Both teams are playing below expectations, both teams have interim coaches trying to turn things around, both teams are probably extremely happy to have some time off because of the All-Star break.
Meet the Philadelphia Flyers and Winnipeg Jets, teams that played before a predictably sparse crowd Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Flyers 3, Winnipeg 1.
For the first time since late December, the Flyers (15-22-8) have won two straight — after a 13-game winless streak.
The Jets (18-17-7) lost for the seventh time in their last eight games.
Thank you, All-Star break.
But at least the Flyers go into the break feeling good about themselves, thanks to Carter Hart’s strong goaltending, James van Riemsdyk’s timely goal, and Scott Laughton’s relentless play.
Van Riemsdyk, on his seventh shot of the night, scored on a rebound after a two-on-one shot by Laughton was denied by Connor Hellebuyck. That snapped a 1-1 tie with 4:09 remaining.
An improving Oskar Lindblom (five shots) added an empty-net goal.
The Flyers don’t play again until Feb. 9 against visiting Detroit; the Jets are off until next Tuesday against Minnesota.
Hart, who allowed a goal on the game’s first shot and then stopped the last 32, said the break will help the team.
“I think it’ll be good for us to kind of step away from the game a little bit and reset and come back fresh,” he said after the Flyers’ first regulation victory since Dec. 14. “It’ll kind of allow the guys with injuries a little bit of extra time to recover, and hopefully we’ll get them back soon.”
When they resume their schedule, center/winger Derick Brassard is expected to return to the Flyers’ lineup after missing the last 11 games with a hip injury. Center Peter Brown (sprained MCL) may also be back right after the break, and left winger Joel Farabee is making progress. Farabee, who has a shoulder injury, has been skating. “My best guess would be a couple weeks, (maybe) two or three weeks, but I’m not sure on that yet,” interim coach Mike Yeo said.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) February 2, 2022
With his team facing a 1-0 deficit, Hart kept the Flyers within striking distance by stopping 17 consecutive shots through the first half of the game, including a power-play one-timer by Kyle Connor with 11:56 left in the second period, and a two-on-none attempt by Blake Wheeler less than two minutes later.
“He was awesome,” Yeo said of Hart. “One of the things we kind of touched on after the game and have been really trying to stress is when the other team scores first, stay within your game and give yourself and opportunity to climb back into it. That doesn’t happen without Carter.”
Those key second-period saves, and Travis Konecny’s eighth goal enabled the Flyers to knot the score at 1-1 with 9:18 to go in the second. Konecny stole a clearing attempt in the Jets’ defensive end and whipped a left-circle wrist shot high to the glove side as Hellebuyck seemed surprised by the drive.
It was Konecny’s third goal in his last eight games, and it came at a key point.
Just 48 seconds into the game, wide-open left winger Connor, an All-Star selection, gave the Jets a 1-0 lead when he took a feed from rookie Cole Perfetti and scored on a one-timer from just above the right circle. It was his 25th goal and sixth in his last nine games.
The Flyers, coming off a 4-3 win over Los Angeles that snapped their 13-game winless streak, had a sporadic attack in the opening period, one in which Hellebuyck made nice point-blank stops on Claude Giroux and van Riemsdyk. JVR finished with seven shots, including the game-winning goal.
It was just the Flyers’ third win in 25 games (3-19-3) when they allowed the first goal
“We’ve been doing a better job lately of just sticking with it and not letting things snowball when things start to get bad,” van Riemsdyk said.
“I feel there’s a lot of progress,” Yeo said of the Flyers’ improved play in recent games, “and I still know there’s a long way to go for us.”
The Flyers have nine straight home victories against Winnipeg, which hasn’t won at the Wells Fargo Center in 10 seasons. The Flyers’ last home loss to to the Jets was a 9-8 decision early in the 2011-12 season. … Giroux played in his 700th game as the Flyers’ captain, an ongoing record for the franchise. Since becoming the captain in 2013, he has 650 points, sixth in the NHL in that span. … The Flyers’ power play was 0 for 4 and had 11 shots; they are 1 for 16 in their last six games. … Rasmus Ristolainen had six hits. … New assistant coach John Torchetti made his debut with the Flyers. … The AHL’s Phantoms have points in 14 of their last 17 games (11-3-3). After playing at Bridgeport on Wednesday, the Phantoms are home Friday against Providence (7 p.m.) and Saturday against Hartford at 5 p.m. … The Phantoms’ Linus Sandin, who made his NHL debut with the Flyers on Jan. 25 before returning to Lehigh Valley, has four points (goal, three assists) over his last three games. … The Phantoms have had 11 players play for the Flyers this season: Sandin, Wade Allison, Connor Bunnaman, Jackson Cates, Morgan Frost, Gerry Mayhew, Isaac Ratcliffe, Felix Sandstrom, Max Willman, Cam York, and Egor Zamula.