Couturier’s hat trick, Hart’s 39 saves help Flyers hold on against Bruins

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It’s not a sustainable winning formula — getting wildly outshot — but the Philadelphia Flyers will take wins any way they can get them these days.

It certainly helps when their players are scoring hat tricks, however. And just scoring in general.

James van Riemsdyk notched his hat trick in a 7-4 win against the Minnesota Wild on Monday, and it was Sean Couturier’s turn with his first career regular season hatty in a 4-3 win against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday Night Hockey on NBCSN.

And it helps to have Carter Hart, who has now won three of his past four starts (and has seen 35 or more shots in four of his past five).

Hart stopped 39 of the 42 pucks sent his way as the Flyers were outshot 42-19.

Hart’s now responsible for two wins on the trot, something the Flyers haven’t experience since Dec. 20. Winning hasn’t come easy in the City of Brotherly love. It’s been a tough season, so silver linings are are the small victories in what appears to be a lost season.

[RELATED: NASCAR champ Martin Truex Jr. goes between the benches]

The Bruins were largely unlucky in the game after controlling two-thirds of the possession, creating 62 shot attempts five-on-five.

Boston had won six of their past eight coming into the game but lost 3-2 in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens on Monday.

With David Backes made a healthy scratch for Wednesday’s game, Boston jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period, including the first NHL goal by Backes’ replacement, Peter Cehlarik.

The Flyers would go on to score four unanswered, with Oscar Lindblom getting the ball rolling and Couturier’s natural hat trick putting the Flyers into a 4-2 lead in the third.

Cehlarik added to his impressive debut by scoring with 56 seconds left in the game but wasn’t enough to get the Bruins to overtime.

Meanwhile, Jori Lehtera was tossed from the game at 16:48 of the second period when he drilled Ryan Donato right on the numbers, sending the latter’s face crashing into the glass.

Donato was bloodied on the play and needed to leave the game to get cleaned up.

Lehtera was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct (and likely a long, hard look from the league for the non-sensical hit).

The Bruins were only able to get three shots on goal during the man-advantage.


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

NASCAR champ Martin Truex Jr. goes between the benches on Wednesday Night Hockey

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One thing hockey and NASCAR have in common is speed.

Martin Truex Jr. knows a thing or two about going fast, and he saw similarities in the pace of both sports when he joined NBCSN’s broadcast of the Philadelphia Flyers and visiting Boston Bruins on Wednesday Night Hockey.

“These guys go with everything they have every single minute of the game,” Truex said. “We have to do the same. When they’re on the ice, they’re going wide-open all day, and that’s kind of how we do it.”

The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champ is gearing up for the 2019 Daytona 500 on Feb. 17 on a new team after making the switch to Joe Gibbs Racing during the offseason following five years with Furniture Row Racing.

But on Wednesday, he was between the glass in Philly with NBCSN’s Brian Boucher.

Truex watched the two teams warming up prior to puck drop. His goal?

“Just to see how close I can get to the puck without it actually hitting me would be a good start,” Truex said, smiling. “Just to see the size and the speed of these guys is going to be insane up close.”

As to who he was rooting for, the Philadelphia-area native was clear.

“Flyers all the way,” he said.

Truex got a good taste of what today’s NHL is all about: goal-scoring.

The Bruins and Flyers combined for three goals in the first period.

“I feel like this is a NASCAR race,” Truex said 15 minutes into the period. “It’s so intense. You got to be here to see it in person. TV is awesome, but when you get down here by this ice, it’s amazing what these guys are doing. NASCAR fans would say the same thing about racing all of the time.”

Truex was especially impressed by the goaltenders, who saw a combined 19 shots in the period.

MORE: 2019 NASCAR schedule on NBC and NBCSN 


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

WATCH LIVE: Flyers take on Bruins on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Flyers poured in seven goals in a 7-4 win over Minnesota. Philly has won two of its last three games, but remains in the basement of the Metropolitan Division. James van Riemsdyk led the way on Monday with his fourth career hat trick, his second in a Flyers uniform, with the previous instance coming in March of 2011.

The Flyers used a five-forward power play against Minnesota Tuesday night, as the first unit consisted of Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, James van Riemsdyk, Sean Couturier, and Jake Voracek. van Riemsdyk scored his first of three goals on the night in the first period on the man advantage, which went just 1-for-5 overall in the game.

“The responsibilities are the same. It just gives you a different look as you come down the boards,” said Flyers interim head coach Scott Gordon. “I think if you can get one (power play goal) per game, now all of a sudden, instead of a two-goal team per-game average, you’re at a three-goal team average, and when you don’t get that goal, it looks like your team is really struggling. Obviously, we’ve had our fair share of missed opportunities.”

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy did not mince words after Monday’s overtime loss to Montreal in calling out David Backes and Jake DeBrusk, who were demoted from the second line (centered by David Krejci, who has scored in three straight games) to the third line against the Canadiens. The 34-year-old Backes, who will be a healthy scratch vs. the Flyers, has struggled to match the speed of opponents this season.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

What: Boston Bruins at Philadelphia Flyers
Where: Wells Fargo Center
When: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN
Live stream: You can watch the Bruins-Flyers stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.

