One thing, among many, the Flyers like about their coach is he doesn’t have a long-term doghouse.
A player can be scratched one night and a few games later find himself on the team’s top line.
That’s sort of the way it went for Scott Laughton, who scored the game-winner in overtime on Tuesday night to keep the Flyers alive in their playoff series with the Islanders.
Laughton, who was benched earlier in the playoffs, started this match on a lower line. But when the team’s top center, Sean Couturier, went out with an injury late in the second period, Laughton was promoted to fill his spot alongside Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek.
That move paid off as Laughton tipped in Ivan Provorov’s long shot at 12:20 of overtime for a 4-3 victory.
“I’ve always said Scotty is one of our character players,’’ Vigneault said. “He cares, he wants to do well. He especially wants the team to do well.
“When ‘Coots’ wasn’t able to come back, I looked at our options and the way certain guys were playing and I thought he would be the best fit with ‘G’ and Jake that I believe were battling tremendously hard tonight.’’
Laughton has had to work for everything he’s gotten with this organization over a span of nearly eight years. So he’s battle-hardened to this sort of situation.
“It’s nice to chip in during playoff hockey,’’ he said. “You always want to contribute. It feels good.’’
It has to be quite a feeling to score a game-winner in sudden death overtime when your team is on the brink of elimination.
“They (emotions) were pretty high, I was pretty fired up,’’ Laughton said. “I think probably one of the bigger goals of my career to score. Obviously a nice feeling. (Provorov) did a good job of getting it to the net and I just got my stick on it.
“I’m excited but we’re still down in the series. We have a lot of work to do.’’
JVR appreciated Vigneault’s decision to trust Laughton with that top line responsibility.
Laughton assisted on JVR’s goal in the game as well.
“He’s probably the guy who’s the heartbeat of our team,’’ JVR said. “He’s a guy who can go up and down the lineup, play a bunch of different ways and guys love playing with him. He’s done a lot for us this year and we’re happy to have him on our team.’’
What can this do for Laughton’s confidence moving forward?
“I think at the beginning of the game, the way me, ‘Riemer’ and ‘TK’ (Travis Konecny) were going, I thought we were really playing well,’’ Laughton said. “Somethings changed in the third. I think it’s good for the (personal) confidence. No secret I had a tough series against Montreal. Just trying to contribute the best way I can and be part of the solution here.’’
>Hart bounces back in OT
After giving up the Islanders’ two late goals, both of a rather questionable nature, Carter Hart bounced back and made some magnificent saves in overtime to keep the Flyers in it.
“That’s the mental strength that we all believe Carter has,’’ Vigneault said. “The ability to focus on the next shot. Yes, they found a way to get a couple by him there but he made some huge saves in the overtime. That’s what you need from your goaltender.’’
Laughton admired Hart’s resolve, particularly in this case, where he could have folded up after the pair of goals.
“We know what we’re getting out of ‘Hartsy,’ he’s a pro,’’ Laughton said. “We have a lot of trust in him. He stepped up big for us, stopped (Brock) Nelson on a breakaway and kept us in it.’’