Flyers

Flyers

BOX SCORE

A couple days after getting their doors blown off by the Hurricanes in Carolina, the Flyers settled into something that usually gets teams right back to winning hockey.
 
A tight-checking, strong defensive game all-around where the stat of the night isn’t how many turnovers cost you goals but how many goals you prevented by limiting shots.
 
The Flyers held the Montreal Canadiens to a season-low 16 shots — and fewest allowed by the Flyers, as well — during a 3-1 victory at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday that kickstarted a crucial five-game homestand (see Instant Replay).
 
“We did a good job for 60 minutes just playing some tight hockey, a solid two-way game where we didn’t give up a whole lot,” Sean Couturier said. “We limited turnovers and had pressure in their end. It’s the type of game we want to do on Saturday [against Los Angeles].”
 
Couturier’s checking unit with Nick Cousins and Matt Read set the example by holding the Habs' top line to just three shots — two from Max Pacioretty, none from Phillip Danault and one from Alexander Radulov.
 
They also scored two goals, making their task even sweeter. Read had the game-winner with  a canon shot from the right circle that surely fooled goalie Carey Price. It was his first goal in 27 games and it broke a 1-1 tie at 3:32 of the final period.
 
Where has that shot been all season?
 
“All the way around, it was a pretty good play, a speed play,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Reader can shoot the puck.
 
“Sometimes when the puck is not going in the net, you have a tendency to shoot it less, even. Hopefully, one going in for him and he’s going to get that shooter’s instinct back.”
 
Also impressive was goalie Michal Neuvirth, who has looked strong in his last two starts.
 
Nothing Neuvirth could have done on Nikita Nesterov’s point-shot goal 4:51 into the period, as he was completely screened.
 
What made that play work was Habs defenseman Andrei Markov sealing off Jakub Voracek along the boards, so Alex Galchenyuk could whip the puck across the blue line to Nesterov. Little things like that tend to mean a lot.
 
Overall, it was a pretty dull, uneventful period for the Flyers, which was an improvement over being outskated and outplayed, which occurred in Carolina on Tuesday.
 
“This was what we needed because it’s what the back half of the year is going to be like,” Wayne Simmonds said. “We played our worst game of the year in Carolina and needed to atone. Tonight was a good start. 
 
“We got back to playing the way we were before the [All-Star] break and have to continue to play this way.”
 
Things get tight this time of year, as teams prep for the playoffs.
 
“It’s going to go down to the wire, so it’s going to kind of be playoff hockey,” Mark Streit said. “We just need to keep it simple and play north, get pucks in and go to work.
 
“Once we’re in their end, we can grind them out and create and we had some really good offensive zone time, especially in the second. It tires the other team out if you don’t have to defend. You play in their end and you are so much fresher in the end.”
 
Neuvirth kept it 1-0 as he made a glove stop on Jacob De La Rose’s breakaway in the second period, and then had a clutch save on Paul Byron in the third and then sealed the post on his follow-up to keep it that way.
 
“That’s a pretty good team over there,” Neuvirth said. “We didn’t give them much. It felt like we were playing playoff hockey. We played great defensively and waited for our chances.”
 
His save on De La Rose was critical because the Flyers tied it up late with a power-play goal from Claude Giroux. His shot deflected off Markov’s stick, then off Price’s glove at 17:50 to make it 1-1.
 
“We went back to playing the way we know we can, we did a good job of battling tonight and playing as a team,” Giroux said.  
 
“It was a real team win. One of those games where things were clicking, guys were focused and we were sharp.”
 
In the final period, Read fired a shot that, most times, Price handles easily but not this night.
 
“Yeah, he got it on a little bit of a knuckler,” Price said. “He put it in a good spot, right in the top corner, it was a really good shot.”