The Flyers, thanks to a 4-1 win over Edmonton on Tuesday, raised their record to 41-19-6 and increased their lead over second-place Boston to four points in the East.
The victory gave them 88 points, which ties their output for the entire 2009-10 season.
They have 16 games left, and are closing in on their first 50-win season since 1985-86.
Why, then, was there little joy in the Flyers’ locker room after they snapped a four-game losing streak Tuesday?
Because they were outplayed over the final two periods by an Edmonton team that is now last in the 30-team NHL. The Oilers outshot the Flyers, 24-10, over the final 40 minutes.
Defenseman Chris Pronger was especially critical of the team’s performance, saying the Flyers played "23 or 24 good minutes."
Coach Peter Laviolette didn’t like the final two periods, either.
“We lost our speed and turned the puck over by trying to be too cute,” Laviolette said. “We played a different game in the first period and really took control. They changed their game a bit and started to pressure a little more, so the turnovers happened, but there are a lot of unforced turnovers that we don’t need to make.”
After a dominating first period in which they outshot the visitors, 17-1, the Flyers went into a defensive shell.
“We are not in the position to do that right now _ ever, really,” Laviolette said. “However, certainly coming off some of the games we have played recently, we are looking for a complete 60 minutes.”
Jeff Carter, who missed the last game because of the flu, returned to the lineup and scored his 29th and 30th goals of the season.
“I thought he was strong. I think he is one of our better players with speed,” Laviolette said. “I said this the other night, but when you take a guy out that…. skates so effortlessly, you miss him. He is a big body and his stride is easy on the ice, so it’s nice to have him back.”
Matt Carle set up the Flyers’ first goal, firing a long pass that sent Danny Briere in on a first-period breakaway.
“I think the whole season is a work in progress,” Carle said. “It’s kind of like a golf game. You never are going to be perfect. There is always some aspect of the game that you want to try to work on. There were a lot of positives tonight. I think everybody will agree we came out like a bullet out of a gun….but we need to sustain that throughout the whole 60 minutes. That’s been the case most of the season, but it was a step in the right direction.”
Laviolette gave his flu-riddled team Monday off. After Tuesday’s win, he surprisingly gave them Wednesday off in an attempt to keep them energized. The Flyers will charter a 2 p.m. flight for Toronto on Wednesday and play the Maple Leafs on Thursday night, attempting to avenge a recent 3-2 loss.
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The Briere line, with Scott Hartnell and Ville Leino, has struggled lately, but it combined for three points in Tuesday’s win.
Leino shaved his beard Monday, figuring something different might help.
“Hopefully, I’ll be a little faster without it,” he kidded before the game.
Leino contributed an assist in the victory.
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Dan Carcillo led the Flyers with four hits, and Mike Richards won 11 of 15 faceoffs (73 percent)....Sergei Bobrovsky, who made three terrific saves in the final minutes, ended his two-game losing streak....Claude Giroux (two assists), Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn were each plus-2....Flyers won 62 percent of the faceoffs.....Edmonton defenseman Jim Vandermeer, a former Flyer, was minus-3.
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For constant Flyers updates, follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.
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