Flyers 4, Red Wings 3 post-game: Couturier powers Flyers

Updated: December 21, 2017 at 12:32 am by Wes Herrmann

Philadelphia Flyers 4 (15-12-7), Detroit Red Wings 3 (13-14-7)

It wasn’t the prettiest of games for the Flyers, but they’re back in the win column after leaving it for a game with a 4-3 win over the Red Wings Tuesday night.

Philly had issues in the neutral zone and dealing with Detroit’s speed for most of the game, but Dale Weise and Wayne Simmonds potted goals,  Robert Hagg scored the first of his career and Sean Couturier scored the eventual game-winner to lead the team to the win.

1ST PERIOD

Given all of the Flyers’ chances in the first stanza, it seemed criminal that the first ended in a 1-1 tie.

Sean Couturier had four chances by himself alone and Claude Giroux had two others. It was Dale Weise, though, who got Philly on the board.

With 4:41 left in the period, a Radko Gudas shot off a faceoff was blocked and ricocheted into the corner. Weise picked up the puck, wrapped around the net and banked his shot off Jimmy Howard’s right pad to get the game’s first goal.

But with just over a minute left in the period, the Red Wings were awarded a power play off a weak penalty when Giroux flipped Dylan Larkin’s stick out of his possession when the Detroit center was holding it one-handed. It looked like the Flyers would get out of the period unscathed until Larkin was sent on a 2-on-1 with Martin Frk.

Larkin hit Frk on a cross-ice pass and the Czech Republic native snapped the shot past Brian Elliott on his far left side with 1.3 seconds left.

The Wings actually controlled play in the first five minutes, but a shift from the Flyers’ first line around the 15-minute mark turned the tide in their favor. Besides their goal, Couturier and Giroux had prime chances when Anthony Mantha’s stick broke behind Howard and caused a turnover in in the crease. Howard made the first save and Trevor Daley blocked a would-be goal from Couturier.

2ND PERIOD

It was a higher scoring affair in the second with the teams swapping a pair of goals. To start the scoring, Philadelphia’s penalty kill was burnt again.

This time, it was on a four-minute call when Jordan Weal highsticked Frans Nielsen and drew blood. The Flyers had killed almost three minutes of it before Larkin, stationed behind Elliott, found Mike Green at the top of the circles for a quick one-timer.

About five minutes later, the Flyers were granted a power play and it was the Red Wings’ penalty killer’s turn to let their team down. Jake Voracek made a cross-ice pass from the halfboard to Wayne Simmonds on Howard’s doorstep for an easy slam-dunk goal.

Less than a minute later, Detroit held the lead again. Henrik Zetterberg’s line got the puck in deep and the Flyers got lost quickly in their own end. After a scramble chance in front, Zetterberg stripped the puck off Valterri Filppula and hit Gustav Nyquist all alone in the slot. Three Flyers were watching the Swede in the corner. Nyquist faked a shot and deked right to beat Elliott.

But Philly wasn’t done there. Later in the period, Giroux’s impressive board work left Robert Hagg open on the right point. The captain made the pass and the rookie blasted a slap shot past Howard for the first goal of his career.

3RD PERIOD

After a quiet second period from Couturier, the center finally cashed in on a goal. Six minutes into the period, Couturier, Giroux and Simmonds entered the Detroit zone on a 3-on-3. Giroux sucked in two defenders, passed to Simmonds who found Couturier breaking toward the net. Howard stopped the 25 year old’s initial shot, but Couturier stuffed in his own rebound.

That goal — and playing last night — seemed to deflate the Red Wings. They mustered just four shots over the whole period, including just one in the last three minutes, to the Flyers’ 10.

It seemed like the Wings would have a perfect opportunity to tie it when they were given a power play on an elbowing call on Voracek on a play that looked more like the Czech Republic native overpowering Andreas Anthanasiou. But after the officials discussed it, they also took Anthanasiou off for embellishment.

The Wings still pulled Howard, but got just one shot on goal from Larkin with two seconds left in the game. Like 24 others, Elliott made the save.

QUICK HITTERS

The first line had an amazing game for the Flyers. They turned the tide in the first period, helped set up Hagg’s goal and scored the game-winner where every Flyer on the ice touched the puck. But in the first two stanzas, it was the only line creating offense consistently. Weise may have scored a goal, but from the second to fourth line no continued offensive pressure was evident. With the Red Wings gassed in the third, the bottom nine finally started contributing, but the Flyers could have used that earlier.

Nolan Patrick continues to improve. He’s been better defensively and along the boards. Against Detroit, the rookie picked up an assist and had chances in the first and third periods at getting on the board. With the way he’s playing, he’ll start scoring more.

I don’t understand why coach Dave Hakstol is so adamant on changing up his fourth line. Tonight, he sat Taylor Leier for Jori Lehtera, who struggled all night with turnovers and losing puck battles. Leier may not have created much more offense instead, but there was no reason to make the switch.

The Red Wings may be fading, but they’re still a fast team with Larkin, Anthanasiou and Darren Helm. That speed caused a ton of issues for the Flyers in the neutral zone. Whether they were bringing the puck up ice or on the backcheck, the Wings were consistently faster. It led to two Detroit breakaways in the first five minutes and multiple odd-man chances throughout the game. The Red Wings aren’t that talented, so Philly escaped with a win, but what happens when the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins or Carolina Hurricanes use their speed against the Flyers? Also, another reason Leier should have been in the lineup.

NEXT GAME

Flyers at Buffalo Sabres

Friday, 12/22 @ 7 P.M.

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