The Philadelphia Flyers are the highest-scoring team in the NHL, and they outdid themselves early in their 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes.
Claude Giroux scored his 15th goal of the season to move into a tie for the NHL scoring lead as the Flyers opened a 4-0 lead after one period Saturday night.
”It’s a great honor,” Giroux said, ”but it’s not just me out there. Our whole team is playing great right now.”
Rookie Matt Read had a goal and two assists as the Flyers took a 4-0 lead after one period. Wayne Simmonds and Scott Hartnell also scored in Philadelphia’s outburst.
Ray Whitney scored for Phoenix, his 350th career goal. Mikkel Boedker added the second Coyotes goal with 41 seconds left.
Ilya Bryzgalov, playing on consecutive nights for the first time this season, had 36 saves for Philadelphia and improved to 2-0 against his former team. The Flyers beat Phoenix in Philadelphia 2-1 on Oct. 17.
Coyotes goalie Mike Smith was pulled after allowing four goals on 17 shots in the first period. Jason LaBarbera had 13 saves, blanking the Flyers the final two periods.
Bryzgalov heard more than a few boos in a building where he played for 3 1/2 years before leaving after last season.
”I was surprised they booed me a little bit,” he said. ”I did a lot of good things for Phoenix and I appreciate what Phoenix did for me.”
The Flyers’ first and fourth goals came on power plays. They have five power play goals on 14 opportunities the past two games. They rallied to beat Anaheim 4-3 in overtime Friday night.
Giroux’s goal tied him with Toronto’s Phil Kessel for the NHL scoring lead at 32 points.
”He’s an extraordinary player,” coach Peter Laviolette said about Giroux. ”He really is. It shouldn’t surprise anybody that he is where he is right now. I think the skill level that he has is one thing, but the determination in which he plays the game is really special.”
The Flyers scored twice in a 1:38 span barely 6 minutes into the game. Read got his 10th goal of the season unassisted on a power play 4:23 into the first period. Philadelphia made it 2-0 when former Coyotes forward Danny Briere’s shot bounced off Smith and the puck was still in the air when Wayne Simmonds punched it into the net 6:01 into the game.
The Flyers, playing in Arizona for the first time since 2009, were just getting started.
With 3:47 left in the first, Giroux stood with his stick back like a batter at home plate, then got the pass from Kimmo Timonen and slammed the puck past Smith to make it 3-0.
”It was kind of a hard shot for the goalie to stop when the player is behind the net and kind of shoots it in front,” Giroux said. ”Kimmo did a great play there, obviously.”
The first-period onslaught concluded on Hartnell’s power-play goal with 1:31 remaining.
”They got that first one on kind of a bounce,” Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. ”They built off that and we didn’t react as we should have. They continued the pressure and we kind of we kind of went to sleep a little bit.”
With the 4-0 lead, Philadelphia had already exceeded its league-leading season average of 3.5 goals per game, and Smith was pulled early for the first time this season.
”It just wasn’t his night,” coach Dave Tippett said. ”The puck wasn’t hitting him.”
The Coyotes cut it to 4-1 on Whitney’s wrister, his ninth goal of the season.
Phoenix outshot Philadelphia 25-13 in the final two periods and 38-30 for the game.
”We had a couple of bad bounces, but then we made some bad mistakes that ended up in our net,” Tippett said, ”and you give a good team like Philadelphia that much of a cushion it’s going to be tough to win.”
Notes: Through the first period, Philadelphia had scored eight straight goals in less than 24 hours after coming from 3-0 down to win 4-3 in overtime at Anaheim on Friday night. It was the first time since Dec. 11, 2008, that the Flyers had rallied to win from at least a three-goal deficit. … The Flyers are 9-3-1 on the road. … Phoenix has one goal in its last 35 power plays. The Coyotes were 0 for 4 on Saturday night.