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Flyers snap losing streak with road win against Kings

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Positivity echoed in every corner of the Philadelphia Flyers dressing room Saturday afternoon. First it was goalie Steve Mason, then Wayne Simmonds. Even chairman Ed Snider held court with reporters after a 2-1 win against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.

The Flyers finally put the pieces together to snap a nine-game road losing streak (0-7-2), doing so against one of the NHL's best home teams. Simmonds and Claude Giroux scored, and Mason made 37 saves to help the Flyers win on the road for the first time since Oct.22.

"We seem to play better when we play against better teams," Simmonds said. "I think over the last three games we've been getting better and better gradually. Tonight, I think we played a harder and heavier game and we eliminated the mistakes that we made at the crucial points in the game."

The Flyers (9-13-4) also snapped a six-game losing streak (0-4-2), their longest since the start of the 2008-09 season. They swept the season series against the Kings, who were 11-3-1 at Staples Center and coming off back-to-back shutouts.

"These guys are a measuring stick for the entire League right now," Mason said. "They're a model of consistency for the past three years and they've had two Stanley Cups to show for it. You see them on the schedule … you've got to make sure that you're prepared for the start. Today was a good game. We can still get better. We need to get better. We'll just take the good feeling that we got from it."

Philadelphia's struggles reached a point where general manager Ron Hextall felt it necessary to give coach Craig Berube a public vote of confidence.

Snider backed Hextall's plan and said he's seen good signs on the Flyers' three-game swing through California.

"It's always frustrating when you're losing, but by the same token, it happens to teams," Snider said. "We were hoping for a good trip. We've had a pretty good trip. It could have been better. If we hadn't given up that goal with [12] seconds to go [against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday], we would have not lost in regulation in any of the games, so I'm very proud of this team."

The Kings outshot the Flyers 31-9 over the final two periods, but could not overcome a typically slow afternoon-game start. They failed to convert on two power plays in the final 4:51, including a 13-second two-man advantage.

Los Angeles (14-8-5) was coming off shutouts of the Arizona Coyotes and Boston Bruins. The Kings will begin a five-game road trip Tuesday against the Buffalo Sabres.

"We weren't good in the first again," Jarret Stoll said. "It almost looked like we were feeling our way into the game, which you can't do against any team in the League. You can't do it. It's too hard. Valuable lesson learned again and two points lost."

Simmonds gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead with a power-play goal at 2:08 of the second period. The Kings killed a 5-on-3 Flyers advantage, but Simmonds finished a rush with a wrist shot that trickled through Jonathan Quick's five-hole with the Kings still down a man.

Simmonds has scored in each of his appearances at Staples Center since he was traded to the Flyers in 2012. The confidence sweeping Los Angeles can give Philadelphia is apparent to the 26-year-old.

"They're Stanley Cup champs," Simmonds said. "That should do a lot for us. It shows that we can hang in there with the big boys. We have a lot of confidence in ourselves. We know we can play better than we have so far this year."

Giroux's eighth goal snapped the Kings' shutout streak at 126:24. He scored on a pretty finish of a give-and-go with defenseman Mark Streit 4:35 into the game. Giroux made a no-look pass to Streit, who found Giroux with the return pass in the slot for a high snap shot.

The Kings outshot the Flyers 15-6 in the second period, but Mason led the Flyers through two penalty kills, including a right-pad save on Jeff Carter. Philadelphia led after two periods for the first time in six games.

Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn't credit Mason so much as fault his team for not getting shots through. Philadelphia blocked 22 shots, and Los Angeles missed the net on nine shot attempts.

"A lot of really good chances that we had were either blocked or didn't get all the way there," Sutter said. "I don't think it was goaltending that beat us."

Flyers center Vincent Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for the third straight game. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto returned to the lineup after he was scratched the previous two games.

Kings right wing Marian Gaborik missed his 12th game this season because of injury.

Sutter was vague on whether Gaborik would join the team on the trip.

"It's the same all along with [Gaborik]," Sutter said. "He'll tell us tomorrow if he thinks he can … I'm way past all that. When somebody tells me they're ready to play, then I guess they're ready to play."

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