NEWARK, N.J. – Road hockey has not been kind to the Flyers this season.
And for a large portion of Friday night’s game against the Devils, it looked like that struggle would continue.
But rookie Joel Farabee scored his first NHL goal with 8:31 to play to tie the score at 3-3 and then Sean Couturier won it with the only goal of a shootout for a 4-3 win at the Prudential Center.
After lopsided losses at Long Island (5-3) and Pittsburgh (7-1), the Flyers needed this one.
Farabee, snakebitten since he returned to the Flyers six games ago, finally connected off a nice feed from Michael Raffl.
Then in the shootout, Couturier executed a “switch hands’’ maneuver first pioneered by ex-Flyer great Peter Forsberg to win the 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer, Norway.
To top it off, goaltender Carter Hart got back on track again, stopping all three N.J. shots in the shootout.
Couturier has tried that move in practice but never in a game.
“Obviously everybody has seen those goals (by Forsberg),’’ Couturier said. “We used to have a lot of fun at the end of practice doing shootouts. That’s probably one move I didn’t do. So it probably caught him (goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood) off-guard.’’
Hart chuckled when asked about Couturier’s trickery.
“He did it a couple times on me and it can be a tough move because he’s a big guy and he’s got a long reach,’’ Hart said. “Once he gets to one side, he can kind of pull you over with one hand. He’s been working on it in practice and he’s burnt me a couple times. Nice to see him do it tonight.’’
As for Farabee, he’s had goals disallowed by offsides calls and a bunch of pucks off posts. On this night, the puck finally went in.
“It felt good, I’ve been pressing pretty hard lately,’’ Farabee said. “Finally got the monkey off my back. You always think about the first one. I’m glad nothing went wrong to take it away.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault was pleased Farabee got that first one out of the way.
“No doubt the young man has had quite a few looks,’’ Vigneault said. “It was an important goal for us as a team. I’m happy for him, happy for the team, we found a way to get it done.’’
A goal by New Jersey’s Taylor Hall at 9:58 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie. Defenseman Justin Braun misplayed a puck leading to the deciding goal.
But then came the Farabee goal, sending the game to overtime and then the shootout.
The win ended a two-game losing streak for the 6-5-1 Flyers and improved their road record to 2-4-1.
One night after Halloween, former Flyer right wing Wayne Simmonds haunted the Flyers by scoring on the power play to give New Jersey a 1-0 lead at 6:24 of the first period.
Simmonds, who made power-play scoring his trademark during his long tenure with the Flyers, took control of the puck in front of Carter Hart and flipped a shot into the net for his first goal of the season.
The Flyers tied the score at 10:39 when Oskar Lindblom connected off passes from Couturier and Travis Konecny. It was Lindblom’s team-leading seventh goal of the season.
In the second period, the Flyers took the lead on a goal by Couturier at 7:26. His shot was stopped by Blackwood but the rebound bounced off defenseman Matt Tennyson and into the net.
New Jersey tied it with another power-play goal at 14:28.
With Claude Giroux in the penalty box, the Devils set up in the left corner. Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim lost an edge and crashed to the ice. That left a lane open for Nico Hischier, who skated toward the net and relayed to Sami Vatanen for a blast past Hart.
Hart sounded relieved to get his game back in order.
“This game was big for us to get back in the win column,’’ he said. “In practice, I’ve just been getting back to the basics, the foundation of my game. We did a good job of clearing bodies out of the way tonight so I could see pucks.’’