Couturier shines as Flyers' PK unit stifles Jets

Couturier shines as Flyers' PK unit stifles Jets

November 29, 2013, 3:15 pm
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Against the Jets, Sean Couturier (left) scored his first shorthanded goal since the 2011-12 season. (AP)

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The last time the Flyers' penalty killers had a game like this was on Nov. 2 at New Jersey.

That night, they were a perfect 5 for 5 during a 1-0 victory against the Devils.

Black Friday saw the Flyers come up with their best PK effort of the season -- 6 for 6 during a tense 2-1 win over Winnipeg at Wells Fargo Center (see Instant Replay).

The ice times on the penalty kill say it all: Braydon Coburn 7:09; Kimmo Timonen 6:18; Matt Read 6:28; and Sean Couturier 6:36.

Coots also had a clutch shorthanded goal that turned into the game-winner.

“Their power play, they shoot a lot of pucks and have good shots back there,” he said. “We wanted to put pressure and not give them time to set up and get those shots. We did a good job not letting them set up.”

The Jets have some guns back there with Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom shooting grenades from the point.

“Too many penalties overall from our team, but our penalty killers did a great job,” coach Craig Berube said. “Couturier did very good. He does the job for us. Killling penalties, checking, scoring shorthanded. He did really well with it.

“They shoot the puck from the top. Byfuglien and Enstrom have good shots. Our forwards have to be aggressive to get up on them and take it away.”

Which is what Couturier did in the second period, stealing one off Enstrom for a breakaway goal on Ondrej Pavelec with the Flyers shorthanded.

Couturier also had a shorthanded breakaway in the first period, but Pavelec made what the save of the day with his right pad.

“I think I was due,” said Couturier, who didn’t have a shorthanded goal this season until Friday, and last scored one during the 2011-12 season.

“I’ve had a couple chances. ... I just tried to put it five-hole. It found a way to trickle into the back of the net.”

He was able to attack Pavelec from two different angles on his two attempts but said that wasn’t by design.

“The first time, he did a good save, he was quick getting that pad out,” Couturier said.

Forward Scott Hartnell, who scored 48 seconds into the game and doesn’t play on the PK, lauded the effort.

“Guys were blocking shots, paying the price,” he said. “[Steve] Mason was our best player again tonight. Seemed like there wasn’t much flow out there. Couple [power plays] for us, couple for them.

“A few for them late. Obviously, our defense did a great job in front of the net and obviously, your best penalty killer is your goalie and he made some big stops.

“Guys were going short and hard and blocking shots, getting to pucks on the walls. If our penalty isn’t great tonight, we don’t win this game.”

Mason was outstanding with 25 saves. He lost his shutout late in the final period.

“Awesome,” Mason said of the penalty kill. “The defense [was] blocking shots. I was really impressed with Coots’ effort. He stepped up his game tremendously and is one of our best players right now.”

The shortie was Couturier’s first goal in six games. His offensive game wanes at times, but his line has been outstanding with Matt Read and Steve Downie.

While pleased with his defense as a checking-line center assigned to the opposition’s best players, Couturier remains unsatisfied with his goal output -- two overall.

“Obviously with goals, it's not good, but I'm just playing within my role trying to shut down lines,” Couturier said.

“I've had some scoring chances, I just haven't been putting the puck in the net. I don't think I’ve been playing bad, but lately the pucks been going in so the points are obviously going to go up.”