PHILADELPHIA – After losing four straight, the Philadelphia Flyers will take any kind of win.
Jeff Carter scored two goals and the Flyers beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Tuesday night to snap a season-high losing streak.
But Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia knows it won’t win too many games with a sporadic effort like this one.
“There’s winning and then there’s winning in spite of how you play,” defenceman Chris Pronger said. “We still have a lot of work to do. We have to sharpen up.”
Danny Briere and Blair Betts also scored for the Flyers. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 24 shots.
The Flyers dominated the first period, outshooting Edmonton 17-1. They were outshot 24-9 the rest of the way, and needed some big saves from Bobrovsky.
“We lost our speed, turned the puck over and tried to be too cute,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “We want to win all the games we play, but we want to do the right way.”
Jean-Francois Jacques scored for Edmonton, which is last in the West. The Oilers had won three in a row.
“It’s one thing to respect your opponent, but it’s another thing to respect them and stand still and watch them play. Ultimately, we got our legs under us when the horse was out of the barn,” Oilers coach Tom Renney said. “The fact of the matter is we came out in the second and third period and outchanced that team 12-5, but they’re up three goals so game, set, and match.”
The slumping Flyers had seen their lead in the East shrink from double digits to just two points. Laviolette gave the team off Monday after a 7-0 loss at the New York Rangers. Philadelphia had been outscored 12-1 in the previous two games after taking a 2-0 lead against Buffalo on Saturday.
The rest paid off. Players looked fresh early and the Flyers dominated the first period.
They could’ve started with six skaters because the Oilers didn’t register a shot until 1:15 remained in the first, and it took a power play for Edmonton to get something going.
The Oilers were unbeaten (6-0-1) in their last seven games against the Flyers, and hadn’t lost in Philadelphia since Nov. 9, 2000.
But this isn’t nearly the same rivalry it used to be in the 1980s when Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier and Grant Fuhr helped Edmonton beat the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals twice in a three-year span.
Briere scored on a breakaway midway through the opening period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. He took a pass from Matt Carle near the blue-line, skated alone down the middle and fired a wrister past goalie Devan Dubnyk. Briere snapped an eight-game goal-less drought with his 29th of the season.
“It’s been a while,” Briere said. “I couldn’t remember the feeling it was so long ago.”
Carter’s power-play goal late in the first made it 2-0 as slipped a centring pass from Briere through Dubnyk’s legs. Carter put the Flyers up 3-0 in the second period with his 30th goal. Kimmo Timonen set it up with a perfect pass to Carter in the slot.
Carter had missed two of the last three games with the flu.
Less than a minute later, the Oilers cut it to 3-1 when Jacques deflected a shot by Ladislav Smid past Bobrovsky.
“It was frustrating. It feels like we felt our way into that game,” Oilers centre Shawn Horcoff said. “They took it to us early, but we have to give us a little bit of credit. I thought we came back strong in the second, got ourselves back in the game. We came out and played a pretty good third, but you can’t give a team like that the start that we did and expect to bounce back.”
Notes: The Flyers signed F Harry Zolnierczyk from Brown University and assigned him to their AHL affiliate. Zolnierczyk was the Ivy League Player of the Year his senior season. … Carter has scored 30 goals three straight seasons. … Briere is closing in on his fourth 30-goal campaign. … Jacques’ goal was his fourth in 39 games. … This was the only meeting between the teams this season.