Simmonds scores twice to lift Flyers past Stars
PHILADELPHIA (AP) Things are going so well for the Philadelphia Flyers right now that they don’t even need to be at their best to come out on top.
Wayne Simmonds scored two goals and the Flyers beat the Dallas Stars 4-2 Thursday night for their fourth straight win.
Mark Streit and Michael Raffl also scored for Philadelphia, which improved to 11-2-1 in its last 14 games while maintaining its hold on second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Despite the victory, head coach Craig Berube was concerned with the team’s ”sloppy” play, particularly the second period when Philadelphia allowed 17 shots and three power plays.
”Tonight wasn’t as good, for sure,” Berube said. ”We were sloppy tonight, at times. Overall our team is competing hard, working hard and playing like a team, and that’s what you have to do. They know it wasn’t good enough tonight, but we won.”
Jamie Benn scored twice for Dallas, which lost its fourth straight. The Stars began the day two points behind Phoenix for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Stars coach Lindy Ruff actually saw positives in the defeat.
”If we play like that night after night, we’ll win,” Ruff said. ”We didn’t give up a lot in the game. We gave up four goals but we didn’t give up four goals on a lot of opportunities and zone time. Our puck movement was good. The margin of victory, that game could’ve went either way real fast.”
Simmonds scored his second of the game with 7:39 left to put Philadelphia ahead 3-1. After skating across the blue line, Simmonds fired a wrist shot that beat Tim Thomas to the stick side.
”That’s a save I should make,” Thomas said. ”The team really needed it at the time, and I really feel bad for the guys for the game they played. That’s hockey. But I can guarantee I’m going to be better for the guys from here on out.”
Just 30 seconds later, Benn scored his second of the contest by finishing a rebound from in front of the crease after Tyler Seguin’s shot followed a poor Philadelphia turnover in its own end. It was the 29th goal of the season for Benn, who has points in eight of his last nine games.
Raffl provided some insurance for Philadelphia by beating Thomas with a backhander on a breakaway with 3:12 to play.
The Flyers took a 2-0 lead after one period. Streit opened the scoring with 9:37 left in the first when he beat Thomas to the glove side with a one-timed slap shot from the top of the left circle.
Thomas, Dallas’ backup, got the start because he entered 14-4-2 with a 2.21 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in his career against Philadelphia. The Stars’ starting goalie, Kari Lehtonen, is 0-10-2 with a 3.50 goals-against and .891 save percentage lifetime against the Flyers.
Simmonds scored on a rebound on the power play just under three minutes later to put Philadelphia in front 2-0. Jakub Voracek’s shot from the blue line first hit the right post, then the back of Thomas’ leg and then the left post before deflecting in front to a wide-open Simmonds, who easily finished from lose range.
After Steve Mason stopped Alex Chiasson and Benn on a 5-on-3 power play with 8 minutes remaining in the second period, Benn got the Stars on the board with 7:12 left in the period on a 5-on-4 advantage by beating Mason through the five-hole from right in front of the goal to pull Dallas within 2-1. It was the first power-play goal allowed by the Flyers in their last 20 penalty kills.
And despite dominating the period, Dallas entered the third down one goal.
”We got on our toes and skated well,” Ruff said of the second period. ”You have to give Mason a lot of credit. We could’ve built some momentum and he made a couple timely saves.”
Tyler Seguin finished with two assists, giving him 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in his last eight games while extending his career-high total to 72 points.
NOTES: Dallas lost for the fourth straight time in Philadelphia, with the Stars’ last victory a 4-1 win on Dec. 1, 2007. … Mason returned to the goal after getting a break in Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime win over Chicago when backup Ray Emery made 23 saves. Mason had started eight straight games prior to Tuesday. … The Stars won the only other matchup this season when Seguin got a natural hat trick in a 5-1 win on Dec. 7 in Dallas.