sports

Flyers win second straight on western road trip

Sam Carchidi, STAFF WRITER

Updated: Thursday, December 7, 2017, 12:22 AM

Sean Couturier and the Edmonton Oilers’ Eric Gryba vie for the puck during the first period.

EDMONTON, Alberta — For just the second time this season, the Flyers have a two-game winning streak.

Hey, it’s a start.

They got goals from Jordan Weal, Dale Weise, Michael Raffl, and Wayne Simmonds and defeated Edmonton, 4-2, on Wednesday night at Rogers Place.

[Box score, play-by-play]

It was their second straight win after going 0-5-5 in their previous 10 games.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored on a rebound after a wild scramble in front, cutting the Flyers’ lead to 3-2 with 6 minutes, 40 seconds remaining.

But goalie Brian Elliott (24 saves) and his teammates withstood a late Edmonton power play and held on for the victory. Elliott denied superstar Connor McDavid from point-blank range with 2:05 to go.

Simmonds iced the win with an empty-net goal.

“It definitely feels good. Another complete effort by our team,” Weise said after the Flyers notched consecutive road wins for the first time since Jan. 22-25 of last season. “I really like the way we’ve played the last two games. We made some adjustments through the neutral zone and we’re really clogging things up.”

McDavid had an assist on a shorthanded goal, but was held in check and managed just one shot. Defensemen Ivan Provorov (eight hits), who played 28:08, and Andrew MacDonald (four blocked shots in 25:14) did a great job containing McDavid and the forwards did not give him a lot of time and space.

“We limited his chances throughout the game,” Weal said. “He’s going to get a couple here and there, but if you can minimize them and keep the puck in their end as much as we did, you’re going to have a good chance to win.”

Raffl, sent away on a breakaway by Jake Voracek, put a shot inside the left post to give the Flyers a 3-1 lead with 15:54 left in the third period. A turnover by defenseman Kris Russell put the play in motion, leading to Raffl’s second goal in as many games.

With the Flyers holding a 2-1 lead, Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse fired a shot off the crossbar in the opening seconds of the third period.

Playing with three rookies on defense because an injury to Brandon Manning caused Mark Alt to enter the lineup, the Flyers held a huge territorial advantage in the first two periods.

With 5:15 left in the second, Weise, sent in on a crafty pass by Claude Giroux (two assists), scored off the rush as he fired a shot from the high slot past Laurent Brossoit, who had allowed five goals in each of his previous two games.

“It was a pretty unselfish line change by Simmy,” said Weise, referring to Simmonds by his nickname. “I thought he could have jumped in on the rush and try to get something going, but it was a good change by him. I got out there and G made a pretty good play on the wall to me and their defense kind of sat back and I tried to use them as a screen.”

He did, firing a shot between the legs of defenseman Eric Gryba.

Weal’s first goal in 13 games, a power-play tally with 11:07 left in the second, knotted the score at 1-1. Weal tapped in a feed from Sean Couturier, ending a slick passing play that was started by Giroux.

“It felt good; it’s been a long time coming,” said Weal, who was briefly on the ice with some of the first-unit players on the power play. “It hasn’t been for a lack of hard work and creating chances. You get out there with special players like that and I was able to find a good spot and Coots made a helluva play.”

About five minutes earlier, the Oilers had taken a 1-0 lead on Leon Draisaitl’s shorthanded goal. The Flyers’ first power-play unit was on the ice too long and appeared winded.

McDavid won a puck battle from Couturier near the Flyers’ offensive blue line and sped down ice on a two-on-one. The 20-year-old center sent a backhand pass to Draisaitl, who gave Edmonton just its second 1-0 lead in the last 10 games.

But the Flyers quickly answered.

“We’re pretty resilient,” Weise said. “You lose 10 in a row, you get pretty resilient through some tough times.”

Edmonton is a “good offensive team,” Simmonds said before the game. “You can’t turn the puck over or they’ll make you pay.”

The Flyers had 28 shot attempts (13 on goal) in the first, while the Oilers had just 12 (seven on goal).

It was a period in which the Flyers squandered two power plays against an Oilers team that has the worst penalty kill in the NHL, clicking at just 72.2 percent entering the night.

At the end of the first 40 minutes, the Flyers had a 48-29 advantage in shot attempts.

The Flyers were coming off a 5-2 win Monday in Calgary, ending their 10-game losing streak. It equaled their second-highest scoring output of the season.

They now have a two-game winning streak for the second time this season. The first was in mid-October when they defeated Washington, 8-2, and Florida, 5-1.

On Thursday, they will try for their first three-game winning streak of the 2017-18 campaign when they play in Vancouver.

“We’re playing good road-style hockey,” Elliott said. “When you have nothing, you’ve got to get it in deep and live to fight another day, and I think our guys are really buying into it now.”

Sam Carchidi, STAFF WRITER

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