EDMONTON – Michael Raffl looked like he had won the lottery.
The 25-year-old rookie forward scored the winner on his first career shootout attempt as the Philadelphia Flyers overcame an early deficit to earn a 4-3 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday.
“I didn’t really expect to be sent out there,” Raffl said. “I was ready to hold my helmet and then I heard that I was going third and I was like ‘nice.’ I really enjoyed it.
“It was nice to get the chance and it going in made it even nicer. It’s always nice to score a goal, and to have it be the winner was even better”
Wayne Simmonds had a pair of goals and Scott Hartnell also scored for the Flyers (18-16-4), who have won four out of their last five games and snapped a five-game losing streak on the road as they started a six-game trip in Edmonton.
“We’ve been struggling on the road, so to start off this long road trip with a pretty solid victory is very nice,” said Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who was only called upon to face 16 shots. “We just need to carry it through to our next game and keep building on this.”
It was the third consecutive two-goal game for Simmonds, who has seven goals in his last five outings. He was the first Flyer to have three straight multiple-goal games since Reggie Leach in 1981.
“Obviously it has been a good stretch for me,” Simmonds said. “It’s been even better that the team has been starting to win and piling up the two points most nights. It feels good. I’ve just been getting the bounces.”
Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and David Perron responded for the Oilers (13-24-4), who had a two-game winning streak end and have lost seven of their last nine.
“It wasn’t our best game that’s for sure, but sometimes you have to take a look at what you’ve done,” Hall said. “A back-to-back after a three-day break isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to do. That’s not really an excuse, but when you look back at the schedule sometimes there’s reasons for why you don’t do well. When we have a schedule like that, we have to keep it as simple as possible and make sure we’re not playing a mistake-filled game.”
It was the first game Edmonton goalie Ilya Bryzgalov had played against his old Flyers teammates since Philadelphia bought him and his hefty long-term contract out during the summer.
“I know they’re not going to quit,” the goalie said of his Flyer foes. “I knew what was coming, I knew they were going to play hard and they were going to get lots of pucks to the net. That’s the style they play, aggressive.
“Playing back to back nights after three days off, it’s not easy. I think we battled through and tried our best. It’s great to get the point.
Edmonton got off to a very quick start to the game, scoring on its first shot just 32 seconds in. Hall picked the pocket of Flyers defenceman Braydon Coburn deep in the Philadelphia zone and beat Mason with a quick wrist shot high to the glove side for his 15th goal of the season.
The Oilers made it 2-0 four minutes into the first period as Nugent-Hopkins made a nice move at the blue-line to give himself some space and beat Mason with a shot from the slot. A couple of Oilers hit milestones with assists on the goal, as Hall recorded his 100th NHL assist and captain Andrew Ference his 200th point.
The Flyers started to pick it up for the remainder of the period, but could get any of their 11 shots past Bryzgalov in the Edmonton net.
Bryzgalov came up huge to start the second period as he stopped Sean Couturier on a pair of short-handed opportunities in tight, including one on a diving stick save. The Oilers have allowed a league-high eight short-handed goals this season.
The Flyers got on the board three-and-a-half minutes into the second period on a power play of their own as Simmonds was able to tip in a blast from the top of the circle by Claude Giroux, who extended his point streak to eight games.
Philadelphia tied the game 2-2 with eight minutes to play in the second on another power-play goal as a pretty tic-tac-toe passing display had Bryzgalov spinning around in his net before Simmonds was able to put his second of the game into a wide-open cage.
Edmonton was out-shot 14-3 in the second period.
The Oilers came close to regaining the lead six minutes into the third on a power play but Sam Gagner hit the crossbar and Jeff Petry a post with the man advantage.
Edmonton did strike for a goal on their next power play with eight minutes remaining in the third, however, as Perron banked a short from the side of the net off Flyers defender Niklas Grossmann and into the net for his team-leading 16th of the season and 100th career NHL goal.
Philadelphia came right back to tie the game 3-3 with five-and-a-half minutes left with their third power play goal as Hartnell tipped a Kimmo Timonen shot past a frustrated Bryzgalov on a five-on-three opportunity.
Mason was able to keep it a tied game with two minutes left as he stoned Perron with a pivotal glove save on a breakaway with two minutes remaining to send the game to extra time.
The shots favoured the Flyers 36-15 after the third period.
Notes: It was the second and final meeting between the two teams this season, with the Flyers winning the first game 4-2 in Philadelphia on Nov. 9. The Flyers came into the game without a win in Edmonton since March 19, 2001…Oilers defenceman Corey Potter missed the game with a groin strain. Recent AHL call-up Martin Marincin drew in as his replacement…Flyers winger Steve Downie returned from an upper body injury and fellow forward Adam Hall was also able to dress after missing practice on Friday with the flu. Defenceman Eric Gustafsson remained out with a knee injury.