PHILADELPHIA – Everyone knew Claude Giroux wasn’t quite right in his post-abdominal surgery season last year, even though he insisted he was.
The 57 points he recorded made it arguably the most disappointing campaign of his career.
When that season ended, Giroux vowed to come back strong this time around and that he has.
Wednesday night, he assisted on the Flyers’ three final three goals of the game in a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings at the Wells Fargo Center.
The trio of points now have him at 39 in just 34 games, a performance reminiscent of the years when he had 93 and 86, one of only two players to average more than a point per game since 2004.
Giroux helped set up Sean Couturier’s winning goal at 5:57 of the third, giving the Flyers a record of 4-1 on the homestand and 7-1 since a 10-game winless streak.
Philadelphia is now just two points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Giroux, whose three-assist effort was the 15th of his career, is back in the NHL’s top 15 in scoring, a place he’s more accustomed to.
And it feels good to give it back to all the naysayers.
“It got a little personal, yeah,’’ he said. “I try not to read too many things. I saw there weren’t too many positive articles out there this summer but you kind of take that as a motivation. You want to push yourself to be the best player you can be.’’
A move from center to left wing probably hasn’t hurt either. Giroux already has 13 goals in 34 games. He had only 14 in 82 last season.
“I like the wing right now, it’s going well,’’ he said. “And it’s the players I’m playing with right now (Couturier, Wayne Simmonds). ‘Coots’ is always in good position, it makes my job a lot easier.’’
The Flyers had their hands full with the Red Wings, even though the visitors had played the night before in a 6-3 win over the Islanders in Brooklyn.
Philadelphia took a 1-0 lead on a Dale Weise goal at 15:19 of the first but Martin Frk answered with only 1.3 seconds left in that period on a power play.
Then a Mike Green goal during another Flyer penalty at 5:50 gave Detroit a 2-1 lead. Simmonds responded with a power-play goal of his own at 10:48.
Any momentum from that goal seemed to disappear after a Gustav Nyqvist goal at 11:29, but the Flyers came right back on rookie defenseman Robert Hagg’s first NHL goal at 13:40.
“I had a few chances earlier this season,’’ he said, “so to see that one go in felt pretty damn good.’’
Giroux said he’s most impressed by Hagg’s maturity.
“He’s a steady ‘D’, you know what you’re going to get from him every night,’’ Giroux said. “I mean, for a first-year guy, he plays like he’s 30 and he acts like it, too.’’
Hagg was voted the No. 3 star and had to wear the ever-popular “Nature Boy’’ robe for player-voted game MVP.
“When I looked up and saw the puck go in, a lot of emotions came out,’’ he said with a grin. “Tonight I got a goal but it’s still good defense first. The rest will come.’’
Couturier scored off a nice tic-tac-toe play with Giroux and Simmonds and the Flyers held the Red Wings to just two shots for the first 19 minutes of the period.
Goaltender Brian Elliott, coming off two straight weeks of undefeated play (which garnered him a pair of NHL weekly honors), was back in form after Monday night’s 4-1 loss to Los Angeles, the only blemish on the Flyers’ home stand.
“When we play the way we want to for a full 60 minutes, the results take care of themselves,’’ Elliott said. “Losing one at home and then coming back and winning one, that was big for us.’’
Indeed. The Flyers play their next four games on the road (a pair of back-to-backs), first Buffalo on Friday and Columbus on Saturday, then Florida on Dec. 28 and Tampa on Dec. 29), so this stretch won’t be easy. The Flyers are notorious for Christmas time slumps.