PHILADELPHIA – The Red Wings kept the Flyers scoreless in the third period — and escaped Philly with a rare win in the building.
Pius Suter and Robby Fabbri scored goals and defenseman Marc Staal made the save of the game to help the Detroit Red Wings beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3 on Wednesday night.
“I liked the fact that we really didn’t give them much in the third,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. 'We’ve been in this position a lot and didn’t really play the hockey we needed to play."
The Red Wings won a regulation game in Philadelphia for the first time since Game 2 of the 1997 Stanley Cup Final.
Staal was in a timely spot to change the complexion of the game midway through the first period. Max Willman’s shot knocked off goalie Alex Nedeljkovic and trickled toward the goal line. Staal swooped in, swiped the puck after it dinged the post and kept the game tied 2-all.
Detroit got the reprieve it needed.
Suter scored in the second period from the slot for his 11th goal of the season and Fabbri knocked in a short-side goal for the 4-2 lead.
Turned out, the Flyers’ best offense came off, well, bad defense.
The Flyers three times scored seconds after a Detroit goal, but the sagging franchise couldn’t get a win.
“We recognized that we weren’t good, but there’s still an opportunity here and clearly we didn’t grab it,” Flyers coach Mike Yeo said. “We’re going to have to regroup here.”
The Flyers won two straight games heading into the All-Star break following a team-record 13 consecutive losses that spent them spiraling toward the bottom of the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers got a lift over the weekend when team captain Claude Giroux was named MVP of the All-Star game in Las Vegas. Giroux’s hot streak carried into this one, and his feed from behind the net to Travis Sanheim for a one-timer was a rare highlight.
The Flyers had been 16-0-1 in their past 17 home games against the Red Wings.
“You go into the break kind of feeling good about where we were going,” Yeo said. “Clearly, that game did not match our expectations.”
Detroit’s Dylan Larkin scored only 2:43 into the game -- and Philadelphia’s Isaac Ratcliffe scored his first NHL goal only 20 seconds later. Lucas Raymond knocked a rebound past a fallen Carter Hart and made it 2-1 Red Wings -- and Sanheim scored 24 seconds later.
Sure enough, after Fabbri made it 4-2, the Flyers needed 21 seconds for Scott Laughton to make it 4-3.
“It didn’t seem like we had anybody that could really keep swinging the momentum," Yeo said. “We had one good shift, then we had a really bad shift.”
Givani Smith sealed the win for Detroit with his fourth goal in the third and Vladislav Namestnikov added an empty-netter in the final minute.
The Flyers went 0 for 5 on the power play.
“When you look at the goals during the season we gave up on the PK, it’s not because we’re bad, it’s one little mistake," Red Wings defenseman Moritz Seider said. "But everybody contributed tonight.”
“Drew it up a million times in my head, how I was going to get my first NHL goal since I was young, and I didn’t think any of the times I drew it up it was going to go off my pants and in,” Ratcliffe said.
Danny Briere said it might take some time for the Flyers to truly become contenders.
The special assistant to the general manager is determined to make it happen. Briere, promoted to his new job this week, said the trade deadline could start to shape the franchise’s future.
“We would love to see the turnaround starting tonight,” Briere said before the game. “Being realistic, it might be next year or the following year. Who knows? I think there’s a lot that comes into play.”
Briere worked in the Flyers' player development department for the past two seasons in a part-time role working with the club’s prospects, as well as current players, on and off the ice.
“Sometimes you have a bad season, well you’ve got to take advantage of it,” Briere said. “There’s other opportunities that show up in front of you, you’ve got to jump on that.”
The Flyers head to Detroit for the rematch on Saturday.