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Voracek scores twice to lift Flyers past Oilers

by Adam Kimelman

PHILADELPHIA -- Jakub Voracek knows he's playing some of the best hockey of his NHL career. He also knows it's only one month into the season. So while it's nice to see his name near the top of the scoring leaderboard, he's not picking out space for the Art Ross Trophy quite yet.

Voracek scored two first-period goals to help the Philadelphia Flyers snap a two-game losing streak with a 4-1 win against the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday at Wells Fargo Center.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Luke Schenn also scored for the Flyers, and Steve Mason made 35 saves for his first win of the season.

Flyers forward Michael Raffl left the game with 4:02 left in the third period because of a lower-body injury. He had blocked a Mark Fayne shot earlier in the period. General manager Ron Hextall said Raffl would be evaluated Wednesday.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers. Viktor Fasth, making his first start since Oct. 14 because of a groin injury, allowed four goals on 25 shots. The Oilers went 0-for-4 on the power play, including two chances in the third period.

The loss was Edmonton's third straight, but their first against an Eastern Conference team (4-1-0).

The goals extended Voracek's streak point streak to six games and gave him at least a point in 11 of 12 games this season. They also gave him 18 points, temporarily pulling him into a tie for the NHL lead in points with the Pittsburgh Penguins' Sidney Crosby, who regained the top spot with an assist Tuesday night at the Minnesota Wild.

"It's only 12 games in," Voracek said. "We can talk about it 55, 60 games in. It's a long season."

Voracek has been helped by losing 10 pounds during the offseason. Though Voracek never was in bad shape, Hextall and coach Craig Berube thought there was another level Voracek could get to if he was a bit lighter.

"He's faster and he's got more gas from start to finish," Hextall said, "It's made a huge difference for him."

Voracek said during training camp that he was curious to see how his body would hold up. So far, the answer has been outstanding. His two-goal game Tuesday was his sixth multipoint game of the season, and he has at least one point in 11 of 12 games.

"I feel good," Voracek said. "I don't want to be overconfident. It's only 12 games. Everything is going well."

Mason, who has known Voracek since they were rookies with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2008-09, said he's enjoying watching his talented teammate turn into an offensive juggernaut.

"You knew he could be a special player if he put everything together, and he's starting to do that," Mason said. "When he's going he can take over a hockey game. ... Jake's always been a talented player and he's finally realizing his full potential. We always knew he could be a special player, even in Columbus. Now we're starting to witness it on a regular basis."

As good as Voracek was up front, Mason had a strong game. His best saves came in the third period when the Flyers were killing off two penalties. On the first Edmonton chance, he denied Nail Yakupov on a hard shot from the left circle then stopped David Perron on the left post. On the second power play, midway through the period, he made a great glove stop on Mark Arcobello next to the left post moments after Justin Schultz hit the same post with a low point shot.

"A lot of people say your best penalty-killer has to be your goaltender," Mason said. "Those are times when you're trying to prevent them from getting momentum from scoring goals, and you have to find ways to make saves. ... Penalty kill has to be a big part of our team and [Tuesday] it was."

Voracek's two goals came off fortuitous bounces off Edmonton defensemen.

Oscar Klefbom blocked Voracek's pass attempt from behind the net into the slot. The puck came back to Voracek, and he stuffed it between Fasth and the post to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead 3:59 into the game. His second goal came after Jeff Petry blocked a Michael Del Zotto shot and the puck bounced to Voracek in the slot; he scored before Fasth could set himself.

"We had a very good first period," Voracek said. "We were cycling the puck very well. When you're skating, good things happen. And that's what happened; we were in the right spots and scored two goals."

It was too much of a deficit for the Oilers, who were missing leading scorer Taylor Hall because of a knee injury, especially when Bellemare made it 3-0 early in the second.

Nugent-Hopkins' beautiful end-to-end goal midway through the second got the Oilers within 3-1, but that was as close as they would get.

"I thought some of the individuals that we asked for bigger games out of did that," Oilers coach Dallas Eakins said. "We asked [Yakupov] to shoot the puck more; he was extremely dangerous. I thought Ryan Nugent-Hopkins really stepped up his game. ... The fact of the matter is we can't have just five or six guys step up; we need all 20 guys pulling and maximizing their potential. If you're not maximizing your potential, you are doing our team a terrible disservice, and that's the difference of the game. It's a game in which you outshoot and out-chance but you don't have two points, and all of the positives really don't matter."

Schenn made it 4-1 at 12:01 of the third on a strong play by his brother, Brayden Schenn. Brayden bumped the Oilers' Matt Hendricks off the puck behind the Edmonton net. As he was falling he pushed the puck out to Luke Schenn in the right circle, and the older of the Schenn brothers one-timed a shot past Fasth for his first goal since March 1, ending a 32-game goal drought.

It's the second Schenn-to-Schenn goal this season; against the Dallas Stars on Oct. 18, Luke assisted on Brayden's goal.

"We didn't connect the first two years [as teammates in Philadelphia], and this year we already have a couple," Luke Schenn said. "We connected a lot of times as kids growing up in the backyard rink, and to do it in the NHL is pretty special."

The Flyers are having a lot of fun watching Voracek carry the offense.

"He's playing with a lot of confidence," linemate Claude Giroux said. "With that kind of confidence and skill, it's dangerous. I'm just enjoying playing with him, and it's a lot of fun, but at the same time we have to keep going."

Follow Adam Kimelman on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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