Sto­larz leads way in his de­but

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Rob Par­ent rpar­ent@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Reluc­tan­tSE on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> An­thony Sto­larz made 29 saves for his first NHL vic­tory in the Philadel­phia Fly­ers’ 5-3 win over the Cal­gary Flames on Sun­day night.

Sto­larz also be­came the first New Jer­sey na­tive to ap­pear in goal in an NHL game. The 22-year-old was born in Edi­son, about 60 miles north­east of Philadel­phia.

Michael Raffl, Jakub Vo­racek, Chris Van­deVelde, Wayne Sim­monds and Ro­man Lyu­bi­mov scored to help the Fly­ers snap a two-game los­ing streak and im­prove to 10-10-3.

T.J. Brodie, Matthew Tkachuk and Alex Chiasson scored for the Flames. They are 10-13-1 overal, and 3-2-0 on a six-game trip that will end Mon­day night against the New York Is­lan­ders.

*** It took Michael Del Zotto a surgery to re­pair torn wrist lig­a­ments and a full off­sea­son’s re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion to get his left hand some­what com­pe­tently around a stick again, only to see a left knee prob­lem in train­ing camp de­lay the start of his sea­son un­til Nov. 6.

All those missed games clearly have had an im­pact, Fly­ers coach Dave Hak­stol in­di­cated Sun­day, and led to the three straight healthy scratches that Del Zotto just en­dured.

“I’m not go­ing to get into specifics ... (but) Michael’s com­ing off a good chunk of time where he didn’t play reg­u­larly, if you go all the way back to last sea­son,” Hak­stol said be­fore the Fly­ers took on the Cal­gary Flames. “So there were some in­con­sis­ten­cies in his game. And the group of six (de­fense­men) that was in there the last cou­ple of games was bat­tling hard and play­ing hard so ... it was moreso that.

“It was tough to make a change when the group of six is bat­tling hard.”

Yes, but the num­bers and the eyes of any ob­server would ar­gue that there hasn’t been much rea­son to think the Fly­ers should feel like they don’t have to change a thing de­fen­sively. No team in the NHL had given up more goals than them (75) through Satur­day’s games.

You can’t put all of the blame for that on the de­fense. Just a big chunk of it.

So with the con­ve­nience of Bran­don Man­ning not be­ing as well as he said he was (sur­prise, sur­prise) the day be­fore, a spot opened up for Del Zotto to re­turn to ac­tion Sun­day night against the Flames at Wells Fargo Cen­ter.

“He comes in with all the con­fi­dence in the world from us as a staff,” Hak­stol said. “Come in, play a strong, solid game and keep re­build­ing him­self back into that form be­fore in­juries got in the way.”

Man­ning, by the way, was held out of the game due to what gen­eral man­ager Ron Hex­tall called “pre­cau­tion­ary rea­sons.” He had been belted hard both into the boards and by Chris Krei­der’s fist in Satur­day’s loss to the Rangers. Man­ning’s sta­tus go­ing for­ward isn’t known.

*** Del Zotto wasn’t the only one mak­ing a re­turn to the lineup, as check­ing line for­ward Ro­man Lyu­bi­mov was back in af­ter seven straight healthy bench­ings. Yet Hak­stol is still rav­ing about him.

“He prob­a­bly wasn’t de­serv­ing to be out of the lineup,” Hak­stol said of the 24-yearold

Rus­sian free agent for­ward. “He’s such a worker. Right from Day 1. I wish I could say some­thing dif­fer­ent about him be­cause it sounds like a bro­ken record, but I’m happy that I can’t say some­thing dif­fer­ent be­cause he’s just a worker. He’s pre­cise in ev­ery­thing he does out there. Al­ways ex­tra ef­fort, al­ways fo­cuses on good ex­e­cu­tion.”

*** NOTES >> Hak­stol has been jug­gling lines quite a bit, and had Michael Raffl back on left wing of the top line Sun­day night. That worked out fine early on, as Raffl’s goal late in the first pe­riod tied the game with the Flames. “He’s com­fort­able there in terms of chem­istry,” Hak­stol said of Raffl. “He’s played there in a pretty sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of games. He brings a straight-line power for­ward el­e­ment to them.” ... An­thony Sto­larz on find­ing out late Satur­day that he was go­ing to make his NHL crease de­but against the Flames: “For me it was ex­cit­ing to fi­nally hear those words. I’ll go out there tonight and work hard, have fun and give this team a chance to win. It’s ex­cit­ing to fi­nally get this op­por­tu­nity.”

MATT SLOCUM — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Flames’ Alex Chiasson (39) tries to get a shot past the Fly­ers’ Michael Del Zotto (15) Sun­day in Philadel­phia.

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