Couturier, Elliott help Flyers blank slumping Blackhawks
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Flyers are riding high on confidence, and it’s showing in their results.
Sean Couturier had two goals and an assist, Brian Elliott made 33 saves and the surging Flyers continued their dominance over Chicago in Philadelphia with a 4-0 victory over the slumping Blackhawks on Saturday.
Claude Giroux tallied a goal and two assists and Nolan Patrick added an empty-netter for the Flyers, who have won five of six overall and 15 in a row at home in the regular season against the Blackhawks. Chicago last won a regular-season game in Philadelphia on Nov. 9, 1996.
“Confidence helps,” Couturier said. “Right now everything is going well. It’s huge when you have confidence to make plays. We’re making it tougher to play against.”
The Blackhawks have lost six straight games and two in a row under coach Jeremy Colliton. The 33-year-old Colliton replaced Joel Quenneville, the NHL’s second-winningest regular-season coach who was fired on Tuesday after 10 seasons at the helm.
“We’re doing some good things,” Colliton said. “I just would like to see that sustained a little more.”
Elliott was solid all game and made some key saves in the third period, including stopping Patrick Kane from close range on a Blackhawks power play, while recording his 38th career shutout. He also denied Dominik Kahun and Nick Schmaltz on shots from the slot that came right after the other early in the third.
It was the second straight strong performance for Elliott, who denied all 16 shots he faced in relief of Calvin Pickard in Thursday’s 5-4 overtime win over Arizona.
“He was our most important player,” coach Dave Hakstol said.
“We’re playing hard, feeling good, feeling confident,” Hakstol added. “We’re battling hard and playing hard, and it’s resulting in points.”
Giroux staked the Flyers to a 1-0 lead with 5:04 left in the first period when he took advantage of a Chicago turnover. Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith’s clearing attempt from the end boards went right to Giroux, who faked a forehand shot before beating Corey Crawford with a backhander from the slot.
The lead was two goals with 11:06 left in the second when Couturier used his backhand to score on a breakaway just as time expired on a Chicago power play. Giroux passed ahead to Couturier, who had one step on Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz.
And Couturier made it 3-0 with 15:43 left in the third when his centering pass went off the skate of Blackhawks defenseman Brandon Manning and over the goal line.
The Blackhawks have been outscored 30-12 during their losing streak.
“We’re making little mistakes here and there,” Chicago center Jonathan Toews said. “We need to be better after we give up goals.”
Said Crawford, “It seems like there are always tough stretches during the season. We just have to dig our way out of it.”
Notes: Giroux has 11 points (4 goals, 7 assists) in his last six games. … Chicago LW Brandon Saad (right arm) and C Marcus Kruger (left leg) did not play. . Giroux passed Rick MacLeish to move into fourth place in club history in points. … Philadelphia improved to 44-16-11 all-time at home against the Blackhawks. … The Flyers next play the third game of their season-high five-game homestand on Tuesday against Florida.
Chicago: At Carolina on Monday.
Philadelphia: Host Florida on Tuesday.