PHILADELPHIA – Scott Hartnell has found a comfortable place in front of the opposing net.
The Flyers right-wing scored two goals and Claude Giroux added one to lead Philadelphia to a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday night.
After not recording a point through the team’s first four games, Hartnell has one in seven of the past eight, which coincides with the cutting of his trademark long curly hair.
“I feel lighter,” Hartnell said, with a laugh. “I lost about a pound since I cut that mop off. I feel good.”
So do the Flyers. Playing without centre Danny Briere, who began a three-game suspension for a crosscheck on the Islanders’ Frans Nielson on Saturday, Philadelphia won its fourth straight after losing four of five, and took over sole possession of first place in the Atlantic Division. The Hurricanes have lost two of three.
Hartnell’s first goal came at 12:29 of the first period. He scooped up a rebound of Jeff Carter’s shot, and with his back to the net, flipped a shot past Hurricanes goalie Justin Peters’ glove side.
“It was close, it took an unfortunate bounce there off of the guy’s skate,” Peters said.
Carolina’s Patrick Dwyer tied the game early in the second period when his wrist shot beat Sergei Bobrovsky, who was making his fourth straight start, and is earning the bulk of the playing time while the team waits for the return of Michael Leighton.
Jeff Skinner, the seventh overall pick in the 2010 draft and, at 18, the youngest player in the league, assisted on Dwyer’s goal, collecting a turnover by James van Riemsdyk. It was his fifth assist of the season.
Giroux gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead at 11:21 of the second period, 5 seconds into a power play created on a hooking penalty by former Flyer Joni Pitkanen. Giroux took a pass from Mike Richards and blasted a turnaround slap shot past Peters.
Peters, making his second start of the season in relief of starter Cam Ward, made 34 saves.
Hartnell gave Philadelphia a two-goal lead in the third. A pass from Kimmo Timonen went off his skate and past Peters. The goal gave Hartnell seven points in five games against Carolina, three goals and four assists.
“He made a great pass there and it went off my skate and in,” Hartnell said. “Sometimes, you get those bounces throughout the year.”
Joe Corvo pulled the Hurricanes within a goal with 27 seconds left in the game, pounding a shot to Bobrovsky’s left.
Peter Laviolette, who led Carolina to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2006, started Bobrovsky over veteran Brian Boucher, who had a 5-1-0 career record against the Hurricanes. Bobrovsky, a 22-year-old rookie, made 26 saves.
Hartnell contributed on a line that featured Jeff Carter at centre, as Peter Laviolette shifted personnel around to compensate for Briere’s absence. The switches didn’t appear to have any effect.
“(Jeff) Carter has played some time with Hartnell and is a natural centre man so that’s one of the advantages of having some many guys playing the middle of the ice,” Laviolette said. “I thought Jeff jumped in there and his line was good. It seemed like it didn’t slip at all and that’s a good thing.”
Hartnell said the line he was on didn’t matter.
“We don’t change things up from line to line,” Hartnell said. “We try to play relentless Flyers hockey, get it in, cycle, change sides and get to the net. When we’re doing that, we’re a real effective hockey team.”
Notes: Eric Wellwood, the younger brother of former NHL player Kyle Wellwood, made his NHL debut with the Flyers on Monday, logging nearly 14 minutes. … Carter, who assisted on Hartnell’s goal, has eight points in his past five games against the Hurricanes, four goals and four assists. … Jody Shelly of the Flyers played in his 550th career game. … Philadelphia ran its record to 66-24-14-4 against the Hurricanes/Hartford Whalers franchise. The Flyers won their seventh straight game against Carolina. Since losing 2-1 in regulation to Carolina on Dec. 19, 2006, they are 13-0-3.