PHILADELPHIA – It might have been the closest 6-1 game in Flyers history.
Don’t let the final score fool you. It was 1-1 with exactly 10 minutes to play when Claude Giroux scored to put the Flyers ahead and then four more goals came in the final three minutes and 28 seconds.
Closing out games has been a bit of a problem at times for the Flyers this season and Tuesday night’s could have gone in that direction.
Of recent vintage, there was that three-goal meltdown against the Islanders and a late mishap in the Calgary match.
But in this game, they made sure a slim lead stood up.
Led by Carter Hart’s stellar goaltending and some timely team defense, the Flyers pulled out a 6-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center.
The Flyers scored five times in the last 10 minutes to turn a close game into a runaway.
Giroux’s goal was set up by Travis Konecny, who made a pinpoint backhand pass from behind the net.
From there, Hart and the Flyers’ defense held up for the next six minutes until a pair of late goals by Konecny and Joel Farabee opened things up.
The Flyers extended their winning streak to a season-high five games and strengthened their hold on third place in the Metro Division.
The key for the Flyers was not going into panic mode after Toronto tied the score on a funny bounce goal (off Hart’s shoulder) at the 8:38 mark of the third.
“They got a fluky goal there,’’ Giroux said. “We didn’t get down, we didn’t start panicking. We kept playing the game.’’
What’s been the key in this five-game winning streak?
“I think it’s important that we have everybody going, everybody playing the right way,’’ Giroux said. “We’re comfortable putting any line on the ice right now so it’s a lot of fun. Confidence has a lot to do with it. We’re comfortable winning 2-1, 1-0.’’
Hart was sharp in winning his third straight start.
Scott Laughton scored at 8:49 of the second period to give the Flyers the lead. Kevin Hayes made a nice rush to the net, avoiding a Justin Holl check and then fed Laughton for a looping shot over goalie Frederik Andersen.
Laughton said it was key for the Flyers to keep their cool after the Leafs tied it.
“You have to be patient against those guys,’’ Laughton said. “They’re so dangerous off the rush, the way they move the puck.
“Guys are moving their feet well right now. Obviously it wasn’t a 6-1 game, but we kept our foot on the gas and kept going.’’
Throughout the game, Hart made crucial saves. Late in the first period, he snagged an Auston Matthews bullet from the right circle. On several occasions, he had to stop shots from close range.
The only goal he surrendered came on that weird shot from Travis Dermott in the third period to tie the score at 1-1. The puck hit Hart’s shoulder, popped up in the air and then fell behind him into the net.
“I thought we were great tonight,’’ Hart said. “The third period we really didn’t give them anything.
“(The shot) hit my shoulder, went up in the air. . .I didn’t know where it was. Straight up, straight down and in.’’
The Flyers are now 11-0-2 when leading after two periods.
Recently, the Flyers have played well in the second period and now have outscored opponents by a 24-22 margin in the middle frame.
“I don’t know what it is,’’ Laughton said. “But the last 10 minutes we were a little better in the second (Tuesday night). We started to play more of our game.’’
Konecny iced the game with a goal at 16:32 of the third. Farabee added an empty-net goal then Shayne Gostisbehere and James van Riemsdyk scored to account for the final margin.
“Everyone’s going right now, it’s such fun to play,’’ Konecny said. “Everyone’s found their legs. Even if one line is down for a bit, the next line picks it up.
“Even though we gave that goal back in the third, we were confident, we stuck to our system. Kudos to all the guys.’’
Coach Alain Vigneault liked the way his team responded to another tight game.
“I liked when the game was on the line, and it was on the line for the whole game. . .both offensively and defensively, I thought we were real good,’’ he said. “We showed some resiliency. We did a lot of things the right way and that’s why I think we won tonight.”
>Raffl suffers broken finger, out a month
Michael Raffl suffered a broken little finger on his right hand in the second period and is expected to miss about a month of action.
Sean Couturier was plus-11 for the month of November, fourth-best in the NHL.
The Flyers’ 37 points in 28 games are the most they’ve recorded at the start of a season since 1995-96 when they had 36 in 27 games.