LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Philadelphia Flyers are still giving up far too many goals for coach Peter Laviolette’s taste. They made up for it against the Los Angeles Kings with an impressive scoring flurry of their own.
Mike Richards had two goals and two assists, Michael Leighton made 32 saves in a raucous season debut and the Flyers lit up the Kings’ normally sturdy defence in a 7-4 victory Thursday night.
Danny Briere, James van Riemsdyk and Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers, who rebounded from consecutive losses by shredding the mistake-prone Kings.
Whether Richards was talking trash to Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier or beating him for a pair of goals, the Flyers’ captain led them to their second highest-scoring game of the season.
“The last two … were probably the worst two games I’ve played in a while,” said Richards, who fell one short of his career high in points. “As a team, we’ve talked about getting back on the forecheck and moving our feet a little bit more, and just getting the puck to the net. I thought we did that.”
Richards, Carter, van Riemsdyk and Scott Hartnell scored during a four-goal second period that chased Bernier and allowed the Flyers to survive defensive lapses that have led to 15 goals allowed in the past three games, matching their worst stretch of the season.
“I thought a lot of guys played real well tonight,” Laviolette said. “It really shows that we’re a team that can handle a little bit of adversity.”
Ville Leino scored a third-period goal and Claude Giroux had a career-high three assists for the Flyers, who got a boost from the return of the other half of the goalie tandem that led them to the Stanley Cup finals last season.
Leighton won eight playoff games last season while splitting time with Brian Boucher, but hadn’t played since giving up Chicago’s title-winning goal in overtime June 9. Leighton had surgery on a herniated disk in his back Oct. 20 and did two rehab stints in the AHL.
After giving up a soft goal to Ryan Smyth in the opening minutes, Leighton was kept scrambling for much of the night.
“I was excited about getting back out there, and it backfired a little bit,” Leighton said. “That first goal was pretty weak … but it was good to get back. I felt better in the third period, and hopefully we’ll build off that.”
Leighton’s teammates scored more than enough goals to ensure a win in the second stop of a five-game road trip. Los Angeles gave up 13 goals in back-to-back losses to close a stretch of four games in five days.
Smyth scored two goals for the Kings, who hadn’t allowed more than three goals in any period this season before giving up two four-goal periods in the past two nights to Phoenix and Philadelphia.
“Certainly two of our ugliest of the year,” Kings defenceman Rob Scuderi said. “We’re not making excuses for ourselves, but it does happen. We have to scrape them under the rug and move on.”
Justin Williams and Jack Johnson also scored for the Kings in their unimpressive start to an eight-game homestand. Los Angeles’ worst two-game defensive stretch of the season pushed it out of the Western Conference lead in goals allowed per game.
Bernier allowed six goals on 22 shots before Murray replaced him late in the second period with Jonathan Quick, who got pulled in favour of Bernier in Wednesday’s 6-3 loss at Phoenix.
“They’ve got skill and they’ve got good players, but it was uncharacteristic for us that we gave them too much time and space,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “We’ve got to be a better checking team.”
Hartnell put the Flyers ahead 3-2 early in the second period, and Richards easily scored his second goal 66 seconds later on van Riemsdyk’s cross-ice pass.
Carter connected in the final moments of an 1:26 two-man advantage to put the Flyers ahead 5-3 midway through the second period. Richards then got an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty for apparently talking trash to Bernier, who shoved Richards in the face earlier.
“Obviously, you get frustrated,” Bernier said. “You never like to give up six goals, so I think I lost my composure. I’ve got to do my job and try to stop the puck. Some words came between me and Richards, and that’s part of the game. I like to compete and I like to play that game, too, so it didn’t get me off my game.”
NOTES: Flyers D Sean O’Donnell returned to Los Angeles, where he spent eight seasons during two stints with the Kings before leaving last summer. Kings assistant coach John Stevens was the Flyers’ head coach before getting fired on Dec. 4, 2009. … Actor David Boreanaz visited the Flyers’ locker-room after the game.