They needed to stockpile points during a four-game homestand. It wouldn't be easy heading to Toronto and Winnipeg without some momentum.
Well, the Flyers closed out their homestand with a 4-3 matinee overtime victory Saturday against the Carolina Hurricanes, grabbing seven of eight possible points here at Wells Fargo Center.
Not too shabby as they head out for a six-game road trip.
“It was good and we talked about [it] beforehand,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We needed to. Now we head on the road. There was work to do here at home. Guys got work done.”
Danny Briere’s goal at 1:47 of OT prevented another dreaded shootout.
Taking a pass from Nick Grossmann into the zone, Briere cut from the left circle into the middle, looked to pass, then unleashed a quick shot that kissed a post, then bounced off goalie Cam Ward to end it.
“When I cut to the middle, my plan was to drop it,” Briere said. “Then I realized their defenseman stopped and the second defenseman or forward backchecking was lunging to go to Kurtis [Foster].
“So I decided to keep the puck. There was a little opening in the slot to shoot it.”
Twice the Flyers led, twice they lost the lead. Yet it ended well.
“It was an up-and-down game, not one of our best, but we got the result we wanted,” Briere said. “In the end, that’s what matters.
“It was frustrating to blow the lead in the third period, no doubt about it, and the last one didn’t go our way in the shootout so it was good to find a way [to win]. Even though they got a point, it’s what we got out of it.”
Carolina’s Joe Corvo made it a 3-3 game at 7:58 of the third period as the Flyers got caught running around their own end chasing a puck. His shot above the circle sailed high and likely off the 6-foot-5 Foster.
In welcoming back Wayne Simmonds after missing three games with a concussion, Laviolette changed up three lines while scratching Tommy Sestito, who scored both goals in the 2-1 win over Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
Simmonds replaced Tye McGinn on the top line with Briere and Claude Giroux. Oddly, they were not effective.
“Our line struggled, no doubt about it,” Briere said. “There’s going to be nights like that where it's just not going to go our way. Tonight was one of those nights. It wasn’t working -- we were turning the puck over coming out of our zone with the way they were pressuring us.
“We didn’t do a very good job as a unit but the other lines were playing extremely well, so that’s why it’s a team. Other players are there those other times to bail you out, but we will get back on track. It was just a bad game on our part. At the end though, we got the job done.”
For the second game in succession, the Flyers allowed an early goal.
It took only 17 seconds for Carolina to get three shots on Ilya Bryzgalov, with Jiri Tlusty scoring off a rebound on a play beginning with Sean Couturier losing a defensive draw to Eric Staal.
This was the only game during the homestand in which Bryzgalov (31 saves) looked “average.”
At 6:34 the Flyers caught a break when Tim Wallace boarded McGinn. Wallace drew a five-minute major (automatic game misconduct) instead of a deserved minor.
The Flyers would have had a full five-minute power play except Braydon Coburn picked up a roughing minor for going after Wallace.
“I haven’t seen it on replay,” said McGinn, who was not injured. “It was on my offside. I chipped the puck out and didn’t see the hit coming. Luckily, I’m all right.”
That call was followed by a Carolina tripping penalty setting up a 5-on-3 power play for 1:34, setting up a legit chance to swing the momentum back the Flyers’ direction. Instead, Ward had four saves.
Two other shots, from Kimmo Timonen and Giroux, clanged off the left post.
“It’s tough –- we hit the post twice and the looks were there,” Laviolette said. “The pipe got in the way. We continue to work at things and look at things. Try to get better at it.”
Still, the Flyers did even the score at 13:52. Brayden Schenn, sitting in the left slot, signaled for a puck and got it from Timonen to make it 1-1.
Schenn had a three-point game with a career-high plus-three rating, too.
“Yeah, it's always nice scoring goals and helping the team out,” Schenn said. “We can’t [always] rely on Giroux for him to score [all our] goals. I thought everyone played well for us and it's always nice to chip in.”
A rare turnover by Staal early in the second period saw Matt Read pocket his fifth goal. Staal’s clearing pass ricocheted off Mike Knuble’s skate directly onto on Read’s stick, surprising Ward -- who wasn’t ready for the quick shot -- for a 2-1 lead.
“This was huge,” Read said of the homestand, not his goal. “These four home games, we did well. We lost one point against Florida but to take seven of eight, you can’t complain.”
Midway in, 'Canes defenseman Jay Harrison pushed Zac Rinaldo into the stanchion at the “Coatesey box” between the two benches. Harrison got a roughing call but Rinaldo drew a strange embellishment call, setting up 4-on-4 hockey.
Jeff Skinner took a puck behind the Flyers' net, wheeled around and beat Bryzgalov short side to re-tie the game at 11:17.
That could have been a deflating way to finish the period but the Flyers got it back 15 seconds later.
There seems to be some chemistry developing between Schenn and Jakub Voracek. They’ve been linemates for most of five games now.
Voracek rushed the slot, caught Schenn’s pass perfectly on his stick for his third goal and a 3-2 Flyers lead.
Now it’s onto Toronto where the Leafs had 12 points going into Saturday and were the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference, partly due to the impressive play of ex-Flyer James van Riemsdyk (six goals, seven points).
“We wanted to find our identity,” Read said. “We don’t want to be homers, but we want to win every game at home and get as many points as we can while we’re at home.
“Getting seven of eight is good, but now we’ve got to find our legs and get it together on the road.”