It’s become nearly en vogue to question what has happened to Corey Perry after the 2011 Hart Trophy winner was limited to just 19 goals last season. Perry stepped up to answer his critics with two goals and an assist in the season opener for the Anaheim Ducks, who look to continue their dominance of the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday at Honda Center.
“We believe in Corey Perry,” coach Randy Carlyle said after the Ducks rallied from a three-goal deficit to post a 5-4 win over Arizona on Thursday. “The commitment we’re trying to portray to him is, if he plays in a top role and continues to do the things we ask him to, we think he’s going to score goals. It’s our job to prop him up, not tear him down.” Anaheim has torn down Philadelphia with season sweeps in each of the last four campaigns. The Flyers, who are wrapping up their three-game trek of the Golden State on Saturday, failed to solve Jonathan Quick in a 2-0 setback to Los Angeles on Thursday after erupting for five goals in a season-opening win over San Jose.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NHL.TV, NBCSN, PRIME (Anaheim)
ABOUT THE FLYERS (1-1-0): Captain Claude Giroux held an optimistic outlook after seeing his team record 17 shots on goal in the third period in a losing effort versus the Kings. “We did a lot of good things and it’s early in the season. I feel like the lines are starting to click and find some chemistry.” Travis Sanheim struggled early in his NHL debut, as he allowed Trevor Lewis to get behind him for a goal in the second period before committing a double-minor for high sticking later in the session. Fellow defenseman Samuel Morin, who was a healthy scratch in the first two games, could be in line to replace Sanheim in the lineup Saturday.
ABOUT THE DUCKS (1-0-0): Rickard Rakell (one goal, two assists) did not look out of place playing on the top line with Andrew Cogliano (one goal, two assists) and Perry while captain Ryan Getzlaf works his way back from a lower-body injury sustained in practice last week. “I think we’re very comfortable playing with each other,” the 24-year-old Rakell told the Orange County Register. “I think we’re all excited to get a chance to play together too. We played together a couple of years ago. But it’s a little different now. A little bit more responsibilities and opportunities for us.” Rakell, who set career highs in goals (33) and points (51) in 2016-17, was held off the scoresheet versus the Flyers last season.
1. Philadelphia G Brian Elliott, who made 32 saves in the season opener, dropped both decisions after yielding seven goals on 53 shots versus Anaheim in 2016-17.
2. Pennsylvania native G John Gibson stopped 71 of 76 shots to defeat the Flyers on two occasions last season.
3. Philadelphia has scored one 5-on-5 goal this season.
PREDICTION: Ducks 4, Flyers 2