The Philadelphia Flyers finally found a way to win their first road game since the calendar flipped to 2022.
Travis Konecny scored a pair of goals and Hayden Hodgson had a goal and an assist in his NHL debut as the Flyers outlasted the St. Louis Blues, 5-2, on Thursday night.
“It’s unbelievable. I can’t describe it,” Hodgson said of his debut and having his parents in the arena. “It’s surreal.”
It was the Flyers’ first road victory since Dec. 29 in Seattle. They had lost 13 in a row on the road.
“I’d say we were due, that’s for sure,” interim coach Mike Yeo said. “But, you know, especially considering we played a lot of really good road games, we just haven’t gotten wins.”
Martin Jones stopped 26 of 28 shots for the Flyers (21-32-11).
The trip, which started with a loss at beatable Detroit, finishes with games against heavyweights Colorado (Friday), Nashville (Sunday), and Minnesota (Tuesday).
St. Louis (35-19-9) is also a heavyweight.
Here are some observations from the victory:
1. What a memorable night for Hayden Hodgson.
The Flyers were being thoroughly outplayed in the third period, but they increased their lead to 4-2 on one of their few scoring chances in the stanza.
Hodgson, in his NHL debut, did the honors as he scored on a rebound with 8:26 left.
The winger was in the ECHL last year, so it was a big deal to see him reach the NHL.
Call him a study in perseverance.
Hodgson, 26, has good size and plays with an edge, which was needed against a physical team like St. Louis.
Earlier in the game, the 6-foot-2, 208-pounder collected his first NHL point when he assisted on Konecny’s first goal. He finished the night with two points, four hits, and a plus-3 rating in 16:23 of ice time.
“I don’t know if you can draw it up any better,” Yeo said of Hodgson’s debut.
Hodgson was having a terrific season with the Phantoms (18 goals, 29 points in 44 games) before signing an NHL contract and being promoted to the Flyers. Yeo gave credit to Lehigh Valley coach Ian Laperriere for his persistence in pushing for Hodgson to be recalled.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) March 25, 2022
2. If anyone deserved a goal (or two), it was Travis Konecny.
For the last four or five weeks, the Flyers’ right winger has been at his kinetic best. He has been collecting assists at an eye-opening rate and frequently firing the most shots among Flyers.
But he had truly been snakebitten.
Until Thursday, when he had his first two-goal game of the season.
Konecny, 25, scored off the rush early in the first period, whipping a shot past Jordan Binnington from the left circle to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead after 6:37. “I wasn’t expecting it to go in from out there,” Konecny said.
He added his second of the night as his one-timer trickled through a shaky Binnington to put the Flyers ahead, 3-1, with 7:56 to go in the second.
Before Thursday, Konecny hadn’t scored a goal in his last six games. He now has 12 goals.
“I need to get into a shot mentality, and I think it’s coming,” he said.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) March 25, 2022
3. Good idea to give Joel Farabee a long look at center Thursday.
The last five weeks of the season are for experimenting, and maybe, just maybe, finding something that will help next season.
So trying Farabee in the middle makes a lot of sense.
Farabee, a natural left winger, played some shifts at center in Tuesday’s 6-3 loss in Detroit. On Thursday, his primary position was center as he was used between wingers James van Riemsdyk and Cam Atkinson.
He again looked comfortable in the middle, and he iced the win with an empty-net goal. He had a game-high five shots, but was just 2 for 8 on faceoffs. That will get better in time.
The Flyers thought center Scott Laughton (concussion) might be back during this road trip, but that has been pushed back. There’s still a chance Nate Thompson, who had shoulder surgery in November, returns during the trip.
Yeo also experimented by giving Morgan Frost and Konecny time on the penalty kill,
4. The Flyers couldn’t get their special teams clicking. Again.
Vladimir Tarasenko got the Blues to within 2-1 with a power-play goal with 18:13 left in the second. Earlier in the PP, Martin Jones robbed Tarasenko, but he quickly found the range a short time later.
You want the biggest reason why the Flyers took a 13-game road losing streak into the game?
Try this: Entering the night, Philly’s PP was 5 for 40 during its 13-game road skid. Opponents were 16 for 38 on the PP during that span. The Flyers went 0 for 4 on the PP Thursday, while St. Louis was 1 for 3.
The special teams’ numbers need to change if the Flyers are going to have a productive trip.
5. St. Louis didn’t look like itself.
Were the Blues looking past the lowly Philadelphia Flyers and ahead to their showdown Saturday with powerful Carolina?
St. Louis didn’t looked interested in the first period and it took about 11 minutes before it managed its first shot.
“The work ethic wasn’t there,” Blues defenseman Justin Faulk said.
That said, it shouldn’t take away from the Flyers’ hard-working effort and their smart handling of the puck. The Flyers had just four giveaways, and they had a 14-8 advantage in takeaways.
Kevin Hayes had a pair of primary assists; he has 11 points in 10 games since returning from a groin injury. … David Perron’s seven-game goal streak ended for St. Louis. … Jones’ turnover behind his net led to Alexei Toropchenko’s goal, getting the Blues within 3-2 with four minutes remaining in the second. … Patrick Brown scored on a rebound to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead with 5:09 left in the first. Frost and Owen Tippett had the helpers as the Flyers took a lead into the second period for just the seventh time in the last 32 games. … Tippett, acquired in the Claude Giroux trade, and Kevin Connauton had their first points with the Flyers. … Shortly after the Blues got to within 2-1, Jones stopped Brandon Saad on a breakaway.