PHILADELPHIA – Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux’s teammates had a feeling he would end his 21-game goal drought Saturday.
“I knew he was going to score tonight,” Wayne Simmonds said. “I think he could kind of feel it. He’s getting a million chances all year long, and then finally he put that one in.”
Giroux’s third-period goal in the Flyers’ 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers was his first of the season, and first since April 15.
Jay Rosehill, Scott Hartnell and Vinny Lecavalier also scored for the Flyers, who had more than two goals for only the second time in 16 games this season.
But for Giroux, the goal was more than a goal.
“It was obviously a lot of relief,” Giroux said. “To see all the boys on the bench being happy too, I think that was really fun. But you know what, it’s a big win for us. And we go on the road now, and we’ve got to get on a roll here.”
David Perron and Taylor Hall scored for Edmonton. Ilya Bryzgalov, the former Flyers goalie who signed with the Oilers on Friday, was not at the game.
The game marked the Flyers’ first win at the Wells Fargo Center since Oct. 24 against the New York Rangers, and ended a stretch of 175:22 during which they had gone without a goal at home—a franchise record.
They seemed to surprise the Oilers, who were expecting to face far less pressure from a Flyers team that ranks last in the NHL in goals per game.
“That was a team that had been described as fragile,” Hall said. “But I thought they came out and played really hard and won a lot more battles than we did.”
The Oilers, actually, controlled the pace early. It wasn’t until Giroux drew an interference call on Anton Belov at 7:20 of the first period that his team woke up. The Flyers didn’t score during the power play, but Rosehill did at 11:56, just moments later.
Mark Streit, who set up Rosehill’s goal, also set up the goal that followed it with a cross-ice pass to Hartnell at 17:16.
The Flyers’ first period was their first multi-goal period since they hosted the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 29. It was the fourth period all season the team scored more than a single marker.
“Probably everybody’s a little bit surprised with their struggles with scoring so far this year with the personnel they have,” Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk said.
Despite being largely outplayed in the game’s final two periods, the Oilers managed to stay within a goal for most of the afternoon. They cut the Flyers’ lead in half when Perron scored on the power play at 18:25 of the second period.
Third periods have been the Flyers’ worst all season – as a number of players have said, they’ve often found ways to lose. But they took to heart words that were shared during a players-only meeting Thursday, and hit the ice with confidence in the third period. Facing the NHL’s worst defence didn’t hurt, either.
“The attitude in the room, if they get a late goal, usually we’re kind of down,” Giroux said. “They got a late goal in the second, and you know what, the attitude was great. I was responsible for that goal at the end of the second, and guys stayed positive, and we just stayed with it and kept playing our game.”
Giroux, at 11:26, was the Flyer who beat Dubnyk next, to bring the score to 3-1. The crowd rose to its feet and stayed there as Giroux was greeted by Steve Mason, who left his crease to congratulate his captain. Mason finished with 24 saves.
Hall again cut the Flyers’ lead to a single goal at 13:25, but it didn’t last. Lecavalier’s shot at 16:33 flew high over Dubnyk’s shoulder, and the Oilers simply couldn’t fight their way out of their own zone in the little time that remained.
With the win, the Flyers improved to 5-9-1. The Oilers (4-12-2) are last the Western Conference.
For the Flyers, the win is something to build upon as they embark on a three-game trip, starting Tuesday in Ottawa.
“It’s great,” Hartnell said. “We didn’t hear a boo all night here at home, first time in a long time. Our efforts haven’t been great at home and we wanted a big effort 60-minute game and that’s something we did tonight.
“We have to continue that and carry that forward.”
NOTES: Edmonton’s Luke Gazdic (shoulder) left the game in the second period and did not return. Belov received a match penalty for a hit on Giroux. . The game was just the seventh of 16 this season in which the Flyers scored more than one goal. … Edmonton’s power-play goal at 18:25 of the second period snapped a streak of 14 consecutive penalties killed by the Flyers over three-plus games.