PHILADELPHIA – Predictably, the Flyers followed up a clunker with a better effort on Thursday night, leaving the team’s fans shaking their heads.
The inability to perform on a regular basis like they did – for the most part — against the New York Islanders has to be particularly frustrating.
After a so-so first period, the Flyers got their offense untracked against the Islanders (who, by the way, have given up 21 goals the last four games) with a four-goal outburst.
Then, after gaining a 5-2 lead, the Flyers had to weather a two-goal New York rally in the third for a 6-4 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
In recent weeks, the Flyers have fizzled out in Buffalo, then roared back to battle Columbus to a shootout loss. That was followed by a clunker against Florida, only to see them rally for a stellar win over Tampa.
Next came a dud against Pittsburgh. So it didn’t come as a shocker when the Flyers rebounded against the Islanders.
Defenseman Ivan Provorov led the way with two goals and an assist, earning him first star of the game honors and just the third three-point game of his career. Sean Couturier added his first career Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight).
Now if the Flyers could just put a few of these performances together.
“We have to be more consistent,’’ general manager Ron Hextall admitted before the game. “Consistency has been an issue.
“You’re going to have the odd clunker, every team does. The clunkers have been too consistent.’’
Travis Konecny also had a particularly impressive game, scoring on a breakaway for the Flyers’ fifth goal, this coming on the heels of a fighting victory over New York’s Shane Prince.
In goal, Brian Elliott made his 15th consecutive start for the Flyers.
Provorov scored a power-play goal at 6:24 of the second period and firing a shot which Michael Raffl deflected past Thomas Greiss to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 1:36 of the second. He also had a goal into an empty net with 12.6 seconds to play to ice it.
“The game against Pittsburgh wasn’t our best,’’ Provorov admitted. “Those games just happen, you have to learn from those and bounce back. We came out with the right mentality today and I was able to bounce back for myself. As a team, we were able to play much better.’’
Provorov’s night was made extra special by the attendance of his parents, plus a brother and sister, who are visiting from Russia.
“It’s nice to have a good game in front of them,’’ he said. “This is the third time for my dad this season.’’
Couturier reiterated the Flyers wanted to redeem themselves for a lethargic effort against Pittsburgh.
“They (the Islanders) are just ahead of us in the standings and we knew it was important,’’ Couturier said. “There were a lot of emotions out there. Guys responded.’’
And Konecny showed a pretty good right hand in his one-sided fight win over Prince, which helped get the crowd into it.
“I think everyone’s starting to get into their mojo now,’’ he said. “You’re seeing different guys step up every night. We wanted to show that (Pittsburgh) game wasn’t our best effort. We know the type of hockey we can play and be successful at.
“If we come in and play that hard-nosed game, make sure we don’t back down, there are going to be a lot of opportunities for us.’’
Cal Clutterbuck had the only two goals of the first two periods for the Islanders. John Tavares and Ryan Pulock added goals in the third period.
It got a little scrambly at the end but the Flyers held on until Provorov could put it away.
Raffl said the Flyers responded to the Pittsburgh loss the right way.
“We were really pissed off, I think,’’ Raffl said. “Nobody was happy with the way we played against Pittsburgh. We wanted to come out and redeem ourselves.’’
Added Elliott: “These guys really came out hard. It was a game we needed to win. We battled right to the end. A play that showed our team was (Radko) Gudas head-first diving took two guys out and the puck and cleared it or it would have been a three-on-one. That play was huge. It was one I definitely noticed.’’
Shayne Gostisbehere had an assist to give him 30 points, moving him into third place among scoring for NHL defensemen. . .Jake Voracek’s 40 assists have taken over the NHL lead. . .In addition to the Konecny and Couturier fight wins (Couturier over Josh Bailey), Scott Laughton also got the best of Jordan Eberle.