Canucks’ Boeser comes back to bite Hakstol, Flyers
PHILADELPHIA — Playing against the coach who recruited him to play in college, Brock Boeser looked like a bona fide rookie-of-the-year candidate Tuesday night, scoring a pair of goals and leading the Vancouver Canucks to a 5-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Boeser, 20, was recruited by Flyers coach Dave Hakstol to play for the University of North Dakota. By the time Boeser arrived, Hakstol had already left to coach the Flyers.
“He might not be happy about it now,” Boeser said after taking over the team lead with his eighth and ninth goals of the season. “Personally, I like to set goals high and try to achieve those goals.”
After Boeser spent two years at North Dakota, the Canucks took him with the 23rd overall pick of the 2015 draft. He is off to a strong start, leading the Canucks with 19 points, one behind rookie scoring leader Clayton Keller of the Arizona Coyotes.
“His shot is unreal,” said Daniel Sedin, who added a goal and an assist to move within four points of the 1,000-point mark. “His smartness on the power play and in the offensive zone, he finds a way to get the puck to the net.”
Vancouver’s Sven Baertschi also picked up his eighth goal of the season, and Loui Eriksson added an empty-net goal and an assist.
Goaltender Jacob Markstrom turned aside 36 shots to earn his sixth victory of the season for the Canucks (10-8-3), who won for just the second time in six games.
Defenseman Ivan Provorov and right winger Jakub Voracek netted goals for the Flyers (8-9-4), who lost for the fifth straight time. Philadelphia fell below the NHL’s version of a .500 record for the first time this season.
“Right now we’re a frustrated team,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “We need to get out of this and we’ll be fine. It’s just we’re going through a tough stretch right now. We need to figure out our stuff and start winning again.”
Goaltender Michal Neuvirth took the loss for the Flyers. He surrendered four goals on 22 shots before being replaced by Brian Elliott with 5:20 remaining in the second period. Elliott stopped all 13 shots he faced.
“Fairly or unfairly, somewhere we need a save from our goaltender,” Hakstol said. “That one is on me. I should have done that after the third goal. Once it gets to 4-1 it’s hard to dig out of that hole.”
Vancouver entered the game ranked 26th in goals per game (2.55) but scored three goals — two of them by Boeser — on their first 11 shots to take a 3-1 lead early in the second period.
The Flyers opened the scoring when Provorov’s shot from the left point caromed off the arm of Canucks defenseman Alex Biega and past Markstrom. The goal was Provorov’s fourth of the season and second in as many games.
Daniel Sedin tied the score less than two minutes later when he beat Neuvirth off the back of his pad on a breakaway, giving him his fourth goal of the season and 995th NHL point.
Boeser gave the Canucks a 2-1 lead midway through the period and made it 3-1 with a power-play strike assisted by Daniel Sedin, who said he’s trying not to focus on reaching 1,000 points.
“When you start to do that it’s going to be in the back of your head and you’re going to change your game,” Sedin said. “Hopefully, it’s sooner rather than later.”
Baertschi made it 4-1 with the Canucks’ second power-play goal of the night, sending Neuvirth to the bench in favor of Elliott.
The Flyers got to within 4-2 when Voracek scored his sixth goal of the season with 10:04 remaining in the third period, but the Canucks wrapped it up with Eriksson’s empty-netter in the closing seconds.
NOTES: Canucks RW Derek Dorsett returned to Vancouver on Tuesday to be evaluated by the team’s medical staff for stiffness in his back and neck. Dorsett, 30, underwent a cervical fusion procedure last year that limited him to 14 games last season. ... With Dorsett unavailable, LW Brendan Gaunce played on a fourth line with C Brandon Sutter and RW Sam Gagner. ... Flyers D Radko Gudas served the second game of his 10-game suspension for slashing Vancouver Canucks C Mathieu Perreault in the back of the neck. Veteran AHL D Mark Alt took his spot in the lineup. ... LW Jordan Weal was promoted to the Flyers’ second line, where he played alongside rookie C Nolan Patrick and RW Wayne Simmonds.