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Wrapup: Flyers Cool off Jets, 5-2

November 17, 2016, 10:59 PM ET [345 Comments]
Bill Meltzer
Philadelphia Flyers Blogger •NHL.com • RSSArchiveCONTACT

Twelve different Philadelphia Flyers players recorded at least one point as the team skated to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. The game was a physical contest, despite the teams only taking one minor penalty apiece and most of the play being at 5-on-5.

The Flyers never trailed in the game, taking a 2-0 lead to the first intermission and surviving some defensively shaky portions of the second period to lead 3-2 heading into the third period. In the final stanza, the Flyers did a better job at limiting time and space with the major exception of yielding a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush on their lone power play of the game. Thereafter, Philly clamped down and tacked on a late empty net goal to ice the victory.

Sean Couturier (fifth of the season), Michael Raffl (third), Mark Streit (fourth), Wayne Simmonds (ninth) and and Brandon Manning (empty net, third) all scored for Philadelphia. Dustin Byfuglien (first goal of the season) and Blake Wheeler (sixth) tallied for the Jets.

"We didn’t give them a whole lot except for that [Wheeler] goal. It’s tough to give up a goal like that… We don’t give them a whole lot, but at the same time they’re good players that they don’t need a whole lot to produce. But, overall I think we controlled the play and played most in their end," Couturier said.

Goaltending was significantly in the Flyers' favor in this game. Steve Mason, who has been very strong the last three games minus a major gaffe on the Ottawa Senators' game-tying wraparound goal on Tuesday, was outstanding in turning back 30 of 32 shots. He had no chance on either Winnipeg goal in the second period; both point-blank goals with the Flyers outnumbered down low and a wide-open shooter staring at the net. Mason made numerous tough saves, controlled his rebounds and came up with big saves at key junctures, including stopping a breakaway and the third-period 2-on-1.

“It’s a heck of a good win. You don’t get points for outshooting teams. That’s the bottom line. I think the last time that we got outshot was probably Detroit maybe here at home. That’s a number of games ago. Our goaltender was good tonight, we scored some timely goals, we battled hard, and that’s a good two points for us. That’s hockey," Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol said.

At the other end of the ice, young goalie Connor Hellebuyck did not have one of his better nights. He was beaten on each of the first two shots he faced. Later, he let in a bad 61-footer off his glove from Streit at the point.

During the third period, the Flyers made several defensive-oriented chances as they protected the lead. Dale Weise was moved up onto Couturier's line, while head coach Dave Hakstol opted to send out two defensemen -- Michael Del Zotto and Streit --- for the start of their power play rather than the usual set of four forwards (Jakub Voracek was replaced by Del Zotto).

For his part, Raffl was glad that most of the game was played at 5-on-5.

"It’s easier for guys like me when you don’t play PP. You can keep the lines rolling. It gets you more out there. That helps," Raffl said.

Simmonds believes the Flyers, who have five of six possible points in their last three games despite a disappointing outcome in the Ottawa game, are trending the right way in their overall play.

“You just have to be cognizant, play that way through all 60 minutes, you start with your first shift and I think definitely when you’re going into the third with a lead you can’t let up at all," Simmonds said.

"We’ve got to pressure. Falling behind is kind of where we’ve laid back in the third period we kind of let teams kind of give it to us and I think that’s where we get in trouble so we gotta keep following this groove that we had in the third period today.”

The Flyers went 30-for-54 (56 percent) on faceoffs in the game, led by Claude Giroux's 13-for-19 performance. Ivan Provorov (19:53 of ice time over 28 shifts, two hits, four blocks) churned another quality game on the blueline but painfully blco, while Radko Gudas (20:11, six hits, three blocks) played his usual physical hockey. The Flyers blocked 20 shots, while the Jets blocked 21. Philly held dynamic Jets rookie Patrik Laine off the scoresheet and he finished at a minus-four with two shots on goal.

Andrew MacDonald was activated from injured reserve and returned to the Flyers' lineup to skate 20:27 of ice time, block three shots and get credited with a pair of hits. Shayne Gostisbehere was a surprise healthy scratch.

While Hakstol said he did not mind the player making mistakes of occasional offensive-minded plays that backfired, the coach said that "development and accountability to the group" were part of the motivation. While Hakstol would not elaborate, Gostisbehere's play without the puck has taken a backward step for much of the early season and he has been getting pushed off pucks and losing positional battles in which he fared better as a rookie. Hakstol said Gostisbehere's absence from the lineup would be brief.

Prior to and during the game, the Flyers had a series of special segments devoted to Tough Guys Heritage Night for the team's 50th Anniversary. Among the players who were specifically on hand to be recognized individually, as chosen by fan balloting shortly before the season, were Dave "the Hammer" Schultz, Dave Brown, Rick Tocchet and Ian Laperriere.

