PHILADELPHIA – Apparently all it took was one win to give the Flyers some confidence again.
After defeating the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday, the Flyers returned to action on Tuesday night and played a strong two-way game in beating the Winnipeg Jets, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Center.
James van Riemsdyk’s goal with 4:09 to play proved to be the winner. JVR broke in two on one against Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck. Scott Laughton took an initial shot and van Riemsdyk cleaned up the rebound for his 11th goal of the season.
Oskar Lindblom added an empty-net goal with 1:14 to play to account for the final margin.
It’s the first time the Flyers have won back-to-back games since a win over Ottawa on Dec. 18 and another at Seattle on Dec. 29.
The Flyers looked more sure of themselves in this game and committed far fewer errors than they did during a recent 13-game winless streak.
“I think the guys have done a good job of sticking together, no one’s pointing fingers in the room,’’ Laughton said. “If we continue to do that. . .try to dig ourselves out of this hole.’’
For the Flyers, it was the last game before the NHL All-Star break. They don’t return to action until Feb. 9.
Flyers goaltender Carter Hart surrendered a goal in the first minute of play but was perfect after that in recording the win. Hart was especially strong as the Flyers kept the Jets’ potent power play off the board.
“He was really good for us, your goalie has to be your best killer,’’ Laughton remarked. “I thought our ‘D’ did a really good job of clearing pucks off draws. That kind of eats up time. We did a good job up ice, got our blocks when we needed them and found a way.’’
Hart looks pretty sure of himself. It’s a bit of a shame the All-Star break comes when it does as the Flyers seem to have some momentum.
“I think it will be good for us to step away from the game a little bit,’’ he said. “Come back fresh, allow some of the guys who are injured right now a little bit extra time to recover. Hopefully we’ll get them back soon. We just have to make sure we come back ready for the next game.’’
Interim head coach Mike Yeo called Hart’s effort “awesome.’’
Yeo said Hart’s play allowed the Flyers to stay in it. “That doesn’t happen without Carter,’’ he added. “There were a couple key moments, that two on none (with a big save on Kyle Connor). He was outstanding.’’
The Jets needed only 48 seconds to get on the scoreboard. Thanks to a mix-up by Flyers defenders, Connor was left open in the right circle and he sent a hard shot past Hart.
The Flyers didn’t look as fragile as they usually do in giving up the first goal. In fact, it was just the third time all season (3-19-3) the Flyers have won after an opponent scores first.
“The best teams, the best players, they just worry about the next shift, doing their job,’’ van Riemsdyk said. “You just go out and do what you’re supposed to do, execute, on the next shift. We’ve kind of gotten back to basics a little bit. Ultimately you have to have the mindset of whether it goes good or goes bad, the next shift is the most important one.’’
In the second period, the Flyers answered with a goal from Travis Konecny, only his second since Nov. 18. A turnover by Winnipeg defenseman Neil Pionk. Konecny grabbed the giveaway, took a couple strides toward the net and buried a shot on Hellebuyck at 10:42.
After the game, Konecny said he felt like his goal made amends for a coverage mistake he made on the Jets’ goal.
“For me, I gave up that first one,’’ Konecny confessed. “It felt good to get it back.’’
Claude Giroux, already the longest tenured captain in Flyers history, played in his 700th game on Tuesday night while wearing the “C.”
During his time as captain, which started in January, 2013, Giroux has missed only 10 games, five of those due to COVID. He has recorded 210 goals/650 points over that span. His 700 games are tied for third with the Kings’ Anzi Kopitar for most games played over that timeframe. Only the Flyers’ Keith Yandle and Arizona’s Phil Kessel have played more.
During pre-game warmups on Tuesday night, the Flyers used sticks wrapped with special #TapeOutHate tape, inspired by the anti-racism campaign launched in partnership with the Hockey Diversity Alliance and Budweiser Canada.
The win was the Flyers’ ninth straight home victory over the Jets, which is the second longest active streak in place. The Flyers’ longest is a 16-gamer (not including playoffs) over the Chicago Blackhawks dating back to the 1990s. . .Morgan Frost, under the weather the past couple days, decided to play and didn’t appear to be the worse for wear. . .Yeo referred to Laughton as a “real warrior. He blocked that shot at the end when the game was out of reach. But he still laid down to block it.’’