PHILADELPHIA – It took about a season and a half but the lengthy wait might be finally over.
At long last, Nolan Patrick turned in a performance truly worthy of a No. 2 overall draft pick in Monday night’s come-from-behind win over Minnesota.
With the Flyers trailing the Wild, 3-2, in the second period, Patrick scored a tying goal at 4:59 with a between-the-legs shot off a feed from Scott Laughton, ending a 24-game goal-less skid dating back to Nov. 10.
Later, at 15:28, the 20-year-old center rushed the Minnesota net and was right on the doorstep when the rebound of a Travis Sanheim shot caromed off the end board and right onto his stick. His shot past goalie Devan Dubnyk provided a go-ahead goal.
Then, with 5.2 seconds left in the period, Patrick helped set up Wayne Simmonds’ insurance goal for the first four-point night of his career.
The Flyers needed that goal because Minnesota scored a goal in the third period (Ryan Suter) to make it a one-goal game.
James van Riemsdyk had a hat trick and Simmonds also scored a pair of goals as the Flyers took a 7-4 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
The seven goals tied a season-high for the Flyers.
Plagued by injuries this season, Patrick came into the game with only five goals in 38 games with a minus-9.
But maybe a game like this can get him on track.
“I’ll be honest it (the slump) weighs on you quite a bit,’’ Patrick said. “You know it’s something you think about when you go through a slump like that.
“You just have to believe in yourself and keep trying to do things to help the team. Just try to play a good two-way game and I knew it would eventually come. I just didn’t think it would take that long.’’
Patrick said that while the slump has been weighing on him, he’s still trying to be creative.
“I was still confident throughout the slump, still trying to make plays,’’ he said. “That (between-the-legs) is something you practice in the summer. . .I couldn’t really backhand it so I had to make that play.’’
In addition to Patrick’s efforts, the Flyers got some more positive developments from their power play, on which van Riemsdyk scored at 12:04 of the first period.
Minnesota was up 2-0 when the Flyers’ power play (which featured five forwards – van Riemsdyk, Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Jake Voracek and Claude Giroux – for the first time this season) scored when JVR tipped Voracek’s shot past Dubnyk.
“We have different options (on the power play with five forwards),’’ Giroux said. “It’s a little bit of a curveball for the other team and we have to keep working at it.’’
At 18:48, van Riemsdyk evened the score when Giroux’s shot bounced off his leg and into the net.
JVR has at least two points in each of the last three games, eight points total.
Said van Riemsdyk: “Lots of guys chipped in offensively tonight (Laughton had three assists). Certainly we’re capable of that (seven goals) if you look up and down our lineup. We were able to score in bunches tonight. I feel pretty good about my game right now.’’
The Flyers didn’t seem to lose faith after the Wild jumped ahead on goals by Jason Zucker at 7:34 (power play) and Joel Eriksson Ek at 8:26 of the first.
“That stuff is going to happen,’’ Giroux said. “The pucks kind of trickled in (past goalie Carter Hart). They (the coaches) just told us to keep doing what we’re doing.’’
Simmonds gave the Flyers some breathing room with just over nine minutes left when he scored on a solo breakaway. JVR scored his third goal into an empty net.
Recently, Simmonds’ game has also come around. He’s now up to 15 goals and almost back on pace to reach his usual 30 or so for the season.
He said it was nice to finally get a laugher.
“We haven’t had very many of these this year,’’ Simmonds said. “I think that was our highest offensive output. It felt good to put the puck in the back of the net.’’
The line of Patrick, Simmonds and Laughton finished with a total of nine points.
“We played simple but we got our opportunities,’’ Simmonds said. “We had a lot of guys going tonight, a lot of hard work.’’
JVR’s first goal ended the Flyers’ scoreless streak against Dubnyk at 171 minutes, 42 seconds. He shut out the Flyers twice last season. Dubnyk was yanked after two periods and replaced by Alex Stalock. . .Dale Weise was scratched in favor of Jori Lehtera, who was making his first appearance since a Dec. 15 game at Vancouver. . .Andrew MacDonald returned to the lineup after missing six games and was paired with Shayne Gostisbehere. . .The Flyers return to action on Wednesday for a home game against the Boston Bruins.
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