ANAHEIM, Calif. — The Flyers aren’t looking at their six-game, 12-day road trip as a Journey for Survival.
They’re looking at it as a chance to establish themselves as one of the Metropolitan Division’s top teams.
“It’s a good time to make a statement,” right winger Jake Voracek said. “We can either go back to wild-card fighting, or we can (improve) a spot in the top three division teams. I don’t remember a trip this long…so we have to make sure we find a way to play our best.”
After a listless start to their road trip Saturday, they were much better in Game 2 on Sunday at the Honda Center.
They evened their record at 1-1 on the trip as Kevin Hayes scored the winner in a 2-1 overtime victory over Anaheim. Brian Elliott allowed a bad goal early in the game, then was perfect the rest of the way.
Hayes took a slick pass from Voracek (two assists) and scored on a breakaway, using a backhand-to-forehand move with 1 minute, 7 seconds left in overtime.
Hayes scored six seconds after Elliott denied Hampus Lindholm down the other end.
“They came down for a chance and then they changed (lines), so I figured I could cheat a little bit and Jake made a great pass," Hayes said.
The Flyers redeemed themselves after a 6-1 loss in San Jose the previous night.
“Really good effort tonight,” defenseman Matt Niskanen said. “The guys really brought their 'A’stuff and competed hard and we got rewarded. ... We were just way more determined. (Saturday) night I think we were still on vacation the first two periods. We cranked it up tonight.That’s what you like to see from the team in a response game.”
Elliott made 27 saves and improved his road record to 7-3.
In the overtime, John Gibson made clutch stops on Travis Konecny and James van Riemsdyk before Hayes won it.
The Flyers killed off a five-on-three Ducks power play that lasted 1:11 early in the third period to keep the game tied at 1-1. Elliott (27 saves) made a key stop on Jakob Silfverberg during Anaheim’s two-man advantage.
Just 35 seconds into the game, the Flyers fell into a 1-0 hole as Erik Gudbranson’s point drive got past Elliott.
Since the Flyers were coming off a demoralizing loss in San Jose the previous night, it was not the start they needed.
“You don’t want to let that one in at the start of the game, but I thought we did a good job of not getting rattled,” Elliott said. “We answered the bell in the first and then we did a really good job of staying consistent and playing our game.”
As the first period progressed, the Flyers, led by the relentless Claude Giroux, got their forecheck working and slowly started to get their footing.
Midway through the first, Sean Couturier scored on a rebound of a Voracek shot, knotting the score at 1-all. It gave Couturier eight goals and 16 points in 14 career games against the Ducks. Giroux, who had five of the Flyers’ nine first-period shots, also had an assist.
“I was just trying to get to the net and set a screen and pick up rebounds,” Couturier said after scoring his 10th goal of the season. “Thankfully, the puck squeaked through his legs.”
“The first period was a tough start for us, but we responded well and slowly took over,” said center Michael Raffl, who returned to the lineup after missing 10 games because of a broken right pinky. “We had a good penalty kill at the end” of the period.
On that penalty kill, Elliott made a key stop on Ondrej Kase’s right-circle blast with 10 seconds remaining in the first.
The Flyers got the first nine shots of the second period, but Gibson stood tall. During one wild flurry in front, he made a handful of saves, including a high-quality stop on Konecny. The Flyers had a 14-5 shots domination in the second, but couldn’t snap the 1-1 tie.
“Give credit to their goaltender; he played an outstanding game,” said coach Alain Vigneault, whose team outshot the Ducks, 35-28. “For us to play back-to-back, travel, and come in here after the way we played (Saturday), it was a great response and a big win for us.”
The Flyers have been the proverbial Jekyll and Hyde team. At home, they are 13-2-4 and averaging 3.79 goals per game. On the road, they entered Sunday with an 8-10-1 record and had averaged just 2.42 goals per game.
“We weren’t happy with our game in San Jose, but we didn’t panic,” said Giroux, who had six shots, an assist, and won 16 of 22 faceoffs Sunday. “... When you lose a game like that you try to go back to basics. We played a tight game.”