PHILADELPHIA – Beating the Penguins twice was nice. Pulling off the overtime stunner of Chicago was awesome. Stretching the win streak to four against Dallas was ideal.
But this? Who saw this coming?
The Flyers shut down the team with the best record in the NHL behind another stellar effort in goal by Steve Mason. Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds each scored as the Flyers kept on rolling with a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.
“It’s huge,” Voracek said. “We showed that we have a lot of confidence right now. We’re playing very, very well… I think we played very physically over the last couple of weeks, which I think was the biggest difference. That’s why we were winning those games and I think we showed the league that we can play with everyone and that we can beat everyone.
“I think today was the toughest team we played so far this year and we won 4-1 so obviously it’s good. It’s going to give us some more confidence and we’ve just got to make sure we get some rest tomorrow and be ready for LA because it’s going to be almost the same game.”
Mason was again superb, making 32 saves to pick up his 30th win of the season.
It was the Flyers first five-game winning streak in two years and inched them ever-closer to a playoff berth with 12 games to go in the regular season.
|Among Mason's 33 saves were a pair on Derek Roy on the doorstep as seen above. Mason has a .948 save percentage in his last four starts. |
Mason has 27 wins in his last 43 games. He’s won four of the five games during the current winning streak, posting a 1.50 GAA, a .948 save percentage and one shutout over those four games.
“He played really well,” said captain Claude Giroux. “It’s every night, every night he comes to the show, works his butt off and it’s great to see him do what he does.”
Speaking of Giroux, he added a pair of assists for, giving him 50 this season and moved him into a third place tie with Toronto’s Phil Kessel in the NHL scoring race. It was his fourth multi-point game in the winning streak.
The Flyers were actually behind early as Jaden Schwartz scored the opening goal of the game shorthanded, marking the 11th shorthanded goal allowed by the Flyers this season.
But Hartnell tied it with a power play goal off a nice feed from Voracek with Blues goalie Ryan Miller a little out of position to stop the shot.
“We looked at this 4 or 5 game stretch here… that this would be a big measuring stick with a bunch of games here for us to see how we do against some of the best talent in the league and some of the best teams in the league,” Hartnell said. “I think we played some of our best hockey – well, I know we played some of our best hockey – and it’s exciting that everyone is blocking shots, everyone is competing, and everyone is out for the win instead of a nice play. It’s hard to play against them, we realize that, and we just have to keep this going.”
Brayden Schenn netted what would be the game-winner at 13:24 of the second period working a fine transitional play with Wayne Simmonds.
Simmonds picked off a Chris Porter pass in the neutral zone and turned quickly for a rush. He ran a give-and-go with Schenn, getting a shot on Miller. The rebound kicked to Schenn who deposited it for his 18th goal of the season.
In an uneven game made that way by some over-officiating, the two teams combined for 10 power play chances. St. Louis gained some momentum from a few of them and started firing a lot of shots on Mason, but the Flyers goalie wouldn’t be denied after the shorty and thwarted everything that came his way, including a pair of eye-poppers on Derek Roy in the crease.
Finally with a chance to play a shift together after all three were sitting in the penalty box together to start the period, the top line gave Mason the needed breathing room by working the cycle perfectly with Giroux hitting Voracek in the slot for a wrist shot goal that made it 3-1.
Simmonds added the empty-netter to finish the scoring.
The Flyers (38-25-7, 83 points) moved three points ahead of the New York Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division (the Rangers play later Saturday) and five points ahead of fourth place Columbus.
The Flyers have put the league on notice that they are an elite team – and have been for some time, even if they weren’t considered so.
But now the rest of the NHL has no choice but to pay attention to them.
And if not, shame on them.
“We’re coming,” coach Craig Berube said. “We’ve beat a lot of good teams here lately, and we’ve got to beat some real good teams next week. It doesn’t end; it seems like it never ends anyhow. It’s going to be tough down there, that whole stretch. We’re getting to where we need to get to be really successful. We’ve just got to keep building and keep working and keep things in check…
“I don’t really care what anybody thinks. We know where we are and we know where we’re trying to get to.”
NOTES: The Flyers’ five-game winning streak has come against clubs with a cumulative point percentage of .660 and combined record of 166-76-38… Claude Giroux extended his point streak to six games, with a goal and nine assists for 10 points during the stretch. He now has five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 10 games in the month of March… This was the first time this season the Blues lost a game in regulation when leading after the first period, and just their second regulation loss of the season in games where they’d scored first. Heading into the game, St. Louis was 26-0-3 when leading after the first period and 38-1-5 in games where they’d scored first… The Flyers also kept the Blues off the scoreboard in the periods they’d been most dominant this season. The Blues came into the game with a +30 goal differential in the second period and a +32 in the third period. Zac Rinaldo was credited with seven hits in 6:53 of ice time… Next up is a rematch with the Los Angeles Kings at Wells Fargo Center Monday against old friends Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Carter will be playing his first game in Philadelphia since being traded three seasons ago.
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers