PHILADELPHIA – To borrow a line from an old song: The waiting is the hardest part.
The musician Tom Petty probably didn’t have hockey scoring in mind when he wrote that line, but it certainly could apply to Flyers rookie Bobby Brink.
It took Brink, whose middle name is “Orr” as in Bobby Orr, a substantial 16 games to get his first National Hockey League marker but it finally happened on Thursday night in Philadelphia’s 6-2 win over Minnesota at the Wells Fargo Center.
The rookie connected on a power play midway at 9:52 the second period with some assistance from his center, Sean Couturier. Brink added a second goal at 11:02 of the third period.
The Flyers bounced back from a tough last-minute loss at Vegas on Tuesday night to improve their record to 4-2-1. Goaltender Carter Hart, who opened the game with a sharp 2.21 goals-against average, came up with the timely saves when he needed them.
Brink, who had to wait until the final couple days of the preseason to find out if he even made the team, was all smiles after putting a shot past Minnesota goaltender Filip Guatavsson. He’s had a number of close calls this season and actually had a few more in a 10-game trial with the Flyers late last season. So Thursday night was a time to exhale.
All young players dream of that first NHL goal. On this night, it was double the fun for Brink.
“I mean I’ve been probably doing it for 22 years,” the 22-year-old Brink said. “It’s a pretty special moment. I’ve been thinking about it forever. A lot of years of hockey and a lot of stuff leading up to this moment. Just a really special moment for me and my whole family.”
In the post-game locker room, Brink walked in after finishing TV interviews and was greeted with chants of “Bobby! Bobby!” Clearly, he’s already one of the more popular players on the team.
Why else would the players keep blocking him from sitting on the bench late in the game, keeping him on the ice in search of his first hat trick?
“Yeah, guys kept sending me back out there,” grinned Brink. “Unselfish by them. We have a great group. It was pretty fun.”
On his first goal, the pass from Couturier clicked off a ref’s skate and changed directions in a favorable way.
“It’s nice to get a bounce, a little luck,” Brink said. “Nice to get lucky.”
Couturier remembers his first goal so he felt fortunate to help out his teammate.
“He’s been buzzing lately,” Couturier said. “He’s been getting a lot of looks, a lot of chances. Sometimes that’s all it takes, just one and the rest of the game he created a lot of chances. Then he got the second one. It’s nice to see that.
“He looks great. He’s getting better and better everyday from Day 1 of camp. He’s starting to control our power play. Nice to see young guys stepping up.”
Coach John Tortorella said Brink’s success can be attributed to a good work ethic.
“As much as he knows and we know he’s played, scorers want the goal,” the coach said. “I’m happy for him. He put a lot of work in. The players were all standing up. They wouldn’t let him on the bench.”
Other goal-scorers for the Flyers were Travis Konecny, Couturier, Owen Tippett and Travis Sanheim.
Konecny scored at 13:57 of the first period when his rising shot from the left circle beat Gustavsson inside the far post. It was his sixth goal of the season in just seven games.
Couturier hit the back of the net at 7:28 of the second period off a scramble in front during a power play. The Flyers came into the game last in the NHL at 1 for 20 but tripled that total in this game.
The Flyers were coming off a difficult trip from Vegas, where the Tuesday night game ended at 1:50 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday. But the Flyers didn’t show any signs of fatigue in this game.
“We touched on it before the game,” Konecny said during a first intermission interview. “It’s like we’re aware of what we’re coming back to and how it’s difficult coming back after a road trip like that. You’re trying to settle in with time changes (three hours difference) and kudos to our guys, we’re just working hard.”
Minnesota scored its first goal at 3:05 of the third period on a shot by Dakota Mermis. At 4:30, the Wild closed to within one on a goal by Marcus Foligno.
However, Tippett gave the Flyers some breathing room. Cam Atkinson stole the puck from a Minnesota defender and sent Tippett off on a breakaway. The right wing made no mistake to up the lead to 4-2 at 6:34.
Tortorella was pleased with the way the Flyers bent but didn’t break.
“I’m really happy with the way they responded,” the coach said of his team. “Cam sends ‘Tipp’ on his way. A huge goal. And don’t forget Hart. He played very well.”
Brink then finished off a Joel Farabee entry to complete his best offensive game to date. Sanheim completed the blitz at 14:46.
“That pass by Joel was just unbelievable,” Brink said. “He fitted it through there at the last second right on my tape. They don’t come much easier than that.”
>Belpedio makes debut
Defenseman Louie Belpedio, who was called up from Lehigh Valley on Thursday, wore No. 37 and was paired with Nick Seeler. . .The Flyers return to action on Saturday, 1 p.m. for a game against the Anaheim Ducks at the Wells Fargo Center. . .Due in part to the difficult return trip from Vegas, the Flyers were given Friday off from practice.