VOORHEES, N.J. — Once a key cog in the Flyers’ lineup, Matt Read has become almost a secret weapon of sorts.
Though he has only one point all season, Read played a pivotal role in the Flyers' Game 2 victory in Pittsburgh. The 31-year-old winger did his part to shut out the dangerous Penguins power play, which went 0 for 4.
"I think we frustrated them the first couple of power plays," Read said. "When they’re frustrated, they’re trying to make more seam passes.
“It just made it easier for us. We took away their seam passes, kept them outside and (Brian Elliott) made a couple big saves for us.”
After spending most of the season at Lehigh Valley, Read was recalled in March, a move that's resulted in a dramatically improved penalty kill for the Flyers. Over the last 14 games, including playoffs, opponents converted 5 of 33 power-play opportunities.
The Penguins are 1 for 8 on the power play for the series, now tied at one. Continuing to limit the star-studded top unit is vital to the outcome.
Pittsburgh led the NHL with 68 power-play goals during the regular season.
The situation is nothing new for Read, who was a rookie when the Flyers knocked off the Penguins in the opening round of the playoffs in 2012. Neither is the role, having paired with center Sean Couturier on the penalty kill in years past.
“It’s just like back in the day when he used to kill penalties with Coots," Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. "They're in sync together and they play well together on the PK.”
What's different this time around is the stakes are much higher for Read.
Read spent much of the season fighting for his NHL livelihood. His contract is set to expire, and minus a brief stint with the Flyers in October, he had been biding his time in the AHL.
Once again, the month is April, and Read will be crucial to the Flyers' success from here.
“Yeah I’ve been here before, but it’s my last opportunity to prove myself again," Read said. "I’m not going to let it slip away. It’s been a good time so far, and hopefully, we can continue playing good hockey.”
The Flyers knew Read could make a seamless transition and be a dependable addition to the fourth line. The standout performance on special teams has been a bonus.
"In terms of his five-on-five play, he’s been very consistent there," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said. "He had a little physical play to his game, a couple big shot blocks, he's taking care of the puck really well.
“To break it down into simpler terms, he’s playing real good solid two-way hockey as a veteran out there and he’s bringing confidence to our game.”