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5 Takeaways: Cates, Lemieux Shine as Flyers Snap Skid

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Noah Cates
Rookie center Noah Cates scored his 10th goal of the season to give the Flyers the lead for good in a 3-1 win over Detroit. Photo: AP.

The Philadelphia Flyers came out shooting on Sunday evening at the Wells Fargo Center. The Detroit Red Wings may be falling out of playoff contention, but they played a solid game, too.

When Scott Laughton scored an empty netter in his 500th game, it secured a 3-1 win, ending the Philadelphia Flyers’ four-game winless streak.

The Flyers improved to 24-28-11. Detroit (28-26-9) suffered its sixth straight loss.

“Other than the first five minutes of the second period, I thought we were good. I thought we had some grind to our game,” coach John Tortorella said. “I just felt we had the puck more. … Didn’t develop a lot of offense, but we spent some time in their end.”

The matchup got testy midway through the third period. There was a lot of after-the-whistle action. Brendan Lemieux, was in the middle of things. In his Flyers debut, he added some speed and toughness.

Here are five takeaways:

1. Noah Cates’ big shift turns into Flyers’ second goal.

Flyers defenseman Nick Seeler got a nice shot on goal, and Cates skillfully deflected the puck into the net, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 12:57 of the second period.

Cates, who scored his 10th goal, kept the puck alive, and it eventually turned into the winning score. Rasmus Ristolainen (plus-3) and Seeler got the helpers. Cates is ranked 10th in rookie goal-scoring this season.

The center made a great stick block on defense to keep the game at 2-1 with less than six minutes to play in the game.

“We thought we had a good first, but obviously went in there with a deficit,” Cates said about the Flyers falling into a 1-0 hole. “But we knew if we were smart in the second, had good changes, got pucks deep, we knew what we could do against this team.”

2. The Flyers’ penalty kill has dropped to 24th in the NHL, but second in short-handed goals with 11.

The Red Wings got their first power play of the game at 12:56 of the second period. Seeler was called for hooking. But Lemieux made a good wall play, and  Nick Deslauriers stole the puck and moved up the ice and put it past Ville Husso, glove side. That made it a 1-1 game at 6:53.

“The funny part is, I’m not here to score goals, but when I do, the guys are pumped,” Deslauriers said. “When I go to the bench to touch hands, they are all laughing. It’s great.”

It was his fifth goal of the season, a short-handed, unassisted tally. It was also the third shortie of his career.

3. Lemieux had a strong game.

Lemieux, 26, acquired as part of the deal that sent Zack MacEwen to Los Angeles at the deadline, set a tone with speed and toughness. He knocked down Detroit defenseman, Mortiz Seider in the second period. Seider is 6-4, 204 pounds.

The winger played briefly on the penalty kill as well.

“I love it. I’ve always wanted to play in Philly,” Lemieux said. “It’s a huge sports town. It’s close to New York, I mean, I spent a lot of time there and grew to love it. I love being on the East Coast, and obviously, this is a special franchise that has grown accustomed to players that play similar to the way I do.”

He said he has “emulated a lot of things in a Flyers jersey.  I love playing here so far.”

In his Flyers debut, he finished plus-3 with five hits.

4. Tanner Laczynski was back for his first game since Dec. 5.

Laczynski had a nice shot on goal early in the first period. His skating looked good. He took a shot that Joe Veleno blocked and had a breakaway on Carter Hart. The 24-year-old goalie stopped the shot late in the first period.

Laczynski can make the most of the last 19 games.

5. Ivan Provorov and Morgan Frost were responsible for the David Perron goal.

Provorov went too far into the offensive zone, and a pass from Frost was picked off by Detroit’s Andrew Copp. He got the puck to David Perron and he shot it five-hole past Hart. The Red Wings were up 1-0 at 4:51 of the first period.

It was an error by both Flyers players, but Philly overcame the miscues.

Breakaways

Hart played in his career-high 46th game and stopped 25 of 26 shots. … Ristolainen had an assist and four hits. … The Flyers’ game plan was to shoot a lot of pucks. They outshot the Red Wings, 37-26. … Former Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Robert Hagg played for the Red Wings and had three hits and three blocked shots in 16:40. He had an “even” rating. … Wade Allison had a game-high seven hits. … Joel Farabee, who had four shots and several quality chances Sunday, hasn’t scored in 22 straight games. … Laughton became the 19th player in franchise history to play his first 500 games with the Flyers. … On Tuesday, the Flyers play in Tampa, which was trounced by Carolina on Sunday, 6-0.

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