Petr Mrazek made 27 saves and the Flyers winless streak came to an end as Philadelphia defeated the Winnipeg Jets 2-1 from the Wells Fargo Center Saturday afternoon.
After a much-needed night off Thursday, Mrazek was back in net for the Flyers Saturday afternoon, charged with the task of keeping the high flying Jets off the scoreboard. He did just that, allowing just one goal on 28 shots against a team that has scored the third most goals in the NHL this season, averaging 3.3 goals per game.
The first 20 minutes of action were remarkably uneventful, as the Flyers outshot the Jets 11-9, but struggled to generate any true scoring chances. The best opportunity for either team came off the stick of the league's second leading goal scorer, Patrik Laine, who got into the slot uncontested, ripping a shot toward the net. Mrazek made a tremendous glove save, denying Laine his 40th goal of the season.
Petr Mrazek of the Philadelphia Flyers makes the first period save against the Winnipeg Jets at the Wells Fargo Center on March 10, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
The two teams went into the locker room scoreless, as Jets' goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 11 Flyers first period shots.
It took the Flyers just over five minutes to break the scoreless tie, as the captain, Claude Giroux netted one over the glove of Hellebuyck for his 24th goal of the season. Giroux accepted a pass from Val Filppula, stepped up into an uncontested shot just outside the face off dot, and buried the shot top shelf shot through a Wayne Simmonds screen.
G makes it look easy. #WPGvsPHI https://t.co/AlzXPskRfu
Just three minutes later, the Flyers would get back on the board for a second time as Andrew MacDonald scored for the fifth time this season. The goal, however, needed a video review after the referee closest to the net originally ruled Hellebuyck successfully made a glove save after sliding across his crease.
No questions here. #WPGvsPHI https://t.co/nnLwXLcfCR
After review, however, the puck was clearly and fully over the red line, despite being secured with the glove by Hellebuyck, and the Flyers jumped ahead 2-0. The goal was assisted by Jakub Vorachek, who picked up his 58th assist of the season, momentarily taking the NHL lead for assists.
After two periods, the Flyers went into the locker room with the two goal lead in tact.
While Petr Mrazek and the Flyers defense contained Patrik Laine for the first two periods, it has become nearly impossible to totally control the second year winger, who came into this matchup with the Flyers having scored 14 goals in his previous 10 games. The 19-year-old would get on the board for the ninth time time in five games when he beat Mrazek on the man advantage with 11 minutes remaining, cutting the Flyers' lead to one goal. Travis Konecny went to the penalty box 30 seconds earlier after taking a tripping penalty. The goal was Laine 76th of his young career, tying him with Wayne Gretzky and Brian Bellows for third most as a teenagers in league history.
Laine's 40th goal of the year was assisted by Blake Wheeler, who drew even once more with Jakub Voracek for the league lead in assists with 58. The goal left the Jets with nearly 11 minutes left to tie the game.
The Flyers used an emergency recall to bring defenseman Travis Sanheim back up to the NHL after Robert Hagg went down with a lower body injury that is set to keep him out of action approximately two weeks. Johnny Oduya was not healthy enough to suit up Saturday afternoon, either, and as such, the Flyers were able to use the emergency clause to call up Sanheim without any further roster movement. Sanheim was sent down to Lehigh Valley in January, where he produced 15 assists in 18 games played. With Oduya's status remaining uncertain, Sanheim may get another opportunity to play Monday night.
The win improves the Flyers' record to 35-23-11, 81 points, and cuts the team's deficit in the Metropolitan Division standings to just one point. The Pittsburgh Penguins hold 82 points, while the Washington Capitals also sit with 81 points. The Flyers have played one more game than the Penguins and two more games than the Capitals. The win was the first for the Flyers in six games and the first in March.
The Jets' loss was just their third in 12 games, as they fall to 41-18-9, 91 points, in the 2017-18 season. Winnipeg is looking to keep pace with the Central Division leaders, the Nashville Predators, but now trails by six points and has played an additional game.
The Flyers will next take the ice Monday night when they welcome the Las Vegas Knights to the Wells Fargo Center for the first time in Vegas' young history. Puck drops at 7 p.m., and you can hear all the action on 97.5 The Fanatic!
-By Tyler Zulli