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Hot Flyers face new-look Toronto Maple Leafs and improving Arizona Coyotes this week

This week in Flyers history looks at Ron Hextall's historic night in 1987 and the frightening injury to Brad Marsh that initially marred it.

Fluky or not, Shayne Gostisbehere's goal on Friday was just one part of his otherwise strong game that afternoon. It also came following his three-game benching.
Fluky or not, Shayne Gostisbehere's goal on Friday was just one part of his otherwise strong game that afternoon. It also came following his three-game benching.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Flyers are sorry to see November come to an end. It was one of the best in franchise history.

They went 10-2-4 for a league-best 24 points to move into third place in the Metropolitan Division, three points behind the Islanders.

The Flyers have 13 games in December, starting Tuesday with a brief three-game homestand. Before we get into this week’s opponents, a little frivolity.

Flyers Trivia

Who led the Flyers in scoring during November with 15 points in 16 games?

a) Claude Giroux b) Travis Konecny c) Sean Couturier

This week’s opponents

Game No. 28 - Tuesday, vs. Toronto (7 p.m., NBCSP)

About the Maple Leafs: This will be the third and final regular-season meeting between the Flyers and Leafs. The previous two each were won by the road team in a shootout. Andreas Johnsson won it for Toronto in the 11th-round in Philadelphia on Nov. 2, while Sean Couturier lifted the Flyers a week later. ... The Maple Leafs have won four of five, a modest run that coincided with Brandon Keefe replacing Mike Babcock as head coach on Nov. 20. ... Frederik Andersen will start in net. The Leafs turn right around and host Colorado on Wednesday, which is probably why No. 1 goalie Frederik Andersen will start this intraconference game against the Flyers. ... Mitch Marner will not play. He suffered a high ankle sprain against the Flyers on Nov. 9. ... Leafs captain John Tavares has goals in his last three.

Where they stand: 13-11-4 (30 points), trail Atlantic Division Boston by 13.

Game No. 29 - Thursday, vs. Arizona (7 p.m., NBCSP)

About the Coyotes: One of the surprise teams of the season. This the second of a four-game road trip for the Coyotes, who actually have a better record on the road (8-3-3) than at home (7-6-1). ... Former Flyer Rick Tocchet has just one win in five games as a head coach at the Wells Fargo Center dating back to his days with Tampa Bay. Overall against his former club, Tocchet is 2-6-3. ... No. 1 goalie Darcy Kuemper came into the week leading the NHL with a .935 save percentage. Backup Antti Raanta was 11th at .924. ... Old friend Phil Kessel has one goal in his last 15 games and is -13 in that span.

Where they stand: 15-9-4 (34 points), second place in the Pacific. Through 28 games last season, the Coyotes were 13-13-2.

Game No. 30 - Saturday, vs. Ottawa (1 p.m., NBCSP)

About the Senators: Are last in the NHL in power play efficiency, but you have to applaud the consistency of their inconsistency. They are 4-for-42 at home and 4-for-44 on the road. Ottawa has scored eight power-play goals and allowed four shorthanded goals. Ugh. ...Have lost four in a row. The game in Philadelphia will be the last of a five-game road trip. ... Goalie Craig Anderson came into the week on IR with a lower-body injury, but is due to come off soon. ... Best save of the week was by defenseman Mark Borowiecki, who broke up a robbery attempt near Vancouver (where the Senators are playing Tuesday). Bruce Garrioch, of the Ottawa Sun, reported that Borowiecki on Sunday drilled a person on a bike who had just committed a robbery.

Where they stand: 11-15-1 (23 points), seventh place in the eight-team Atlantic Division.

Special teams report

Power play/NHL rank
19-96, 19.8% (12th)
PP/Last 5 games
2-14, 14.3%
Penalty kill/NHL rank
66-77, 85.7% (3rd)
PK/Last 5 games
11-12, 91.7%
Power play/NHL rank
16-82, 19.5% (13th)
PP/Last 5 games
3-8, 37.5%
Penalty kill/NHL rank
66-88, 75.0% (26th)
PK/Last 5 games
9-10, 90.0%
Power play/NHL rank
15-82, 18.3% (19th)
PP/Last 5 games
3-9, 33.3%
Penalty kill/NHL rank
65-80, 81.3% (16th)
PK/Last 5 games
10-13, 76.9%
Power play/NHL rank
8-86, 9.3% (31st)
PP/Last 5 games
2-11, 18.2%
Penalty kill/NHL rank
80-97, 82.5% (13th)
PK/Last 5 games
13-15, 86.7%

Last week/Nov. 25-Dec. 1

The Flyers went 4-0 with home wins against Vancouver and Detroit and road victories at Columbus and Montreal (in overtime).

Our three stars for the week:

1. Sean Couturier (5 pts., +6)

2. Carter Hart (2-0, .960 save pct., 2 GA in 119:13)

3. Jake Voracek (6 pts., +5),

This week in Flyers history

Dec. 8, 1987: Ron Hextall became the first goaltender in NHL history to directly score a goal when he fired a shot into a vacant net in the Flyers’ 5-2 win over Boston. Eight years earlier, Islanders goalie Billy Smith was credited with a goal after the Colorado Rockies fumbled a puck into their own empty net, and Smith was determined to be the last Islanders player to touch it.

Hextall repeated the feat the following year at Washington and remains the only goalie to score in a playoff game. Five other goalies have shot pucks into empty nets since Hextall. The most recent being Phoenix’s Mike Smith in 2013.

Hextall’s goal against the Bruins capped an unforgettable night at the Spectrum which began with a frightening first period injury when Brad Marsh was checked violently (but cleanly) into the boards. Marsh initially went into convulsions and was rushed to the hospital.

“When I got to the ice, he was out cold,” Flyers trainer Dave Settlemyre told The Inquirer that night. "When he hit his head on the ice, it split open. At that point, you don’t worry about closing the cut. When we first got to him, he was breathing all right, then he started to go into seizure - he sort of swallowed his tongue.

“We put a screw in (his mouth) to keep him from swallowing his tongue. We quickly got a neck brace for him. He was starting to come to when we put him on the stretcher, and when we got him to the ambulance, he was awake and moving his arms and legs. That was the biggest thing you worry about - spinal injuries.”

Flyers forward Scott Mellanby summed it up best after finding out that Marsh was alert and responsive.

“God, what a night,” said Mellanby, who was 21 at the time. "First one of the scariest things I’ve even seen happens, and then Hextall’s goal. I’m just exhausted by it all. "

Trivia answer

Sean Couturier had six goals and nine assists to lead the Flyers in scoring during their highly successful November.

He said it

“It’s not as bad as it looks -- I’m assuming it looks pretty bad. It’s just a slice, nothing major. ... It’s not as big of a deal as you might think.”

-- Defenseman Matt Niskanen, who on Friday took a puck to the face, which required 15 stitches. Fortunately, it banged off his visor, which caused him to be cut. He was back after missing half a period, and assisted on a key goal by Sean Couturier.