PHILADELPHIA – Kevin Hayes knows exactly what Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk had been going through.
Hayes wrestled with a 12-game goal drought recently, but has scored three in his last five games, including one in Saturday’s 6-1 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings.
Gostisbehere returned from a three-game benching to score the first goal of the game at the Wells Fargo Center and van Riemsdyk netted just his second goal since Oct. 26.
All the talk about sticking to the process and doing the right things on the ice are nice but at some point it’s important to see reward for the work.
“Both those guys are hard-working guys, they work on their games,’’ Hayes said after the Flyers recorded their third straight win. “It’s a tough league to score goals.
“When they’re not going in, you start gripping the stick too tight. I thought those guys handled it well, kept at it in practice. It’s good to see those guys score.’’
Gostisbehere clearly was relieved when he scored a power-play goal to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead with 57.1 seconds remaining in the second period.
“It’s refreshing to get back into the lineup with a nothing-to-lose mentality,’’ Gostisbehere said. “Just go out there and be the player that I know I can be and have fun again. I was putting a little too much pressure on myself and maybe not being the best teammate. I think for myself, I just enjoy getting back out there with the boys and help contribute and get a win.”
The Flyers are hoping Gostisbehere can get back to the offensive force he’s been over much of his career. Just two goals in his 23 games aren’t quite what they’re expecting.
“I didn’t have the best attitude,’’ he admitted. “But we were winning. A little self-reflection helps, too. I’m just going to take it game by game.’’
As for van Riemsdyk, a demotion to the fourth line didn’t knock him off his regimen and he finally got rewarded. Gratifying to say the least, given he had several chances earlier in the game.
“It feels nice to get a bounce there and bury one,’’ said van Riemsdyk, who scored with only 2:09 left in the game. “You just stick with it, keep bearing down in those scoring areas. Keep shooting, keep staying aggressive, ultimately it will even itself out.’’
Niskanen returns after nasty nose cut
Matt Niskanen got hit in the visor by a rising Dylan Larkin shot which caused a cut on his nose requiring about 15 stitches to close.
To his credit, Niskanen missed only a few minutes of action.
“He’s a warrior,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “He’s Mr. Consistency, he’s steady every single game back there.’’
Niskanen returned to action wearing a full facial cage.
Asked how much the injury hurt, Niskanen replied: “None right now, I’m numb (from pain-killer shot). It’s not as bad as it looks (both nostrils were plugged with cotton). Just a slice, nothing major. The cage is a little different.’’
Niskanen will play in Saturday’s game at Montreal.
>Nolan Patrick update
Nolan Patrick, sidelined the entire season by a chronic migraine headache condition, skated with several Flyers on Thanksgiving Day at the Skate Zone. He’s been skating on and off for quite some time but this latest session raised speculation of some progress.
General manager Chuck Fletcher said the situation is still uncertain.
“It’s just status quo,’’ Fletcher said. “I think he’s felt a lot better in the last couple weeks. He’s skating, but he hasn’t been cleared for contact and there’s still work to be done. I would just be speculating if I gave you any kind of time frame.
“We’ll just see but he’s having more good days now than he did previously. It’s tough to predict how he’s going to feel and what his health will be. I don’t think anybody has the answer to that.’’