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Flyers get balanced scoring in win vs. Wild

by Dan Myers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- After beginning the season 3-9-3 on the road, the Philadelphia Flyers are finally playing to their potential away from Wells Fargo Center.

The Flyers won 5-2 against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday at Xcel Energy Center, giving them three straight victories to open their season-high eight-game road trip.

"It's a tough trip, it's a tough part of the year," goaltender Ray Emery said. "We know we have a lot of work to do after the break, but this is the best possible result you could ask for here with three wins to start."

Philadelphia kept its game simple Tuesday, taking advantage of Minnesota turnovers and scoring greasy goals against Wild goaltender Darcy Kuemper.

Emery played a big part too, making 22 saves, including all seven in the third period, for his seventh win.

"We have four lines rolling, the six [defensemen] are playing well, the goalies ... we're playing like a team right now," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "To me, we've been trending in the right direction for a good three weeks now."

The Flyers (14-14-6) scored twice in the game's first 10 minutes to lead 2-0 before the Wild had their first shot on goal.

Sean Couturier took advantage of a Wild turnover in their own zone, banking a shot in off Wild defenseman Ryan Suter at 7:16 for his ninth goal. Claude Giroux scored his 11th goal 2:17 later off a rebound from the bottom of the left circle.

"Our execution was terrible all night," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "That led to turnover after turnover and also led to no willingness whatsoever to shoot a puck. They were not afraid to shoot the puck, and we kept trying to make a prettier play. From there, it got worse and worse."

Marco Scandella scored his eighth goal on the Wild's second shot of the game. His slap shot from the point beat Emery 30 seconds after Giroux's goal to pull Minnesota (16-13-3) within a goal.

The Wild tied it early in the second when Charlie Coyle scored a power-play goal by tipping Jason Pominville's shot from the point past Emery. It was Coyle's first goal since Oct. 23, ending a 26-game drought.

But Philadelphia took advantage of another Minnesota turnover in its own end later in the period, and Wayne Simmonds snapped a shot over Darcy Kuemper's blocker for his 15th goal and a 3-2 Flyers lead at 15:22.

"We got off our game and started coasting a little bit (after going ahead 2-0)," Simmonds said. "We turned it back up there in the second period and we started getting more shots on net, got pressure on them and got pucks deep. We kept the game simple for the most part.

"I think when we keep our game simple, it's a lot easier. We weren't trying to force pucks to the middle, we weren't turning pucks over in the neutral zone. That's when we tend to get in trouble."

An apparent goal by Wild forward Zach Parise at 1:28 of the third period was waved off after it was determined by video review that the puck went in through the side of the net, which had been lifted off its moorings.

Four minutes later, the Flyers re-established a two-goal lead on Vincent Lecavalier's fifth goal. As he was screening Kuemper, Lecavalier deflected a point shot by Andrew MacDonald past the Wild goalie for his third goal in the past two games.

"The fourth line had a good game; they played real well," Berube said. "Good energy from those guys. They were on the puck, and every time I thought we needed some energy, they went out there and did a good job in the offensive zone."

Thomas Vanek put the puck into the Flyers net with 2:52 remaining, but video review supported the referee's call that the Wild forward's stick was above the crossbar.

Michael Raffl scored an empty-net goal for Philadelphia in the final minute.

Kuemper made 25 saves. He started in place of Niklas Backstrom, who was scratched after he became ill.

Minnesota has lost four in a row (0-2-2) and five of its past six.

"It's good not to play a game tomorrow," Yeo said. "If we play like that again, it'll be extremely disappointing."

The Wild enter the three-day holiday break eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets for fourth place in the Central Division. The Wild and Jets will play a home-and-home beginning Saturday in St. Paul.

"I don't care if it's four games in a row against Winnipeg, we can't look further than [Dec. 27]," Wild forward Matt Cooke said. "It's an opportunity at home, to earn back a level of play that we expect from ourselves here."

The three consecutive victories to open their road trip match the Flyers' longest winning streak this season.

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