Early offense not enough in Wild’s 7-4 loss to Flyers
PHILADELPHIA — A pep talk by new coach Scott Gordon has helped turn James van Riemsdyk’s game around.
Van Riemsdyk scored a power-play goal with 7:56 left in the second period, scored on a deflection late in the second and added an empty-net goal 1:17 remaining in the third. He has five goals and two assists during a three-game point streak after having just one point in his previous seven games.
The Flyers’ big offseason signing, van Riemsdyk had slumped and stood at six goals through 27 games when interim coach Gordon had a heart-to-heart with the veteran center following Philadelphia’s 5-3 loss at Washington last Tuesday in a game in which van Riemsdyk was demoted to the fourth line.
“It was nice to get clarification,” said van Riemsdyk, who signed a five-year, $35 million contract last summer. “Sometimes you don’t even realize you’re not doing it the way they want you to do it.”
Gordon, who replaced Dave Hakstol last month, was an assistant in Toronto, where van Riemsdyk prospered. The coach wanted to see van Riemsdyk get back to what worked with the Maple Leafs, particularly making his presence felt in front of the net.
“It’s one of the areas I felt he can be better,” Gordon said. “I know what he’s capable of. I can fall back to Toronto, what I saw there and what I wasn’t seeing here.”
Van Riemsdyk’s first tally, a power-play goal with 7:56 left in the first period, turned the tide after Minnesota jumped to a quick 2-0 lead. Philadelphia’s power play came in ranked 30th, connecting at just 12.8 percent, and Gordon made major changes by installing five forwards onto the top unit. It paid off when van Riemsdyk deflected Jakub Voracek‘s slap shot to pull the Flyers within 2-1. The goal was upheld after a video challenge by Minnesota.
“It’s nice to see we were able to score in bunches tonight,” van Riemsdyk said.
Philadelphia tied a season high for goals.
Wayne Simmonds also had two goals for the Flyers. It was just the second win in the last 11 games for Philadelphia, which began Monday with the fewest points in the league.
Jason Zucker, Marcus Foligno, Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Suter scored for Minnesota. The Wild dropped to 0-5-1 against Metropolitan Division teams.
“You can’t make the mistakes we’re making out there and hope to win a hockey game,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
Philadelphia outscored the Wild 3-1 in a busy second period.
Foligno struck first, following his own miss from right in front of Carter Hart, to give Minnesota a 3-2 lead.
Patrick entered without a goal in 24 straight games before the first of his two scores tied it at 3. Then he made it 4-3 with 4:32 remaining with a highlight-worthy play. Travis Sanheim took the initial slapper from the point, and Patrick moved his stick between his own legs and shot behind his back after the rebound caromed hard off the back boards for his seventh of the season.
“That’s something you practice in the summer,” Patrick said.
Asked if he had ever scored a goal like that, Patrick said: “In a beer league.”
Simmonds lifted a shot over Devan Dubnyk with 5.2 seconds left. Boudreau pulled Dubnyk after the second, replacing him with Alex Stalock.
A fluky goal with 11:42 left in the third pulled the Wild within 5-4. An attempted clearance from in front of Hart bounced off Suter and back into the goal. It was waved off at first, but the officials reversed their initial decision after a video replay showed that Eric Staal was pushed into Hart by defenseman Robert Hagg.
Simmonds answered with his second of the game 2:25 later on a breakaway.
Notes: Scott Laughton had three assists, while Giroux had two. … Philadelphia D Andrew MacDonald returned after missing the last six games with a lower-body injury. … Philadelphia improved to 9-9-3 against Western Conference teams.
Wild: Host Los Angeles on Tuesday night.
Flyers: Host Boston on Wednesday night.