Sticking to the game plan key to Flyers' win
Jakub Voracek's 10th goal of the season gave the Flyers their first lead in Phoenix, and ultimately served as the game-winner. (USA Today Images)
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- They used to call the 1980 Phillies the "Comeback Kids.”
Now maybe you can use the term to refer to the Flyers, who completed their fifth third-period comeback in a month’s time Saturday as they stunned the Phoenix Coyotes, 5-3, at Jobing.com Arena (see Instant Replay).
The victory moved the Flyers ahead of the Capitals for second place in the Metropolitan Division with 46 points. With 21 wins, the Flyers have one more than the Caps.
They also finished their five-game Western road trip with a 4-1 record.
“We learned the hard way at the start of the year,” said team captain Claude Giroux. “Down a goal, if we stayed with the system and way we’re playing, a patient game, and play the way we should, we have chances. It’s about putting it into the net.”
The Flyers did that, overcoming a two-goal deficit (3-1) starting in the second period with goals by Brayden Schenn at the period’s end, then Wayne Simmonds early in the third to tie it. Jakub Voracek won it with a turnover goal when he stripped Keith Yandle of the puck in his own end.
Nine Flyers had points in the victory, led by Voracek, the only two-point Flyer with a goal and an assist.
“We have very good chemistry,” Voracek said. “They’re a hard working team. In the beginning of the season, we would just fold but right now, we believe in ourselves.
“We think we can come back from whatever deficit we were down in a tough building against a tough team. It shows a lot of team effort. We never gave up.”
Voracek’s game-winner came at 11:52 when he took the puck off Yandle on the breakout, skated to the right circle and beat goalie Mike Smith, breaking a 3-3 deadlock.
“He’s a pretty good defenseman,” Voracek said. “There was good pressure by Giroux to get on him and I just kinda put a stick on the puck and then I shot it five-hole. A big goal for us and a huge win.”
The Flyers’ string of five third-period comeback wins began Dec. 4 at Detroit and was followed by wins against Columbus (Dec. 19), and on this road trip at Edmonton (Dec. 28), at Vancouver (Dec. 30) and tonight.
“We’ve been sticking to the game plan regardless if we are up or down, we play the same way,” said Simmonds, who had four goals on the trip.
“When you play hockey the same way for 60 minutes, you are going to come out on the better end of the stick.”
Flyers coach Craig Berube said when the team hit the midpoint at 41 games that the difference now is the club feels it’s never out of a game and can always rally.
“They know they can get back in games and they’re scoring more now,” Berube said. “When your skill guys are scoring goals, they feel they can get us back into the hockey game.”
Berube used his timeout in this game at a key moment in the second period, trailing 2-0. The Flyers scored after the timeout on Scott Hartnell’s ninth goal.
“Even in the first period, we weren’t assertive, we were casual,” Berube said. “We were soft with the puck. Not assertive hockey. We needed a little wake-up call.”
Hartnell said the team got the message loud and clear.
“It was big,” Hartnell said. “The first two shifts by everybody, we were standing still, didn’t hit anybody on the forecheck, we didn’t do anything. Just throwing the puck away and playing stupid hockey. He said, ‘Wake it up, get skating.’
“Simmer got it deep, Schenner (Brayden Schenn) got it on the forecheck and Streit held onto the puck to make a great pass [to me]. Good things happen when we skate and move our feet.”