Flyers’ strong defense leads to third straight win

Sean Couturier

PHILADELPHIA – This time there was no letdown.

Unlike Thursday night’s uneven effort in a 4-1 win over Winnipeg, the Flyers got back to a more grinding, consistent brand of hockey on Saturday night and it paid off in a 3-2 win over the Seattle Kraken at the Wells Fargo Center.

Sean Couturier’s goal at 5:30 of the third period broke a 2-2 tie and sent the Flyers to a third straight victory.

Couturier won a faceoff, raced to the front of the net and tipped in a shot off the stick of defenseman Travis Sanheim.

Seattle had tied the score just 35 seconds into the third period on a goal by Jared McCann.

Goaltender Cal Petersen, getting a rare start in place of Samuel Ersson, raised his record to 2-1.

“I thought we played a complete game,” coach John Tortorella said. “I felt we had poise. I thought we stayed on our toes in the third period, made some good puck plays when they were trying to tie the game. A much better, complete game.”

A bit different than the Jets game.

“I knew how they felt after that last game,” the coach said. “I walked in that room and it wasn’t a room that just won a 4-1 game. I think it’s very important for a coaching staff to let them alone and figure it out.”

Couturier, who had not scored in 11 games, put a little extra into his post-goal celebration.

“Good big goal,” he said.

Both Seattle goals sort of came at Couturier’s expense, so it was nice to get some retribution.

“On the first one, I went for the big hit,” he said. “My guy scored. All night my feet were fighting me a little bit. I’m just glad I could get that one back in the third.”

Ryan Poehling’s go-ahead goal late in the first period gave the Flyers the lead going into the third period.

A controversial goal by Seattle late in the first period seemed to give the Kraken new life but the Flyers came right back with a goal of their own to take a 2-1 lead into the first intermission.

Seattle’s goal by Matty Beniers at 17:09 was the object of a Flyers’ challenge. Coach John Tortorella believed the play was offsides but after extensive replay review, the goal was deemed OK and the score was tied at 1-1.

Philadelphia was also charged a penalty on the failed challenge.

But on the ensuing Seattle power play, the Flyers got a shorthanded goal from Poehling at 18:14. Poehling sent a shot from the right circle past goaltender Joey Daccord for a 2-1 lead.

That was the Flyers’ 12th shorthanded goal of the season, moving them back into sole possession of the NHL lead. Previously they had been in a three-way tie with Dallas and St. Louis.

Scott Laughton opened the scoring after some strong work of his own. Laughton was stopped on a breakaway but on the ensuing pile-up near the Seattle net the Kraken received a penalty.

Laughton went back to work on the power play and fired a shot from the right circle which eluded Daccord at 4:36. The goal, just his sixth of the season for Laughton, was a bit of a relief and he fist-pumped in celebration.

“Just a long time coming,” said Laughton, who had not scored in seven games. “When you don’t score a whole ton, then get put on the power play, I was pretty fired up. Hopefully that gets me going. I felt good out there tonight. When you score early in a game, it kind of builds your confidence.”

Tortorella gave the Flyers passing marks.

“I thought we started the game really well,” he said. “That’s two games where we’ve scored the first goal, which is really important (Philadelphia is 21-4-2 when scoring first) for energy. If we’re not all on that energy ride as far as playing on our toes, we’ll struggle.”

>Petersen plays steady

Tortorella was pleased with Petersen’s effort. He hadn’t seen an NHL start since Nov. 11 and, with the exception of a recent relief effort against Boston, had been playing with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms since then. With Carter Hart off the roster, it looks like Petersen will be here as Sam Ersson’s backup for the remainder of the season.

“He didn’t have a whole lot of work,” Tortorella said of Petersen’s effort against the Kraken. “Made some key saves at key times. Early on in the game he moved the puck really well for us. Tough game, hasn’t played in a while.”

Said Petersen about his new role after a couple up-and-down years: “I have a lot more passion, commitment to my craft. I’m just enjoying every opportunity that I get. I’m just really trying to take it day-by-day. I understand the opportunity. It’s one I’ve waited for a long time. It’s an opportunity I don’t want to let go to waste.”

>Short shots

The Flyers’ next game will be Monday night in Philadelphia when the Arizona Coyotes visit. . .Morgan Frost played in his 200th NHL game. . .The Flyers are 16-8-3 against the Western Conference and finally got their home record over .500 at 13-12-2. . .Couturier said the All-Star break was a good chance to recharge and sort of put that recent five-game losing streak behind the team. “A good time to reset,” he said. “Get ready for the last stretch here. Before the break there were some games we let slip a little bit. . .it was a good time to come back to the way we play.”

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About Wayne Fish 2452 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.