PHILADELPHIA – Jake Voracek apparently wanted to go home early.
So with 3:10 to play in Saturday’s game, Voracek executed a perfect deke around New Jersey Devil goalie Keith Kinkaid and put home the winning goal for a 5-2 victory at the Wells Fargo Center.
Then the Flyers quickly added empty-net goals from Wayne Simmonds and Scott Laughton.
The Flyers squared their home record at 2-2 for the season.
Voracek’s winning goal came off a two-on-one rush with Laughton, who served as a valuable decoy.
“I was thinking pass all the way,’’ Voracek said. “But I was too close (to the net) so I had to shoot. And it worked.’’
Voracek also had an assist on a Nolan Patrick goal which gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead late in the second period.
That said, Voracek said he wasn’t impressed with his overall effort.
“The first 39 minutes I wasn’t very good,’’ he said. “Overall, I think I was pressing a little too much. But I think that’s when experience comes in. . .that’s an advantage in the third period.’’
This was a much better defensive effort for the Flyers, who entered the game next to last in goals allowed this season.
Philadelphia had a season-low 21 shots (some of that due to New Jersey’s 27 blocked shots) but cut down on the risky plays.
“I thought everybody played really well,’’ goaltender Brian Elliott said. “They blocked a lot of shots but we’re getting pucks to the net and we’re in their zone.
“When the opportunity was there, we blocked some shots, too. The quality was down and our guys kept it that way.’’
Added Travis Konecny, who opened the Flyers’ scoring with a power-play goal in the first period: “We played a full game, there. Definitely something to build on for us. Our forwards were getting in lanes and not giving them opportunities to get pucks to the net.’’
Coach Dave Hakstol also mixed things up on his backline pairings, splitting up his top pair of Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere.
Provorov was put with Robert Hagg and Gostisbehere skated with Christian Folin.
“It changed our rhythm a little bit,’’ Hakstol said. “I thought the pairs we had did a good job. I thought Hagg did a good job going over to the right side. And the combination of ‘Fols’ and ‘Ghost’ played a pretty clean game.’’
Patrick, just back from a nine-day injury leave, chose an opportune time to finally get in the scoring column this season.
With just 1:04 to play in the second period, he raced through the right circle and was right on the doorstep to tap in Voracek’s pinpoint pass.
The Devils would go on to tie the score early in the third before Voracek’s heroics.
It was another slow start for the Flyers, who allowed an opponent to score the first goal for seven times in eight games (including a team record six games to start the season).
Damon Severson scored a power-play goal for New Jersey at 4:07 of the first period when his shot from the left circle eluded Elliott.
The Flyers countered at 10:41 with a power-play goal of their own.
Oddly enough, it came from the second PP unit. Odd because the Flyers’ second group had not scored a goal yet this season and had only one marker all of last season.
However, Konecny unleashed a wrist shot from just above the right faceoff dot which zipped past the glove of Kinkaid.
After Patrick gave the Flyers the lead, Jersey came back in the third period on a power-play goal by Brian Boyle.
Boyle’s rising shot from the right circle eluded Elliot while Jordan Weal watched from the penalty box.
In the end, the Flyers’ defensemen avoided making mistakes in key situations which, according to Hakstol, had plagued the team in the first few games of the season.
“We eliminated a couple of home run-type of plays,’’ Hakstol said. “A big deal was made of them but I’ll be honest, the first four games of the year we had all kinds of holes defensively.
“Games 5, 6 and 7 we took a huge step in the right direction. We just weren’t finishing off some of the plays, some of the shifts. We exposed ourselves that way. Tonight was another small step in the right direction, a little bit cleaner than the last few games.’’
Healthy scratches for the Flyers were Mikhail Vorobyev, Corban Knight and Andrew MacDonald. . .Claude Giroux played in his 746th game for the Flyers, tying him with Joe Watson for fifth on the team’s all-time list.
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