Sunday, January 05, 2014

Flyers emerge from desert with comeback win over Coyotes

Glendale, AZ -- Even though it runs counter to decades of thought regarding where a team's momentum can be used to its advantage, sometimes hitting the road is the perfect remedy.

Despite falling behind by two goals on two occasions, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Claude Giroux lit the lamp in the third period, helping Philadelphia rally past Phoenix, 5-3, on Saturday.
Scott Hartnell and Brayden Schenn also scored for the Flyers, who improved to 4-1-0 on their six-game holiday road trip. Steve Mason came up with 26 saves.

"We’re really resilient as of late,” said Simmonds, who potted his ninth goal in nine games. “We’ve just been sticking to the game plan. Regardless if we’re up or we’re down we’re trying to play hockey the same way. More often than not, when you do that you are going to win hockey games.”

The Orange and Black won this hockey game without two keys to the offensive puzzle: Michael Raffl who is sidelined with a concussion and Matt Read out thanks to an unspecified upper-body injury.

Rob Klinkhammer, Lauri Korpikoski and Mikkel Boedker tallied for the Coyotes, who have dropped eight of their last 10 and failed to be lifted by the return of captain Shane Doan. Doan had been sidelined for a month while battling Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

Mike Smith gave up four goals on 27 shots, and perhaps the ghost of that unconventional ending to a game in Buffalo last week is a harbinger of a slump.

"We haven't seen those stellar games from him where he just closes the door," Coyotes head coach Dave Tippett said. "This is a game we feel like in the past we'd play smart enough and our goaltending would be sound enough where Philly felt like they played a really good game but they didn't win."

Simmonds converted a Voracek rebound from the right side on a Philadelphia power play to draw the visitors even at 4:22 of the third.

Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle then committed a turnover deep in his own zone, trying to stickhandle up the middle and Voracek made him pay. He turned back and unleashed a shot from the right circle which trickled through Smith at 11:52 of the third and the Flyers had their first lead of the game at 4-3.

"When you make mistakes and your goaltender is not cleaning them up, you end up where we're at," lamented Tippett.

Steve Downie was given a questionable delay-of-game call for closing his hand on the puck with 3:29 remaining, but Mason and his penalty killers checked it away. Philly has killed off 12 consecutive manpower disadvantages in the last four games.

Giroux drilled the clincher into the empty net with 31 seconds to play.

"We learned the hard way at the start of the year,” Giroux said about getting behind and learning how to overcome deficits. “Now, even if we’re down a couple of goals we stay within the system. We play a patient game and when we do that we’re going to have a chance in most games.”

Klinkhammer put the hosts on the board at the 1:29 mark of the second period, then Korpikoski put a rebound past Mason at the right post at 2:54.

Hartnell's one-timer from the right circle off a Mark Streit dish halved Philly's deficit at 3:11.
Phoenix went up 3-1 when Yandle sprung Boedker on a break up the middle, and his shot beat Mason high and over the blocker with 6:47 played.

Momentum began to turn when Jay Rosehill suddenly proved his worth in a protracted battle against social-media maven and counterpart Paul Bissonette in a bout at the 8:52 mark.

"They went toe-to-toe and it was one of the best fights I’ve ever seen,” Mason gushed. “Rosehill is tough as nails. He stepped up at a key time for us.”

Despite failing on the next power-play chance, the Flyers made it 3-2 when Schenn popped a loose puck home at the right post at 17:15.

Notes: Philadelphia improved to 7-5-0 all-time at Phoenix ... Smith fell to 4-7-1 lifetime against the Flyers and 0-3 with the Coyotes ... Phoenix played without defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is suffering from an upper-body injury as a result of a high hit from Columbus' Derek MacKenzie on Thursday .. The Flyers complete their road trip at New Jersey on Tuesday.
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