Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Flyers Dismantle Carolina

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FLYERS DISMANTLE CAROLINA, 5-1

The Flyers scored early and often against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5-1 Saturday matinee at the Wells Fargo Center. Philadelphia led for 59:07 of the game’s 60 minutes and held multi-goal leads for most of the afternoon.

Philly’s four game homestand is off to a good start with a pair of convincing victories against New Jersey and Carolina.

The Flyers have won back to-back games for the first time since early November. Over the last five games the team is 3-0-2,

Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and rookie center Scott Laughton led the way offensively with one goal and one assist. Laughton’s tally was the first in the 2012 first-round pick’s NHL career.

The Flyers also got a goal by Sean Couturier in the opening minute of play. Michael Raffl closed out the scoring midway through regulation. Claude Giroux and Brayden Schenn each had two assists.

Steve Mason did not see many shots through the opening 40 minutes but came up big several times in a busy final stanza. He finished with 25 saves.

Eric Staal’s power play goal early in the second period stood as Carolina’s lone goal. Losing netminder Anton Khudobin had a rough game in goal, yielding five tallies on 23 shots.

In comparison to many games last season against Carolina — where they struggled to deal with the Hurricanes’ speed and had difficulty capitalizing on their own chances — the Flyers did a good job of puck pressure and containment. They used the boards particularly well in this game.

FIRST PERIOD

Philly got exactly what it wanted in the first period: a fast start and a multi-goal lead against the offensively weak Hurricanes.

The Flyers struck quickly as Couturier scored his seventh goal of the season and recorded a point in his sixth straight game. After R.J Umberger sent the puck around the wall, Carolina’s Tim Gleason played the puck. Pressure from Read behind the net helped force a turnover near the net, as Gleason dangerously put the puck near the net and Khudobin paddled it to Read.

After a backhanded cross-ice feed to Couturier, the big center was denied on his first and second cracks but scored on the third try near the right post at the 53-second mark. Khudobin’s skate came off the post after the second try, which gave Couturier just enough room to stuff the puck inside the post.

Read collected his eight assist of the season, while R.J. Umberger got his third. The assist for Umberger was a generous one, as both Tim Gleason and Khudobin touched the puck in the sequence. Somehow, Umberger even got credited with the primary assist.

Khudobin stopped a pair of shots by Voracek off a counterattack at about the 6:30 mark to keep the deficit at 1-0. The second save was an acrobatic one as the Kazakh slid across his crease to his right.

Momets after Luke Schenn erased a good scoring chance for Carolina, Simmonds scored off a counterattack. Simmonds took a Brayden Schenn that banked off the right half boards and hammered a slap shot that beat Khudobin up high at 11:27.

The goal was Simmonds’ 13th of the season and the fifth in his last five game, was assisted by Brayden Schenn (12th assist of the season) and rookie Scott Laughton (third assist).

At 14:47, Nick Grossmann surprised everyone by barreling down the left wing and nearly scoring a goal. Alas, Khudobin was equal to the task and Grossmann’s bid for his third goal of the season was denied.

As time ticked down under two minutes remaining in the first period, the Giroux line flurried in the Carolina end. Khudobin was eventually able to corral and freeze the puck as the Flyers’ shot total for the opening period climbed to 12.

The dominating period ended with Voracek taking a puck away from a Carolina player at the Philadelphia blueline. Time ran out as Voracek weaved his way up the ice. Shots in the period were 12-5 in the Flyers’ favor.

SECOND PERIOD

The Giroux line started the second period with a bad shift, getting a little cute with the puck in and around their own zone. On the second shift, Read took a tripping minor in the neutral zone.

On the ensuing power play, Eric Staal cut the Flyers lead in half. He beat Luke Schenn wide, went around the net and scored on the wraparound before Mason — who over-committed to the short side thinking Staal would shoot, could get over to seal off the post.

