PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers want to play the way they did on Saturday for the rest of the season.
Mike Knuble and Matt Read scored, Ilya Bryzgalov made 33 saves and Philadelphia snapped a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory over the slumping Boston Bruins.
Ruslan Fedotenko added an empty-net goal for the Flyers, who began the day in 14th in the Eastern Conference but only six points out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Boston, meanwhile, entered with the third-most points in the conference (46).
“That was a huge two points for us and hopefully from here we can play with confidence like we did tonight and keep on the same tracks and keep going,” Read said. “It’s been kind of a tough season for us and tonight is a momentum builder. With the remaining games, if we keep playing like that, who knows? We just have to keep winning and try to make a playoff run.”
With just 14 games left, Philadelphia is in danger of missing the playoffs for the first time since 2007. That made Saturday’s performance against the loaded Bruins somewhat perplexing for the Flyers.
“You feel good about it, but then you’re frustrated too because that’s an upper-echelon team in our league and you ask yourselves, ‘Why don’t you do it more often? Why doesn’t it happen more often?'” Knuble said. “You make the commitment right from the start and everybody was on board today.”
Nathan Horton scored for the Bruins, who dropped to 2-4-1 in their last seven games. They had won four in a row against the Flyers and were unbeaten in their previous 10 trips to Philadelphia (9-0-1).
“We know we have to get better,” said Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, who made 19 saves. “We haven’t played that bad, but it’s uncharacteristic mistakes. And it’s something we need to get rid of.
“It happens but then again … we know we need to get better in all areas. It’s weird because we’re not playing awful and we’re losing games, but we know it’s not good enough.”
Coach Claude Julien said the Bruins aren’t playing with any consistency.
“You get some spurts where you’re seeing some good things, but then the next line going up can’t follow up,” he said. “So we are not able to sustain much right now. The biggest challenge is every game we have one line that’s scoring and the other three don’t do a thing. Then it’s a different line another game and then the other three don’t do it. We can’t win hockey games with just relying on one line per night producing for us.”
The Flyers opened the scoring with their fifth consecutive successful power play, this one coming against the NHL’s top penalty-killing unit (91.2 percent). Knuble one-timed Brayden Schenn’s pass from behind the net and beat Rask low and on the glove side to give Philadelphia a 1-0 lead with 4:41 left in the first period.
“We’ve been keeping it simple, moving the puck when we’re supposed to,” Read said of the power-play success. “It’s hard work and you have to outwork the penalty killers, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
Philadelphia tacked on another goal in the second when Read scored 3:18 into the period. Jakub Voracek found a streaking Read alone between the circles. Read settled the pass, then ripped a slap shot past Rask’s glove side.
“It was one of those changeups,” Rask said. “It was rolling when he shot it. I don’t think I was perfectly positioned.”
The two-goal deficit was indicative of Boston’s recent struggles.
“We fell behind and that’s been happening to us too much lately,” Rask said. “We just can’t bear down and get that lead. . Just go out there and play our game. They were good goals but when we’re on top of our game, we don’t necessarily give up those chances. Or if we do, I save them.”
The Flyers continued to get strong goaltending from Bryzgalov in the second period. His best save came with just more than eight minutes remaining in the period when he sprawled to his left to stop Patrice Bergeron’s diving wraparound try.
Read nearly made it 3-0 about 30 seconds after Bryzgalov’s save, but his breakaway attempt caromed off the right post.
Boston cut the deficit to 2-1 on Horton’s 10th goal of the season 5 minutes into the third. Dennis Seidenberg took the initial shot from the point and it eventually bounced over to a wide-open Horton, who deposited the puck into the empty net.
“Yeah I mean there was already somebody in front that created the screen, but he jumped on that loose puck,” Julien said of Horton. “Absolutely I think we need more of that. Right now, like I said, we’re very average in all areas. Average and not even playing Bruins hockey. Like I said when you only go in spurts, you can’t expect to win.”
Boston went 0 for 2 on the power play and has scored once in its last 16 chances with the man advantage.
NOTES: Before the game, the Flyers acquired defenseman Kent Huskins from Detroit for a conditional 2014 draft pick. Huskins, in his seventh NHL season, was scoreless in 11 games for the Red Wings this season. … Philadelphia defenseman Oliver Lauridsen made his NHL debut. The 6-foot-6, 220-pounder has appeared in 59 games for the Adirondack Phantoms of the AHL this season, with a goal, five assists and 77 penalty minutes. … Before the game, Philadelphia unveiled a statue of Flyers greats Bob Clarke and Bernie Parent hoisting the Stanley Cup to commemorate the club’s back-to-back championships in 1974-75 (see related story).