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Gaudreau, Hayes Shine in ASG; Flyers Prepare for Stretch Run

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Johnny Gaudreau, All-Star, Philadelphia Flyers
Johnny Gaudreau (top) of Columbus celebrates one of his three goals with Artemi Panarin on Saturday. Photo: AP.

Kevin Hayes, the Philadelphia Flyers’ lone All-Star representative, completed a memorable weekend Saturday in South Florida.

Ditto his Metropolitan teammate and close friend, Columbus’ Johnny Gaudreau. The South Jersey native had a hat trick and six shots while competing in his seventh All-Star Game.

Hayes, 30, playing in his first All-Star Game, had two assists, but his Metro All-Stars lost to the Atlantic, 10-6, in the tournament semifinals at FLA Live Arena.

Montreal’s Nick Suzuki scored with a little over four minutes left to give the Atlantic a 7-6 lead. Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk made it 8-6, scoring on a breakaway blast with 3:11 to go. He finished with a hat trick and five points.

Detroit’s Dylan Larkin added an empty-net goal, and Boston’s David Pasternak closed the scoring in the final seconds. The Atlantic scored the game’s last six goals.

The Atlantic then won the title with a 7-5 win over the Central. Members of the championship team divided $1 million in earnings. Tkachuk, who is Hayes’ cousin, took home the MVP award after collecting seven points (four goals, three assists) in his team’s two wins.

Teams played two 10-minute periods in the three-on-three competition.

In the other semifinal, the Central Division topped the Pacific, 6-4, to advance into the finals.

Hayes was on a line with his one-time Boston College teammate, Gaudreau, and the New York Rangers’ Artemi Panarin.

“It was awesome,” Hayes said. “Some of my best memories in hockey are playing in college with him.”

Hayes, who had his three-year-old nephew Beau with him for the weekend, did well in the skills competition Friday, then had a strong showing Saturday albeit in a loss that no one took seriously.

“I got to bring him on the bench during the skills,” Hayes said. “I think it’s a memory he’ll have for the rest of his life. He wanted to meet Sidney (Crosby) and Pasta (Pastrnak), so he got to meet those guys.”

Getting serious

Now, the seriousness begins. The Philadelphia Flyers will turn their attention to the final 31 games of the season. They are six points out of a playoff spot but need to climb over five teams.

They will face one of the teams their chasing, the New York Islanders, on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. It will be Bo Horvat’s first game with the Isles since the All-Star center was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks.

Horvat and Flyers right winger Travis Konecny are second cousins. Konecny’s mom, Terri, and Horvat’s dad, Tim, are cousins.

The Flyers have 51 points in 51 games. They have overcome an early 10-game losing streak, and injuries to three critical players — Sean Couturier, Ryan Ellis, and Cam Atkinson — to get to 21-21-9. At a corresponding point last season, they had 15-26-10 record and 40 points — 11 fewer than this year.

Toronto next, Philly in future for ASG?

The NHL announced that next year’s All-Star festivities will be held in Toronto.

It wouldn’t be surprising if the event was held in Philadelphia in 2026, America’s 250th birthday.

Philly has hosted the All-Star Game just twice — in 1976 and 1992 at the Spectrum. The Wells Fargo Center has never hosted the event.

Breakaways

The Flyers, who have been off since a 4-0 win in Winnipeg a week ago, will return to practice Sunday in Voorhees at 2 p.m. It is free and open to the public. … The Flyers have four home games this week — the Islanders on Monday, Connor McDavid and Edmonton on Thursday, Nashville on Saturday, and Dave Hakstol’s surprising Seattle Kraken on Sunday. … Philly has a three-game point streak and has points in four of its last five games (2-1-2). … The Flyers have the 24th-best points percentage (.500) in the 32-team NHL. … Tkachuk and his brother, Brady, combined for 12 points in the All-StarĀ  tournament.

Latest Update on Flyers’ Top Center, Sean Couturier

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