Philadelphia tops Winnipeg 5-2 for 3rd straight victory
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Nick Schultz makes a living trying to keep pucks out of the net, instead of shooting them.
When Schultz does have a rare shot to score, the defenseman enjoys the chance to cash in.
”It must be nice to be a goal scorer,” he said. ”They get paid a lot more, too.”
Schultz chipped in with a rare goal, and Wayne Simmonds, Chris VandeVelde, Brayden Schenn also scored, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night.
Sean Couturier added an empty-netter as Philadelphia won for the fourth time in five games while trying to make a desperate run at a playoff berth.
Schultz snapped a tie game in the second period with his first goal of the season, ending a 125-game drought. The 13-year veteran has developed into perhaps the steadiest defenseman on the Flyers, and his 28th career goal in 948 games was a reward for his grit on the ice.
He knew his scoreless skid was a long one – just not 125 games long.
”Is that how long it’s been? I knew it was a lot,” he said, smiling. ”I knew it was over 100. It’s nice to get one.”
Steve Mason made 36 saves for his second win in two games, though his first as a starter since Jan. 8. He had been sidelined with a knee injury and got the win against Arizona on Tuesday in relief of a shaky Ray Emery.
Mathieu Perreault scored twice for the Jets.
”You can’t wait until late March to get going. We’ve got to get some wins,” he said.
The 6-foot-1, 200-pound Schultz signed with Philadelphia in the offseason. He had 10 assists in 47 games this season and had not scored since he played for Edmonton on April 28, 2013. He had just five assists in 60 games last season.
But Schultz was there to pounce on a loose puck and beat Michael Hutchinson, who had a shutout in his last start, for a 3-2 lead. Petra Straka got his first NHL point on the assist, and Ryan White also had his first assist of the season on the goal.
”It just kind of popped out and I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss that one,” Schultz said.
The Flyers held on – and held off Perreault – from there.
Perreault scored a pair of tying goals in the first period. He pounded in a rebound and fired a slapper from the right circle on the power play about 8 1/2 minutes later for his 16th and 17th goals of the season.
The Jets slumped the rest of the way and have lost two straight following a five-game winning streak.
”There are pieces of our game that aren’t really good right now,” coach Paul Maurice said.
VandeVelde’s seventh goal of the season came when he knocked in a loose puck from a scrum in front of the net for a 1-0 lead. Simmonds scored his 18th on the power play for a 2-1 lead midway through the first.
Schenn made it 4-2 on a one-timer early in the third for his 11th goal this season.
Mason seemed fully recovered from a bout with the flu and the knee injury that sidelined him for six games. He settled down after a shaky first and stopped all 11 shots in the second and 13 more in the third.
”The injury hasn’t been a problem, which is great,” Mason said. ”I thought my game felt sharper than (against Arizona), which is obviously a positive sign as well.”
NOTES: There is still no decision if Flyers D Kimmo Timonen will return from blood clots that have sidelined him this season. General manager Ron Hextall said he hoped to know Timonen’s fate within days. ”It’s certainly the most complex medical thing that I’ve ever been through and it’s enough to make me dizzy,” Hextall said. … Jets D Dustin Byfuglien was booed when he touched the puck, a response to his on-ice shouting match with Flyers coach Craig Berube after last month’s game in Winnipeg.