins sorely missed him, going 1-3-1 in his absence.

George Parros and the NHL’s Department of Player Safety came to the conclusion quickly that the play warranted a review. Malkin has never been suspended during his 13-year career but he was fined $5,000 last year for spearing Los Angeles Kings forward Dustin Brown.

“I know it was dirty,” Malkin said after the game, adding that he didn’t think he hit Raffl.

Malkin said he needs to be smarter next time.


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

Jets’ Byfuglien still looking for No. 1

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Dustin Byfuglien looks to be pissed off in more ways than one these days.

After a slow start to the season in the physical department (and in his game overall), the Winnipeg Jets heavyweight defenseman regained his train-wreck-causing self over the past week, putting his signature beating on some unfortunate souls that drifted into his path of destruction.

Exhibit A: Philadelphia Flyers forward Michael Raffl:

Exhibit B: Philadelphia Flyers forward Jordan Weal:

Even his own teammates aren’t safe from the carnage.

In his obliteration of Weal in the above clip, you can see Jets forward Kyle Connor becoming an innocent victim of the collateral damage.

Jets captain Blake Wheeler made mention of Big Buff’s angered demeanour during their homestand last week, and as they say in Winnipeg: angry Buff is the best Buff.

Indeed, but since Byfuglien arrived in Winnipeg with the rest of the former Atlanta Thrashers in 2011, fans have also seen the other side of his game – a productive one.

At the moment, however, all fans want for Christmas is Byfuglien to find the back of the net.

This season, goal-scoring has been non-existent from the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Minnesota native, who has chipped in for 10 assists in 20 games.

It took Brent Burns 21 games to score his first goal of the season for the San Jose Sharks, a marker that came — mercifully for the man who has scored 56 goals over the past two seasons — on Friday night.

Byfuglien plays in his 21st game of the season on Saturday night, ironically against Burns’ Sharks in San Jose. Perhaps Santa will come a month early.

Byfuglien has had no shortage of chances recent with 16 shots in this past four games and nearly scored twice in a 4-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.

Fair warning to Santa: you don’t want to piss off Dustin Byfuglien.


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

Report: Jets offer camp PTO to Raffl, older brother of Flyers’ Michael

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There’s probably a joke opportunity about Winnipeg trying to win the Raffl, but we’re not going to go there.

Instead, we’ll simply pass along word that, per Austrian news outlet Kurier, Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has received an offer to attend Jets training camp on a professional tryout.

Raffl, 29, was never drafted by an NHL club and has spent his entire career playing in Europe — he did, however, have a two-year stint playing Canadian junior hockey, with WHL clubs Kelowna and Swift Current.

Since then, he’s spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg. Last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria (serving as team captain) at the World Hockey Championships.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, the elder Raffl has good size — bigger than his brother, who’s listed at 6-foot, 190 — and there’s obvious hope he, like his brother, can be another diamond in the rough.

Philly brought over the younger Raffl in ’13-14 and he immediately contributed, with nine goals and 22 points in 68 games.

Last year Raffl scored 21 goals for the Flyers, fourth-most on the team.