Couturier lifts Flyers over Maple Leafs 4-2 for 4th straight
PHILADELPHIA (AP) There wasn’t anything fancy about Sean Couturier’s game-winning goal. Claude Giroux’s pass that set it up, though, was something special.
Couturier broke a tie with 2:55 left and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 on Tuesday night for their fourth straight victory.
Couturier and Giroux each had a goal and an assist, and Travis Konecny also scored as Philadelphia halted a six-game home losing streak. Scott Laughton added an empty-netter, and Brian Elliott made 20 saves.
Couturier’s career high-tying 15th goal of the season gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead.
”I just tried to shoot as hard as I could,” he said.
Giroux set it up with a between-the-legs pass while facing the boards that Couturier corralled and shot over goalie Frederik Andersen’s left shoulder.
”He’s so good,” Couturier said. ”You have to expect those plays from him.”
Giroux couldn’t even describe the pass, saying he saw Couturier and instinct took over.
”That’s a pretty special play to get the puck to open ice,” Philadelphia coach Dave Hakstol said.
The Flyers opened a five-game homestand with their first victory on home ice since Nov. 9 against Chicago. Philadelphia had won three in a row – all on the road – to stop a 10-game skid, quieting calls for Hakstol to be fired.
”The difference has been we’re taking advantage of our good play,” Hakstol said.
Patrick Marleau and James van Riemsdyk scored for the Maple Leafs, whose three-game winning streak was snapped in the opener of a three-game road trip.
The Maple Leafs played without star center Auston Matthews (upper body) for the second consecutive game. Matthews was injured late in the third period of Saturday’s win over Pittsburgh when he collided with teammate Morgan Rielly and is day to day. Toronto dropped to 5-1 without him.
”I didn’t like the third,” coach Mike Babcock said. ”To me, we gifted two goals.”
Konecny’s shot 5:36 into the third period tied it at 2. Konecny blocked Andersen’s clearing attempt, keeping the puck in the Toronto zone, and wheeled around at the blue line with a wrist shot that first hit the stick of the Maple Leafs’ Dominic Moore before deflecting over Andersen.
”It’s his tenacity,” Hakstol said, explaining the key to Konecny’s strong play.
It looked as though the Flyers were going to return to their losing ways at home when van Riemsdyk put the Maple Leafs ahead with 3:10 left in the second period on a power-play goal that made it 2-1. After Philadelphia’s Jakub Voracek went off for tripping, van Riemsdyk netted his 15th of the season after deflecting Rielly’s wrist shot from the point.
Giroux opened the scoring with a slap shot that beat Andersen at 9:21 of the first. Couturier set up the goal by winning a faceoff, and Giroux unleashed a hard one-timer to Andersen’s blocker side.
Babcock was animated after the goal because he didn’t like that Marleau got kicked out of the faceoff by the linesman and was replaced by Zach Hyman.
”I didn’t like it,” Babcock said.
Toronto tied it 27 seconds later when Marleau’s wrist shot from a sharp angle went off Elliott’s arm. It was the 1,100th point of Marleau’s career.
NOTES: Andersen finished with 35 saves. … Flyers D Radko Gudas returned from a 10-game suspension for slashing Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault on Nov. 16. … Philadelphia improved to 5-10 at home. … Following this road trip, Toronto hosts Carolina on Dec. 19 before playing the next five on the road. The Maple Leafs then will return home Jan. 2 for the start of a six-game homestand. … Matthews has 13 goals and 13 assists.
Maple Leafs: At the Minnesota Wild on Thursday night.
Flyers: Host the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday night.
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