Sometimes in sports, one man’s misfortune is another one’s opportunity.
In the Flyers’ case on Saturday night during a game at Winnipeg, it was actually two players who were sidelined by injury and that opened the door for left wing Kieffer Bellows.
Bellows, who had been scratched for 17 straight games dating back to mid-December, was put in the line-up against the Jets because two forwards – Zack MacEwen (fractured jaw) and Wade Allison (leg injury) – were scratched due to injuries suffered in Thursday night’s game at Minnesota.
So what happens?
Bellows scored his first goal as a Flyer, which proved beneficial in Philadelphia’s 4-0 win at Canada Life Centre.
The Flyers enter the NHL winter break/All-Star Game week with four points in their last three games. They improved their season mark to 22-22-9 and are 7-1-1 in their last nine road games.
Bellows, claimed off waivers from the New York Islanders earlier in the season, took a pass from Rasmus Ristolainen and fired a shot past Connor Hellebuyck at 11:53 of the second period.
“It’s been a long time since I’ve played a game,’’ Bellows said during the second intermission. “I wanted to go out here and keep it simple. I’ve been working hard and staying ready just in case anything happened that I would be ready to go.
“Me and ‘Delau’ (Nick Delauriers) are just trying to get pucks on the net. We’re trying to keep it strong defensively as well.’’
Bellows hadn’t scored a goal since he was an Islander back in April, 2022.
“It felt really good,’’ he said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Noah Cates scored a goal in the first period and goalie Carter Hart made the early lead stand up for the Flyers.
It was Hart’s first shutout of the season and fourth of his career.
Cates now has goals in back-to-back games and his four game-winners lead all NHL rookies.
“It (the win) is huge going into the break,’’ Cates said. “I think we’re up to .500. We’ve been resilient all year. We’ve been playing these teams that have been coming out hard, we’ve had our backs against the wall and wins like this are huge. A win like this going into the break, we should feel good about ourselves.’’
Owen Tippett scored on a breakaway, courtesy of a Ristolainen breakout pass, at 3:11 of the third period. That ended an eight-game goal drought. Tony DeAngelo finished off a two-on-one rush at 6:48 to put the game out of reach.
Ristolainen has been piling up points lately after going 35 games without one. He has seven points in his last seven games.
“It (the season) was a very slow start for me,’’ Ristolainen admitted. “The last couple months my game has been getting better. I like where it is now. More important, as a team we are playing very well, taking big wins on the road. That’s the way we wanted to end here before the break.’’
While Hart was sensational through much of the game, coach John Tortorella characterized the win as a total team effort.
“Everybody played,’’ he said. “You never know what happens when you into the situation, the break, and the amount of hockey we’ve played during the month. Right from the opening faceoff I thought we played simple and everybody contributed.’’
>MacEwen undergoes surgery
MacEwen suffered his jaw injury in a fight with Minnesota’s Marcus Foligno. The Flyer underwent surgery on Saturday morning. Dr. Guy Lanzi performed the operation at Cooper Hospital in Camden, N.J. MacEwen is expected to miss five weeks of action.
>Braun returns to action
To fill the Flyers’ other vacant roster spot, defenseman Justin Braun was inserted into the lineup. He had not played since Jan. 2 (11 games). . .The Flyers are off until Feb. 6 when they play host to the Islanders. . .Hart improved to 4-0-0 for his career against the Jets. . .After failing to shut out an opponent in their first 40 games, the Flyers have now posted two whitewashes in their last 11 games.