PHILADELPHIA – Coach John Tortorella said after Monday afternoon’s game to forget in Boston he wanted to see how his team would react to the embarrassing loss to the Bruins.
No need to worry, coach, your team is learning how to bounce back with pizzazz.
Tuesday night’s game against the Anaheim Ducks was the perfect response.
Rasmus Ristolainen came up with a “semi-Gordie Howe hat trick’’ – i.e., a goal, an assist and a devastating check (instead of a fight) – and Kevin Hayes chipped in with his first career hat trick for an energetic 5-2 win at the Wells Fargo Center.
The victory moved the Flyers, winners of eight of their last 10 games, back to the .500 mark at 19-19-7 and erased some of the memory of Monday afternoon’s 6-0 debacle setback in Boston. The Flyers also moved to within five points of a playoff spot.
Ristolainen entered the game with just two points on his stat sheet but that changed in a hurry.
With the score tied, 1-1, and the Flyers shorthanded, Ristolainen joined Scott Laughton on a breakout from the defensive zone. Laughton led Ristolainen with a perfect entry pass. From there, it was a quick shot past goaltender Anthony Stolarz at 12:43 for a 2-1 lead that the Flyers would never relinquish.
That was the Flyers’ NHL-leading ninth shorthanded goal, giving them a two-goal edge in that department.
From there, Morgan Frost added a goal with 39 seconds left in the period and Ristolainen picked up an assist there as well, giving him four points for the current campaign.
Sam Ersson picked up the win in goal for the Flyers to run his record to 5-0-0.
“I appreciate and respect how we just stayed with it,’’ Tortorella said. “Scored a big shorthanded goal. It’s a situation where you have to answer. We talked about trying to play as fast as we can.’’
Ristolainen posted good offensive numbers early in his career. He’s trying to find that range again.
“He (Ristolainen) has been playing better. He’s protected the puck well, he’s made simple plays,’’ Tortorella said. “He’s had a good stick. I’m happy for him. He scored a big goal for us tonight. He’s been knocking on the door. His overall game has been much better as he’s gone along here.’’
No doubt the Flyers got a lift when the native of Finland put on a fancy move to score the goal.
“They (the bench) were happy for him,’’ the coach said. “They know he’s really worked at his game. Another big hit tonight (on Max Jones). I think he’s a guy that guys play for. Right now I’m just concerned with where he continues to grow defensively.’’
Said Ristolainen: “It was kind of an important moment to score the leading goal. I love the penalty kill. Take a lot of pride in that and tonight it worked pretty well.’’
In the first period, the Flyers nearly squandered both ends of a five-on-three power play but wound up getting their first goal with the same man advantage.
Anaheim’s Maxime Comtois jumped out of the penalty box off the first penalty and set sail on a breakaway but shot the puck wide.
With the Flyers still up a man, Tony DeAngelo got the puck over to Hayes in the right circle. Hayes’ shot eluded Stolarz, a former Flyer draft pick, at 13:32.
On the goal, Travis Konecny registered an assist, ending a season-high two-game pointless streak.
The Ducks took advantage of some loose play by the Flyers to tie the score at 7:39 of the second period.
The Frost goal was one for the video scrapbook. He took control just outside the post, slid the puck between his own skates and flipped a shot from behind his back into the net.
Hayes scored at 2:30 of the third period to make it 4-1. After a Ducks power play goal, Hayes scored into an empty net with 43.9 seconds to play to complete his three-goal night.
“I thought we responded well (from the Boston game),’’ Hayes said. “They’re a really good team. They kind of embarrassed us a little bit. Our team responded well.
“It is just the resilience that we have. At this point in the season you don’t want to keep losing games. It’s kind of important to nip it in the bud. We said that before the game, we don’t want to lose two in a row.’’
The Flyers have a day off from practice on Wednesday, then resume their five games-in-seven days stretch with a home test against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday. . .The Flyers are now 14-0-1 when leading after two periods. . .After going 0-6 in the second half of back-to-back game situations to start the season, the Flyers have now gone 2-0. . .With his fifth win, Ersson ties Antero Nittymaki for second place on the Flyers’ all-time list for consecutive victories to start a career. Bob Froese holds the record with eight. . .Ristolainen’s shorthanded goal was the first of his career. . .Frost drew a few laughs when talking about his goal. “You guys (media) see me in practice, I do a lot of dumb stuff. I guess once in awhile it works.’’