PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania – Mathieu Perreault
scored twice and recorded six shots on goal, but the Philadelphia Flyers proved to be too much for the Jets on this night, winning 5-2 at Wells Fargo Center.
Chris VandeVelde, Wayne Simmonds, Nick Schultz, Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier scored for the Flyers.
Michael Hutchinson made 27 saves on 31 shots in a losing cause for the Jets.
“We’ve played pretty well lately but we had a tough trip,” Head Coach Paul Maurice said. “We had a very difficult time. We put up a bunch of shots, but we had a tough time getting that second shot.”
With the loss, the Jets (26-16-8) remain in fourth in the Central Division with 60 points, two back of the Chicago Blackhawks for third.
The Jets continue to lead the Western Conference Wild Card standings, five points up on the Calgary Flames and six on the first non-playoff team, the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, as of 11:00pm ET.
VandeVelde opened the scoring early on, shovelling a loose puck past Hutchison after a long point shot by Michael Del Zotto was knocked down in front.
Perreault brought the game back on even terms less than a minute-and-a-half later, stunning the now revved up crowd at Wells Fargo Center. Following up on his own rebound, No. 85 popped a quick backhand shot up and over the sprawling effort of Steve Mason.
Philadelphia regained the lead with a power-play goal at 11:39. With Zach Bogosian off serving an interference penalty, the National Hockey League’s leading scorer, Jake Voracek, found Simmonds alone in the slot. His mid-hash one-time shot sped past Hutchinson, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
“We obviously wanted to come out with a better effort than in Pittsburgh,” Jets defenceman Ben Chiarot said. “They capitalized and we didn’t. ... They stuck to their game better than we did.
"It’s frustrating, but we’re heading back to Winnipeg and we’re all excited. It will be a good feeling to play in front of our home fans again.”
On a power-play opportunity of their own late in the opening 20, the Jets tied it up once more.
In his usual spot along the half wall, and with the help of Michael Frolik, who offered a beautiful screen in front, Perreault stepped up to the top of the faceoff circle before delivering a pinpoint shot top corner, recording his second of the game at 16:57.
Perreault has now registered 24 points in his last 21 games.
“I felt a lot better today, but at the end of the day, it’s not good enough from our team,” Perreault said. “We were sitting pretty good in the standings, but we’ve got to get going and get some wins.”
Shots on goal favoured the Jets 14-10 after one period of play. Despite the lopsided account, Hutchinson stole the show with a glorious stop off Brayden Schenn. From his knees, the rookie dove across to deny the Flyer forward with a sensational glove save midway through.
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The Flyers took a 3-2 lead with a bit of a lucky one at 3:03 of the second period. Capitalizing on a slow-to-develop goalmouth scramble, Nick Schultz came in from the point before chipping a shot up and over the mess in front, scoring his first as a Flyer.
Hutchinson came up with yet another phenomenal save late in the period. As the Flyers engineered a rare 3-on-1, the 24-year-old pushed off to his right, lunging across to make an exceptional split save off Matt Read. Marvellous athleticism.
Maurice termed the influx of odd-man rushes as the result of “overly aggressive” plays with the puck.
“We gave way too many odd-man rushes. That’s not the way we play,” Perreault said. “We’ve been playing so well lately but in these last few games, we’ve gotten away from our game.
"There’s nothing we can do about it now. We’ve got to focus on the next one and try to get back to what we’re good at.”
Unfortunately for the Jets, the Flyers kept coming. And with 15:48 left in the third period, the home team put it away.
Snapping a one-time shot from the far faceoff circle, Schenn made it a 4-2 game – an insurmountable deficit on this night – with just his second goal in 22 games.
Courtier added an empty-netter with 1:41 to play.
“They were quick. They were moving their feet and we got caught flat-footed a couple times,” Perreault said. “Even when we were breaking out, we were flat-footed then, too, and we couldn’t generate much. We’ve got to get our feet moving more for the next one.”
The Jets are back on action on Saturday night against the Dallas Stars at MTS Centre.
– Ryan Dittrick, WinnipegJets.com