Simmonds, Flyers escape L.A. with shutout

Simmonds, Flyers escape L.A. with shutout
February 1, 2014, 8:15 pm
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Claude Giroux's goal late in the third period iced the Flyers' 2-0 win over the Kings on Saturday. (USA Today Images)


LOS ANGELES -- Sometimes the hardest hockey games aren’t the ones where both teams beat the tar out of each other.

Sometimes it’s the laid-back kind where both clubs wade into the fray, go minutes on end without doing anything noteworthy then a flurry of shots, and repeat with a few checks thrown in.

Much of that was on display Saturday afternoon at Staples Center as the Flyers defeated the Kings, 2-0, behind Wayne Simmonds’ game-winner and Steve Mason’s 35-save shutout, his third of the season (see Instant Replay).

The last time the Flyers had a low-scoring affair of similar ilk was Dec. 12, when they beat Montreal, 2-1.

“We played good defensively and battled hard,” coach Craig Berube said. “We talked about the Kings being a big, strong team that plays good defense. We needed to match that and we did.

“I know we didn’t create a lot offensively, but we capitalized on the power play goal, which was huge. I liked the battle. I like the competitiveness of the team right now.”

Indeed, the Flyers tied a franchise record low with just 13 shots. They protected a 1-0 lead right into the final two minutes before Claude Giroux iced it with a power play goal.

Those 13 shots are the fewest the Flyers have ever had in winning a game.

“It’s been a while since we won a game on a low score,” Giroux said. “Defensively, we played well and had a good attack. We’re a fast team when we want to.”

Wayne Simmonds’ 100th NHL goal at 7:48 in the second period was all Mason needed.

Superb passing between Giroux and Vinny Lecavalier, who came on during a line change, saw Simmonds alone at the net for his team-high 18th goal.

“These were two bit points we needed to get,” Simmonds said. “We came into this road trip hoping to get as many as we could. Mase played good for us, too.

“L.A. is a big team that liked to grind it out. They got pucks deep, they played physical and I think we matched them.”

He’s playing well with Brayden Schenn and Vinny Lecavalier.

“I’ve been playing with great linemates and I’ve been really determined this year,” Simmonds said. “If I have a bad shift before, I try to put it in the back of my mind and keep pushing forward.” 

Giroux said the game was more physical than it appeared.

“We did a good job protecting the puck and battling,” he said. “The games before, that’s when we got in trouble. We weren’t winning any battles. The last two games we did a good job on that.”

Simmonds’ goal saw Kings goalie Jonathan Quick more or less trapped on the left post after colliding with his own player (Jake Muzzin), leaving the opposite post open.

“Quick likes to challenge a lot and he was out,” Simmonds said. “I got the puck in and had a lot of time. It was like an empty net.”

The passing on Giroux’s goal was just as good, tic-tac-toe across the ice for Giroux to nail his 17th goal home on the power play. He has three goals in his last four games.

“The puck kinda popped out to Hartsy [Scott Hartnell] and he saw me back door,” Giroux said. “Those are goals that we want.”

Simmonds admitted the game was slow from the start. Boring, really, until the final period.

“We kept chipping away,” he said after playing his first game in Los Angeles since being traded in 2011. “And we came away on the better side.”

How does he feel about getting No. 100?

“I’ve been sitting on 99 for probably the last five games,” Simmonds said. “It felt good to get it.”