Highlights: Flyers stay hot, beat Blues 4-1
Brayden Schenn's second-period goal to make it 2-1 was the eventual game-winner. (USA Today Sports)
Flyers coach Craig Berube knew it would different. So did Blues coach Ken Hitchcock.
Talk about checking and physically, punishing play with two clubs playing smothering defense and an officiating crew that tried to overtake the game.
That’s what unfolded Saturday afternoon as the Flyers stunned the No. 1 team in the NHL, the St. Louis Blues, 4-1 at the Wells Fargo Center for their fifth consecutive win. They remain in second place in the Metropolitan Division.
The Blues are the third Central Division opponent the Flyers have beaten this week, after Chicago and Dallas. And it wasn't easy.
Goalie Steve Mason (32 saves) was spectacular and outshined Ryan Miller, who faced 18 shots. Mason had his usual collection of incredible saves in the third period with the Flyers clinging to another one-goal lead, 2-1 at the time.
Jakub Voracek’s clutch goal off a nice feed from Claude Giroux with 4:19 left gave Mason some breathing room.
The Flyers were lucky to escape the opening period down just 1-0 as St. Louis checked them hard and frequently and prevented precious few shots 5-on-5.
They also scored a shorthanded goal, were all over the Flyers on three of their four power-play chances and won 55 percent of the faceoff draws that period.
Everything changed in the second, starting with a power-play goal from Scott Hartnell. The Flyers made a strong push on the Blues and had them backpeddling while scoring twice to overcome the early deficit.
The Flyers are now 5-0 for 10 points in their “deadly dozen” of games against playoff contenders that is likely going to determine the outcome of their regular season.
On the game’s opening shift, Steve Downie, skating slowly, turned his head to look the other way and ran into Patrik Berglund and almost knocked himself out on the ice (see video).
Incidental contact, not a check, and certainly not Berglund’s fault. Downie had to be helped off the ice and may have suffered a concussion.
He did not return to the game with an “upper-body” injury. Michael Raffl, who shares duty with Downie on Sean Couturier’s line, moved up to that line but split time there with Zac Rinaldo the remainder of the game.
This is rarity: Giroux was hit with a double minor for holding and hooking. Almost never see that kind of double minor unless it involves a cut or unsportsmanlike conduct.
Giroux had four penalties through two periods. Referee Francois St. Laurent simply would not swallow his whistle and allow both teams to play. He over-officiated the game.
Mason had one on Steve Ott late in the second period with the Flyers ahead, 2-1. Ott’s tricky shot from the left goal line bounced around in the crease before Mason fell on the puck.
Ott got another chance on a loose puck with 2.2 seconds left in the period. He had two amazing saves during a Blues power play midway into the third period on Derek Roy in the paint.
The Flyers were 1 for 5 on the power play. The Blues were 0 for 6.
The Flyers' first three power plays were terrible as St. Louis attacked up high and in the slot and twice had good shorthanded scoring chances, even converting once.
Mark Streit had a bouncing puck on his stick with an open net from the paint but couldn’t get enough of the puck or the Flyers would have tied it that first period.
The Flyers gave up on their first power play when Andrew MacDonald turned the puck over on the left boards, resulting in a Blues 2-on-1. Jaden Schwartz beat Mason for his 22nd goal at 6:23, making it 1-0.
That’s what the Blues did in the opening period, checking the Flyers every which way. In some ways, the Blues are mirror images of the Flyers in terms of their physical style.
19 for 19
As in 19 goals for No. 19 Scott Hartnell. He tied the game, 1-1, with a carryover power-play goal just 57 seconds into the second period. Hartnell had to fight a pass from Jakub Voracek in the slot to beat goalie Ryan Miller.
Giroux extended his points streak to six games (one goal, eight assists). He has 73 points in 70 games and is fourth in the NHL scoring race.
The Flyers made it in the second and dominated the period with two goals to take a 2-1 lead. Brayden Schenn scored the go-ahead marker at 13:24, knocking in a rebound off a Wayne Simmonds shot from the slot. Simmonds used his stick to break up a pass on the Blues breakout, then got the puck back into the offensive zone to create the scoring chance.
The Blues went into the third period trailing for just the 19th time in 70 games this season.
An attempted bout between Jakub Voracek and Carlo Colaiacovo fizzled out quickly late in the second period.
Defensemen Hal Gill and Erik Gustafsson along with forward Jay Rosehill.
The Flyers host the L.A. Kings (39-25-6) on Monday at 7 p.m.