Five observations from the Flyers’ 3-1 win over visiting Chicago on Thursday night:
Baby blue line
Second-year defenseman Ivan Provorov and his rookie partner, Robert Hagg, did a great job shutting down the Blackhawks’ top line, which included Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Hagg had five hits, Provorov blocked three shots, and each player was plus-2. Toews’ unit did not score.
“I think Provy and Hagger did a great job on their top line, frustrating them,” defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere said. “When you’re frustrating their top line, it’s kind of like cutting a head off of a snake and the rest of the team will fold.”
Rookie defenseman Travis Sanheim also had a strong game and just missed scoring his first career goal.
The Flyers’ young D-men are living up to the expectations.
The quickness in which the new top line has built chemistry is remarkable. The three players — Sean Couturier centering left winger (!) Claude Giroux and right winger Jake Voracek — look as if they have been a unit their entire career. Witness the superb tic-tac-toe passing play that produced the game’s second goal, scored by Couturier.
The line has combined for 23 goals and 60 points in 16 games, putting the unit second in the NHL.
Yes, the Flyers kept most of Chicago’s 39 shots to the perimeter, but when the Blackhawks did get close attempts, the man they call “Moose,” Brian Elliott, stood tall. That the former Blues goalie has faced Chicago so many times in his career probably helped.
“You definitely pick up stuff and know their tendencies,” he said.
Shortly after Chicago scored to get within 3-1, the Blackhawks had a five-on-three advantage for 1 minute, 44 seconds late in the second period. Not only did the Blackhawks fail to score, but they also did not get a shot on goal.
“It was huge,” Toews said. “(If we) get back in the game, 3-2, then we’re off to the races.”
Remembering Garth Snow
The Flyers won 67 percent of the faceoffs, led by Jori Lehtera (7 for 8, 88 percent), Giroux (8 for 10, 80 percent), Scott Laughton (9 for 13, 69 percent), and Couturier (8 for 12, 67 percent). That helped them win their 14th straight regular-season game against Chicago.
How long has it been since the Blackhawks won a regular-season game at the Wells Fargo Center? Well, their last victory here was Nov. 9, 1996. Back when the building was called the CoreStates Center.
The losing goalie in that game was Garth Snow, and Ron Hextall was flawless in 24:44 of relief. John LeClair scored the Flyers’ lone goal. Tony Amonte and Gary Suter each had two points for Chicago.
Yeah, it’s been a while.