PHILADELPHIA – So, this is what a winning streak feels like?
And for the Flyers, it feels pretty good right now.
Three wins in a row. Four straight games registering at least a point. Each game more impressive than the last.
Wednesday was no different. The Flyers closed out a productive homestand with a 5-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens, a game in which they had to forge a gritty, third period comeback for the second straight game.
The Flyers got goals from throughout the lineup and played really strong defense – especially in the second and third periods and in the process climbed within four points of a playoff spot with 12 games to play.
They finished the homestand 3-1-1 and now head out on a crucial three-game road trip starting in Toronto tonight and going through Winnipeg Saturday before wrapping up on Long Island Tuesday.
“We won’t give up,” said Sean Couturier, who snapped a 28-game drought without a goal, scoring the first Flyers marker against the Habs. “We still have a chance and if we keep winning we’ll be right back in the mix. We can only control what we can control by us winning games. We can’t focus too much on what’s going on around the league.
“We got to make our own destiny and we still have a chance so it’s good for us.”
What was really good for the Flyers was their defensive effort considering what they are playing with on the blue line.
But the Flyers got a second straight solid effort from recently acquired Kent Huskins and for the third straight game Oliver Lauridsen didn’t look out of place and picked up his first career point with an assist on the Flyers second goal by Simon Gagne.
Add into the mix Bruno Gervais, who made a perfect pass to Wayne Simmonds for the tying goal and then Erik Gustafsson, who scored the game-winner thanks to his patience and vision and the Flyers rearguards had a solid night – limiting the Canadiens to just six shots over the final two periods.
“I thought our guys did a terrific job in the second and third period,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We [fixed] things up defensively after the first and we were able to generate a lot more in the second and third so it was good. When you start throwing pucks in and attempts it’s good to see some results from it.
“I really liked our second period… [and] I think just to come out in the third period and continue to push the way we have is a real positive sign for our group.”
After allowing the first goal, Couturier finally caught a break and scored with a shot that caromed off a stick, off goalie Carey Price and finally off the leg of defenseman P.K. Subban to tie the score.
“It’s good for the confidence to get the monkey off the back,” Couturier said. “It’s been awhile and it’s nice to find the back of the net.”
But Couturier’s game has been coming along of late, and Laviolette pointed that out after the win.
“I think Sean, not only tonight, but I think his last three games have been real good,” Laviolette said. “He’s put a string together now of four games where he’s played well, he’s been strong defensively and it is good when you get something offensively you get a little more confidence from that and more good games in a row now.”
Gagne briefly gave the Flyers a lead in the second period when Lauridsen’s shot went wide of the net but banked right to Gagne on the other side of the net.
But the Habs answered with two goals in 20 seconds, forcing the Flyers to embark on another third period comeback.
But they were up to the task again, and Gervais fired a shot toward the goal that Simmonds redirected twice – first with his stick and then his skate, past Carey Price to tie the game 3-3 with 5:06 to play.
Read whiffed at the puck, but it hit Canadiens defenseman Francois Boullion on the leg and went into the net, giving the Flyers the lead.
Jake Voraceck added an empty netter in the final minute, and the Flyers had officially gone streaking.
“We called ourselves the comeback kids last year and we are kind of back on that same page,” Read said. “You play with confidence and when you're down one or two goals you just fight back and it's another comeback.
“The comeback kids win again tonight. So hopefully we're not down the next couple games going into the third but we just got to keep playing, play a full 60, and ride this wave that we're on.”
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