PHILADELPHIA – After defeating three teams with winning records, the Flyers knew playing a .500 club had letdown written all over it.
Perhaps that can explain why the Flyers looked somewhat out of sorts in Monday night’s come-from-behind 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes at the Wells Fargo Center.
They fell behind three times in the game before rallying in the third period to finally go ahead.
The victory extended their winning streak to four games.
Philadelphia picked up the victory when Scott Laughton scored with 9:39 left in the third period to snap a 3-3 tie. Laughton circled the net, shook off a high stick infraction by defenseman Matt Dumba and slid the puck into the net. Owen Tippett added an empty-netter with 1:21 to play.
Like several of his teammates, Laughton admitted this wasn’t one of the Flyers’ most inspired performances but they got the two points and that’s all that really matters.
“It was a little disjointed at times,” Laughton said. “A little bit of a ping-pong match in the neutral zone. Couldn’t get much going. We found a way and it’s a good sign for us. To find a way in a game like that, when we probably didn’t have our best stuff – we came back and had a big win.”
While it wasn’t a work of art by the Flyers, there are going to be nights like this. The big thing was the comeback aspect of it. It was just the second time this season the Flyers rallied after being down at the second intermission (2-13-4).
“It wasn’t a perfet game the first two periods by any stretch of the imagination,” said Morgan Frost, who scored a rare penalty-shot goal. “I thought there was a real good feeling in the (locker) room coming into the third. It just felt like one of those games where we knew we were going to come back.”
The Flyers couldn’t do much with eight power-play opportunities, converting on only one of them. They entered the game still 31st in the NHL at 13.2 percent.
“We still won the game,” Travis Konecny was quick to point out. “I’m not going to put a negative spin on it. We can work on the power play. If we’re still winning and we’re not getting anything on it (the power play), I think that’s pretty good. If we can add that (possible power-play success), that would be great.”
Jamie Drysdale’s goal at 6:12 of the third period pulled the Flyers even for the third time in the game at 3-3. Drysdale rushed down the slot and his shot appeared to carom off defenseman Matt Dumba and into the net.
“The coaching staff wants me to play with confidence,” Drysdale said. “Get up in the play. So I just think it’s about time I started doing it.”
Arizona took a 3-2 lead on a goal by Alex Kerfoot at 14:02 of the second period. Somehow he got behind the Flyers’ defense and had clear sailing on the way to scoring against goalie Samuel Ersson off a backhand deke.
The Flyers seemed to be playing catch-up hockey all night as they fell behind by 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 scores.
Frost’s penalty shot goal at 4:23 of the second period tied the score for the Flyers at 1-1.
Frost was impeded on a break-in by Arizona’s Michael Kesselring and officials awarded Frost the penalty shot. Frost skated in deliberately on goaltender Karel Vejmelka, paused, then fired a short shot past his stick.
That was the 26th penalty-shot goal on 74 attempts in Flyers’ history.
The deadlock didn’t last long. Coyotes forward Matias Maccelli set up shop behind the Flyers’ net. He tried to bank a shot off Ersson and the ploy worked at 7:57.
In turn, it didn’t take too much time for the Flyers to get even.
Laughton and Travis Konecny broke in on a two-on-one rush, with Konecny finishing off the play at 9:55 for his 25th goal of the season and a 2-2 tie.
The goals kept coming. The Kerfoot goal put the Coyotes ahead for a third time.
Philadelphia found itself trailing by a 1-0 score after one period. That was due to the Coyotes getting on the scoreboard first. Dumba’s long shot through a partial screen at 16:26 eluded Ersson to give Arizona an early advantage.
Coach John Tortorella liked the way the Flyers showed resilience on a night where they might not have been at their best.
“Stayed with it,” he said. “I just thought it was a game that we’re going to have when you’re not totally on. I don’t think we were as bad as a lot of people think but you just have to stay with it. Good for them. It’s a different way of winning. Those are the kind of games you feel comfortable with.”
Tortorella gave a bit of a pep talk between periods and told his team he thought they still had a chance to win.
“I didn’t think we were playing that bad,” he said. “We weren’t great but I still thought we were generating enough, our energy was good. I felt if we just stayed with it and not get anxious, that we would find our way.”
The Flyers are off until Thursday when they visit the Toronto Maple Leafs. . .Coming into this game the Flyers held an alltime home record of 30-12-2 against the Coyotes. . .Nick Deslauriers was a healthy scratch for the Flyers. Defenseman Marc Staal played in just his 19th game for the Flyers this season. . .Ex-Flyer Jake Voracek received a nice ovation when he was shown off ice on the scoreboard video. Voracek, 33, has had more concussion problems of late and is expected to retire when his contract runs out at the end of the season.