PHILADELPHIA – It took Sean Couturier the better part of five seasons to shake the tag of defensive forward specialist before hitting his offensive stride the past three years.
Maybe Scott Laughton is following a similar path.
Both players were first-round draft picks who initially made their marks as two-way players.
Couturier has put together back-to-back 31-goal campaigns and Laughton, who spent all of two games in the 2016-17 season with the Phantoms, has finally reached double digits for goals the past two seasons.
Saturday afternoon, Laughton showed off his scoring skills but potting the winning goal with 4:49 to play for a 4-3 win over the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center.
In addition to scoring, Laughton also suckered Brady Tkachuk into taking a pair of stupid penalties in the final 25 seconds to wrap things up.
Some shouting at the Ottawa bench by Laughton may have played into that.
“I knew it (cross-checking, roughing penalties by Tkachuk) was coming, it’s part of the game when you do that stuff,’’ Laughton said. “When you chirped the bench, you know it’s going to come.
“I just can’t drop the gloves right now with the (broken) finger right now.’’
Like some of his teammates, Laughton likes the kind of physical battles that Saturday’s game provided.
“They (the Senators) play hard, they are a well-coached team,’’ Laughton said. “And they don’t give you much space. It was a physical game and I like playing in those, so it was nice.’’
Laughton has played a lot of center in his career with the Flyers but he’s showing an offensive flair on the third line left wing.
He’s also a reliable teammate. On Saturday, he was throwing his weight around after the questionable hit by Mark Borowiecki on Travis Konecny, which knocked the talented winger out of the game.
How did that “run-around’’ tag come about?
“Probably my dad when I was younger,’’ Laughton said with a grin. “He’s got a couple screws loose up top. So he kind of taught me that from a young age.
“You have to step up when things go south like that, just play the body and be hungry. That’s what I try to do.’’
Laughton has registered four goals in six games since coming back from the fractured finger. He’s building a trust with coach Alain Vigneault.
Playing with a skilled center like Kevin Hayes has helped.
“Things are going in right now,’’ Laughton said. “He (Vigneault) has given me a lot of opportunities, going out there late in games and protecting leads. He’s put a lot of trust in me.
“I think you want to show him right, work as hard as you can and prove him right.’’
Vigneault was pleased with Laughton’s work on Saturday.
“I look at today’s game, where it got heated, he was one of the guys who responded the best,’’ the coach said. “He responded in a physical nature when the opportunity was there.
“But when he needed to make plays with the puck or defend, he did that. As a coach, it’s easy to trust a player when he’s doing the right things.’’
>Coach evaluates hit
Vigneault said his initial reaction to the Konecny hit was “I thought it was high but I haven’t had a chance to look at a replay yet. I didn’t see it live. The players didn’t like the hit. It led to a chippy game on both sides.’’