PHILADELPHIA – It’s not easy beating a team in both ends of a home-and-away series spaced just two days apart. The Flyers were reminded of this in Monday night’s rematch with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After winning a tough game in the Steel City via a shootout on Saturday night, the two teams met again at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday night. The outcome was still the same.
Sean Couturier took a pass from Travis Sanheim on a two-on-one rush and scored with 1:05 to play in overtime for a 2-1 Flyers win, raising their season record to 13-10-2.
Coach John Tortorella is not someone who’s easy to impress so there might have been a little bit of a matter-of-fact tone to his post-game voice despite a pair of impressive wins over a team which still has the core of a pair of Stanley Cups wins.
“We’re just playing,” Tortorella said. “After giving up an odd-man rush (in the second period) we found ourselves. It was a game you kind of got caught up watching.
“We just worry about ourselves. I think we play hard pretty consistently. If you have the run that we have right now, the togetherness, I think you find a way to compete in this league.”
Couturier seems like he’s starting to find his legs after missing a year and a half due to back surgery and then trying to find his game in the first quarter of the season.
Now he’s fully invested, especially against a traditional rival like the Penguins.
“These are huge games,” he said. “A divisional game, these are big points down the road. These were two big wins for our team.”
On the winning goal, defenseman Travis Sanheim (who had the second assist) said it was just a quick read before the final faceoff.
“Everything just worked out perfectly from the faceoff,” Couturier said. “TK’s saucer pass just lined it up perfectly. It was nice to get that extra point.”
Any extra satisfaction sweeping their intra-state rivals?
“Since the start of the year we’ve pretty matched up with any team,” Couturier said. “We’re confident in the way we play. We haven’t backed down, even through some downs and adversity. I think we’re starting to get more and more comfortable playing these kinds of games where they’re tight and we’re managing them better. It’s nice to see the growth on our team – we just have to keep doing it.”
Pittsburgh was first to hit the scoreboard and that old Flyer nemesis, Sidney Crosby, did the honors. He finished off a two-on-one rush with Jake Guentzel, putting a shot past goaltender Carter Hart.
It was Crosby’s 54th goal in 85 career games against the Flyers. He has 125 points over that span.
But the Flyers ultimately came all the way back from the early deficit to make it two straight wins after giving up the first goal of the game. They are now 2-9-2 for the season.
Flyers center Ryan Poehling, a former Penguin, wasn’t surprised by Pittsburgh’s early push and resultant lead.
“I think they play like us a bit,” Poehling said in a first intermission interview. “They want to get going quick and kind of catch you out of position. So, for us to just kind of beat them at their own game and for us to do that, I think it’s up to us to not let them get set up. Play behind their net and they can’t play quick on us.”
The Flyers evened things up in the second period, getting a goal from rookie Tyson Foerster, whose goal at 9:46 extended his point streak to four games.
Foerster took a pass from Konecny and beat goalie Alex Nedeljkovic from the left circle.
“Yeah, he (Foerster) is playing really good,” said Couturier. “Doing a lot of little things the right way and he’s getting rewarded right now. He’s sticking to it and his confidence is starting to build up and you can tell. It’s nice to see.”
Added Foerster, who has a four-game point streak and five goals on the season: “Any time you can score in this league, your confidence is going to rise. I think it’s defense first. I’ve been pretty good at that all year. I thought the offense would come if I kept playing the way I was.”
Couturier liked the way the Flyers came back from the early deficit.
“Even if we’re up or down a goal, it doesn’t matter the time of game,” he said. “We’re confidence in the way we play and we’ve got to keep doing that.”
>Praise for D-man
Tortorella on Rasmus Ristolainen during morning press session at the Flyers Training Center: “He just goes about it. He hits a guy and the guy might come at him. I don’t think he even knows he’s there. He doesn’t worry about too much. Having missed so much time, he’s really given us some big minutes here.”
The Flyers announced on Monday they have placed defenseman Louie Belpedio on waivers. Belpedio had been a valuable reserve during long injury absences to Ristolainen and Mark Staal. NHL teams have 24 hours to stake a claim on Belpedio. . .The Flyers embark on a three-game road trip out west, which includes stops in Arizona on Thursday, Colorado on Saturday and Nashville on the following Tuesday (Dec. 12). They have a 6-4-1 record on the road. . .The Flyers opened Monday action tied for first in the NHL with six shorthanded goals. They nearly had a seventh in the first and second periods of Monday night’s game but Konecny was stopped on a pair of breakaways.