Years ago, on Dec. 30, 1981 to be exact, former Edmonton superstar Wayne Gretzky once scored five goals in a home game against the Flyers, helping him set the record for fewest games (39) to get to 50 goals.
Another Oiler standout, current center Connor McDavid, wasn’t quite as prolific in Tuesday night’s game against Philadelphia but there was still a lot of star power on display.
McDavid factored in all five Edmonton goals, scoring the first in the opening period along with assists on Edmonton’s two goals in the second and another two in the third as the Flyers dropped the final game of their western road swing by a 5-2 score at Rogers Place.
Overall, including the pre-holiday game at Detroit, the Flyers finished their five-game road trip 1-2-2.
McDavid’s performance certainly was the main reason for Edmonton’s sixth straight win.
“He (McDavid) is pretty insane out there, what he’s able to do and how he sees the ice,” Joel Farabee said. “He’s probably one of those guys where you’re not going to be able to stop him. Just try and limit him. I think we shot ourselves in the foot with some of the turnovers we made.”
This was a much different Edmonton team than the one the Flyers beat handily back in Philadelphia earlier in the season.
“They’re starting to figure things out and we knew that coming in,” said Farabee, referring to Edmonton’s 2-9 start this season which has now reversed to 19-15-1. “We knew you have to try to limit their best players. Sometimes it’s really tough to do that.”
The Flyers didn’t help their cause much by taking some ill-timed penalties.
“Credit to them, they played a really solid game,” Farabee said. “We got to be a little more responsible defensively. Especially playing against McDavid.”
In a somewhat wild second period, the Flyers rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score at 2-2, only to surrender a power-play goal in the final minute.
McDavid set up Zach Hyman for a goal at 8:12 of the second with a nifty backhand feed from the boards to make it 2-0.
The Flyers rallied on goals by Travis Konecny and defenseman Marc Staal.
Konecny used a pinpoint feed from Sean Couturier to score at 11:10. Konecny flipped a shot past goaltender Stuart Skinner for his 18th goal of the season.
Then Staal tied it with three minutes to go in the frame. Farabee triggered the sequence, sending Konecny into the zone. Staal joined the rush and sent a short shot into the net.
But an unnecessary tripping penalty committed by Cam Atkinson set up Edmonton for the go-ahead goal. With the Oilers up a man, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins connected with 54.9 seconds left in the period and, of course, McDavid had a hand in the play.
Edmonton took a 4-2 lead at 1:27 of the third. With a delayed penalty call coming against the Flyers, McDavid set up Leon Draisaitl for a shot past goaltender Carter Hart. To complete the night, McDavid set up Nugent-Hopkins for another goal at 11:19.
The Oilers struck first, getting a goal from McDavid at the 15:55 mark.
McDavid tried to put a move on Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim, who appeared to lose his footing at the last instant. But replays showed an Oiler accidentally interfered with Sanheim’s back leg. No whistle was blown. Hart got a piece of McDavid’s shot but it managed to trickle into the net.
“We know they have a ton of skill on that team,” Hart said. “At the end of the day, five-on-five, we know we’re right there with them. We can compete. But special teams, they won that battle tonight.
“They (McDavid, Draisaitl) have a lot of chemistry, they’ve been playing together for a while. They made some good plays.”
Coach John Tortorella thought his team played well in the second period but that late power-play goal cost the Flyers any momentum they may have built going into the third period.
“We finally found our way in the second period and we need to kill that one off,” the coach said of the Atkinson penalty. “I think we were looking to try to get a ‘shortie’ (shorthanded goal) and we left the zone a couple times and it ends up in the back of our net. We need to get out of that second period to at least give us a fighting chance in the third.”
Konecny, for one, pleaded guilty to jumping the gun on that penalty kill.
“I was looking for offense there,” Konecny said. “I got to smarten up there and know who we’re up against. It was just a matter of a breakdown. And that’s what they’re looking for.”
The Flyers went with seven defensemen, inserting Staal into the lineup. Forward Nick Deslauriers was given the night off. . .The Flyers return to action on Thursday night when they play host to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
McDavid’s assist on the Hyman goal was his 900th NHL point, He accomplished the mark in 602 NHL games, making him the fifth-fasted player to achieve that total. Wayne Gretzky holds the record with 385 games. Also, it was McDavid’s 10th career five-point game. He has nine goals/25 points in his last 10 games against Philadelphia.