If the Flyers were going to put an end to their latest losing streak amid a slew of contending teams, they were going to need good goaltending to do it, and boy did they get it.
Petr Mrazek was sensational in net, stopping 27 of 28 shots, as the Flyers held on for a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.
Claude Giroux and Andrew MacDonald scored goals as the Flyers put an end to a five-game losing streak and earned points No. 80 and 81 on the season. They maintain their third-place standing in the Metropolitan Division, four points ahead of Columbus.
Patrik Laine brought the Jets within one goal at 2-1 with over 11 minutes remaining with his 40th of the season, but the Flyers tightened things up defensively and leaned on their netminder to close it out down the stretch. Playing without Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim stepped in on defense and played a solid hockey game as an emergency call-up, and the Flyers’ team defense was able to limit the Winnipeg chances all afternoon.
It’s a huge win for the Flyers and couldn’t come at a better time to give them some confidence back by beating a Cup-contending team and ditching a hard-luck losing skid at the same time.
Oskar Lindblom continued to get a crack at his first NHL goal, but was denied on a deflection in front by Connor Hellebyuck early after a nice setup from Nolan Patrick. Lindblom is getting a slew of scoring chances since his call up, and that first goal is only a matter of time.
The first big save for Petr Mrazek was a dandy, robbing the red-hot Patrik Laine from the slot on a one-timer just under six minutes in. Laine has points in 10-straight for the Jets.
A nice open-ice feed from Travis Konecny to spring Shayne Gostisbehere would send the Flyers to their first power play of the game at the 8:56 mark thanks to a tripping call on Dustin Byfuglien. Winniepg’s penalty kill continue the trend of aggressively attacking the Flyers’ power play, and time ran off without much doing for the Flyers.
Nolan Patrick got some space with room to shoot in front of the Jets net with 4:25 left in the period, but the rookie’s shot took off wide. The passing lane to Jake Voracek was taken away and Patrick let if fly.
Hellebuyck flashed a nice pad save on Jori Lehtera in the final minute after Gostisbehere carried the puck in himself and found the cutting Lehtera for a late chance.
Though 20 minutes the Flyers held a 11-9 edge in shots, but neither team could solve the netminders as the first ended scoreless.
Early power play for the Flyers to start the second, but it was Mrazek with a big save at the other end of an odd-man rush for the Jets. The Flyers couldn’t produce and now have just two power play goals in their last 26 chances.
Matt Read intercepted a bad pass and moved in on Hellebyuck, but didn’t get much on a backhand that was easily turned aside as the four minute mark approached. Read has played well in his first couple games since returning from Lehigh Valley.
With a delayed call against Winnipeg coming, Claude Giroux couldn’t wait for the start of the power play. The captain opened the scoring, firing a wrist shot past a Wayne Simmonds screen and through Hellebyuck to make it 1-0 Flyers at the 5:40 mark. Valterri Filppula and Simmonds picked up assists on the tally.
Claude Giroux, the captain of the Philadelphia Flyers who is also regressing just scored his 24th goal of the season. 1-0 Flyers. pic.twitter.com/Ybt3TQVfoy— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 10, 2018
Andrew MacDonald would give the Flyers a 2-0 lead just 2:21 later after play was stopped to go back and review the goal, which was originally not called a goal. MacDonald moved in on a ricochet of the boards from a Patrick pass and just snuck the puck over the line as Hellebyuck tried to come up with the dazzling save. Patrick and Jake Voracek picked up the assists on the goal, MacDonald’s fifth of the season.
Andrew MacDonald just scored a goal, and it literally sent the game back in time. pic.twitter.com/fGJYyaxGpt— Broad Street Hockey (@BroadStHockey) March 10, 2018
Now holding a two-goal lead, the Flyers immediately put themselves on the penalty kill, because of course. The ensuing Jets power play featured some good killing by the Flyers, though, and a couple nice stops from a locked-in Mrazek in-between the pipes.
Mrazek then came up with a pair of stops on big Dustin Byfuglien from the point after the Voracek line got stuck in their own zone after a few failed clearing attempts.
Another Flyers penalty would give Winnipeg a shot to cut in the lead with 4:43 left in the second, but it was Sean Couturier and Ivan Provorov with that best chance in on an odd-man rush that Hellebyuck would survive.
Through 40 minutes the Flyers did a nice job against the Jets’ dangerous power play, killing off both chances with relative ease.
A delay of game call against Radko Gudas would send Winnipeg right back on the power play to start the third and a chance to gain some momentum. The visitors would find none, however, as the Flyers made it look easy in killing off the Jets’ third man-advantage of the afternoon.
Matt Read came close to extending the Flyers’ lead, but Hellebyuck stuck out a pad to deny a good chance in front for the veteran at the 4:50 mark.
The Flyers would love to have seen Read’s chance go in, as the Jets would finally take advantage of their next power play. Patrik Laine blasted home a one-timer from the left circle to make it 2-1 at the 8:58 mark. It’s his 40th of the year and gives him points in 11-straight. The Flyers kept playing with fire by putting the Jets on the man-advantage and they finally got burned.
Claude Giroux set off with Shayne Gostisbehere on a two-on-one with 7.25 left, but the Jets defense took away the pass and Giroux’s shot was met by the right pad of Hellebyuck. It would have been a huge insurance goal for the Flyers as the Jets pressed for an equalizer.
Protecting a one-goal lead late, Jori Lehtera went to work on the forecheck to help make life difficult for the Jets defenseman as they worked to get the puck up ice. Lehtera has played well the last few weeks, and has two goals in his last five games.
Winnipeg would empty their net with 1:38 left in search of a tying goal, but Mrazek was there to make a trio of saves on the initial push before the Flyers got a clear and fresh troops. One final push from the Jets would be turned away and the Flyers would take it by a 2-1 final.
It’s the end of the Flyers’ five-game losing streak, and they’ve picked up two huge points in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.