If there’s such a thing as road-ice advantage, the Flyers have found it.
Friday night’s come-from-behind 4-3 overtime win over the Minnesota Wild at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota reinforces that contention and raises the Flyers’ road record to 12-6-4.
That’s ranked fifth in the National Hockey League.
After falling behind by a 3-1 count early in the third period, the Flyers picked up goals from Tyson Foerster and Owen Tippett to tie the score.
Then Joel Farabee scored his second goal of the game, this one on the power play with 1:24 to play in overtime for the game-winner. Egor Zamula picked up the primary assist with a hard shot from the point on the play.
That’s the fourth straight game the Flyers, who are still ranked last in the NHL on the power play, have scored with the man advantage.
With the win, the Flyers hit the 50-point mark and move back into sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division.
Cam Atkinson’s rush to the net drew the penalty which led to the overtime winning goal.
“We just kept playing,” coach John Tortorella said. “I like the group, they just keep on playing and trying to find a way. I trust the group, that they’re going to play hard, play for one another. Everybody just stays together. It’s a good group.”
Adding Zamula to the four-on-three in the overtime proved crucial.
“We have that set up, we have our meetings,” the coach said. “I think that’s our first four-on-three this year. That was all set prior to the game. We feel ‘Z’ has earned that spot. Z throws the puck to the net and we score.”
Ex-Flyer Ryan Hartman’s goal at 1:48 of the third period broke a 1-1 tie. Hartman’s wide-angle shot squeezed through Carter Hart’s pad and the post on the near side from the left circle.
Then the Wild took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Matt Boldy.
But the Flyers came roaring back. Foerster scored at 9:31 off the rush. It was Foerster’s first goal since Dec. 4 against Pittsburgh (a 17-game skid).
Tippett followed that with a goal at 10:56 and it was all even.
After a scoreless first period, the Flyers had to rally from a 1-0 deficit early in the second. Marcus Johansson connected just 51 seconds into the frame. He sent a shot past goaltender Carter Hart. The Flyers were upset with what they thought was a closed hand on the play but no review was launched.
Farabee responded for the Flyers with a fine assist from Travis Konecny. Sean Couturier bank-passed to Konecny and he led Farabee for a shot past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the goal at 3:37. That ended a seven-game scoreless streak for Farabee.
Farabee appears to have found a home on the right side of the Couturier-Konecny line.
“They’re so easy to play with,” Farabee said in a televised interview during the second intermission. “They’re so good. ‘Coots’ is so reliable. TK is such an all-world talent. It’s pretty easy for me. I just try to get open, try to use my legs and create space for those guys. They’re really good players, they’ll end up following me back.”
As for the game, Farabee looked relaxed after notching the game-winner.
“It’s just kind of been the story of our team all year,” he said after the game. “We try to pick each other up. ‘Tip’ gets that really big goal to get us to OT. It’s kind of how it’s been going – one guy picks up a guy and we go from there.”
Added Tippett: “We were down two early in third and I don’t think we thought anything of it. We kept going shift after shift. We knew it was going to come. It kind of shows what we have in this room.”
Rookie Bobby Brink hadn’t been scratched from the lineup since Nov. 25 but with the Flyers a bit overstocked at the moment, Friday night was an opportune time to watch and learn again.
Brink, with only two goals in his last 12 games dating back to Dec. 16, has been a plus player nearly all season (plus-7 now). But he does make the occasional misplay and coach John Tortorella thought this might be a good time to let Brink sit.
“Other players are playing better,” was Tortorella’s initial response to why Brink wasn’t playing. “This is all part of the process for Bobby. He’s going to be a really good player. There are a lot of things he needs to work on.
“I think he’s been a little inconsistent. Bobby Brink does not have a cemented spot in the National Hockey League. He has a ways to go to find that. But that’s to be expected. I think he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
With Brink scratched, Nick Deslauriers returned to the lineup after sitting out Wednesday night’s game against Montreal.
Garnet Hathaway played in his 499th NHL game and is scheduled to play his 500th when the Flyers visit Western Conference leader Winnipeg on Saturday night. . .Fleury started the game in a tie for second place on the alltime goaltenders goalie win list with Patrick Roy (551). Fleury has a ways to go to catch leader Martin Brodeur (690). . .Injured Flyers center Noah Cates is on the road trip and close to returning to action, possibly by the end of the trip.