PHILADELPHIA – There had been plenty of chances but few finishes.
Until Monday night, that is.
The Flyers had been talking throughout the first few weeks of the season about getting loads of scoring opportunities but not finding a way to put them in the net.
That all changed Monday night when the Flyers cut loose with a four-goal second period and went on to a 6-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at the Wells Fargo Center, ending their 0-3-1 winless streak.
Taking advantage of Vegas allowing rookie goalie Oskar Dansk to make his season debut, the Flyers broke the game open with some timely shooting in the middle frame.
Meanwhile, veteran netminder Brian Elliott came up with a strong effort and carried a shutout into the third period before allowing a goal as the Flyers evened their record at 3-3-1.
At the morning skate, coach Alain Vigneault confirmed the Flyers were going to work on forcing the issue close to the net and that’s exactly what his team did.
Perfect examples: The Flyers scored in quick order when Kevin Hayes finished off a relay play with Jake Voracek at 6:12 of the second period, followed by Michael Raffl tipping Ivan Provorov’s shot past Dansk for the first of his two goals at 6:56.
After the game, Vigneault reiterated that the Flyers were rewarded by sticking to the plan, so to speak.
“We found a way to score six goals,’’ he said. “It’s an important win for our group. When they made a mistake in the second period, we made them pay, which we hadn’t been able to do for quite some time.
“Any time you see your team working hard and the players focued and doing the right things, it’s very easy to be supportive and stick with the group.’’
The Flyers took a 1-0 lead at 4:45 of the first when Travis Konecny beat Dansk from just outside the right hash marks.
“We just scored on our opportunities tonight,’’ Konecny said. “I thought we played a really solid game. Guys were doing the right thing and getting rewarded. It’s just about sticking to the system and doing what we’re told.’’
Later, after Hayes and Raffl scored in short order, Matt Niskanen converted Sean Couturier’s cross-ice pass on a power play at 14:24 to make it 4-0.
Oskar Lindblom completed the rampage, using a lead pass from Raffl to score at 15:19.
One of the moves Vigneault made for this game was putting Giroux back at center. Giroux said the Flyers really hadn’t been playing that badly but just weren’t getting the results (a 6-3 loss at Edmonton and a 4-1 defeat by Dallas).
“Overall, I think our game is good,’’ Giroux said. “Obviously we can improve but it’s early in the season. As of right now, I think we’re playing some good hockey.’’
During an intermission in the game, Raffl said it was only a matter of time before the Flyers’ offense broke loose.
“We had outshot our opponents twice by 20-plus shots,’’ he said. “We just have to keep pounding the rock and they’re going to go in. We got the luck on our side tonight and it’s about time this has happened.’’
After the game, Raffl suggested the outcome was the result of energy being used the right way.
“I thought we played better in the games before but we didn’t get rewarded,’’ he said. “We found a way to win tonight and that’s huge. If you keep outshooting opponents, you’re going to be on the better end most of the time.’’
Vegas finally broke through at 3:15 of the third period when it scored during a five-on-three power play.
Jonathan Marchessault received credit for the goal. Later Reilly Smith scored but Raffl responded with a late goal for his second of the game.
Elliott appreciated the support he received.
“In the first period, we were generating activity in their end,’’ Elliott said. “I think the guys started to smell the blood in the water there and kind of took over the rest of the game.’’
Lindblom is off to a fast start, now tied with Konecny for the team’s goal lead.
“We’re going to the net and you’re going to get the bounces,’’ he said. “On the defensive end of the game, we have to be good every night. We’ve been getting bounces against us, tonight they were with us.’’
Said Giroux: “When you lose, it’s hard to be happy with your game but we were happy with our game. Tonight they found a way to go in. We were patient, we didn’t change our game.’’
Rookie Mikhail Vorobyev, just called up from the Phantoms, registered an assist on Raffl’s first goal.
The Flyers are quite happy with their second power-play unit, or as Vigneault calls it, the “Coots’’ (Couturier) unit. Actually, the No. 2 unit has outscored the top group, 5-3, so far this season. “I really think in today’s game you have to have two units,’’ he said. “Coots’ unit played better tonight and that’s why they played more.’’