Flyers defeat Ducks on Simmonds’ OT goal
ANAHEIM, Calif. — With a roster injected with youth, the Philadelphia Flyers got another clutch performance from a key veteran while continuing a productive season-opening road trip.
Wayne Simmonds scored at 44 seconds of overtime as the Flyers defeated the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Saturday night.
The right winger took a feed from Sean Couturier just inside the Anaheim blue line and benefited from a defensive mixup before firing a wrist shot past John Gibson for his fourth goal of the season.
Simmonds, who scored two third-period goals as part of a hat trick in Philadelphia’s opening-night win, this time waited until extra time to deliver his second game-winner of the early season.
The Flyers (2-1-0) also received goals from Ivan Provorov and Couturier. Brian Elliott made 21 saves.
The win snapped Philadelphia’s eight-game losing streak against Anaheim with their last victory at Honda Center coming Dec. 2, 2011.
Antoine Vermette and Cam Fowler registered goals for Anaheim (1-0-1). Gibson made 34 saves.
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol knew that despite the Ducks being hit with significant injuries the game would be closely contested.
“This is a very hard building to get a point in,” Hakstol said. “I was not surprised about the effort Anaheim gave. When players go out, their replacements usually raise their level and we saw that tonight.”
Simmonds credited the depth of the Flyers’ roster for controlling the play in the third period and expects that to continue throughout the season.
“The first three games we’ve rolled four lines,” Simmonds said. “With all the guys that we have on this team that can skate and with the skill we have added, I think that helps us keep fresh for the third period.”
Despite the loss, the Ducks have begun the season with points in consecutive games for only the fourth time in franchise history. Though missing seven regulars, they battled back to even the game in the third period and took away a hard-earned point with the effort.
“We’ll take the point,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “It wasn’t a game we could say we played very well in. We had some spurts, but we really didn’t have the consistency going.”
Vermette said he knows his mission is to help keep the Ducks competitive in a more prominent role than usual as they wait for their injured starts to heal.
“It’s no secret, we are facing adversity early on,” Vermette said. “We don’t want to create any excuses for ourselves. We believe in our group and know what we are capable of. In order to be successful, we are going to have to dig in and be well structured, and work as a five-man group.”
The Flyers opened the scoring on Provorov’s goal at 8:19 of the first period. Just as a Philadelphia power play expired, Provorov took a feed from Nolan Patrick and one-timed a slap shot for the score. Jordan Weal registered the secondary assist.
Anaheim tied the score 1-1 on Vermette’s goal at 12:13 of the first period. With the teams playing four aside, Vermette was left alone to Elliott’s right and slapped home a pass from Ondrej Kase. The goal was Vermette’s 500th NHL point.
Philadelphia took a 2-1 lead on Couturier’s goal at 13:09 of the second period. Jake Voracek’s backhand pass at the goal line off a rush down the left wing found Couturier at Gibson’s doorstep for the score. Claude Giroux was credited with the additional assist.
Fowler evened the score at 2 with an unassisted short-handed goal at 3:40 of the third period. Fowler gained possession of the puck on a turnover by Giroux just inside the Anaheim blue line and sped off on a solo rush down the left side that ended with a slap shot to beat Elliott cleanly from 33 feet.
Philadelphia controlled play throughout the third period, outshooting Anaheim 15-4, but could not solve Gibson.
NOTES: Philadelphia scratched D Samuel Morin, C Jori Lehtera and D Brandon Manning. ... Ducks C Ryan Getzlaf was scratched again with a lower-body injury. The injury is not serious enough to place the center on injured reserve and so it’s hopeful he can make his season debut Monday against Calgary. ... Anaheim LW Nick Ritchie was a late scratch because of a lower-body injury. His status is day-to-day. LW Giovanni Fiore made his NHL debut in Ritchie’s spot ... In addition to Getzlaf and Ritchie, D Jaycob Megna did not dress for the Ducks.