The top line — Sean Couturier centering Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek — started to assert itself and keyed the victory. Couturier (a goal, an assist on Wayne Simmonds' game-winner, a plus-3 rating) had his best game of the young season. The new line's chemistry is growing with each game.
With fewer expectations, rookie Nolan Patrick, who anchored the second line in the first two games, looked more comfortable as the third-line center. Only a great first-period save by John Gibson prevented Patrick from scoring his first NHL goal. He did produce his first career point, setting up Ivan Provorov's goal just as a power play expired.
The Flyers' fourth line continues to create numerous scoring chances. It has much more speed and ability than last year's fourth unit, and it helps give the Flyers more favorable matchups.
The Flyers' power play went 0 for 5, but, in essence, the unit scored with an extra attacker. Antoine Vermette stepped out of the penalty box just as Provorov scored and wasn't near the play. That said, the Flyers are passing too much on the PP; they had a total of eight shots on their five power-play chances.
Isn't it about time that Provorov got noticed by the national media? He is 20 going on 30 and plays with uncanny calmness. If Provorov isn't an all-star soon, I would be surprised. On Saturday, he had a goal, an assist, and four blocks while playing 25 minutes.
You have to feel sorry for Samuel Morin. The 6-foot-7, 225-pound defenseman had a terrific preseason, but he did not play Saturday, and he has been a healthy scratch in all three games. He is expected to be sent down to Lehigh Valley, but will undoubtedly be recalled if a D-man is injured.
The Flyers have owned the third periods in their first three games, a tribute to the players coming to camp in great shape. In the third periods, the Flyers have outshot their opponents, 49-20.
It was a nice bounce-back game Saturday from defenseman Travis Sanheim, who had an uneven NHL debut in Los Angeles.
Michal Neuvirth will likely start in Nashville on Tuesday. Oddly, he had the best performance of any Flyers goalie in the first three games — and lost.
A win Saturday was imperative. Anaheim was missing several key players due to injuries — and a loss would have raised some early-season doubts in the locker room. Good teams take advantage of opponents who are missing top players.