As winning recipes go, scoring four goals in a single period is a potent one.
But the Flyers found even that toxic during the barren earth portion of their season that has caused such team upheaval. The only other time they did so before Saturday’s first period at the Wells Fargo Center, they finished on the losing end of the score.
That was in Calgary on Dec. 12, a debilitating loss in which the Flames scored twice in the final 66 seconds of regulation, then won it 36 seconds into overtime.
Carter Hart was still in Lehigh Valley, and the Western Conference-leading Flames will never be confused with the Anaheim Ducks, who entered Saturday’s game with 18 losses in their last 20 games – and spent the first 20 minutes giving a clinic on how that can be done.
In scoring the game’s first four goals in Saturday’s 6-2 victory over the Ducks, the Flyers scored from behind the net, shorthanded, even off Oskar Lindblom’s skate as he screeched to a halt unchecked in front of the Anaheim net. Two goals came from their fourth line of Michael Raffl, Mikhail Vorobyev, and Phil Varone, as they chased Anaheim starter Chad Johnson in favor of New-Jersey-raised Kevin Boyle (Manalapan), who made his NHL debut.
Boyle, who was 19-7 with a 2.72 goals against average with the Ducks AHL team, became only the second goaltender from New Jersey to play in the NHL.
Flyers backup Anthony Stolarz is the first.
Boyle stopped 24 of 26 shots he faced, but Hart made that irrelevant. Before the Flyers built their lead, he made point blank saves on Jakub Silfverberg and Corey Perry. Hart finished with 30 saves on 32 shots
“He made those saves, or it could have been a whole different game,” said Sean Couturier. "Kept us in it, once again...''
Early in the third period, his team sleep-skating, Hart made two early Grade A saves. Two power play goals by Anaheim, one early in the second period and more significantly 4 minutes, 57 seconds into the third, made this game more interesting than it needed to be, but there was Hart – who tied Jocelyn Thibault’s NHL record for consecutive victories by a goaltender under age 21 with eight.
“We’ve been in those shoes, too,” said Raffl who had a goal and an assist. “It’s not fun to chase when you’re in a slump like that. But we have Hartsy back there. You’re in trouble and he was there again for us tonight. That’s a big difference right now. But don’t tell him.”
Varone opened the scoring at 2:44 of the first, converting a great pass from Raffl from behind the net. Couturier made it 2-0 at 10:24, accepting a feed from Robert Hagg and snapping a shot that caught an Anaheim stick and seeped over Johnson’s left shoulder.
Raffl pushed it to 3-0 with a shorthanded goal 80 seconds later, firing it past Johnson on a 2-on-1.
A pass from Couturier found Lindblom’s skate as he crashed the net and the lead ballooned to 4-0 at 17:46. Couturier now has four goals and four assists in his last six games. Jake Voracek, who got the second assist on Lindblom’s goal, also has eight points (2-6) over his last six games.
Nolan Patrick (power play) and Travis Konecny added third-period goals to account for the final score. The Flyers have now won nine of their last 10 games and have points in all of them. They host Pittsburgh on Monday.
In discussing the four-player trade that accompanied the promotion of touted prospect Phillippe Myers to the Flyers, general manager Chuck Fletcher hinted that he might not be done.
“Two weeks is a lifetime before the trade deadline so … we’ll continue to see and we’re working at it every day,” he said. “I guess when something happens, we’ll be in a position to let you know.”
Fletcher was responding to a status update for popular assistant captain Wayne Simmonds, who will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.
“Wayne’s played hard. He’s played very well of late,” Fletcher said. “I can’t commend him enough on his professionalism, on his attitude. You watch him in celebrations after we win a game. He’s pretty much the first guy out there congratulating Carter or Anthony. He’s just a great teammate, done a lot for this franchise. We’ll try to work out a conclusion that does the best for everybody.”