Flyers

Flyers finally have something to feel good about — and so does Morin

Flyers

The Flyers were in desperate need of a win and just something to feel good about.

They got both in a 2-1 decision over the Rangers on Saturday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center.

Samuel Morin, a happy-go-lucky, well-liked guy who has battled a lot of adversity, scored the game-winning goal with under five minutes left in regulation.

"He’s a good, big, young Frenchman from the farm," Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault said postgame. "Just a wholesome young man that everybody that’s gotten to know him, really likes. There’s no doubt that there was a lot of joy for him and for our team tonight — we needed this win. I thought we deserved it, we've worked extremely hard, got good goaltending, guys competed and we were able to find a way to win this game."

The Flyers (16-13-4) halted their losing streak at four games. They were in danger of losing five in a row for the first time under Vigneault. 

Meanwhile, for the first time in a rocky March (5-9-1), the Flyers held the opposition to one or fewer goals. They came in allowing an NHL-most 4.64 goals per game this month.

The Flyers jumped back ahead of the Rangers (15-14-4) in the East Division, taking over fifth place. They're three points behind the fourth-place Bruins, who hold the final playoff spot in the East and have three games in hand on the Flyers.

• Credit to Morin, who has been asked to play his old position again after shifting to left winger and played a strong game in 12:48 minutes. His ability to kill plays with his size and physicality has been needed. He used his strengths effectively Saturday. To boot, the 6-foot-6 blueliner added his first career NHL goal.

 

The Flyers mobbed Morin in celebration. A special and deserved moment for him. The 25-year-old has overcome a pair of torn ACLs he suffered in a span of 19 months.

“Always smiling, always pumping up the team and whether he’s just practicing with us and doing reps on the ice, he’s always working hard,” Travis Konecny said postgame. “To see him in there smiling and to get that goal, everyone’s just so happy for him. 

“When you have so many injuries and repeating injuries on the knees, I don’t know how many you can take. It’s a matter of keeping healthy and your life after. … When you do that so many times, probably for him, it was a lot to think about. Not playing for almost three years, too, is really, really, really hard on you. Kudos to him, he’s been a trooper.”

The Flyers' defense has been so in flux that the team has needed Morin back at his natural position. And he has given them positive contributions, despite moving all over the place lately.

More: Morin writes a new story to tell later

• Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher watched a performance much more like the 2019-20 Flyers.

His club had been outscored 17-3 in its last two games against the Rangers. On Saturday, the Flyers outshot the Rangers 37-25 and played the forecheck-oriented, possession-based system that spearheaded them down the regular-season stretch last year.

"Last year, we defended well as a five-man unit and we had strong goaltending," Fletcher said Wednesday in his midseason press conference. "This year, we’re not defending well as a five-man unit and our goaltending hasn't been at the same level.

"We put a lot of pressure on our D and goaltenders by the way we play up the ice. It’s something that we feel we can fix and we’re going to have to do it quickly, but we feel we can fix that."

The Flyers took a positive step. They need to carry it over, something they haven't done in March.

• After the Flyers failed to cash in on a 5-on-3 power play, Shayne Gostisbehere and Nolan Patrick saved the 5-on-4 man advantage at the tail end of it. Gostisbehere made a good play near the blue line and patiently waited off the defender before firing a shot. Patrick deflected it home to draw the Flyers even at 1-1 in the second period.

 

The Flyers were desperate for that goal. A pumped-up Gostisbehere looked at his bench and hollered "let's go."

• The Flyers, who entered with a league-worst .876 save percentage, got 24 stops from Brian Elliott.

The 35-year-old veteran picked up his first win since March 9. Plenty of timely saves from Elliott, who probably wanted to see the Rangers again after starting the 9-0 loss last week at Madison Square Garden.

New York netminder Igor Shesterkin had an impressive two-game set in Philadelphia with 76 saves on 81 shots. The Rangers gave him a huge lead Thursday. He might have been better in Saturday's game, which he happened to lose.

In a 1-1 game during the third period, the 25-year-old made a stellar glove save on a Scott Laughton breakaway.

• Mika Zibanejad has seven goals against the Flyers and four goals against the rest of the East Division.

He has tortured the Flyers and put them in a familiar 1-0 hole Saturday with a power play goal.

Konecny committed a silly and ill-timed roughing penalty after the whistle to give New York the man advantage. It cost the Flyers a pretty good first period in which they put up 17 shots and controlled the play but saw another deficit on the scoreboard. During March, the Flyers have been outscored 24-9 in the first period.

The team's penalty kill was better the rest of the way. It finished 3 for 4, while the power play went 1 for 3.

• To wrap up March, the Flyers fly to Buffalo, New York, on Sunday afternoon for a two-game set against the Sabres over Monday (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP) and Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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