DALLAS – The Philadelphia Flyers expected an instant impact from the return of Claude Giroux, and that’s exactly what they got from their top scorer.
Giroux had a goal and three assists in his return from a four-game absence due to a concussion and the surging Flyers beat the Dallas Stars 4-1 Wednesday night.
“He’s clearly established himself as a top player in the league,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “He missed some time and wanted to get back in there. He’s capable of that. It shouldn’t surprise anybody.”
Simmonds and Jaromir Jagr added power-play goals, and defenceman Andrej Meszaros connected at even strength for Philadelphia. Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves as the Flyers improved to 10-2-1 in their last 13 overall and 13-3-2 on the road this season.
Giroux, the Flyers’ top scorer, was out since he was injured in a game against Tampa Bay on Dec. 10 when he was accidentally hit in the back of the head by teammate Wayne Simmonds’ knee.
Michael Ryder scored in the game’s first minute for the Stars, who were 4-1-0 in their previous five games.
BLACKHAWKS 5, CANADIENS 1
CHICAGO (AP)—Andrew Brunette and Patrick Sharp scored 21 seconds apart midway through the second period, and Corey Crawford made 20 saves in his first start in more than two weeks for Chicago.
Viktor Stalberg scored midway through the third period and Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell added late goals for NHL-leading Chicago. The Blackhawks rebounded from a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh on Tuesday, improving to 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
Andrei Kostitsyn scored a power-play goal for Montreal, which lost its fourth straight—including the last three since interim coach Randy Cunneyworth replaced Jacques Martin last Saturday.
Crawford hadn’t played since being pulled early in the second period of a 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix on Dec. 5.
COYOTES 4, HURRICANES 3
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP)—Lauri Korpikoski and Ray Whitney both had a goal and an assist to lead Phoenix past Carolina.
Korpikoski scored the game-winner at 10:48 of the third period after being set up by Derek Morris and Whitney. Cal O’Reilly and Rostislav Klesla also scored for the Coyotes and Jason LaBarbera stopped 34 shots.
Tuomo Ruutu got his team-leading 11th goal for the Hurricanes, while Andreas Nodl and Jiri Tlusty also scored. Carolina goalie Cam Ward finished with 15 saves.
The Coyotes, who beat Florida on Tuesday night in the opener of their two-game trip, improved to 4-1 in the second game of back-to-back contests. Phoenix also improved to 1-11-1 when trailing going into the third period, while Carolina dropped to 9-1-2 after holding a two-period lead.
AVALANCHE 3, BLUES 2
DENVER (AP)—Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 37 shots and Jay McClement scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period to lift Colorado to its seventh straight home win.
Paul Stastny and Cody McLeod also scored for the Avalanche and Matt Hunwick, Kevin Porter and Shane O’Brien each had an assist. Colorado has won seven consecutive at home for the first time since 2003.
Brian Elliott made 19 saves and David Backes and Chris Stewart scored for the Blues, who lost in regulation for just the second time the last 13 games.
CANUCKS 4, RED WINGS 2
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP)—Roberto Luongo stopped 38 shots and Alex Burrows scored for the fourth straight game, leading Vancouver past Detroit.
Chris Higgins and Cody Hodgson scored 21 seconds apart midway through the first period and Alex Edler had the other goal as the Canucks won their third straight and improved to 12-2-1 in their last 15 games.
Burrows’ tip of a hard pass to the goalmouth by Daniel Sedin put Vancouver up 3-1 with 4:20 to go in the first and stood as the game-winner. He tied Sedin for the team lead with 13 goals.
Todd Bertuzzi and Drew Miller scored for the Red Wings, who lost for just the second time in seven games (5-2-0).
SHARKS 7, LIGHTNING 2
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP)—Logan Couture scored two of San Jose’s team-record five goals in the first 14:47 to lead the Sharks.
Benn Ferriero, Joe Pavelski, Andrew Desjardins, Brent Burns and Patrick Marleau also scored for the Sharks, who won their third straight.
Dominic Moore and Martin St. Louis scored for the Lightning, who had a two-game winning streak snapped and lost their eighth in 11 games.
It was the Sharks five fastest goals ever scored in a regular-season game and a season high for goals. Antti Niemi stopped 22 shots for his third straight win.
Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson stopped 31 of 34 shots in relief of starter Mathieu Garon.