Flyers top Canucks for third straight win
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — What they were doing wasn’t working so the Philadelphia Flyers made some adjustments to how they played.
Judging by the results of a three-game swing through Western Canada, the Flyers might have found a formula to help turn their season around.
Shayne Gostisbehere and Claude Giroux scored a goal and added an assist each as the Flyers defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 Thursday night to extend their winning streak to three games.
Combined with victories at Calgary on Monday and at Edmonton on Wednesday, the Flyers have their longest winning streak of the season and have climbed to within six points of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Prior to the road trip, Philadelphia had lost 10 consecutive games (0-5-5).
“Obviously something had to change,” said Gostisbehere, who scored his fourth goal of the season.
Gostisbehere said the Flyers have adapted a more passive system, allowing teams to come to them. They are content to sit back in the neutral zone and not force the play. It’s a system that helps simplify things and reduce mistakes.
“It’s good to see if our team makes a couple of adjustments we can adapt to it and it’s working,” he said. “We know it’s not going to go perfect the rest of the season but it’s just a matter of us bearing down and sticking with it and staying together as a team.
“It really showed the character of our team.”
After a rough start, Giroux said the Flyers are starting to feel good about themselves again.
“It’s good for our confidence,” he said. “We changed a couple things how we want to play and our identity as a team. Everybody has bought into it.
“It makes it a lot more fun.”
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said it’s the players, not the system, that has turned things around.
“The little tweaks and changes we made, that’s not the difference maker,” he said. “It’s the players.
“They all stuck together and kept working hard and believing in themselves and each other.”
Michael Raffl and Wayne Simmonds, into an empty net, also scored for the Flyers (11-11-7). Jakub Voracek continued his hot streak with three assists, giving him 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 11 games.
Brock Boeser scored for the Canucks (14-11-4), who saw their three-game win streak end.
The Flyers started slowly and gave up the first nine shots of the game. The Canucks had several great scoring chances, but Philadelphia got some key stops from goaltender Brian Elliott. He made 35 saves for his 200th NHL victory.
“We were a little slow out of the gate and they came out pretty hard,” said Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald. “He made some crucial saves early that really let us calm down.”
Elliott, playing his second game in as many nights, knew the Canucks would try to pressure the Flyers early.
“We knew they come out hot here and you have to weather that storm, especially on a back-to-back,” he said. “I thought we did a great job.
“They brought it and we weathered it and moved on.”
Two of the Flyers’ goals came on power plays. Philadelphia took control of the game in the second period, scoring twice for a 3-1 lead.
Raffl put the Canucks on their heels, scoring just 45 seconds into the period. It was his third goal in as many games.
Vancouver’s Sam Gagner said the game might have been different if the Canucks had scored early.
“I think we were carrying the play for the better portion of the first period,” he said. “We have to find a way to put one in.
“I think for the most part we played a good hockey game and probably deserved a better fate. We didn’t get it. We know we have to bounce back the next game.”
The Canucks gave the Flyers six power-play chances.
“That’s too many,” said goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who finished with 22 saves. “They have a good power play and they scored goals. When you give them chances, they ended up scoring.”
NOTES: Canucks C Bo Horvat could miss six weeks with a fractured right foot sustained Tuesday in a win over Carolina. C Alexander Burmistrov, a healthy scratch in 10 of the previous 13 games, took Horvat’s spot on the first line. ... After the game, the Canucks announced they traded D Jordan Subban to Los Angeles for RW Nic Dowd. ... Vancouver scratched C Michael Chaput and G Thatcher Demko, who both were called up from the AHL Utica Comets, and D Alex Biega. ... The Flyers went 7:26 of the first period before registering a shot on net, then had seven shots during their first power play. ... Flyers D Radko Gudas sat out the final game of his 10-game suspension. He is expected to return to the lineup Tuesday against Toronto. ... The Flyers won’t have another road trip of more than two games until late March. ... Scratches for Philadelphia were D T.J. Brennan and C Jori Lehtera.