ST. PAUL, Minn. - Playing their first game since ascending to the top of the 30-team NHL, the Flyers seemed to like life in the penthouse suite.
The Flyers, with blossoming winger Andreas Nodl contributing a shorthanded goal and an assist, continued their blistering scoring Wednesday night as they defeated the Minnesota Wild, 6-1, at the Xcel Energy Center.
With 32 points, the Flyers are first overall in the league. After Monday's win over Montreal, they took the top position (after at least 20 games) for the first time in almost five years.
"It's a nice spot to be in, but it's not an easy spot to stay at," defenseman Matt Carle said before Wednesday's romp. "When we go in to play against teams, you know we're going to get their best. So it's going to take a lot of effort to stay there."
They got that effort Wednesday as they raised their record to 15-6-2 with their third straight win.
The Flyers got goals from six players: James van Riemsdyk, Jeff Carter, Danny Briere, Nodl, Ville Leino, and Jody Shelley.
Nodl's goal, on a breakaway with 12 minutes, 13 seconds left, made it 4-1 and took the life out of the Wild. Before getting shelled, Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom had a 2.11 goals-against average and .932 save percentage.
"Coach puts me out there in all situations, and right now it just seems like the puck is going my way," said Nodl, who has five goals and four assists in his last 10 games.
Added Nodl: "It all starts on the defensive side. If you're not defensively responsible, you're not going to be out there. When you're out there with [Mike Richards], you're going to be out against top players."
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky played solidly against the offensive-challenged Wild, improving to 12-3-1.
The Flyers entered the night with 33 goals in their last seven games, an average of 4.71 goals per game. They had scored 78 goals, tops in the 30-team NHL.
"They have so many weapons offensively," Minnesota center Matt Cullen said. "When you look at a team like that, it's not a team that has one single line that you can focus on. They're just a very good team, and you have to bring your best game and try to match up, but they're such a unique team. They're so deep as an offensive team."
They will become even deeper if van Riemsdyk continues to awaken from a long scoring drought.
After not scoring in his first 17 games this season, van Riemsdyk registered a goal in his second consecutive game.
On Monday, the second-year winger scored the game-winner in a 3-2 triumph over Montreal. His goal Wednesday was more grit than anything else as he kept hammering at a puck that Backstrom appeared to have smothered after a shot by Braydon Coburn in traffic.
The puck eventually squirted into the net, off the goalie's elbow as he appeared to knock it in, and it gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 16:44 remaining in the first period. Coburn and Nodl were credited with assists.
"It was weird. . . . There was kind of a lot of confusion in front of the net," van Riemsdyk said. "I got a poke at the puck, and I think their guy on the ice may have tried to pass it to the goalie and it ended up going in his own net."
Van Riemsdyk conceded that his goal on Monday "definitely took a huge weight off my shoulder, and now I feel like I can just go out there and play my game now."
The Flyers increased their lead to 2-0 just 2:16 later as Carter scored his 11th goal and third in the last four games. Carter maneuvered between two defenders in the right circle and sent a backhander to the far side.
The first period ended with 1:57 left so arena workers could fix the side glass, shattered by Kimmo Timonen's power-play drive. The 1:57 carried over to the second period, with the Flyers still on a power play.
Bobrovsky, who sat out the previous two games, wasn't tested much, but he looked sharp in his return. His best first-period save was on Eric Nystrom in front.
The Flyers built a 2-0 lead despite allowing the Wild to win 17 of 20 first-period face-offs.
Minnesota got back into the game on a gift goal, courtesy of defenseman Andrej Meszaros, late in the second period.
Patrick O'Sullivan flipped a puck out front that bounced off Meszaros and past a stunned Bobrovsky with 5:11 left in the period. It was the second straight game in which a puck had deflected off Meszaros and into his own net.
So Minnesota was within 2-1 despite having almost no offense in the first two periods. It took the Wild 12:35 before they managed a second-period shot, ending a shotless streak that had spanned 19:40.
Any momentum the Wild had generated, however, was erased when Briere redirected a Scott Hartnell pass past Backstrom with 59.3 seconds left in the second period. It was his 11th goal and it gave the Flyers a 3-1 cushion.
When Michael Leighton returns, who should be the Flyers' No. 1 goalie?
1. Sergei Bobrovsky
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