Wayne Simmonds may soon lose some teeth because he took a stick to the mouth earlier in the week, but he hasn’t lost his scoring touch.
The Flyers have five victories, and Simmonds has the game-winner in four of them, equaling his total from all of last season.
The latest came with 2 minutes, 15 second left in their hard-earned 2-1 victory Saturday afternoon over Edmonton at the electric Wells Fargo Center.
Simmonds took a feed from Val Filppula and whipped a right-circle shot past Cam Talbot for his sixth goal of the young season.
“Val made an unbelievable play,” Simmonds said after the Flyers improved to 5-3. “….I had an empty net.”
Simmonds has not had the best of weeks, health-wise. He suffered an undisclosed injury — he is thought to have tweaked his groin — in one game, and his mouth was bleeding profusely after the stick of Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm inadvertently hit him while he was sitting on the bench Thursday.
The 29-year-old right winger wore a jaw protector in Saturday’s game and, while playing through the pain, he set up the Flyers’ first goal — Claude Giroux’s power-play tally — and scored the game-winner.
“You saw him with the bubble on tonight,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “All I’ll say is, character man. He showed up, played hard, and did his job.”
“He’s as tough as they get,” said right winger Jake Voracek, who has 10 assists and is still looking for his first goal. “All season, he doesn’t miss many games….Simmer’s always at the right spot. He knows where to go to get those goals. I wish I learn from him sometimes.”
Simmonds said some teeth “will get pulled, eventually, but they’re here for now. We’ll see how many will die over the next couple days.”
The Flyers, primarily using units centered by Sean Couturier and Scott Laughton, shut down superstar Connor McDavid, who had no points, managed four shots, and won just six of 14 faceoffs.
With the score tied at 1-1 midway through the final period, the Oilers (2-5) failed to get a shot on a two-minute power play, which included a key blocked shot by defenseman Andrew MacDonald (six blocks), who later in the sequence stopped a scoring chance down low by Milan Lucic.
“They’re the sacrifices you have to make, and obviously Mac is one of the best at blocking shots,” Voracek said.
“Those are the kind of things that give your bench a little bit of momentum and a bit of a lift,” Hakstol said.
A hardworking play by former Flyers farmhand Patrick Maroon tied the game at 1-1 with 4:23 left in an Edmonton-dominated second period.
Maroon, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound left winger, took the puck away from Nolan Patrick near the right boards, made a clever move to get around Robert Hagg by the goal line, and then put a bad-angle shot under goalie Brian Elliott’s right pad.
Giroux’s power-play goal with 16:24 left in the first period gave the Flyers a quick lead.
Simmonds made a deft deflection of Shayne Gostisbehere’s point drive, sending the puck to Giroux, who scored on a wide-open net from the left side.
It gave Gostisbehere assists on seven of the Flyers’ eight power-play goals this season. He has 11 points in eight games, matching the best start by a Flyers defenseman since Mark Howe in 1985-86.
Entering the game, the Flyers’ power play, directed by new assistant Kris Knoblauch, was 12th in the NHL, clicking at 22.6 percent. Edmonton’s penalty kill was ranked just 30th.
“We just have a lot of different looks this year,” Gostisbehere said. “We have so many plays out there, and it’s harder for other teams to prepare for us. As a team, as a power-play unit … we’re getting pucks to the net and our guys are doing what they’re supposed to do.”
Breakaways. The Flyers are 5-0 when they score first, 0-3 when they don’t……Referee Ian Walsh, a Philadelphia native, worked his 1,000th career game and was honored before the opening faceoff. He once played for the Junior Flyers…. Jordan Weal and Taylor Leier missed the game with injuries, and both are considered day to day. Jori Lehtera, who had an assist on the winning goal, replaced Weal on the second line, and Matt Read filled in for Leier on the fourth line. … Brandon Manning was a healthy scratch, so he didn’t get to continue his feud with McDavid. Manning participated in warmups, perhaps because Hakstol wanted to play mind games with McDavid…Edmonton’s high-scoring Leon Draisaitl missed his fourth straight game with a concussion.