Many fans who attended the Eagles’ Super Bowl parade and heard the unedited version of Jason Kelce’s speech ventured over to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night for the first-of-its-kind doubleheader: A championship parade followed by a Flyers-Montreal Canadiens matchup.
The nightcap wasn’t as memorable as the parade, but, for the Flyers, it was meaningful.
Travis Konecny scored a pair of goals and Claude Giroux and Shayne Gostisbehere each had three points as the Flyers defeated the Canadiens, 5-3, and stayed atop the wild-card standings in the Eastern Conference. They also moved to within one point of New Jersey, the third-place team in the Metropolitan Division.
“The two points is what probably stands out for me,” said Konecny, mindful the Flyers are in a tight playoff battle. “They’re huge this time of year.”
Montreal pulled its goalie and, with Scott Laughton in the penalty box, had a six-on-four advantage when Brendan Gallagher scored to cut the Flyers’ lead to 4-3 with 2 minutes, 54 seconds left. But Ivan Provorov secured the win with an empty-net goal with 55.9 seconds to go.
Earlier, Jake Voracek, making amends for a turnover that led to a shorthanded goal, scored a power-play tally on a right-circle blast to put the Flyers ahead to stay, 3-2, with 19:33 remaining in the third. Sixty-one seconds later, Konecny knocked in a rebound after the puck trickled through goalie Carey Price and stopped in the crease.
The Flyers have not lost in regulation to Montreal at home since April 2, 2010, going 11-0-1 since that defeat.
After the Flyers failed on three attempts to clear the puck, the Canadiens tied the score at 2 when Logan Shaw pounced on a loose puck in front and beat Brian Elliott (25 saves) with 1:11 left in the second.
Giroux’s power-play goal — a blast from just above the left circle — had given the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 10:23 left in the second. Wayne Simmonds set up a screen in front of Price.
“I was just trying to get a puck on net, and it was a great screen by Simmer,” said Giroux, who finished with a goal, and two assists, and won nine of 12 faceoffs.
After Tuesday’s 2-1 overtime win in Carolina, Giroux criticized his play.
“Everybody in that room knows he wears his heart on his sleeve,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “He expects a lot from the people around him, but I think he puts himself at the head of the line.”
Giroux scored 28 seconds after Artturi Lehkonen’s shorthanded goal tied the game, 1-1. Lehkonen stripped the puck from Voracek in the neutral zone and raced ahead of the pack. It was the ninth shorthanded goal allowed by the Flyers this season, equaling the most in the NHL.
The Flyers’ sizzling top line produced the game’s first goal on a slick passing play between Sean Couturier, Giroux, and Konecny.
Konecny tapped Giroux’s feed off the right goal post and into the net, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 19:18 left in the second period. He later added his 13th goal, a career high, and his seventh in the last nine games.
Since moving to the top line, Konecny has 18 points in 19 games. A member of that No. 1 unit has scored a goal in 14 of those games.
“I just know if I use my speed to get open, G and Coots are more than likely to find me,” Konecny said.
The Flyers, who went 2 for 4 on the power play, had to share the night with the Eagles. Scenes from the Super Bowl champions’ parade held earlier in the day were shown on the scoreboard throughout the game. There were E-A-G-L-E-S chants, and, at one point, the crowd broke into a rendition of Fly Eagles Fly.
“Jason Kelce for mayor!” the scoreboard proclaimed during a break in the first period, showing the Eagles’ colorful center wearing a Mummer’s outfit at the parade.
Many of the Flyers watched the parade together on TV at a South Jersey hotel after the morning skate in Voorhees.
“It’s great for the city,” Giroux said.
Hakstol was asked if the Flyers could use the Eagles’ success as motivation.
“I don’t know if we need to feed off anything,” he said before the game. ‘We’ve got our own mission that we’re on here. I think all our guys are really excited for what they (the Eagles) have accomplished. … It’s hard not to get caught up in the excitement of the city, no question.”