Flyers Beat Wild 4-1, Extend Home Winning Streak To Nine Games

Published on December 24th, 2013

By Anthony Mingioni

PHILADELPHIA-In what has been an up and down season for the Philadelphia Flyers, their recent home streak has been a source of pride for the club and a challenge to maintain.

After an embarrassing third period performance in Columbus on Saturday, an extension of that winning streak would go a long way towards adding to their confidence.

As they enter their holiday break, they were able to dispatch a struggling Minnesota Wild team by a 4-1 score and extend their longest home winning streak since the 2005-2006 season to nine games.

Bolstered by a solid performance in net by goalie Steve Mason, who rebounded from a pair of subpar starts, the Flyers overcame a first period in which they had the lead but didn’t necessarily carry the play.

It was important for them to focus on their defensive effort and they were able to in the final two periods.

“Extremely important,” Mason said.  “Any time you are leaky on defense and the holes are opening up it makes the opposing team that much easier in the offensive zone and tonight we did a really good job taking away back pressure in zone, not giving them the time, especially on two on ones.

“In previous games, we were giving the shooter a lot of time and tonight they were taking it away and making him force a decision.”

Flyers captain Claude Giroux along with linemates Jakub Voracek and Michael Raffl continued to establish a firm chemistry. It’s readily apparent that Raffl’s size, defensive acumen, and subtle creativity have unlocked his partners’ offensive explosiveness.

“They all kind of bring a little bit of a different element,” said head coach Craig Berube. “You have the speed factor of Jake, the hands of Giroux, and Raffl being just strong on the puck, but they all skate and that’s the key.”

“Jake does a good job of skating the puck and Raffl is good on the wall on our end and does a lot little things well. They just have good chemistry.”

Giroux set a new career high scoring streak as he reached seven games with at least a point(a goal and an assist), while Voracek(two assists) reached eight games. During those stretches, Giroux has five goals and eight assists for 13 points, while Voracek has six goals and seven assists.

Adding to the scoring streak party is forward Wayne Simmonds, who is playing white hot with five goals and seven points in his last four games.

Simmonds has felt more confident playing with linemates Brayden Schenn and Scott Hartnell. Some might look at their similar styles and think it might not work well, but Simmonds feels the opposite.

“I think it’s worked great,” Simmonds said. “Like I said, we all do the same thing, we play north-south, we get bodies in, we grind on the other teams D, and we get the pucks to the point and we crash the net. I think that’s a good recipe and so far it’s been working.”

The Flyers opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. Winger Scott Hartnell drew Minnesota’s defense to the left of their net before finding before finding defenseman Luke Schenn pinching in. Schenn’s one timer blazed past Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom.

Hartnell’s assist was the 500th point of his NHL career.

“It’s kind of cool to hit a century mark, but we wanted to end this Christmas break off with a big win,” Hartnell said. “Everyone’s got a lot of smiles on their faces and listen to music after a big win- it’s huge.”

Giroux and Voracek have also found power play chemistry with Simmonds as evidenced on their second goal of the period. Some deft passing off an offensive zone draw saw the first line duo finding Simmonds at the left post.

The Wild would get a number of chances when they drew subsequent calls within 20 seconds on Brayden Schenn and Braydon Coburn for a 1:40 five on three advantage. After several close calls, Jason Pominville got a crisp pass from Ryan Suter, then sent a pinpoint cross slot feed to Michael Granlund whose one timer beat Mason.

The Flyers stepped up their pressure in the second period and would restore their two goal lead after getting good play off the wall by Voracek who was being mauled. The Czech was able to get the puck to Coburn who fired a shot that was tipped by Giroux past Backstrom.

Philadelphia was able to control play in the third period, limiting the Wild to perimeter chances in the third period. All told, the Flyers outshot the Wild by a 26-16 margin after being outshot in the first period 11 to 5. That was a strong statement to make for a team that enters the holiday break with a decent amount of confidence and a record above .500 at 17-16-4.

Combined with the New Jersey Devils 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Monday night, the Flyers have taken sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division…at least for one night.

Flyers Lines: Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek Scott Hartnell- Brayden Schenn –Wayne Simmonds Matt Read – Sean Couturier – Vincent Lecavalier Zac Rinaldo – Chris VandeVelde – Adam Hall

Flyers Defense: Kimmo Timonen – Braydon Coburn Mark Streit – Niklas Grossmann Luke Schenn – Andrej Meszaros

Goaltender:  Steve Mason

Flyers winger Jakub Voracek

Flyers winger Jakub Voracek

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