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Giroux leads Flyers by Coyotes in return from injury

Go-ahead goal in 4-2 win is captain's 500th NHL point

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers depend on captain Claude Giroux to make an impact, and he provided one in his return to the lineup Saturday against the Arizona Coyotes at Wells Fargo Center.

Giroux, in his first game back after a three-game absence because of an upper-body injury, scored the go-ahead goal in the first period and helped the Flyers to a 4-2 victory.

Late in the first, on the Flyers' third power play of the period, Giroux snapped a wrist shot from the left circle past Coyotes goalie Louis Domingue to give the Flyers a 2-1 lead. The goal was the 500th point of Giroux's NHL career.

Giroux's strong game was even more important in the absence of second-leading scorer Jakub Voracek, who was out Saturday because of a lower-body injury. He is considered day-to-day. Voracek had played in 286 consecutive games. He last missed a game March 11, 2012.

Video: ARI@PHI: Giroux nets power-play goal for 500th point

"You want to be part of the boys and be able to help them win," Giroux said. "To be back and get a win like this it feels good."

Giroux leads the Flyers with 50 points in 58 games, and leads their forwards with an average ice time of 20:48 per game. He played 18:10 on Saturday, second among Flyers forwards, had a team-high five shots on goal and won eight of 18 faceoffs.

"He touches every aspect of the game," Flyers forward Sam Gagner said. "Not many guys in the League that does what he does in terms of all-around game, whether it be faceoffs, penalty kill, power play. He's a big scorer for us at 5-on-5. He touches every aspect of the game. Those guys are guys you can't replace. Nice to have him back in the lineup and it definitely helped tonight."

The Flyers (28-22-11) went 2-1-0 in Giroux's absence, but their captain was a welcome addition back to the lineup.

"We feel so much better with him in the lineup," goalie Michal Neuvirth, who made 29 saves, said. "He makes our power play one of the best in the League. He's a great leader. The whole team, we're happy he's playing."

Video: ARI@PHI: Neuvirth smothers shot from Vermette

Mark Streit had three assists to give him 400 points in the NHL. Scott Laughton, Gagner and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare also scored when the Flyers won their second straight game on a six-game homestand. They defeated the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on Thursday.

Brad Richardson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored for Arizona (27-29-6), which lost its fifth straight game overall and seventh straight road game (0-7-0). Mikkel Boedker had two assists and Domingue made 29 saves.

The Flyers led 3-1 after two periods but Ekman-Larsson's goal got the Coyotes within one at 6:33 of the third period. Bellemare scored an insurance goal with 2:45 left to make it 4-2.
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was more frustrated than disappointed in the outcome.

"There's a lot of things in this game that are exactly how we want to play," he said. "... We put a lot of good work into this game. We played in the offensive zone a ton. Couldn't capitalize on the chances we got and then we started chasing the game and that fourth goal was a killer."

The play started with Wayne Simmonds blocking an Ekman-Larsson shot at the Philadelphia blue line and leading a 3-on-1 rush the other way. Simmonds got in close and his shot went off Arizona defenseman Connor Murphy, who in the process slid into Domingue and knocked him out of position. Bellemare chipped in the loose puck for his fifth of the season.

Video: ARI@PHI: Bellemare pushes in goal late in 3rd period

"We were a little bit on our heels and we were trying to create momentum to finish the game," Bellemare said. "That goal came pretty much at the right time."

The Flyers scored two goals in a 40-second span late in the first period to take a 3-1 lead.

Giroux's power-play goal at 17:41 gave Philadelphia a 2-1 lead, and then Gagner snapped a wrist shot off a 2-on-1 rush with Michael Raffl to make it 3-1 at 18:21. Philadelphia got a lucky bounce when Sean Couturier's first pass attempt to Gagner in front of the Philadelphia bench hit one of the referees and stayed in play. Couturier got the puck back and completed the pass.

Gagner spent last season with the Coyotes, who traded him to the Flyers for defenseman Nicklas Grossmann on June 27, 2015.

"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't [extra motivation]," Gagner said. "But at the same time we're fighting to get back into the playoff race here and every game is important. I just wanted to approach it as another game and then obviously when you score there it's a little added excitement."

Laughton's goal at 9:30 of the first period gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead before Richardson tied it when he one-timed a centering pass from Max Domi past Neuvirth.

"We got a good win today," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "Turn the page. It's in the book. We've got a lot of work ahead of us. Got a day off tomorrow to rest up a little bit and then get right back at it [Monday against the Calgary Flames]."

Video: Giroux nets 500th point in Flyers' win over Coyotes

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