After demotion, Lecavalier sparks Flyers

Vincent Lecavalier. (Matt Slocum/AP)

Vinny Lecavalier, one of the most accomplished players in NHL history, could have sulked because he was demoted to the fourth line for Friday’s game against Toronto.

Instead, he responded with one of his best games in a few months, scoring a power-play goal and helping the Flyers defeat freefalling Toronto, 4-2, at the Wells Fargo Center.

“Not only that, he was skating and moving his feet,” coach Craig Berube said after the Flyers snapped a two-game losing streak and moved to within one point of the New York Rangers in the Metropolitan Division. “That line was very good, very effective.”

Lecavalier, who had been playing left wing on the second unit, centered a line with Zac Rinaldo and Adam Hall.

“I think we played a great game as a line, and being back in the middle, I felt very comfortable, so I have to give credit to my teammates,” Lecavalier said. “We were close (to scoring) a few times.”

Lecavalier’s goal was the 399th of his career. He is on the verge of becoming the 90th player in NHL history to reach the 400-goal mark.

“He went and centered the fourth line and he had an unbelievable game,” winger Wayne Simmonds said. “He was awesome defensively; he’s good offensively, and he worked really hard. I think a lot of guys can follow that. He has played a long time in this league and he’s a role model to all of us.”

Lecavalier, who turns 34 next month, opened the scoring in the first period, firing a one-timer from the right circle after a nice feed from Kimmo Timonen.

“I didn’t even see the shot,” Simmonds said. “Normally I have time to get to the front of the net. I wasn’t even halfway there. It was in and out before I even got there, so it was an unbelievable shot.”

Claude Giroux helped set up the goal by winning a faceoff from defenseman Dion Phaneuf.

"Their center got kicked out, so it was one of their defensemen taking the draw," Lecavalier said. "Kimmo kind of gave me the nod that if the puck was coming back he would make a pass right away to me. It ended up being a perfect play by those two guys - G for winning the draw, and Kimmo for making a perfect pass."

Rinaldo had an assist, drew a penalty that led to a Flyers goal, and had five hits in one of his strongest  efforts of the season. He called it an “honor” to play alongside Lecavalier.

Rinaldo said Lecavalier’s demotion to the fourth line was an “eye opener,” and added that the veteran forward kept positive about the situation.

 “…Coming down on my line, he wasn’t negative, he wasn’t ticked off about it,” Rinaldo said. “He was giving me some pointers so it helped me out a lot.”

Breakaways. In their last 10 games, the Flyers have killed 36 of 37 penalties,....Nick Grossmann had five hits and blocked four shots….The Flyers are now 19-2-1 when Giroux (see story) scores a goal; he has recorded at least one point in each of the Flyers’ last 16 wins….The Flyers host powerful Boston on Saturday at 12:30 p.m. in a game that was originally scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Since dropping a 6-1 decision to the Bruins on Jan. 25, the Flyers have gone 14-5-1….The Flyers will practice in Voorhees Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.