Considering the circumstances, the Flyers’ 5-4 win Tuesday in Minnesota against the Wild was among their more resolute victories of the season. Now with three full days off, the Flyers hope that they can build off that effort when they face the Detroit Red Wings in back-to-back games this weekend beginning with Saturday’s 1 p.m. matchup at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers faced many obstacles in winning in Minnesota, including losing 4-1 at home the night before to Pittsburgh despite out-shooting the Penguins, 51-28. That included a franchise-record 28 shots in the second period.
“That is probably as bad a situation you could have, having the game we had home here against Pittsburgh and not having anything to show for it, traveling to Minnesota and not getting in until 3 in the morning and then playing a team that has been rested,” Flyers interim coach Scott Gordon said after Friday’s practice in Voorhees.
The Flyers trailed 3-1 in the first period, then caught up, only to go down 4-3 in the third period before tying it on Claude Giroux’s goal and winning it on James van Riemsdyk’s second power play goal of the evening.
“We knew going in that game we had to be smart and manage the game well, and then we get down two goals on the road," van Riemsdyk said. “To battle back and get the win there was huge.”
The effort showed Gordon something about his team.
“It also tells the team we are never out of it and that is a huge part in believing you can always win a game, even when you are down,” Gordon said.
Of course, in an 82-game season, one can’t dwell too much on one performance, but a loss would have been disastrous.
As it is, the Flyers (26-24-7) are eight points out of the second wild-card spot behind the Penguins with 25 games to play.
That is why this weekend is so important for the Flyers. They will face a Red Wings team that is even more desperate, with just 53 points.
With about seven weeks left in the regular season, the Flyers understand that every game will have a postseason feel, although this is nothing new.
“We have been fighting for our lives for a while,” van Riemsdyk said.
Having a second back-to-back in the same week at this stage of the season is difficult, but right winger Jake Voracek sees a silver lining.
“We will have had three days without a game,” said Voracek,, who has an eight-game scoring streak, with three goals and seven assists for 10 points in that span. “You have to find a way because everybody has it.”
It’s a time when scoreboard watching becomes more frequent, but Voracek says the Flyers can’t look too much into the standings and the schedules of fellow playoff challengers.
“You know the standings, but right now all we can control is to win as many games as we can,” Voracek said. “You have to go game-to-game.”
In Saturday’s game, rookie Carter Hart will make his 19th start in goal. He has a 2.48 goals-against average and .924 save percentage and is well rested after last playing on Monday.
Hart’s first NHL game was a 3-2 win over the visiting Red Wings on Dec. 18. That was also Gordon’s first game with the Flyers after replacing Dave Hakstol.
Saturday’s game begins a busy stretch for the Flyers, who will play five games in eight days, culminating with next Saturday’s NHL Stadium Series matchup with the Penguins at Lincoln Financial Field.