Flyers

Flyers off to notable 4-1-1 start as Western Canada trip hums along

Flyers

The Flyers made their Western Canada road swing a winning one even before the finale of the trip.

Alain Vigneault's club swept its first back-to-back set of the 2021-22 season by beating the Canucks, 2-1, Thursday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.

They did so without the injured Ryan Ellis, who missed his third straight game. The top-pair defenseman remains day to day.

In a homecoming game for Martin Jones, the North Vancouver native was superb with 27 saves, nine of them coming on the penalty kill.

He was a huge reason why the Flyers needed only two goals after they scored five in their win Wednesday over the Oilers. Sean Couturier and James van Riemsdyk netted the tallies Thursday night.

The 4-1-1 start is the Flyers' best of the Vigneault era. The nine points also match the Flyers' most through six games of a season since 2011-12. They started 4-1-1 that year, as well.

The Flyers went 1-0-1 in their two-game regular-season series with the Canucks, who dropped to 3-4-1 overall.

• Jones, who started 60 or more games four times in his six-year run with the Sharks, doesn't seem to mind backup duty so far.

The 31-year-old improved to 2-0-0 and has 64 saves on 68 shots.

His performance Thursday night may have felt better than his 37-save effort at home against the Bruins. That's because Jones was back where he grew up. His dad Harvey Jones has worked in arena operations for the Canucks since 1994.

 

Jones was clutch late in the game but especially in the middle stanza when he made 16 saves. Vancouver threatened all period and held the Flyers to five shots.

• Both teams did all of their scoring in the first period.

The Flyers wasted no time as Couturier put them on the board 22 seconds into the action.

After Quinn Hughes scored for the Canucks fewer than two minutes later, Couturier, van Riemsdyk and Claude Giroux connected on a power play goal. Under seven minutes into the opening frame, the marker turned out to be the game-winner.

Following practice Monday, Couturier, Giroux and van Riemsdyk got in extra work on power play setups. The trio showed its chemistry on van Riemsdyk's first goal of the season.

Couturier quietly leads the Flyers in scoring with nine points (three goals, six assists). Giroux has opened the season on an impressive six-game point streak (four goals, four assists).

• The Flyers' penalty kill is 21 for 25 (84 percent) through six games.

Last season, the Flyers' 30th-ranked PK (73.1 percent) surrendered more power play goals (45) than any other team in hockey.

Much of the Flyers' offseason was about identifying and acquiring players with PK pedigrees. The new groups have been put to the test. The Flyers have gone on the PK 16 times over the last three games and have allowed only two goals.

The number of penalties, however, is concerning. Frequent trips to the penalty box will eventually bite you.

• Patrick Brown made his Flyers debut on the fourth line. Nicolas Aube-Kubel was scratched. There should be consistent competition for that 12th forward spot.

Zack MacEwen, who was on the fourth line alongside Brown and Nate Thompson, dropped the gloves with Luke Schenn during the second period. It was a good fight. MacEwen is a former Canuck and Schenn a former Flyer.

MacEwen fought six times in 34 games with Vancouver last season.

• The Flyers wrap up their three-game Western Canada trip Saturday when they visit the Flames (10 p.m. ET/NBCSP+).

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