While it’s been an up-and-down season for the Flyers, one constant has been their competitive play on the road.
That trend continued on Saturday night when the Flyers grinded out a 2-1 victory at Detroit.
Scott Laughton, getting an assist from Kevin Hayes, scored at 9:01 of the third period and that goal proved the difference. Moments later, Noah Cates scored an insurance goal.
Goaltender Carter Hart was sharp throughout the game, getting to within 42.5 seconds of a shutout when Detroit’s Lucas Raymond ruined the bid.
Philadelphia moved a game above .500 on the road at 10-9-6 and managed to get its overall record back to .500 at 20-20-7.
The victory over the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena was the Flyers’ ninth in the last 12 games.
The Flyers, who had a five-game road winning streak stopped in Monday afternoon’s defeat at Boston, continued their strong play away from home in this game.
Coach John Tortorella acknowledged Hart’s contribution to this win.
“He wasn’t totally busy until the end,’’ Tortorella said. “I thought he came up big at the end. He just looked solid. Not a lot of extra motion.’’
Tortorella has preached extra effort after a loss and in this game, the Flyers looked energized, something they weren’t in Thursday night’s setback.
“We played hard, harder than we did the other night (a 4-1 loss to last-place Chicago),’’ the coach said. “It was a matter of not blinking first. We just kept our patience with our game, I thought we defended well.
The Flyers blocked a whopping 31 shots, their second-highest total this season.
“We haven’t been as willing blocking shots,’’ Tortorella said in reference to recent games. “We did better tonight. We stayed with it.’’
Laughton registered his 12th goal of the season, taking a pass from Hayes and backhanding the puck top-shelf. He’s now just one off his career high.
“Hartsy came up huge for us,’’ Laughton said. “Big save at the end (on Raymond). Good win. Zero-zero going into the third. We found a way on the road. He (Hart) has come up big for us on numerous occasions. He was great.’’
Hart was really on his game in the first period, stopping 11 shots, many of them of the difficult variety. Perhaps the most challenging was a doorstep shot by sniper Dylan Larkin, who was turned away at the last instant.
In the second period, the Flyers – playing the fourth of five games in a seven-day stretch — made Hart’s situation a bit calmer. They allowed the Red Wings only one shot over the last 10:27 of the frame and that one came in the final minute.
Hart had more challenging work to do in the third period but found a way to get the job done.
Philadelphia had some quality shots against goalie Ville Husso over the first 40 minutes as well. Defenseman Cam York was involved in one particular good scoring chance, when he executed a quick spin-around move and nearly got in alone on Husso.
After Laughton’s goal in the third, Travis Konecny set up Cates with a pass from behind the net. Cates ripped a shot past Husso at 13:23.
“When we got into our forecheck we had more success,’’ Cates said. “That’s kind of our identity. We got away from that against Chicago, we needed to get back to that tonight and we did.”
The Flyers complete their demanding week with a home game against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. After going 0-6 on the second half of back-to-backs this season, the Flyers have won their last two. . .Kevin Hayes is scheduled to reach the 600-game milestone for his NHL career in the Jets game. . .It’s a good bet the Flyers will start backup goalie Felix Sandstrom, who just completed a two-week conditioning stint with the Phantoms, against the Jets. The Flyers have not started a goalie in both ends of a back-to-back this season. On Saturday, the Flyers assigned Samuel Ersson to the Phantoms. He started his NHL career 5-0-0. . .