-- Claude Giroux
's big night wasn't written in the stars, but it was foretold by one of the game’s biggest individual stars: Philadelphia teammate Jaromir Jagr
"I told him before the game he was going to get a hat trick," said Jagr, who set up both of Giroux's goals in Philadelphia's 5-3 win over Carolina Monday night. "I felt it before the game. Sometimes you just feel it."
Giroux settled for two goals and an assist, while Jakub Voracek
added a pair of helpers as the Flyers moved into a first-place tie with Pittsburgh atop the Eastern Conference with 23 points.
The struggling Hurricanes fell to 3-7-2 in their last 12 games (6-9-3 overall). The Flyers (10-4-3) have dominated the Hurricanes in recent years, with a 17-1-3 mark in their last 21 matchups.
The Flyers cruised to a 4-1 lead early in the second period before the Hurricanes struck for two goals to keep it close.
The Philadelphia win spoiled a strong performance from Hurricanes forward Patrick Dwyer
, who scored two shorthanded goals, one a breakaway in the first period then a penalty shot in the third. The goals were just his first and second of the season.
Not only did the Flyers reach the top of the Eastern Conference, but they improved their NHL-best road record to 6-1-1.
"I think it starts with good leadership, and ours has been excellent," said Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette. "Then it comes to competitiveness. It's a little bit more difficult (on the road). The building is never quite as friendly as it is at home. We've got a group that works really hard."
Flyers captain Chris Pronger
, who chipped in three assists, said his team takes a smart approach to playing on the road.
"It's about being prepared," he said. "The other team is going to work hard. We're not worried about putting on a show. We need to put the work boots on and make sure we're doing the little things right. Tonight we got off to a great start and got the lead."
The Flyers could not have started more efficiently. They scored on their first shot of the game when Jagr set up Giroux coming through the neutral zone. His wrister over Cam Ward
's glove, his 10th of the season, put the Flyers on top.
Philadelphia frustrated the Hurricanes throughout the first period, pressing Carolina and winning battles for loose pucks. The Flyers went up 2-0 when forward Voracek stole the puck from defenseman Jamie McBain
behind the Carolina net and found Maxime Talbot
in the slot for his sixth goal.
The Flyers seemed poised to blow the game wide open with 1:09 remaining in the period when Tuomo Ruttu was called for slashing. On the contrary, Carolina’s Dwyer forced James van Riemsdyk
into a turnover at the blue line, starting a 2-on-1 with Eric Staal
that Dwyer was able to finish with 0.9 seconds remaining. It marked the fourth shorthanded goal of the season for Carolina.
The Flyers wasted no time extending their lead to three goals early in the second period, and Giroux was front and center for both. On a slow-developing 3-on-2, he took a pass from Jagr and skated into the left circle uncovered and scored on a top-shelf wrister.
"I love to play with him," said Jagr. "I don't want to say he's the best in the league, but he's top three for sure. I never thought at the end of my career I was going to play with a guy like that. That's what makes me happy. I kind of want to play for him. All my years in the NHL, guys were trying to play for me."
Despite Jagr’s lavishing of praise, Laviolette is cautious about handing out superlatives with Giroux but ultimately painted a similar picture.
"He works so hard on the ice, and what you see is the talent as the end result," said the Flyers coach. "It's constant energy, constant motion and a desire to get the space and the room to beat somebody. It's amazing to watch him. He's really establishing himself as one of the top players in the game."
Giroux then set up a power play goal, waiting patiently for Wayne Simmonds
to screen the goaltender and earn a redirected goal.
That was enough to chase Ward from the 'Canes crease in favor of former Flyer Brian Boucher
The Hurricanes found the net again with 7:59 remaining in the second period. Jeff Skinner
, Jussi Jokinen
and Ruutu — Carolina's red-hot "Skins and Finns" line — put together a tic-tac-toe goal with Ruutu on the finishing end. Skinner, playing in his 100th NHL game at age 19, leads the Hurricanes with 18 points in 18 games.
Dwyer's second goal also came with the Hurricanes shorthanded. Dwyer was hauled down on a breakaway chance before converting the penalty shot under the arm of Sergei Bobrovsky
. With the deficit closed to 4-3, Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice thought his team might change the outcome.
"I really thought we had it there, but we spent too much time in the penalty box in third to keep our legs driving," he said, noting Carolina's five third-period minor penalties."(Bobrovsky) made two or three great saves on (Chad) LaRose alone to keep that game where it was."
The Philadelphia goaltender stopped 17 shots to remain undefeated in regulation (3-0-1).
With the Flyers clinging to the late one-goal lead, Voracek set up Matt Read
for a 2-on-1 goal that effectively finished off Carolina.
"It was a great stick by (Pronger) in our zone," Voracek said. "He chipped it out and I picked up speed and (Matt Read
) was driving to the far post. I tried to hit him and I'm happy I did."