PHILADELPHIA – So much for that disappointing home-ice record, at least for one night.
The Flyers entered Thursday night’s game with a sub-.500 record in the supposed friendly confines of the Wells Fargo Center.
With the 65-point Winnipeg Jets in town, it looked like another tough assignment for the hockey locals.
But the Flyers, now 12-12-2 on WFC ice, seemed determined to reverse their fortunes in Philly and did so in quick, dramatic fashion, racing to a 3-0 first-period lead, then finishing off the Jets by a 4-1 score to sweep the season series.
Philadelphia picked up goals from Tyson Foerster, Travis Konecny and Morgan Frost in the first 20 minutes and never looked back. The Flyers are 20-4-2 when they score first.
Goaltender Samuel Ersson, who looked quite sharp in a 2-0 shutout win at Winnipeg on Jan. 13, continued his dominance of the Jets. The Flyers’ defense did its part, too, limiting the number of quality scoring chances.
The Jets scored with 5:12 to play to spoil Ersson’s bid to blank the Jets in back-to-back games.
When Ryan Poehling scored a shorthanded goal early in the second period, the outcome was all but decided.
The Flyers have now won two straight after their pre-All-Star Game losing streak and seem to have things back on track, if only for the moment.
After racing to that 4-1 lead, the Flyers relied heavily on Ersson and seemed to flatten out a bit at both ends of the ice.
Coach John Tortorella didn’t sound particularly pleased with the overall effort in a 65-second post-game press briefing.
“We won the game, we got two points, that’s how I evaluate it,” said Tortorella in a clipped tone.
Players on the post-game interview list might have sensed they didn’t give a full 60-minute effort.
“We got out of there (with the win),” said Konecny, who recorded a “Gordie Howe hat trick” after a goal, an assist and an early fight with the Jets’ Neal Pionk.
Does Konecny instigate opponents when he feels there’s a need to create some energy?
“As far as leadership, I find that for me it’s not so much talking, it’s work hard on the ice and do what I can energy-wise, work ethic,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to fight for any reason. It just kind of happened. If it sparked us, I’m not sure.”
The Flyers might have relied too much on Ersson over the last 40 minutes.
“Thank goodness we had him tonight,” Konecny said. “I’m not sure if it was the lead that early that shut us down – but if it wasn’t for him, I think they claw back in it there. We have to fix that.”
Ersson gave more credit to the team’s defensive effort than his coach did.
“We did a good job I think,” he said. “Again, we do what we do best – block shots, (execute) the penalty kill. . .a lot of good things.
“The way we’ve been playing this year, not allowing a lot of shots, it’s my job to always stay ready when they do come.”
Foerster kicked things off just 3:37 into the game when he finished off a perfect pass from Poehling and tapped in the puck behind goalie Laurent Brossoit.
Konency finished off a Frost setup at 14:03, banking a puck off of Pionk’s leg for his 24th goal of the season to make it 2-0. Then Konecny returned the favor, figuring in on Frost’s goal from the slot at 18:06.
Not satisfied, the Flyers came roaring out of the gate in the second. Poehling executed a solo rush down the right side and scored from the top of the circle at 2:29.
From there, the Flyers clamped down on defense. The Jets entered the game with a team plus-36 goal differential but continue to struggle against the Flyers.
That said, the Flyers would have liked to play a better brand of hockey over those last two periods.
“I thought we had some really good jump there but then we fell back in the second and third,” Scott Laughton said. “We let them make plays through us. We have to find a way to close out games better. I thought our spacing was a little off. We have to dial it in when we’re up and figure it out.”
The Flyers return to action on Saturday when they play host to the Seattle Kraken. . .Defenseman Marc Staal returned to action for the first time since the Jan. 13 game at Winnipeg. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen was scratched due to illness. . .Poehling’s shorthanded goal was the Flyers’ 11th of the season, moving them back into a tie with St. Louis and Dallas for the NHL lead. . .The Flyers’ 15 road wins are tied with the Stars for the league lead. . .Foerster started the game third among NHL rookies in shots on goal with 105. . .The Flyers are second in the NHL in penalty killing and the only team in the league with a top three standing both at home and on the road.