PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers now return you to your regularly scheduled playoff push programming.
After a week or so of winless hockey, which saw them drop from first to third in the Metro Division, the Flyers came up with another daytime gem on Saturday and put away the potent Winnipeg Jets, 2-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.
The victory ended a five-game (0-4-1) winless streak and temporarily moved them back within one point of the division lead. Both first-place Pittsburgh and second-place Washington were scheduled for Saturday night action.
The Flyers tightened up their defense and held the high-scoring Jets, who had won four in a row, to a limited number of quality chances.
Flyers goaltender Petr Mrazek, who took losses against Carolina, Tampa (shootout), Florida and Pittsburgh before sitting out the Boston game, got back on the winning track.
One key to the win was the Flyers not sitting back on a 2-0 lead in the third period. Even though they gave up a power-play goal to the red-hot Patrik Laine, the Flyers wound up outshooting the Jets, 9-8, in the third.
Given how the Flyers lost in Boston on Thursday – a goal by the Bruins’ Brad Marchant with only 22 seconds left on the clock – it was important the Flyers tighten things up down the stretch of this game.
“We talked about it in the second (intermission),’’ Mrazek said. “We cannot sit down in the D-zone or the neutral zone and wait for them to come.
“We all know how they have a good team, they can play offense. We talked about it in the second and we did a really good job in the third.’’
Philadelphia, now 8-2-4 in afternoon starts, needed this game to get its confidence back. Prior to the five-game winless streak, it had gone 12 straight (10-0-2) with at least a point.
“Yeah, it was (needed),’’ Claude Giroux said. “You know, we had a tough stretch, we couldn’t find ways to win. . .it was a good test for us, Winnipeg has a pretty good team. I think we played a responsible game.’’
Holding the Jets, who came into the game third in the NHL with 226 goals, to just a single tally was noteworthy.
Memories of how the Boston game ended might have contributed to how the Flyers approached this contest.
“We knew the importance of today’s game,’’ said Andrew MacDonald, whose goal in the second period turned out to be the winner. “I think we recognized we were playing a strong game and just to continue with it.’’
The Flyers came up with a 1-0 lead at 5:40 of the second period on a goal from Giroux.
With Philadelphia on a delayed penalty call and a sixth attacker on the ice, Giroux wound up from the left dot and beat Eddie Hellebuyck with a shot to run his point streak to six games.
The point moved him within three points of Eric Lindros for fifth place on the Flyers’ alltime scoring list.
On a bizarre play, the Flyers made it 2-0 at 8:01.
MacDonald’s shot hopped into the air and was swatted away by Hellebuyck as it appeared to flutter across the goal line.
But play was allowed to continue. Finally, after about 40 seconds, the video review folks in Toronto instructed off-ice officials to sound the horn. Refs Francis Charron and Garrett Rank made the official announcement that a goal had been scored.
“I got to the bench,’’ MacDonald said, “and ‘G’ (Giroux) mentioned it was in. Within seconds, they blew the horn. Obviously a nice feeling to be able to chip in like that.’’
The Flyers took the 2-0 lead into the third period.
Winnipeg drew closer on Laine’s 40th goal of the season at 8:58 courtesy of a power play stemming from a bad Travis Konecny penalty far up the ice.
Laine’s shot from the left dot beat Mrazek, giving the Winnipeg hotshot goals in 10 of his last 11 games.
From there on, the Flyers managed to keep the Jets at bay. A pretty big deal, especially after the heartbreak in Boston.
“You have to get the result (points) to hold that energy,’’ coach Dave Hakstol said. “It’s deflating. We played hard in Boston and there are some things we could have done better.
“We came back today and played really well. When you get that result, it’s a lot easier to carry that positive energy. We needed the two points, a good win for us to get headed in the right direction, not just having good efforts.’’
Defenseman Travis Sanheim, who was called up from the Phantoms on Friday night under “emergency circumstances,’’ started his first game since Jan. 13. He was needed due to lower-body injuries to Robert Hagg (two weeks) and Johnny Oduya (day to day). . .Flyers are now 8-2-4 in afternoon games. . . Radko Gudas played in his 200th game with the Flyers.