PHILADELPHIA – Wayne Simmonds is outplaying the former captain traded away for him.
Simmonds scored two goals, Matt Read and Claude Giroux also had goals, and the Philadelphia Flyers snapped Nashville’s five-game winning streak with a 4-1 victory over the Predators on Thursday night.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 26 saves to earn his 175th career win, and the Flyers finally played just 60 minutes. They went to a shootout in their previous three contests, losing twice.
Simmonds was acquired along with Brayden Schenn and a second-round pick in the blockbuster deal that sent Mike Richards to Los Angeles last summer. Simmonds has 15 goals and 14 assists for 29 points. Richards has 14 and 12 for 26.
“His confidence is growing,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s a difficult person to get the puck from. He holds onto the puck and makes plays.”
Ryan Suter had Nashville’s lone goal. The Predators had won nine of their last 10 games and entered with the NHL’s best record since Dec. 28, going 13-2.
“I thought we came out and played hard,” Suter said. “The first (goal) kind of deflected off a stick, but that stuff happens. We just have to battle through it.”
Simmonds gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead with 4:19 left in the first period. His turnaround wrister sailed through traffic, off a defender and past goaltender Anders Lindback.
Simmonds’ power-play goal with 4:41 left in the game sealed the win after the Predators cut the deficit to 2-1. Simmonds scored off a rebound of a shot by Giroux, who added an empty-netter when Jaromir Jagr passed up an easy goal.
“We got great depth,” said Simmonds, who plays on the third line. “From lines one to four, anyone can score. It’s great to have depth.”
It was a much-needed home win for Philadelphia in a matchup of two teams that came in second in their division and fourth in their conference. The Flyers improved to 12-7-4 at the Wells Fargo Center.
A few minutes after the Flyers failed to capitalize on a two-man advantage, Read extended the lead to 2-0 with an unassisted goal in the second period. Read stole the puck from Kevin Klein near Philadelphia’s blue line and started a breakaway. He faked a pass to Harry Zolnierczyk and fired a slap shot from the left faceoff circle that went through Lindback’s legs.
Read, an undrafted free agent, leads NHL rookies with 16 goals. The 25-year-old forward is strengthening his bid to win the Calder Trophy with every goal.
“We kill a five-on-three and usually the team that makes the kill gets the momentum, but we gave it right back to them when they scored,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said.
Nashville’s Craig Smith nearly tied it at 1 in the second period when his one-timer hit the post. Seconds later, Bryzgalov made the save on Smith’s point-blank shot from inside the right faceoff circle.
Smith finally got the Predators a tally when he set up Suter’s goal with 11:23 remaining. Smith sent a crossing pass between Flyers defenceman Andrej Meszaros’ legs to Suter, who scored his first goal in 27 games to get Nashville within 2-1.
Lindback started instead of Pekka Rinne, who has won 10 straight starts and 13 of 14.
Bryzgalov has started six of Philadelphia’s last eight games. The eccentric goalie hasn’t lived up to expectations in his first year with Philadelphia after signing a $51 million, nine-year contract. He entered the game with a 2.92 goals-against average and a mediocre .896 save percentage.
“He looks really sharp,” Laviolette said. “He’s focused. He’s worked really hard in practice and often that reflects in games.”
Notes: The Flyers acquired minor-league RW Matt Ford from Washington for D Kevin Marshall. Ford was assigned to the AHL’s Adirondack Phantoms. … Simmonds has goals in both games vs. Nashville. … The Predators are 6-7-3 vs. Philadelphia. … The Flyers and Predators have more trades (17) with each other than games played (16). Nashville entered the NHL in 1999. … Smith and Patric Hornqvist have points in five straight games. … Suter’s last goal was on Nov. 23. … Giroux hadn’t scored in 12 games since Jan. 2.