By Mark Gallagher
The Flyers are over the jet lag induced by their West Coast trip.
Kevin Hayes, Michael Raffl, Matt Niskanen and Oskar Lindblom all scored in the second period to lead the Flyers to a 6-2 win over the Vegas Golden Knights at the Wells.
The Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak in front of a tepid crowd that has grown accustomed to a franchise that struggles in the fall.
The Flyers lost seven of eight to open 2013, went 0-2-2 to start 2014, and went 4-7 last season that led to a housecleaning in the front office and on the bench. It was more of the same this season under new coach Alain Vigneault, with the Flyers standing at 2-3-1 after a rugged trip where they played four of the first five games in four time zones.
There was no need for concern against Vegas.
“We got big saves and when they made mistakes, we made them pay which we haven’t been able to do for quite some time,” Vigneault said.
Travis Konecny scored a power-play goal just 4:15 into the game for the Flyers, and the offence took off from there, an appetizer for what would be the Flyers first four-goal period since March 15, 2019 against Toronto. Raffl added his second of the night late in the third.
Brian Elliott had 33 saves for the Flyers, 25 straight through the first two periods when they played more like an Eastern Conference contender than the one that entered dumped at the bottom of the standings.
“You have to stay patient and stay ready and the guys gave me a really good chance to win with all of that run support,” Elliott said. “You just want to play big back there and not give anything unreasonable up.”
The Flyers had scored only 15 goals through the first six games but caught a break when Marc-Andre Fleury was given a night off with Vegas on the front end of a back-to-back. He started nine games this season — and one game with Oscar Dansk in net showed why Fleury rarely gets a game off.
Carter Hart also got the night off for the Flyers, erasing a hopeful matchup of one of the best goalies in the league vs. one of the expected future stars off the board. The kids in the $25 standing-room-only section in Hart jerseys had to cheer an offensive outburst instead from their obstructed sightlines and catch the goals on the big screen.
There was plenty of highlight-reel action.
Hayes and Raffl scored only 44 seconds apart in the second to blow the game open. Niskanen added a power-play goal and Lindblom’s fourth goal of the season came off a give-and-go with Raffl to make it 5-0.
“Down 3-0, we started to gamble a little bit and that’s not the way we play,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “We can’t play like that. We have to play good, solid hockey. ”
The Flyers scored four goals in each of the first two games of the season, then scored only five over the last three.
The Knights tacked on goals from Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith in the third and lost for just the second time in six games. Any shot of a sensational comeback was snuffed when Raffl scored on a breakaway to make it 6-1.
The Flyers needed to score one at home — they’re back on the road for four of the next five.
“It’s an important win for our group,” Vigneault said.