Flyers

Early fights, late finish as Flyers grab well-earned win to snap 10-game skid

Flyers

The Flyers did not waste time on their homestand to mercifully end an elongated losing streak.

To open this five-game stretch at the Wells Fargo Center, the desperate Flyers picked up a 3-1 win Tuesday night over the Islanders.

The Flyers (8-10-5) finally snapped their skid at 10 games (0-7-3).

John Tortorella's club earned this one. New York is one of the NHL's best third-period teams and the Flyers outplayed it in the final 20 minutes.

"That's one of our more complete games and finish is the right word," Tortorella said. "We talked about, between the second and third in the coaches' room, that we need to finish a game now and not go in the backdoor.

"I liked that we were on our toes and didn't give up 15, 16 shots in the period and go in the backdoor. That's a really good stepping stone for us in understanding how to finish games."

Travis Sanheim and Kevin Hayes found the back of the net for the Flyers, who had scored just two goals per game during their 10-game slide. Hayes' tally was the game-winner and it came just under halfway through the first period.

He deposited an empty-netter to finish off the Flyers' victory.

Lukas Sedlak had his third multi-point game (two assists) with the Flyers. The 29-year-old was claimed off of waivers Oct. 19.

The Flyers went 3-8-4 in a November to forget. Over the last two seasons, they've gone a combined 7-14-7 in this month.

The Islanders (15-9-0), who beat the Flyers, 5-2, three days ago, had their four-game winning streak halted.

 

More: No respect for hapless Flyers? Tortorella willing to 'eat that s---' but won't forget

• Some bad blood from the end of Saturday's game carried over into the first eight seconds of Tuesday night's rematch.

A pair of fights were orchestrated during warmups.

Zack MacEwen took on Matt Martin. The bout was no cheapie. MacEwen is a free swinger and Martin is one of the game's toughest.

One second later, Nicolas Deslauriers dropped the gloves with Ross Johnston. Another good one.

It felt like all parties decided to settle things early and then play. Fair enough.

Deslauriers talked to Martin before the game but a fight with MacEwen was already lined up. Johnston didn't play last game and was apparently put in the lineup by New York to be ready for Deslauriers.

"Trying to say I didn't see Mac talk to [Martin], but business was already settled there," Deslauriers said. "He was kind enough to tell me that somebody else just got put in the lineup for me, so we kind of assumed that was going on.

"I kind of started all that last game and I'm always ready to answer the bell. I think [Johnston] would have done the same thing if it was me coming into the lineup to do that."

• Hayes stayed at right winger with Sedlak down the middle and Joel Farabee on the left.

Tortorella mentioned the reason for that being Hayes having struggles in low coverage of the defensive zone.

"He knows," the head coach said Tuesday morning. "Kevin's trying. This isn't a player that's stubborn. He cares and is trying to be the best he can be. I think he has bad habits. It's not just from one year, two years, it's probably throughout his career."

Hayes has been huge for the banged-up Flyers, who are not an offensive team even when fully healthy. The 30-year-old has put up at least a point in 17 of the Flyers' 23 games. He has 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in those 23 games.

"It's not foreign to offensive people for them to struggle defensively," Tortorella said. "We just don't have the firepower to overcome some of those things, so we're asking him to change a little bit and concentrate a little bit on that. And he's concentrating on it.

"Still makes mistakes, but a lot of our other guys do, too. So we're going to continue working with him. I'm trying to take a little pressure off of him because we need his damn offense. I want him to concentrate on that, too, and not lose sight there.

"We're trying to make better decisions defensively and be as stingy as we possibly can because we just don't score goals."

• The No. 1 netminders were back in net for both clubs.

 

Carter Hart finished with 23 saves and was sharp on a third-period penalty kill.

"Hartsy's been great all year," Hayes said. "I think one game he probably wants to take back, but other than that, he's been the backbone of our team. He was our best player tonight."

Kieffer Bellows and Rasmus Ristolainen committed a pair of penalties in the opening three minutes that resulted in a 5-on-3 goal for New York. Ristolainen then finished with a real solid game on the top pair alongside Ivan Provorov.

Sanheim took that goal back with a shorthanded marker 1:25 minutes later. The Flyers desperately needed that goal as a restart of sorts.

For the Islanders, Ilya Sorokin stopped 30 of the Flyers' 32 shots.

• The Flyers got a much-needed reinforcement up front with the return of Scott Laughton. The alternate captain missed the last four games with an upper-body injury.

The club remained without Travis Konecny (upper body), James van Riemsdyk (broken finger), Cam Atkinson (upper body), Sean Couturier (back) and Wade Allison (oblique/hip).

Konecny and van Riemsdyk have been rehab skating. Atkinson was cleared for contact and practiced Monday. More on him here.

"Obviously you don't want to go on these skids, 10 games like this, but you're two or three games back of .500," Laughton said after the team's optional morning skate. "That's the positive here. We take it a day at a time, try to chip away at it and get some bodies back.

"We got off to a good start, that's a positive. We're really not that far out. You string a couple of wins together, it goes a long way, you stay in the mix a little bit longer and see what happens."

While Laughton returned, the Flyers didn't have Tony DeAngelo on the back end for the first time this season. The top-pair defenseman was unavailable because of a lower-body injury. He has been banged up since last Friday when he blocked a shot during the 4-1 loss to the Penguins.

• Tortorella had the long game in mind by inserting Egor Zamula on defense.

The head coach likes the 22-year-old prospect's upside and felt it was time to see it again in the lineup. Even if DeAngelo was good to go, Zamula would have played in place of someone else.

"I want to put another young guy back there because I think that is going to help us in the future," Tortorella said Monday.

Zamula saw his first game action with the big club since Nov. 5 and played just under 14 minutes. He and Nick Seeler played some important, hard-nosed minutes in the third period.

Tortorella will have to balance the present and future with his decisions on the back end.

"Are you looking more short term or long term?" he said. "And that shifts sometimes as the year goes on."

 

Definitely not a bad thing that Tortorella wants to look at the organization's kids.

• The homestand continues Thursday when the Flyers welcome the Lightning (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).

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