It was a complete team effort in a win on Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild.
Although Steve Mason let one get past him only minutes into the game, he was able to put that behind him and provide his team with solid goaltending for the rest of the contest. Mason achieved his 100th win as a Flyer, putting him in 3rd all-time behind Ron Hextall and Bernie Parent in Flyers history.
Wayne Simmonds also tallied his 300th point as a Flyer. A huge milestone for such a great player.
With Hakstol changing the lines trying to create a spark, the Flyers were desperate to get something going early. After finding themselves down 1-0 early in the contest, the team remain poised and focused on playing their game with hopes to tie the game up quickly.
In the closing minutes of the 1st period, Sean Couturier was able to put the puck past Dubnyk with a beautiful backhand shot. Outlet passing along the boards gave Schenn the opportunity to skate the puck in the offensive zone with room to make a pass. Brayden Schenn found Couturier cutting to the net, and Couturier delivered by putting the puck between his legs forcing Dubnyk to misread the pass and open up his five-hole.
With momentum on their side, the Flyers fed off of Couturiers late goal at the end of the first.
Within the first 30 seconds of the 2nd period, Matt Read was able to take advantage of a couple mistakes made by the Wild and bury a bouncing puck that was left in front of the net.
With the Flyers up 2-1, it was critical that they did not fall into a trap that has plagued them all season. With a lead, the Flyers would typically play it safe, but they kept attacking the net and forcing the puck to the middle of the ice.
It was a hard-fought 3rd period by both teams. With Minnesota only down one, they kept firing on all cylinders trying to create scoring chances on Mason, but Mason stood his ground, controlled his rebounds, and played with confidence.
With less than a minute left in the game, Minnesota was getting closer to scoring as they had a sixth attacker on the ice. With the puck floating around the crease of Steve Mason, Voracek was able to pick up the puck and create a give-and-go with Wayne Simmonds. Voracek tallied the empty netter, putting a dagger in Minnesota’s chances of tying the game up.
With the line-up that was inserted, there are still questions that need to be answered.
Konecny was demoted to the 4th line and had the least amount of minutes played with only 9:43. While the team was successful and able to get the win, will this line-up be able to sustain this energy and collect a few more wins?
Michael Del Zotto has been one of the better defensive players as of late, and was scratched for Brandon Manning.
Not only was Manning inserted into the lineup, he racked up 20 minutes of ice time, while MacDonald collected a team-high 25 minutes.
These are questionable decisions, but this lineup resulted in a win, so we might as well stay positive.
Another positive note; this was one of the first games this season where it seems as if Dave Hakstol had implemented a new game plan. Besides entering a different lineup, the focus for the offense was to get pucks to the net and for the forwards to attack the middle of the slot.
With this gameplan, there was an increase in higher-quality scoring chances. It may be too late to apply this gameplan and make the playoffs, but it is something to build from.
Hopefully Hakstol can realize if we keep the puck on the sticks of our forwards a little bit longer in the offensive zone, we can create more chances by cycling the puck and attacking the net.
Let us enjoy this win and prepare for the tough road game against the Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon.