LOS ANGELES — SoCal has never looked so nice.
Not since November 2006 have the Flyers pulled off the I-5 sweep, winning in Anaheim and Los Angeles in consecutive games.
“Going on the road helps,” Ivan Provorov said after Thursday's 5-2 win over the Kings (see observations). “The boys spend 24 hours together — mornings, afternoons at the rink. Going for dinners together. The road brings everybody closer and I think that’s what we needed and I think that helps us to win games.”
Some of the players took in a Lakers game the night before, while others wanted more of a TMZ experience traveling to Beverly Hills and venturing down Rodeo Drive. Sometimes if you want to live the good life, it helps to experience it as well.
“I think guys had a nice day [Wednesday] and really enjoyed themselves. You only worry about hockey and your teammates,” Radko Gudas said. “[Back home], I've got family. I've got kids, picking them up from school. They’re not feeling well, we've got to see the doctor. It’s a lot of distraction.”
When you spend this much time with each other, you tend to play for one another. Take the Flyers' penalty kill that erased Scott Laughton’s tripping penalty in the early moments of the third period to preserve a 3-2 lead. For Brian Elliott, it was watching Robert Hagg and Jakub Voracek block a pair of shots in the span of five seconds that made a real difference.
“I think Jake had a huge block right off the faceoff," Elliott said. "It was 3-2 and if they get one there, that changes the game. He put his body on the line. We got it out and to the average fan, you hardly notice it, but we definitely notice it on the ice.”
Even when the Flyers didn't make the right play or the right pass, the end result somehow worked in their favor.
• Dale Weise whiffs on a shot and somehow still has enough time to find Provorov cutting down the slot for the first goal of the game.
• Hagg sends a puck the length of the ice from behind his goal line, which would have been an icing call and a big faceoff in the Flyers' end. Instead, his shot from 185 feet away ices the game for an empty-net goal.
• Oskar Lindblom intentionally kicks the puck into the Kings' net but is fortunate to have Kings defenseman Sean Walker’s stick strike the puck at the same time, which allowed the goal to stand.
“I thought it was 90 percent going to be overturned,” Lindblom said. “You never know in this league. After I saw it, it wasn’t nice, but every goal I get, I’ll take it every day.”
Impressively, the Flyers knocked off the Pacific Coast heavyweights by never playing from behind, not one time in the two-game sweep.
“I think it’s huge,” Sean Couturier said. “We’re learning from our earlier mistakes. It’s been great. The two wins, we needed that.”
Right now, winning is the only concern. All of life’s other little problems will be waiting when they get back to Philadelphia.
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