Flyers win two in a row for first time since October

James van Riemsdyk

Stop the presses, the Flyers have won two games in a row.

Led by James van Riemsdyk’s pair of goals, the Flyers defeated the Arizona Coyotes, 5-3, on Saturday night at Gila River Arena.

The Flyers also picked up goals from Scott Laughton and Patrick Brown as they connected three times in the second period.

The victory, coming in the wake of Friday night’s 4-3 triumph at Vegas (which ended a 10-game winless streak), marks the first time the Flyers have posted back-to-back wins since they defeated Edmonton and Vancouver consecutively back in late October.

Coach Mike Yeo, who saw his record evened at 2-2 since taking over from the fired Alain Vigneault last Monday, liked the way his team responded during their fifth game in seven nights.

“By no means was it a perfect game,’’ he said. “But you don’t expect that with the schedule that we’ve had. What impressed me most was the grit that we played with. It was not an easy game, that’s a team that does a good job of hanging on to the puck in the offensive zone and obviously with the schedule that we’ve had, it’s tiring when you have to defend.’’

Brown’s goal, his first as a Flyer, broke a 2-2 tie at 11:21 of the second period. Goaltender Karel Vejmelka tried to clear the puck from the right circle but flubbed the attempt. It wound up on Brown’s stick for a shot into the unguarded net.

JVR added his second goal at 12:34 off the deflection of a Travis Konecny shot. Van Riemsdyk now has three goals in his last two games after scoring just two for the entire season before that.

Martin Jones picked up the win in goal for the Flyers, who swept the season series (2-0) from the Coyotes.

The Flyers have gotten their power play untracked. Yeo credited assistant coach Darryl Williams with much of the success.

“He’s been stressing the point of quick attacks,’’ Yeo said. “With that, the guys are realizing the puck has to get to the net. They’ve been moving it quick. It’s nothing real groundbreaking or anything like that but the focus seems to be there to have a real quick attack.’’

The two wins should mean a lot for the Flyers’ confidence.

“We went through a stretch where the team was struggling,’’ Yeo said. “We had a number of individuals who weren’t feeling good about their game. So for us to get some wins but also for some players to regain their confidence, I think that’s going to do a lot for us going forward.’’

Van Riemsdyk kicked off the scoring at 1:14 of the first period when he stole the puck at center ice and then fired a short shot home from the right circle. Jay Beagle scored just 39 seconds later for Arizona, breaking a 38-game goal-less streak.

Konecny also set up Laughton’s goal with a nice rush. Laughton hit the net at 5:26. The Coyotes tied it for the last time at 9:22 on a goal by Nick Schmaltz.

“He (Laughton) is the guy that kind of opens everything up,’’ Konecny said. “He’s always working and getting the puck back. He kind of creates the space to make those plays. I really enjoy playing with him. His game is always working hard without the puck. He does the right things and then he gets rewarded. It’s a lot of fun.’’

Laughton appreciated Konecny’s effort in pushing plays toward the net.

“With him, you’ve just got to go to the net with your stick down,’’ Laughton explained. “And you will get a couple. We’re playing with some speed right now, making little five-foot plays in the neutral zone. It’s been a good two games and we’ve got to keep going. The confidence isn’t high when you lose 10 in a row. . .to go into Vegas and (then) play back-to-back here, the guys did a real good job with five in seven. The legs probably aren’t the best, you have to play a smart game and we did that tonight.’’

Claude Giroux made it 5-2 at 7:50 of the third period. Arizona countered with a goal from Lawson Crouse at 11:35.

 

>Laughton plays his 400th game

 

Laughton has been a Flyer since 2012 and is signed for the next few years. He says he enjoys playing here.

“It’s pretty special to me, to be honest,’’ Laughton said of the milestone. “To play 400 games for the Flyers, it’s special to me and my family. At the start of my career I was kind of grinding it out. I love it here, so it’s been good.’’

 

>Short shots

 

Giroux played in his 881st game as a Flyer and moved to within two games of Bill Barber for second place on the Flyers’ alltime list. . .Van Riemsdyk recorded his 30th career multi-goal game. . .The Flyers are off until they play host to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night. . .Konecny barely missed scoring on van Riemsdyk’s second goal. TK’s next goal will be his 100th in the NHL.

About Wayne Fish 1564 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.