VANCOUVER, British Columbia — With the help of the power play, the Flyers swept their Western Canada road trip for the first time since 2013, beating the Vancouver Canucks, 4-1, at Rogers Arena.
Michael Raffl scored for the fifth time in his last eight games and the Flyers' power play converted twice for the first time since Oct. 10 in Nashville — a span of 25 games.
The Flyers also snapped the Canucks' three-game winning streak.
Brian Elliott started and won all three games on the road trip, stopping 36 of 37 shots against Vancouver.
Jakub Voracek added three more assists and now leads the NHL with 30 helpers this season, one better than Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos and Winnipeg’s Blake Wheeler.
The Flyers and Canucks split their season series after Vancouver took the previous meeting, 5-2, at the Wells Fargo Center on Nov. 21.
• Jordan Weal picked up the game’s first penalty on a slashing call, which wasn’t really much of a slash. Weal actually held out his stick as Alexander Burmistrov skated by.
• There was bad coverage on the Flyers' ensuing PK, with both defensemen guarding the post looking for the pass. Markus Granlund was left all alone in front of Elliott with a point-blank shot.
• The Flyers had trouble in the opening seven minutes gaining any traction in the offensive zone. At one point, the Canucks held a 9-0 advantage in shots as the Flyers looked like a team playing its third game in four nights.
• Through the first 10 minutes of the game, I really liked the way Shayne Gostisbehere looked, stepping up into passing lanes, breaking up plays. He displayed good 1-on-1 defense and looked confident with the puck.
• Sean Couturier drew the Flyers' first penalty — a hooking call on Alexander Edler. Along with Wayne Simmonds, both players worked hard below the goal line, outworking the opponent. The Flyers finally seemed to have some energy after playing back on their heels in the first eight minutes of the game.
• Later in the first period, Gostisbehere gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead after ripping a slap shot from the point that deflected off Sam Gagner’s stick and pass Jacob Markstrom, who had no shot once it hit Gagner’s stick.
• Voracek then had a pair of good looks. First was to a cutting Raffl that Markstrom had to reach out with his glove to make the save. The second came with Valtteri Filppula stationed in front of the crease. That second line has played well for Dave Hakstol since he made the change in Calgary.
• The third power-play opportunity was completely ineffective, as the Flyers failed to generate a shot on Markstrom. The only attempted shot came when Claude Giroux had a nice look inside to Couturier, who fired over the net. Shots were 15-12 Canucks after one period following a sluggish start by the Flyers. Their best player in the first was Brian Elliott by far — he made some key saves throughout.
• The Flyers grabbed a 2-0 lead when Voracek tried to dump the puck in and it deflected off Raffl in the neutral zone. Once they crossed the blue line, Raffl worked a nice give-and-go with Voracek and slid underneath Loui Eriksson, who had bad defensive coverage on the play.
“I’ve been working real hard the whole year,” Raffl said after the second period. “I had a tough stretch the first 20 games or so, but I had scoring chances and as long as you get scoring chances during a game, you shouldn’t change much. All you need is one goal to get your confidence up a little bit and that’s what’s happening right now.”
• The Canucks got the matchup they wanted with the Sedins out there against the Nolan Patrick line and the Flyers' third defense pairing, but credit Mark Alt for taking Daniel Sedin with the body and tangling up their sticks behind the net. Alt has looked very good in the two games he’s recently played. I like the manner in which he challenges shooters/puck-handlers in the offensive zone. He doesn’t sit back.
• In the second period, Giroux uncorked that patented one-time blast from the left circle, giving the Flyers a 3-0 lead.
• Floating around the blue line, former Flyer Gagner skated in uncontested only to take a shot that had a better chance of hitting me in the press box than it did of beating Elliott.
• Tough shift for Alt at the end of the second period. He got caught at the tail end of a shift and couldn’t get off for a change. Elliott wasn’t able to corral the rebound with Sven Baertschi along with Brock Boeser crashing the net. Boeser wristed a shot past Elliott and it was a painful goal to give up in the final minute of the second period.
• Not sure what Hakstol was looking at when he decided to challenge the goal for goaltender interference, but there was nothing that remotely indicated interference.
• Simmonds iced things with his second empty-netter in as many games. He has now tallied a marker in three straight contests.
Lineups, pairings and scratches
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Wayne Simmonds
Michael Raffl-Valtteri Filppula-Jakub Voracek
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Dale Weise
Jordan Weal-Nolan Patrick-Travis Konecny
Ivan Provorov-Andrew MacDonald
Shayne Gostisbehere-Robert Hagg
Travis Sanheim-Mark Alt
Scratches: Forward Jori Lehtera (healthy), and defensemen TJ Brennan (healthy) and Radko Gudas (suspended).