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5 Observations: Noah Cates’ first career shorty leads Flyers past L.A.

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Noah Cates, Philadelphia Flyers.
Noah Cates, who scored the winning goal, battles the Kings' Alex Iaffalo for a loose puck. Photo: AP.

The Philadelphia Flyers, looking for a rare second win in a row, managed to do just that on New Year’s Eve.

Noah Cates scored a shorthanded goal with 6:59 left in the third period to give the visiting Flyers (13-17-7) a 4-2 victory Saturday. Philadelphia scored at even strength, on the power play, shorthanded, and into the empty net in the win.

The Kings (21-13-6) had their six-game point streak end.

Here are five quick observations:

1. Scott Laughton is catching fire offensively.

Laughton has been a Swiss Army knife type of player for the Flyers. He is used in various situations and plays up and down the lineup.

Offense hasn’t always been his strong suit, but he’s been picking up the points lately. With his power-play goal against the Kings, Laughton has six points in his last six games.

His goal came after the Flyers were forced into defending a five-on-three for nearly two minutes. Adrian Kempe gave L.A. the lead during the first penalty, but Laughton’s goal tied it less than three minutes later.

Of his eight goals, three have come via the power play. He is six goals away from setting a new career high.

2. The Flyers’ penalty kill contributes to offense and defense.

Philadelphia was called for four penalties in the first period. A few of them were pretty ticky-tack calls.

Despite giving up a goal on Cam York’s penalty, the Flyers didn’t allow the Kings to decide the game with special teams. Philadelphia came in with the 23rd-ranked PK. The Flyers finished 4 for 5 on the PK.

Noah Cates, having gone 20 games without a goal, scored the team’s seventh shorthanded goal of the season to give them a 3-2 lead in the third period.

“It was a big goal for him. He’s been good for us, all the little details of his game,” Laughton said. “To get a big goal there for us, it’s huge. And gotta continue rolling.”

It was a seeing-eye shot from the point with Patrick Brown setting the screen in front. Goalie Jonathan Quick didn’t see the puck until the last second. The Flyers found a way to exploit Quick, the three goals going high and over the shoulder of the veteran goaltender.

3. Owen Tippett sets a new career high in points.

Tippett’s 12th goal of the season tied the game at 2-2 with just over nine minutes to go in the second. He swerved between two Kings and used strong body control before sniping the puck over Quick’s shoulder.

“Tony (DeAngelo) made a great play bumping it back down to me,” Tippett said during the second intermission on NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I saw I had a little bit of room, and a good screen in front. Just had to put it on net.”

Assisting on Laughton’s goal as well, Tippett set a new career high of 20 points in his 32nd game of the season.

4. Sam Ersson with another strong effort.

With Carter Hart remaining on IR, Ersson was given the start in his third consecutive game. He had to make a lot of saves in tight and came up big for the Flyers in high-pressure situations.

The Kings swarmed the zone early and often during the third period. Ersson had to make a handful of saves, including three consecutive stops in a three-second span.

“I think he’s shown his mind as far as how he can handle himself in a very important position for this team,” coach John Tortorella said. “So good for him. He’s played very well.”

Ersson finished with 27 saves on 29 shots.

5. Flyers win consecutive games for the first time in almost two months

The Philadelphia Flyers had not been able to piece together consecutive wins since Nov. 5 and Nov. 8.

Until their last two games.

After coming back to win in overtime against the Sharks, Philadelphia used Cates’ shorthanded goal to win back-to-back games to end the 2022 calendar year.

Breakaways

DeAngelo has a four-game point streak. … Travis Konecny’s scored in his third straight game. He has nine points in his last five games. … The Flyers won their league-leading 10th game after giving up the first goal. … The Philadelphia Flyers will finish their West Coast trip Monday against the Anaheim Ducks.

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