The game, scheduled for a 7:05 start, began on time.

At 3:04 of the first period, Mason made a good save on Lowry on the game's first shot. Travis Konecny was recalled for a retaliatory slash on Patrik Laine behind the play at 4:31. Winnipeg went on the game's first power play.

Couturier took the puck away from Burmistrov and cleared down the ice halfway through the kill. With five seconds left, Mason moved quickly to his right to deny Chris Thornburn, who shot the puck directly into the goalie but nevertheless was a tough save.

Shots were 4-0 Jets at a TV time out at the 6:41 mark.

The Flyers scored on their first shot. Philly won a battle on the walls and Couturier, cutting across the left circle into the slot fired a top shelver under the cross bar to the long side at 9:13. Konecny earned the lone assist at 9:13 on Couturier's fifth goal of the season.

Philly also scored on their second shot. Diving in the offensive zone after a loose puck, Matt Read chipped it to a home free Raffl. The Austrian forward then beat Hellebuyck to the blocker side at 9:47. Read and Radko Gudas got the assists on Raffl's third of the season and second in two games.

With 4:06 left in the first period, Mason erased a turnover with a clutch save on Blake Wheeler from 25 feet.

Shots in the first period were 9-5 but Philly held a 2-0 lead in the cash register.

Mason made the first tough save of the second period, denying Quinton Howden as he attacked with speed up the left wing at the 3:20 mark. At 6:30, Mason turned about Howden again.

Winnipeg took at advantage of a Flyers defensive overload as the dangerous Byfuglien got wide open in the left slot. He took a cross-ice pass from Nic Petan and beat Mason upstairs for his first of the season at 6:57.

On the very next shift, Nikolaj Ehlers was sprung on a breakaway, but denied by Mason. Shortly thereafter

With 9:09 left in the period, Mason flashed the leather to snare an Ehlers shot from the top of the right circle. A TV timeout ensued.Shots in the period were 8-5 Winnipeg to that point.

Streit extended the lead to 3-1 on a gift goal. His rght shot point blast handcuffed Hellebuck and went in off his glove at 12:58. Ivan Provorov and Giroux assisted on Streit's fourth goal of the season.

With 4:36 remaining in the period, Mason stopped Ehlers near the left post for his 18th save of the game. There was no stopping the next one, though as Wheeler got wide open near the left post and had a tap-in on a feed from Ehlers past a sliding Michael Del Zotto for his sixth goal of the season at 17:10. Mark Scheifele got the secondary assist.

Brayden Schenn rang a blast off the right post in the final five seconds of the period.

Shots in the second frame were 12-9 Jets (21-14 Winnipeg overall).

Near the 3:00 mark of the third period, Mason came up big on a Scheifele scoring chance from the right circle.

Gudas took out Petan with a big check to break up a rush. After Dale Weise missed the net on an open right circle shot, Mason dialed up a glove save on a counterattack at 5:04.

Philly regained a two-goal lead on a broken play at 5:36. Philly controlled the puck but an Andrew MacDonald right point shot was blocked directly to Wayne Simmonds, who slid home his ninth goal of the season. Schenn got the secondary helper.

Covering for a pinching Gudas, who got momentarily caught up ice, Couturier made three strong defensive plays in the span of several moments: breaking up a rush, preventing a pass-out from behind the net and, finally, getting a zone clear.

Provorov went off gingerly after blocking a shot off his skate midway through the third period. He shook off the effects at the bench after finishing his shift.

With 7:11 left in the period, ason denied a wraparound try. Pushing and shoving ensued after the whistle. Simmonds and Lowrry were the main grapplers behind the net. No penalties were called.

The Flyers finally went on their first power play at 15:22. Thornburn got the gate for interference. With 3:39 left, Mason denied Scheifele on a 2-on-1 rush where he went around a sliding Mark Streit and elected to shoot from over the middle. The Flyers did not score.

Winnipeg called timeout with 1:19 left. Hellebuyck was pulled for an extra atttacker. Manning scored a three-quarter ice empty netter from the defensive left half boards to seal the victory. The unassisted goal at 19:31 was his third goal of the season.

Shots in the third period were 11-8 Winnipeg (32-22 Jets overall).

“For the most part it was good. But, there are still a few breakdowns, I thought, against a team like that you just have to make sure you play well defensively and have a really good structure. I think we can still be better," Streit concluded.

"You know, Mason made some huge saves for us and he can’t do that every game. As a whole team we need to improve, especially on Saturday we face another good offensive team. We need to be in sync.”

The Flyers return to practice on Friday at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, NJ. On Saturday afternoon, they will play host to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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