The power play goal, Staal’s seventh tally of the season, was assisted by Jeff Skinner (eighth assist) and John-Michael Liles (sixth assist) at the 2:06 mark.

At 4:25, the Flyers got their first power play chance and made quick work of it.

After moving the puck around crisply, Giroux got the puck and fed it to Simmonds along the goal line. Simmonds saw a wide open Voracek across the ice and fed the puck right on the tape. Voracek made no mistake, burying his 11th goal (fourth power play goal) at 4:54. Simmonds earned his eighth assist of the season, while Giroux got his 25th helper.

Zac Rinaldo and Carolina’s Brad Malone received offsetting roughing minors for a tussle in the Flyers’ zone at 5:44. Malone was the initial aggressor, tackling Rinaldo in the first place and then sitting on top of him. During the early stages of the 4-on-4, Khudobin dove out of his crease to deny Braydon Coburn on an attempted backdoor play.

In a moment he will remember for the rest of his life, Laughton earned his first career NHL, cutting in from the right half board and snapping a shot from the right circle that went in off the long-side post to make it a 4-1 game.

Brayden Schenn earned the primary assist (13th) for banking the puck to Laughton and Braydon Coburn (second) got the secondary assist at the 7:29 mark to open a 4-1 lead.

At 10:05, the Flyers lead extended to 5-1.

Off the right side boards, Voracek fed the puck to Claude Giroux in the high slot. Giroux put the puck at the net and it went directly to a wide-open Raffl in almost tic-tac-toe fashion. From point blank range, Raffl buried it home for his eighth goal of the season. Giroux got his second assist of the game and 26th of the season, while Voracek got his 26th assist of the season.

Even Rinaldo nearly got into the scoring act, collecting a turnover and speeding into the Canes’ zone. The rush fizzled out before he could get off a shot, however.

Brayden Schenn received a tough-luck tripping penalty in the neutral zone at 14:47, going for the puck but getting a little too much of a Cane. The Flyers killed it off. Along the way, Mason made a nice blocker save to preserve the four-goal lead.

Shots in the second period were 10 for Carolina and seven for Philly. However, the Flyers put three of those shots in the cash register to one for the Canes. Two period shot totals were 19 for the Flyers and 13 for Carolina.

THIRD PERIOD

Mason was barely tested in the first two periods. He would see a lot of rubber in the final stanza and was equal to the challenge.

Just nine seconds into the third period, Carolina had a scoring chance off the rush. Mason cleanly gloved an Eric Staal shot with no rebound. With 15:25 remaining, Mason bailed out Andrew MacDonald, who got beaten wide by Nathan Gerbe.

Voracek drew an offensive zone interference penalty for setting a pick for Giroux at 8:53. The Flyers killed it off in good shape. Shortly after the penalty expired, Mason made his second good save of the period against Eric Staal off the rush.

With 7:08 remaining, the Flyers got a little jumbled in their coverage. Mason calmed things down with a save on Chis Terry and froze the puck for a stoppage.

Luke Schenn got just the third shot of the period for the Flyers win an unscreened slapshot from the right point with 5:50 remaining in the game. Khudobin made the easy save and held on for a stoppage.

Shots in the third period were 11 for Carolina to four for the Flyers.The final shot total was 26 for Carolina to 23 for the Flyers.

POSTGAME NOTES AND QUOTES:

* All Flyers players wore an orange shamrock decal emblazoned with the initials PQ on the back of their helmets, in honor of the late Pat Quinn.

* The Flyers have a complete off-day tomorrow. Practice will resume at the Skate Zone on Monday at 10:30 a.m., as the club prepares for Tuesday’s clash with the Atlantic Division leading Tampa Bay Lightning.

* Scott Laughton’s parents, Craig and Bonnie, got to see their son’s first NHL goal in person. The Laughtons were in attendance at the Wells Fargo Center for this game.

* After the game, a grinning Steve Mason presented Laughton with the puck from his goal.

