PHILADELPHIA – There were times in recent years when Claude Giroux might have thought of himself as not only captain of the Flyers but the ultimate go-to guy.
A few years ago, he even scored more than 100 points to underline that belief.
But Giroux is getting a lot of help on today’s Flyers. In fact, he’s only fourth on the team’s scoring list.
Friday night, Giroux’s linemates provided plenty of aid. While Giroux had two goals in the game against the New York Rangers, Jake Voracek chipped in with four assists and Sean Couturier had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers.
The Flyers extended their winning streak to five games and ended the Rangers’ winning streak at five. New York’s franchise-record nine-game road winning streak also went by the boards.
Giroux acknowledges it makes his job easier when he gets contributions from other players.
“I’m playing with two good players that find a way to find me on the ice,’’ Giroux said. “So it makes my job a lot easier.’’
On top of that, the Flyers are getting contributions from all four lines, which takes a bit of a load off the captain.
“Everybody is playing great,’’ Giroux said. “Every line is playing well.’’
Pending the outcome of Pittsburgh’s game at Anaheim, the Flyers (now 22-5-4 at home) had a chance to move into second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Goaltender Carter Hart remained practically unbeatable at home as he raised his record at the WFC to 18-2-2.
James van Riemsdyk and Giroux scored in the second period to break open a 1-1 game.
Voracek became the first player in Flyer history to get four assists against the Rangers.
He was asked if the top line relishes the challenge of leading the way in this stretch drive for the playoffs.
“We’re not going to break records with the points this year,’’ Voracek said with a smile. “For us, it doesn’t matter. If we play the other top line and we come out even or better, there’s a good chance we’re going to win the game. Every night it’s somebody else and it feels pretty good.’’
Couturier has been leading the line’s play with strong efforts at both ends of the rink.
“We’re supporting each other a lot better,’’ he said of his line. “We’re moving, we’re going to the net hard. Being a little more simple in our game.
“I think it (being the top line) is something we want to be every game. But it’s part of the game, it can go one way or the other. Going against top lines, it’s not always easy. But I think everyone is contributing.’’
New York got on the board first on a brilliant goal by Jesper Fast just 2:49 into the match.
Fast broke in with defenseman Philippe Myers in hot pursuit. Hart managed to get a piece of Fast’s shot but the puck hopped in the air and the Ranger somehow managed to get his stick on it for a tap-in goal.
The Flyers got that one back with 3:53 left in the period. Voracek took control behind the net, then passed to Couturier in front for a short shot past goalie Alexandar Georgiev. It was Couturier’s 20th goal of the season.
“It’s huge winning those one-on-one battles, creating a lot of open space out there,’’ Couturier said of his goal. “Jake made a heck of a play and all I had to do was just go back door and he found me.”
Van Riemsdyk put the Flyers in front at 13:00. Georgiev stopped Nicolas Aube-Kubel’s hard shot but the rebound zipped into the far circle for an easy putback by JVR.
Giroux struck at 15:05. He beat Georgiev from the right faceoff dot. In the third, he scored again, this time on a power play. Kevin Hayes scored at 12:56 just after Voracek got out of the penalty box.
The first goal was key.
“It was huge,” Giroux said. “They were coming at us a bit in the second period but we kept our composure and kept playing our game. It (the atmosphere) is great. These are the kinds of games you get excited about.”
Coach Alain Vigneault has been around long enough now to appreciate what the Couturier-Giroux-Voracek line brings to the table.
“Our top boys were our top performers tonight,’’ he said. “They showed up, they played big, they capitalized on a couple of the other team’s mistakes.
“I think I’ve said a couple of times: You need your top players to lead the way and I thought ‘Coot’s’ line tonight with ‘G’ and Jake did that.’’
The four assists tie Voracek’s career-high, which he’s reached on two other occasions. . .It was Giroux’s 26th career multi-goal game. . .The two teams meet again at high noon on Sunday in New York. . .The Flyers are 15-5-4 since Jan. 7.