PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Kevin Hayes had two goals and Travis Konecny and Nicolas Aube-Kubel also scored to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to their fourth straight win, 4-2 over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night.
Carter Hart stopped 26 shots and improved to 13-1 at home over his last 14 starts for a Flyers team suddenly looking for serious seeding in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers have won nine of 12 games and are fifth in the Eastern Conference.
The next two weeks are pivotal for the Flyers — four straight against Metropolitan Division teams, and then three more against Eastern Conference teams that could determine if the Flyers can truly make a push up the standings. The Flyers missed the playoffs last season and haven’t reached the second round since 2012. Under first-year coach Alain Vigneault, the Flyers got hot in the second half and made a pair of trade deadline deals to bolster their depth. Derek Grant and Nate Thompson, a pair of veteran centers, made their Philadelphia debuts.
Vigneault also won his 684th game, tying Pat Quinn for 10th on the NHL career list.
San Jose captain Logan Couture, who had 36 points this season, returned from a broken ankle suffered on Jan. 7 but couldn’t help the Sharks avoid their fifth straight loss. The Sharks went 7-10 in Couture’s absence. With San Jose’s season going nowhere, the Sharks traded forwards Patrick Marleau to the Pittsburgh Penguins and Barclay Goodrow to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the deadline.
Hayes scored twice for the Flyers to send them on the way toward their fourth, four-game winning streak of the season. The Flyers have gone goal crazy of late, scoring three or more goals in nine straight games and 14 of 15 to move into the top 10 of the league in goals-per-game.
They wasted little time when Aube-Kubel beat Aaron Dell on the power play just 1:32 into the game for the lead. Joel Kellman tied it 1-all midway through the first.
Hayes’ slapper from the circle for his 20th goal of the season made it 2-1 early in the second and Konecny scored his 22nd for the 3-1 lead. Hayes scored on a dribbler (the Flyers 79th this season in the third period) between Dell’s legs early in the third.
The Sharks made it 4-2 on Noah Gregor’s one-timer after Claude Giroux failed to clear the puck.
NOTES: Flyers are 17-0-1 when Hayes scores a goal. … Scott Laughton had an assist on Hayes’ goal for his 100th NHL point. … The Flyers are 22-5-4 at home.
San Jose opens a six-game homestand Thursday against New Jersey.
The Flyers host the Rangers on Friday.