PROJECTED LINEUPS

BRUINS
Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak
Peter Cehlarik – David Krejci – Jake DeBrusk
Sean KuralyNoel AcciariChris Wagner
Danton HeinenJakob Forsbacka KarlssonRyan Donato

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy
Torey KrugBrandon Carlo
Matt GrzelcykKevan Miller

Starting goalie: Jaroslav Halak

FLYERS
James van Riemsdyk – Claude Giroux – Travis Konecny
Oskar Lindblom – Sean Couturier – Jakub Voracek
Scott LaughtonNolan Patrick – Wayne Simmonds
Michael RafflPhilip VaroneJori Lehtera

Ivan ProvorovTravis Sanheim
Shayne GostisbehereAndrew MacDonald
Robert HaggRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Carter Hart

John Forslund (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk, and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Bruins road favorites at Flyers on Wednesday Night Hockey

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

The Boston Bruins have an excellent chance to remedy a small issue with winning when the front end of back-to-back games is on the road.

The Bruins are -140 road favorites on the NHL odds at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com with the Philadelphia Flyers coming back at +120 for their matchup on Wednesday night, while there is a 6.0-goals total.

Boston, which will have to jet home immediately afterward for a home game against the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, is 0-3 this season in road games when it is playing again the next day. However, the recent and head-to-head trends are more promising for the Bruins, who are 6-1-1 in their last eight games and are also 4-1 in their last five games against Philadelphia, according to the OddsShark NHL Database.

The Flyers are 3-5 in their last eight games as a home underdog. Four of the teams’ last five matchups have gone UNDER the posted total.

Boston is 26-15-5 on the season as it vies for home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, but a concern with the Bruins is a 10-9-4 away record that stems from averaging just 2.28 goals per road contest.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Boston has one of the game’s superior first lines with Patrick Bergeron centering Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak, but will be tweaking the other units, with center David Krejci possibly being united with minor-league call-up Peter Cehlarik. Boston’s power play is converting at a robust 28.6 percent over the team’s last 10 games, while the penalty kill is a respectable 83.3 percent.

The Bruins are giving the goaltending start to Jaroslav Halak, who has a 13-7-2 record with a 2.39 goals-against average and .924 save percentage this season.

Philadelphia is 17-23-6, including an underwhelming 9-10-3 in home games. The Flyers, who have seen left wing James van Riemsdyk get on a modest hot streak with three goals in as many games, have had their moments, most recently in a 7-4 win against the Minnesota Wild on Monday, but they are 3-5-1 this season in games two days after a win in their most recent contest.

The Flyers have also exhibited some patterns that might play into a low-scoring contest. They have scored only nine goals in the last five games started by rookie goalie Carter Hart, and the power play has scored on 16.7 percent of its opportunities in the last 10 games. The penalty kill has been a true problem for the Flyers, surviving only 71.4 percent of its man disadvantages.

Hart has a 4-5-1 record with a 2.70 goals-against average and .913 save percentage this season.

The total has gone UNDER at online betting sites in six of Boston’s last eight road games as a moneyline favorite of -130 or greater. However, the total has gone OVER in nine of Boston’s last 10 road games against Metropolitan teams.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

John Forslund (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk, and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Wednesday Night Hockey: Flyers need more from Nolan Patrick

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2018-19 NHL season continues with the Wednesday Night Hockey matchup between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

It’s been a miserable year season for the Flyers, as they’ve accumulated just 40 points in 46 contests. Only the Ottawa Senators are below them in the Eastern Conference standings right now. Many players have failed to live up to their potential, including second-year forward Nolan Patrick.

The Flyers made Patrick the second overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. He was able to crack the lineup in his first year, but he put up a modest 13 goals and 30 points in 73 contests. Coming into this season, the Flyers expected him to take a big step forward.

The 20-year-old has gone through some lean times this season. Heading into last Monday’s game against the Minnesota Wild, Patrick had gone 24 games without a goal. During that stretch, he managed to pick up just two assists. But on Monday night, he came up with a huge performance, as he managed to score two goals and he added two helpers in 14:02 of ice time.

“To be honest, it weighs on you quite a bit,” Patrick said after the game. “It’s something you think about when you go through a slump like that. You just have to believe in yourself and do things to help the team if it’s not scoring…I was just trying to play a good two-way game. I knew it would eventually come. I didn’t think it would take that long, but it happens.”

Even though the Flyers are out of the playoff picture, they can use the second half of the season to lay the groundwork for 2019-20. Patrick, Travis Konecny, Carter Hart, Ivan Provorov are just a few of the younger players that need to have strong performances down the stretch.

[WATCH LIVE – COVERAGE BEGINS AT 6:30 P.M. ET – NBCSN]

Interim head coach Scott Gordon may have to win to keep his job, but leaning on his young center should be one of his priorities. Assuming he can build off of his last performance, Patrick should start seeing more ice time. Through 39 games, he’s averaging just 14:35 of ice time.

“I think the biggest change for him will come as soon as he identifies, and he actually said the term, get to fifth gear,” Gordon said, per NBC Sports Philadelphia. “A lot of times he’s playing in third gear. He’s got another speed and we saw that. When I show him video or we talk about his game, let’s make sure we’re playing in fifth gear tonight.”

In his short career, Patrick has picked up a goal and an assist in four games against the Bruins.

John Forslund (play-by-play), U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member Eddie Olczyk, and Brian Boucher (‘Inside-the-Glass’ analyst) will have the call from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pa.

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.