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Philadelphia Flyers

5 Takeaways: Flyers, Hart Blank Jets; Stellar Team Effort

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Noah Cates, Philadelphia Flyers
Noah Cates, shown in a file photo, had a two point game in the Flyers' 4-0 win Saturday in Winnipeg. Photo: AP.

The Philadelphia Flyers gave up three first-period goals against the Winnipeg Jets in the teams’ previous meeting.

That didn’t happen this time.

The Flyers came into Saturday night’s game with three straight losses. The skid ended as they played one of their best all-around games of the season.

Philly featured timely scoring, a heavy forecheck, and some great goaltending by Carter Hart in a 4-0 win over the host Winnipeg Jets. 

Hart made 40 saves, recording his first shutout of the season and fourth in his career. 

It was a great way to head into the NHL’s All-Star break. The Flyers (21-21-9), who are six points out of a playoff spot, don’t play again until Feb. 6 against the visiting Islanders.  

Here are my five observations:

1. Owen Tippett had an important multi-point game.

Tippett was sprung for a breakaway off a nice pass from a red-hot Rasmus Ristolainen and buried the puck for his 14th goal of the season. That gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 3-0 third-period lead.

Ristolainen, who had a pair of assists, had no points in his first 27 games — and two points in his first 37 contests. The 6-foot-4 defenseman has seven points in his last seven games.

“It was a very poor start, but in the last few months my game has gotten better and better,” said Ristolainen, whose team avenged Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Jets.  “… I’m more of a defensive-minded ‘D,’ and take care of our net first, and the puck has been bouncing better for me lately.”

Tippett’s goal gave the Flyers a three-goal cushion at 3:11 into the third period. He ended an eight-game goalless drought. About 3 1/2 minutes later, Scott Laughton and Tony DeAngelo worked a two-on-one to perfection. DeAngelo found the twine to make it 4-0. It was his ninth on the season.

Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck was pulled from the game at that point.

2. Kieffer Bellows finally scored for the Flyers.

Bellows got his first goal as a member of the Flyers at 11:53 of the second period to give his team a 2-0 lead. It was his first game with the Flyers since Dec. 17.

His hard work in the first period paid off and created scoring chances. He got an opportunity to play because of injuries to Wade Allison and Zack MacEwen.

In the second period, Bellows, playing in his 13th game for the Flyers this season, whipped a nice wrist shot high into the net off a pass from Noah Cates, who had two points on the evening.

3. The bad language from the bench didn’t cost them.

When Flyers defenseman Cam York was tripped around the 16-minute mark of the opening period, the call was missed. But the Flyers said something from the bench and got the unsportsmanlike penalty called. Something was apparently said by Joel Farabee, and Winnipeg (31-19-1) got its first power play.

Hart made two big saves early, including one on Kyle Connor in the crease. The Flyers killed off the chance and took a 1-0 lead into the locker room.

4. The Flyers scored four seconds after the power play expired.

Cates (two points, plus-3) got a nice goal at 15:15 of the first period. He beat Hellebuyck after following his own rebound.  The Flyers were up 1-0. Morgan Frost made a very patient pass to set up the scoring chance.

Tippett got an assist on the play as well. Cates, who scored his eighth of the season, played his college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth. That’s not too far from Winnipeg, and fans in that area have watched him play for years.

“It’s huge going into the break into the win. … We’ve had our backs against the wall. This is huge. We should feel good about ourselves,” Noah Cates told NBC Sports Philadelphia.

5. Carter Hart was superb.

The 24-year-old goalie made the most saves in any of his four career shutouts. He is now 4-0 with a a 1.15 GAA and .965 save percentage against Winnipeg.

Hart came up big while Winnipeg was on its three power plays. The Flyers’ penalty kill was 8 for 8, total, in two games against the Jets this season.

Breakaways

The Flyers played seven defensemen and rotated the centers to even things out. They dressed 11 forwards. … Philadelphia has points in its last three games. … DeAngelo had seven shots and was plus-2. … Jets coach, Rick Bowness tore into his team in the second period because of mediocre play and the Jets did respond with some chances that Hart turned aside. … Ristolainen now has nine points on the season, considering his slow start, that’s progress. …The Flyers are 7-1-1 in their last nine road games.

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