Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 saves tonight as he helped the Flyers to a 2-1 victory on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes. Sean Couturier provided the game-winner early in the third period, while Brayden Schenn scored in the second period for the Flyers as Philly earned their third win of the season against the Hurricanes.
The victory was also the 100th for Peter Laviolette as head coach of Philadelphia, joining Fred Shero, Pat Quinn, Bob McCammon, Mike Keenan, Paul Holmgren, Terry Murray, Ken Hitchcock and John Stevens in that elite group.
Cam Ward made 35 saves as well, while Jerome Samson recorded Carolina’s lone goal in Philly’s third win in the month of January.
On the game-winning goal, Harry Zolnierczyk hustled to keep a loose puck in the offensive zone, which led to a chance for Couturier. He moved up the right wing side and, in a near mirror image of his tally on Sunday in Ottawa, ripped a wrister high and just inside the far post for his seventh goal of the season 3:23 into the third period.
As for the beginning of the game, Claude Giroux nearly snapped his two-game pointless drought immediately after the opening faceoff.
It took six seconds for the club’s leading scorer to create a breakaway for himself on Ward. Releasing a backhanded shot just outside the crease with two defenders bearing down, Giroux was denied by Ward to keep the game goal-free.
After the teams traded chances for a few minutes, the Hurricanes were dealt the game’s first power play.
As he fought Brandon Sutter behind Bobrovsky’s net for a loose puck, Jaromir Jagr was called for a tripping minor.
The Flyers’ penalty kill limited the Canes to one shot on the power play keeping the score even for Philly’s first power play of the game, which came 46 seconds after Jagr returned to the bench.
Danny Briere tried to elude Canes’ defenseman Bryan Allen while he entered the offensive zone, but was held up due to a tripping infraction.
Similar to the Hurricanes, the Flyers couldn’t convert on their first power play of the game as the score remained the same.
Around four minutes after Allen exited the box, Marc-Andre Bourdon and Eric Staal received coincidental cross-checking minors resulting in the game’s first four-on-four action.
Neither team took advantage of the open ice, but each team did produce their strongest scoring chances of the period in the final minutes.
First was the Flyers’ chance, which came from Jakub Voracek with just over two minutes left in the first period.
Letting go of a hard shot from the top of the faceoff circle closest to the players’ benches, the puck hit Ward’s glove at an odd angle, then dribbled through the crease just shy of the far post before being recovered by a ‘Canes’ defender.
That was the final good opportunity in a scoreless first period. Both teams produced five scoring chances in the first 20 minutes. The Hurricanes did, however, have a slight advantage in shots at 11-9.
To open the second period, Scott Hartnell was hit with a tripping call just inside the Flyers’ offensive zone.
Carolina didn’t capitalize on their second power play of the game, which started 30 seconds in, and nearly gave Philly the 1-0 lead.
Giroux slid the puck cross ice to Max Talbot on their shorthanded 2-on-1 opportunity, but the former Pittsburgh Penguin couldn’t strike for the lead. Ward made a sprawling blocker-save to deny Talbot’s drive from the middle of the circles.
Just under two minutes after Hartnell’s exit from the box, Schenn put home a rebound for his second NHL goal and a 1-0 Flyers’ lead.
Finding his way past the ‘Canes’ defense, Wayne Simmonds created a backhanded shot that forced Ward to drop down to the ice. Although Ward made the original save, he left the puck out in front , where Schenn beat every other skater to the loose puck and gave the Flyers the game’s first lead 4:20 into the middle period.
Schenn’s goal shifted the momentum Philly’s way, as their offense started to dictate play.
After strong shifts from Voracek and Briere, along with a strong shift from the line of Hartnell-Giroux-Jagr, the Flyers enjoyed their second power play of the game. Jiri Tlusty was called for a high-sticking minor on Schenn in the Flyers’ offensive zone 8:25 into the period.
Philly failed to convert on the man advantage and almost saw Tlusty catch a pass for a breakaway after he left the box. Fortunately for the Flyers, Tlustly couldn’t catch the pass.
Minutes later, Kimmo Timonen took part in a string of crucial plays to the game.
The first play was Timonen releasing a shot from the point that hit Canes’ defenseman Jaroslav Spacek in the face. Spacek dropped to the ice and needed medical attention before he left the playing surface.
Shortly after Spacek left the ice, play resumed shortly before it was stopped again for a Timonen interference minor on Samson just inside the Flyers’ blue line.
Rewarded for his ability to draw the minor, Samson was on the ice for the start of Carolina’s power play. Nine seconds later, he recorded his first NHL goal.
After Bobrovsky made saves on Jay Harrison and Justin Faulk, a third rebound for the Canes went to the stick of Samson, who beat the netminder for the milestone tally at 12:37.
Late in the period, Simmonds ran into Ward and started a scrum behind the Canes’ net. Although it seemed both teams had an equal part in the skirmish, Tim Gleason received a roughing call to give the Flyers’ their third power play of the stanza.
Voracek provided the best chance for Philly on the man advantage before the period came to a close, as he had a wraparound attempt stopped by Ward before a quick whistle halted play.
The Flyers entered the third period with 18 seconds left on the Gleason minor, as well as a 27-22 shot advantage after they outshot the Canes 18-11 in the second period.
Still very much in the game after the visitors’ lead goal, the Hurricanes’ best chances came in the final minutes of regulation.
Just before they pulled Ward for an extra attacker, both Eric Staal and Tuomo Ruutu had extremely close bids for the Canes’ second goal on the night. Staal was alone in the slot for a shot in the final minutes, but a rolling puck didn’t allow him to produce a shot on net as the biscuit dribbled to the boards behind Bobrovsky.
After Staal’s attempt, Ruutu worked his way into the slot before he let go of a wrister along the ice. The puck was loose next to the post for a second after a Bobrovsky save and before Philly cleared the puck from danger.
As Ward sat on the bench, he watched his teammates desperately try to even the score, but didn’t see the tying-goal as the Flyers held on for a 2-1 road win.
Bobrovsky was strong in net for the Flyers, as he provided a save percentage of .900 or better for the 13th time in 16 games this season. In addition, Bobrovsky also stopped all 14 shots from Carolina in the final 20 minutes to allow the Flyers to hold on for the one-goal win. Comparing his performance tonight with Ilya Bryzgalov’s performance on Sunday, Bobrovsky may have earned himself the start on Thursday.
The Flyers look for their second straight win on Thursday as they travel to New York to take on the Islanders.
Notes: The Flyers have won nine of their last 10 games in Carolina…Bobrovsky has won four out of his last five decisions. He is now 7-2-0 on the road this season…This was the Flyers’ seventh game all season where the first period ended without a goal for either team. They are 2-3-2 in those games… Tonight marked the second time all season Couturier has produced goals in consecutive games. The first time came with his first and second goals of the season against the Senators on October 18 and Washington 2 days later…Nodl had three shots on net in 14:03 TOI in his first game against the Flyers…Tuesday marked the first time all season Giroux hasn’t registered a point in three straight games. It’s the first time that’s happened since December 31-January 6 of last season…Tonight’s win marks the first time since their 4-1 win in Dallas that the Flyers held the opposition to one goal or less. Philly went 3-4-0 in the seven games since that victory in Dallas…The Flyers improved to 3-1-0 on the season against the Hurricanes and 6-5-1 against the Southeast Division this season (FLA 1-0-0, WPG 0-2-0, WSH 1-1-0, TBL 1-1-1, CAR 3-1-0)…The Flyers improved to 25-12-4. They were 26-10-5 after 41 games last season.