CHICAGO – The Philadelphia Flyers made a strong statement with a strong effort.
Jeff Carter had two goals and an assist, and rookie Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves in Philadelphia’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.
Nikolay Zherdev and Scott Hartnell added goals, and Claude Giroux had four assists for the Flyers in the only regular-season rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup finals.
Philadelphia was in charge most of the game against the defending champion Blackhawks, who defeated the Flyers in six games in the finals.
“It obviously was nice,” Carter said. “We know how last year ended.
“Nothing was said in the room before. I think each guy individually knew what was going on today and it was a big two points for us.”
Philadelphia improved to a league-leading 69 points and is 9-2-0 in its past 11.
The 22-year-old Bobrovsky lost a bid for his first career shutout at 6:49 of the third period when Marian Hossa scored on a penalty shot.
“I’m really happy we won the game today because we maintained our position in first place this year,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “It’s about looking forward not looking back.
“We came into a loud building against a very good hockey team, and we played a real sound hockey game and walked away with two points.”
Chicago lost in regulation for the first time since Jan. 5 and had been on a 5-0-1 roll.
“It seems like they had five guys in the neutral zone,” Hossa said. “They were waiting for our mistakes and it was hard to get the puck by them.”
Chicago rookie Corey Crawford finished with 30 saves.
Bobrovsky was especially sharp in the first period before the Flyers took control.
The Blackhawks had the better scoring chances in the up-tempo, scoreless first. Bobrovsky made several quick, close-in saves, including ones on Jonathan Toews and Tomas Kopecky.
“(Bobrovsky) was in complete control,” Laviolette said. “Never too far out of position. Not deep. There were no second opportunities. He was quick with his legs.”
As the period progressed, Chicago’s skating and puck possession game became more dominant. But Carter opened the scoring 49 seconds into the second to cap a lengthy goal-mouth scramble.
Crawford stopped Braydon Coburn’s drive from the right point, but couldn’t control the rebound. While Crawford was down in the crease, the Flyers managed several attempts that hit him or were blocked by the Blackhawks. Carter finally pushed the puck over the goal line to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
“It was a weird one,” Carter said. “We missed about five times.”
Philadelphia then tightened its play and coverage to slow down Chicago. Meanwhile, the Flyers generated several prime chances and ended up outshooting Chicago 19-9 in the period.
“They scored the all-important first goal,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “They got the momentum and we couldn’t get it back.”
Zherdev made it 2-0 at 2:28 of the third when he scored on a wraparound. He circled the net and tucked in a shot from the left side before Crawford could cover the post.
Carter scored again just under three minutes later to extend the Flyers’ lead to 3-0. He tipped in Giroux’s centring pass in midair from the edge of the crease to complete a three-on-two break.
Hossa was awarded his penalty shot after Coburn closed his hand on the puck during a goal-mouth scrum. Hossa beat Bobrovsky between the legs with a wrist shot. He became the first Blackhawks player to score on a penalty shot in a home game since Troy Murray in 1987.
Hartnell completed the scoring with an empty-net goal with 52 seconds left.
Notes: The Flyers remain one of two NHL teams without a shutout. … Giroux extended his point streak to six games and has two goals and eight assists in that span. … Philadelphia LW James Van Riemsdyk missed the game with a lower-body injury. … Toews, Chicago’s captain, was in the lineup. He sat out the end of the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win at Detroit on Saturday after a collision in the third period. … Sunday’s game started at 11:30 a.m. and concluded just before the start of the NFC championship game between the Bears and Packers at Soldier Field.