NEWARK, N.J – After concentrating on defense all season, Ryan Poehling decided to cut loose with a little offense on Tuesday night.
The result was a pair of goals, doubling his season total (which was two), and it helped the Flyers gain two points in a 3-2 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center.
With the point, the Flyers extended their streak with at least one point to nine (8-0-1) games.
Owen Tippett scored the winning goal at 3:25 of overtime when he stole a puck off a blocked pass from Jack Hughes.
“I think in the third period we did a good job of not sitting back,” Tippett said. “It goes a long way. There’s a lot of belief in this room.”
Both of Poehling’s goals came in the second period and brought the Flyers back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits.
Poehling’s first goal came at 1:10 of the second period. He stole a puck from the Devils, worked a give-and-go with Joel Farabee and shot a puck past goaltender Vitek Vanacek.
Then, after the Devils scored on a power play (a goal by Jesper Bratt, ending the Flyers’ streak of 24 straight road kills) at 2:44, Poehling went at it again. This time Poehling finished off a feed from Travis Konency at 8:19.
Poehling has skated most of the season on a fourth line with grinders Nick Deslauriers and Garnet Hathaway. There hasn’t been much in the way of group offense on that unit.
But with Noah Cates out for a couple months due to injury, Poehling has been skating on higher lines. On Tuesday night he was working between Tippett and Bobby Brink.
“He (Poehling) has been great all year,” Tippett said. “When he gets those chances, he shows off his skill and his shot. For him to get a couple tonight, it’s big for the team and for him personally. It’s great to see.”
Poehling has been playing the good soldier, not griping about not working with skilled players like Farabee. Now he’s getting rewarded.
“I’ve played with Joel a few times before,” Poehling said. “We played World Junior together. Everytime we do, I love how he plays. He’s so skilled with the puck. He’s an easy guy to play with.”
The Flyers lost to the Devils in OT earlier in the season. They wanted to turn the tables.
Flyers goalie Sam Ersson, once again playing in place of Carter Hart (illness) extended his personal streak to 5-0-1. He looks sure of himself on every shot he faces.
“I’ve been feeling more and more confidence,” he said. “I’ve been getting into some games in a row. It’s been a lot of fun. For me, it’s very important to stay in the moment and be present. I know when things are not going great. Just stay in the moment and take it game by game.”
A goal by Michael McLeod gave the Devils a 1-0 lead at 14:16 of the first period. Nathan Bastian eluded a check and skated out of the corner. He spotted McLeod unchecked outside the right post. A quick pass gave McLeod a clear shot past Ersson.
The Flyers didn’t have many chances to set up in front of Vanecek and he turned away all eight shots he faced.
Last year, when the Flyers played an overtime session or shootout, they were hoping to win. Now they’re expecting to.
“It’s just the belief we have in the room,” Tippett said. “We’re all fighting for one another. They’re fun games to play. There’s a lot of belief and everyone’s pulling in the same direction.”
Even the players are starting to get caught up in the nine-game point streak.
“For us, we’re not the most skilled team,” Poehling said. “We’re not the prettiest team but we compete hard and we believe in each other. I think that’s the biggest thing. We compete and we do it because we love one another. If we can just continue that, we’re a hard team to play against.”
Coach John Tortorella has coached long enough to know what a long streak means to a team’s belief. This current one is rather impressive.
“We wanted to make sure we were going to get our chances through our checking,” he said. “I thought ‘Ers’ made some key saves. He’s played so well. And we just find a way to win at the end.”
The Poeling-Farabee connection is really catching everyone’s attention.
“He (Poehling) has played himself into a position where he’s just demanding more ice time,” Tortorella said. “Him and ‘Beezer’ have had some chemistry along the line. . .the thing that really helps me with him (Poehling’s) is his skating. He can skate and I have to find him more ice time.”
>Brink gets high marks
Tortorella likes what he’s seen of rookie Bobby Brink, who entered the New Jersey game with five goals, 14 points and a plus-5 in 25 games.
“He makes plays,” Tortorella said. “Good on the power play. Doesn’t play safe. He’s around the puck – the puck follows him. I think he has great poise with the puck offensively.”
The Flyers return to Philadelphia to play Nashville at home on Thursday, then embark on a five-game stretch of road gamess, which is broken up by a four-day holiday break for Christmas. They play in Nashville on Friday, get four days off, then make stops in Vancouver, Seattle, Calgary and Edmonton. They don’t play at home after that until Jan. 4 against Columbus.