Corey Crawford

Flyers-Blackhawks observations: Home streak vs. Chicago continues

Flyers-Blackhawks observations: Home streak vs. Chicago continues

BOX SCORE

The streak lives on.

The Flyers continued their dominance over the Blackhawks by beating Chicago, 3-1, at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. The victory was their 14th consecutive regular-season home win in the series. The Blackhawks' last non-playoff win in Philadelphia came exactly 21 years ago to the day: Nov. 9, 1996.

The Flyers’ top line did the damage with Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier all scoring goals.

Brian Elliott won for the sixth time in 10 starts as he stopped 38 of 39 shots.

• Much of the final 35 minutes were played in the Flyers’ end following the 3-0 lead. The ‘Hawks outshot the Flyers, 26-15, while applying constant pressure. Chicago just couldn’t rattle Elliott, who turned in a similar effort to Corey Crawford when these two teams played in Chicago eight days ago. 

• The Flyers were forced to kill off 1:44 of a 5-on-3 when Radko Gudas went off for tripping and then Ivan Provorov lofted the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. The Flyers successfully killed off the two-man advantage with Chicago’s best scoring chance coming on a Duncan Keith wrist shot between the circles when Keith shot over the net. The Blackhawks were able to manage just one shot on net during that stretch. 

• Impressively, defenseman Robert Hagg was on the ice for 1:40 of that penalty kill. I couldn’t care less what Hagg’s Corsi numbers look like, he’s been an invaluable part of this defense.

• Elliott doesn’t usually make the highlight-reel save, but he was locked in against the Blackhawks. Elliott made a series of blocker saves in the opening period, and then had a gem when he robbed Brandon Saad with the glove. In the third, he denied Patrick Kane from close range and Saad once again. Elliott cut down just about every angle and his positioning was square to nearly every puck.  

• Matching top line against top line, the Flyers just abused the Blackhawks’ trio of Saad, Jonathan Toews and Kane — a line coach Joel Quenneville assembled prior to this game. The Flyers’ No. 1 line extended the lead to 3-0 on a beautiful tic-tac-toe play as Voracek found Giroux, who sent a backhand pass to Couturier as he came down the slot. The score was Couturier’s 10th of the season, which he’s never done before Jan. 1.

• Brandon Manning had a very solid opening 40 minutes to start this game. Manning tied up Saad to break up a Blackhawks’ opportunity down low. He was very active all over the ice. He separated his man from the puck and was the high man for the Flyers with 14:49 of ice time after two periods.

• Early in the second period, Travis Sanheim displayed his offensive awareness when he threaded another solid pass. This one went to Dale Weise, who clanked his shot off the post. Sanheim very easily could have had a pair of assists in this game.

• The Flyers looked very much like a team coming off a four-day layoff in the first four minutes of the game. Their breakouts were out of sync and coupled with some atrocious passing that forced them to regroup in their own end on a couple of occasions. 

• The Flyers jumped on the board first when Voracek and Couturier drew four Blackhawks defenders to the right side of the ice. Voracek fired a perfect pass to Giroux, who ripped off his patented one-timer from just outside the right circle that beat Crawford. Giroux was left wide open as Kane couldn’t make it on the backcheck.

• The Flyers had the Blackhawks’ defense completely spread out on their second goal. Giroux grabbed the puck out of the air and then fed Shayne Gostisbehere, who skated down low and had a four-lane highway of a passing lane. He fed Voracek, who blasted a one-timer of his own as the Flyers became just the second team this season to score two goals on Crawford in the opening period. 

• For “Ghost,” he became the fastest Flyers defenseman to score 100 points as he reached the mark in his first 155 career games. 

“It’s awesome, but of course I couldn’t do this without my teammates,” Gostisbehere said during the first intermission. “Just to do it with an organization like Philadelphia, it’s unbelievable. It’s a team with a lot of history, and again, I can’t thank my teammates and support staff enough.”

• Gostisbehere also had a terrific lead pass to Travis Konecny, who skated in behind the Blackhawks’ defense and deked Crawford for a wide-open net, but his backhand shot went wide.

• Early on, Gostisbehere held onto the puck a little too long, which produced a turnover and an early chance for Lance Bouma. That’s the second straight game when “Ghost” has committed a turnover in his own end. He had a similar play against the Avalanche when Gostisbehere had it stripped to lead to a Nail Yakupov third-period goal.

• Sanheim played a solid 6:21 in the first period with one memorable shift that showcased his potential. Sanheim broke up a potential pass at the defensive end in front of Elliott and then pushed the rush. Sanheim threaded a perfectly-timed pass to Valtteri Filppula just to the left of Crawford that could have been put in for a score.

Lines, pairings and scratches

Forwards
Claude Giroux-Sean Couturier-Jakub Voracek
Travis Konecny-Valtteri Filppula-Wayne Simmonds
Jordan Weal-Jori Lehtera-Dale Weise        
Taylor Leier-Scott Laughton-Michael Raffl

Defensemen
Ivan Provorov-Robert Hagg
Brandon Manning-Shayne Gostisbehere
Travis Sanheim-Radko Gudas

Goalies
Brian Elliott
Michal Neuvirth

Scratches: Forward Matt Read (healthy) and defenseman Mark Alt (healthy).