Not only did the Flyers’ defense corps keep Vancouver’s No. 1 offense in check on Thursday night, it outscored the sharpshooters as well.
Goals from backliners Egor Zamula and Sean Walker led Philadelphia’s attack and paved the way for a rather surprising 4-1 win at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, a positive way to kick off a four-game western swing.
Goaltender Samuel Ersson started the game but, according to the Flyers, left at 2:36 of the third period due to a case of “dehydration” and was replaced by Carter Hart.
After the game, coach John Tortorella said Ersson should not be having any leftover issues from the incident.
The Flyers raised their road record to 11-4-3 — with at least a point in eight straight road games — and moved back into second place in the crowded Metropolitan Division. Vancouver’s nine-game point streak came to an end.
Philadelphia swept the season series with the Canucks, 2-0.
It took the Flyers about 35 minutes to get their scoring untracked but when they did, the floodgates opened. Philadelphia ended up scoring three goals in a span of just 2:06.
For the Canucks, coached by ex-Flyer player Rick Tocchet, it was just their fourth home loss in regulation time this season.
“I think it’s that time of year,” Tortorella said in a televised post-game interview. “After Christmas. . .you go through January, February. There are still all these games to be played. The grind and the checking part of the game has to come to the forefront.
“I thought we were patient, we checked well. And then you just wait for a team to open up.”
The Flyers got on the scoreboard first at 15:03 of the second period and then added two more for good measure.
Zamula scored the first goal on a point shot during a Philadelphia power play. Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson set screens to block goaltender Casey DeSmith’s vision.
The Flyers are now 16-1 when they score the first goal of the game.
Next up, Walker joined a rush, took a pass from Owen Tippett and connected at 16:24. Finally, Farabee grabbed a feed from Bobby Brink, raced in and slid a puck past DeSmith at 17:09.
Vancouver’s Teddy Blueger scored just 25 seconds into the third period to cut the Flyers’ lead to 3-1. But Garnet Hathaway scored a shorthanded goal to counter the Canucks’ goal and restore the three-goal edge.
“We score a big power-play goal,” Tortorella said. “The most important part of the game was when they scored (at the start of the third period to make it 3-1). We took a penalty and the shorthanded goal (was critical). That settled us down and we played a good third period.”
Both teams appeared to be shaking off the rust of the holiday break in a scoreless first period, although the Flyers did get 13 shots on net.
Atkinson made perhaps the most significant move of the frame when he hustled across the slot to stop Canucks sharpshooter Andrei Kuzmenko on a try at an open net midway through the period.
Scott Laughton, who had a goal and an assist in a 7-6 shootout loss at Detroit before the break, registered a couple good scoring chances in the opening period. He said the Flyers employed a sound defensive strategy against the NHL’s No. 1 offense.
“I thought we tracked (checked) well,” Laughton said. “Put pressure on their ‘D.’ And we played simple. That’s what kept us playing fast. We got pucks on net.”
The Flyers’ alternate captain appreciated the time off.
“I feel good, nice to get a little reset (four days). I’m ready to go. The line is doing some good forechecking. I just have to find my opportunity when it comes and put it in the back of the net.”
Farabee liked the way the Flyers performed in a tough situation.
“We just kind of played patient, waited for our opportunities,” he said. “You get a couple quick ones there and it builds momentum. I really like how our group played coming off the break – it would have been easy to play loose and not play our system. But I feel like everyone was pulling on the rope.”
>Konecny leaves early
Flyers right wing Travis Konecny played the first two periods but left early in the third. There was no immediate word as to the reason why Konecny had to call it a night. After the game, Tortorella said Konecny will be OK.
The Flyers have little time to rest as they are scheduled to play the Kraken on Friday night in Seattle. . .With Ersson getting the start in this game, it’s a good bet Hart will get the start for that game. Hart has family in the Edmonton area, which is not all that far away from Washington state. . .Sean Couturier played in Flyer career game No. 753, tying him with Chris Therien for fifth place on the team’s alltime games list. Brian Propp is fourth at 790. . .Flyers former first-round draft pick Cutter Gauthier registered three assists for the United States in an 11-3 win over Switzerland at the World Junior Championship in Sweden. Another Flyers first-round pick, Oliver Bonk, is playing defense for Canada. . .Atkinson’s career-high goal slump hit 19 games. . .Both of Zamula’s career goals have come against Vancouver. . .Flyers’ eight shorthanded goals move them into a tie for second in the NHL. . . Tortorella worked his 1,499th game behind an NHL bench.