PHILADELPHIA – The team that sticks together usually finds a way to win together.
So it was on Saturday afternoon when the Flyers showed some strong team unity in a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center.
Shortly after a questionable hit by Ottawa’s Mark Borowiecki to the head of Travis Konecny, knocking the Flyers’ leading scorer out of the game, Philadelphia responded by initiating a couple fights by two unlikely fistmen – Jake Voracek and Joel Farabee.
The Flyers hung together and eventually went ahead for good on Scott Laughton’s goal with 4:49 left in the third period..
Ivan Provorov’s goal at 3:17 of the third period snapped a 2-2 tie but Ottawa’s Anthony Duclair scored the second of two goals with five minutes remaining to knot the score again.
The Flyers would only confirm that Konecny suffered an upper-body injury. The team does not play again until Wednesday at Colorado.
Everyone from coach Alain Vigneault to several players said the response to the Konecny hit (no penalty was called on the play, by the way) was encouraging from a team unity standpoint.
“I think as a team no doubt you have to stick up for one another,’’ Vigneault said after the game. “And as an individual, you have to stick up for yourself.
“I thought on the TK situation, for the most part, we responded the right way.’’
It was the questionable hit on Konecny by Borowiecki which seemed to set the tone for the game.
Konecny just received a pass at center ice when he was blindsided by Tkachuk, leaving him sprawled on the ice.
He needed assistance getting up and off to the locker room and did not return to action. As mentioned, no penalty was called on the play, although replays showed that Borowiecki’s shoulder may have come in contact with Konecny’s head.
As a result of that play – and a later one in which a Jean-Gabriel Pageau hit dislodged Farabee’s helmet – a couple skirmishes broke out.
First, Voracek and Nick Paul exchanged blows with 1:17 left in the period.
Then, just 19 seconds into the second, Farabee went after Pageau in retribution for the first period altercation.
“I just think it’s the definition of our team, we stand up for one another,’’ Farabee said. “Obviously TK goes down and the boys got fired up because of it.
“We just stand up for each other. . .and it’s a good reason why we won.’’
Shayne Gostisbehere also is a big believer in that kind of response to a fallen teammate.
“After the hit, I think it changed the game a little bit,’’ Gostisbehere said. “I think we responded pretty well. Kudos to Jake and Joel, sticking up for TK.
“I just hope he’s OK. I think the way our team responded was a big plus for us.’’
The Flyers got off to a 2-1 lead on goals by Konecny and Gostisbehere, wrapped around a goal by Tkachuk.
Konecny opened the scoring on a helpful bounce play. Claude Giroux’s long shot deflected off Morgan Frost and slid right onto Konecny’s stick for an easy shot past starting goalie Craig Anderson at 1:45.
Tkachuk answered for Ottawa at 4:27 when he shrugged off a Matt Niskanen check and finished off Pageau’s feed with a shot past Carter Hart.
The Flyers got that one back at 6:16 when Gostisbehere cranked up one of his old-time slap shots off a Tyler Pitlick feed.
Anderson was injured shortly after that and was replaced by Anders Nilsson.
That score held up until 13:18 in the second. Hart messed up a drop-off pass to Gostisbehere during a Philadelphia power play. Duclair swept in and pushed the puck through Hart’s pads to tie the score at 2-2.
While it was important that the Flyers respond to Ottawa’s physical tactics, it was also important to stick to business and win the game.
“Keep taking the game to them,’’ said Provorov, whose seventh goal already matched last year’s total. “Play our game, control the game. That’s what this team has been doing all year, battling through adversity and not breaking when things don’t go our way.’’
Mikhail Vorobyev saw his first action since being called up to replace the injured Michael Raffl (broken finger). Vorobyev centered the fourth line between James van Riemsdyk and Pitlick.