‘That was eff you to me’ — Flyers move to 3-0-0 after All-Star break originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
John Tortorella is eager to see how his team will handle a playoff race.
So far, so good.
The Flyers picked up a 3-2 win Saturday night over the Kraken at the Wells Fargo Center.
Coming out of the bye week and All-Star break, the Flyers (28-19-6) have won three straight, a streak in which they’ve outscored opponents 9-4.
Tortorella’s club did a little bit of everything offensively Saturday night, scoring at even strength, on the power play and on the penalty kill. Nine different players recorded a point.
Sean Couturier delivered the game-winner, Ryan Poehling scored the team’s league-leading 12th shorthanded goal of the season and Scott Laughton netted the game-opening marker on the man advantage.
With 29 games to go, the Flyers are four wins away from surpassing last season’s total (31-38-13). They hold a playoff position in third place of the Metropolitan Division.
“We’ve put ourselves in a good spot here and I think guys have realized that, the way we need to play to continue this,” Laughton said. “It’s going to be a sprint to the finish line, it happens quick throughout the end of the year. It’s an exciting time to be in Philly here and be a part of this.”
Tortorella wasn’t happy with the Flyers’ final two periods in a 4-1 win Thursday over the Jets.
The head coach was confident his players would respond.
“I haven’t spoken one word to them about the game, haven’t shown them one clip of the game,” he said Saturday at morning skate. “We trust them. We know how they felt about it even during the game.”
This time, they kept their foot on the gas. The Flyers are 2-0-0 on their three-game homestand and have yet to trail.
“I thought we played a complete game,” Tortorella said. “I thought we had poise, I thought we stayed on our toes in the third period.”
The Flyers split their two-game regular-season series with the Kraken (21-20-10). Back in late December, the Flyers suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Seattle at Climate Pledge Arena.
• Cal Petersen made his first start in 91 days and did his job, recording 17 saves.
“I understand the opportunity and it’s one that I’ve waited for for a long time,” the 29-year-old said of being in the Flyers’ goaltending picture. “I’m still going to keep that day-to-day mentality, but it’s an opportunity I don’t want to let go to waste.”
The Kraken tied the game at 2-2 only 36 seconds into the third period when Jared McCann’s shot went off of Couturier’s stick.
But Couturier got it back a little under five minutes later with a redirection.
The 2019-20 Selke Trophy winner was on the ice for both of Seattle’s goals.
“I feel both goals, they were kind of my guy,” Couturier said. “I got a little too excited on the first one, went for the big hit and it was a bad judgement call, then my guy scores. The second one, same thing, it was kind of at my feet.
“I feel all night it was one of those games for me personally where, I don’t know, just kind of in my feet, fighting it a little bit. I’m just glad I could get that one back there in the third.”
After McCann’s equalizer, Tortorella gave Couturier an earful. When Couturier put the Flyers back ahead, the first-line center screamed in celebration.
“Oh, that was eff you to me, yeah,” Tortorella said. “I’m sure it was. So be it, so be it. That’s part of it. That’s what I like about him. He’s a crusty, old pro. He’s a huge part of this.
“Let me tell you something, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him how he’s handled this year after taking two years off. But there are no free passes. We need him terribly, in games, to be consistent.”
Couturier has always prided himself on being as close to perfect as possible.
“He’s not allowed to have a bad night or take a night off; he’s not allowed,” Tortorella said. “We’re just not good enough for him to be average.”
Kraken netminder Joey Daccord stopped 35 of the Flyers’ 38 shots.
• For first time this season, the Flyers came out on the losing end of their coach’s challenge.
They dropped to 4 for 5 after Seattle’s game-tying goal in the first period was upheld. A lengthy review did not determine the play was offside, which penalized the Flyers.
But Poehling picked up the Flyers’ coaches when he struck again on the penalty kill. He scored his third shorthanded goal of the season and second in the last two games to hand the Flyers a 2-1 lead at first intermission.
The 25-year-old center is making his two-year contract extension look like good business. The Flyers’ penalty kill and bottom six have benefited from his speed and length.
“He’s a big part of our team,” Couturier said.
• After being benched for the third period Thursday, finishing with just 10:31 minutes, Cam Atkinson had a couple of shots and a blocked shot in 15:16 minutes against the Kraken.
“The last game obviously wasn’t my best,” Atkinson said Saturday after morning skate. “Just get back to playing with energy, confidence, shooting the puck and getting myself to those dirty areas where I score all my goals. A work in progress right now.”
• Tortorella went with the traditional 12 forwards and six defensemen. He made Egor Zamula a healthy scratch.
“He has leveled off 5-on-5 and I want him to watch a game,” Tortorella said at morning skate.
Rasmus Ristolainen returned on the back end after missing Thursday’s game because of an illness. Up front, Nicolas Deslauriers drew into the lineup.
Along with Zamula, Marc Staal and Olle Lycksell were extras.
• The Flyers wrap up their homestand Monday when they host the Coyotes (7 p.m. ET/NBCSP).
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