* The quote of the day about Laughton’s goal came from goaltender Mason: “It’s probably quite a feeling to score your first NHL goal. I’m still waiting for mine.”

* In addition to scoring a goal, Couturier won 11 of 17 faceoffs (65 percent). Couturier has tied a career-best six-game point streak he enjoyed during his rookie season. In 2011-12, Couturier scored a goal in five straight games and had an assist in another match. This time, he has three goals and four assists during his streak.

* The defensive pairing of Braydon Coburn and Nick Schultz finished at plus-three. Nicklas Grossmann shared a game-high four credited hits with forward Zac Rinaldo and blocked four shots in 20:25 of ice time. Luke Schenn had a game-high six blocks among 24 for the team.

* The Flyers attempted 48 shots in the game. Twenty-three made it on net, 12 got blocked, and 13 missed the net. Carolina attempted 66 shots — heavily weighted to the latter part of the game, when they were getting blown out on the scoreboard — and got 26 on net with 24 getting blocked and 16 missing the net.

* Jakub Voracek at least temporarily took over the NHL scoring lead (37 points, 11 goals and 26 assists), moving one point ahead of Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin prior to Dallas’ Saturday home game against New Jersey. He moved two points ahead of Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby (expected to miss the game) before Pittsburgh’s road game against Columbus tonight. Note: The game note will be updated on Sunday morning.

* Mason on how the game went from his standpoint: ” I think [the third period was] where they had their opportunities. I think for the first 40 minutes of the game we did a great job and we just shut them down with everything they were trying to create. Over the course of a 60-minute game they’re going to be able to make some plays, and it was nice to feel the puck a little bit at the end.”

* Laughton on the wait for his first goal that ended today: “The chances I was getting and the bounces weren’t going in, and I knew if I kept skating the way I was and playing how hard I’ve been trying in the offensive zone and just getting those chances.”

* Claude Giroux on Couturier’s recent play versus his play all season: “Coots has been one of our top players all year. Defensively he’s really responsible and obviously we want him against top players on the other side. He’s been having a lot of chances offensively, but just not going in, and now he’s found a way to put it in, and we’re happy for him because he deserves it for sure.”

* Mason on how the Flyers coped better with Carolina’s speed than they did last season: “I think the guys did a really good job of just really taking away everything, from great back checks, chip outs, make sure we are taking away late plays.”

* Mason on the 24 shots the team blocked: “The [defense] did a great job blocking shots, almost to a fault in the second. There were shots that I was hoping that were going to come through just to start feeling the puck, and guys were getting in front of it… it was starting to get on my nerves a little bit, but give the guys credit they were working hard and it was another solid effort.”

* Wayne Simmonds on the benefits of making simple plays with the puck effectively: “We were keeping the puck out of the middle. And we were just chipping off the wall and chipping to support. We were making good plays. We were making smart plays. And that’s when you tend to get the better of the other team. And it worked for us tonight.”

* Flyers head coach Craig Berube on the team using the boards effectively with the puck: “You have to against [Carolina]. It’s so much pressure coming and their D are always down on you. There’s not a lot of room up there so got to use the boards and play your percentages.”

* Berube on players’ willingness to shoot and get to the net: “I think it’s a process and it takes a while. We ought to shoot the puck from everywhere. Again, it’s a part of playing defense you make the team face their net and it’s an important part of the game it really is.”

* Nick Schultz on dealing with adversity as a team: “I think in the room here you got to believe in one another. I don’t think it matters what system you plays, who is behind the bench, you got to believe in it. Guys have to believe in it here, work for one another, and trust in one another the way you’re playing. I think that’s the biggest thing, the buy-in from the guys here to commit to the system and play it properly. And make sure you can trust one another for the guy to be in the spot he’s supposed to be in. I think we are trying to figure it out in that road trip, we really started to play some good hockey against some tough teams out on the West Coast, and I think it’s paying off.”

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