Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Flyers Start Homestand the Right Way

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FLYERS START HOMESTAND THE RIGHT WAY

Beginning a four-game homestand that is critical to efforts to climb out of a hole in the Eastern Conference and Metropolitan Division standings, the Philadelphia Flyers posted a tidy 4-1 win over the injury- and illness-depleted New Jersey Devils at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.

The Flyers did a good job of accomplishing the task at hand.

They outshot New Jersey in all three periods, played a responsible two-way game, dominating in faceoffs, had one of their better nights in terms of puck possession and forechecking and exhibited patience.

These were things Philly did not do a few weeks ago when an even more depleted Columbus team came to Wells Fargo Center and snapped an 0-8-1 winless streak at the Flyers’ expense. On this night, at least, the Flyers followed the type of process that leads to desirable results.

Matt Read and Sean Couturier (shorthanded) notched a goal and assist apiece for the Flyers. In the third period, Wayne Simmonds (power play) and Jakub Voracek (empty net) added some insurance while Claude Giroux and Mark Streit assisted on both goals. Ray Emery turned back 17 of 18 mostly routine shots.

Martin Havlat’s second period deflection goal on the power play stood as the Devils’ lone tally of the night. Cory Schneider stopped 32 of 35 shots in a losing cause.

At the 6:12 mark of the first period, the Flyers took the lead on their first shorthanded goal of the season.

Read blocked a shot by Zidlicky and was hooked down for a delayed penalty. Read recovered and kept going, joined by Couturier on a late-developing 2-on-1. Couturier received the pass on the tape and snapped a shot that beat Schneider. Read got the lone assist (his 7th of the season) on Couturier’s sixth goal of the season.

The same two players hook up again at 13: to double the lead.

On this sequence, Read wrapped the puck around the wall to Couturier, who threw the puck at the net from a side angle through three Devils players. Read got in front to re-direct the seeing-eye puck home. The goal, Read’s third of the season, was assisted by Couturier (eighth of the season) and Nick Schultz (seventh).

The Flyers outshot New Jersey by a 10-5 margin in the first period. They took 33 seconds of carryover power play time from Martin Havlat’s late-period tripping minor over into the middle period. There were unable to score.

At 3:05 of the second period, Emery made his best save of the game up to that juncture, stopping a Steve Bernier backhanded shot off the rush. Six minutes into the frame, New Jersey had a 3-on-1 opportunity that fizzled out at the end and Emery came out beyond the post to make a save from a sharp angle-shot.

With Schultz in the penalty box for tripping, the Devils halved their deficit at the 13:02 mark. Havlat deflected home a shot by Scott Gomez as Gomez moved in from the right half boards. Damon Severson got the secondary assist after an intermission change in scoring.

The assist was originally credited to Jaromir Jagr, who entered the night one behind Steve Yzerman for seventh place on the NHL’s all-time assist lead (1,063).

The Flyers had their fourth power play of the game late in the second period on Tuomo Ruutu tripping penalty. They were unable to convert, going to 0-for-4 on the night on the man advantage. Philly outshot New Jersey in the second period, 12-6, but the Devils got the only shot that ended up in the cash register.

With about 12:30 remaining in the third period, Schneider made an excellent save in close to keep the score at 2-1 Through the first eight minutes of the period, shots were 3-3.

Near the midway mark of the period, Scott Laughton and Brayden Schenn turned in one of the best puck cycling shifts the Flyers have had all season, ending in a good scoring chance for Schenn in close off a centering feed.

With 8:30 remaining in the game, the Flyers called timeout to rest their troops ahead of a left circle faceoff in the defensive zone. They the draw cleanly and cleared the defensive zone.

The Flyers received their fifth power play of the game with 4:55 left in regulation as Mike Cammalleri was whistled off for tripping Michael Raffl in the neutral zone.

Philly capitalized at 15:44. Giroux moved the puck out to Streit at center point. The defenseman hammered a shot at the net and Simmonds pounced on the rebound for his 12th goal and seventh power play tally of the season. Giroux’s assist was his 23rd of the season, while Streit earned his 13th helper.

The Devils came close to scoring after pulling Schneider for an extra attacker but Nicklas Grossmann blocked a shot from the slot and Streit pounced on a loose puck to get it to safety up to Giroux. The Flyers captain then passed to Voracek, who tucked the puck into an empty net at 17:30 to make it a 4-1 game.

Voracek’s goal was his 10th of the season. Giroux and Streit picked up their respective second assists of the game and 24th and 14th of the season.

The Flyers outshot New Jersey 13-7 for the final period and 36-18 for the game. Philadelphia hosts the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.

NOTES AND QUOTES:

* The Flyers won 37 of 61 faceoffs for the game (61 percent): Scott Laughton, who played a good all-around game but did not get rewarded on the score sheet,led the way by winning 10 of 15 draws.

* In addition to his goal and assist, Matt Read was credited with a game-high four blocks. The Flyers were credited with 21 as a team. Read’s two-point effort was his first in 31 games, dating back to April 6 last season against Buffalo.

* Philadelphia did a good job of getting shots on net in this game. They attempted 55 shots, getting 36 on net. Eleven were blocked, while only eight missed the net.

* Tonight’s game marked the third time this season the Flyers have had 4 PIM or fewer in a game. The team is 3-0-0 in those games.

* After the game, Ron Hextall gave injury updates on center Ryan White (torn pectoral muscle) and defense prospect Shayne Gostisbehere (partially torn ACL). White, who missed all of training camp and the entire season to date, has been cleared for contact. He should be ready for game action with a week or two. Gostisbehere met with a doctor today and is presently right on target with his projected timetable that should allow him to return in the latter part of the season.

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