Playing at the Wells Fargo Center brings out the best in the Flyers.
Fresh off a winless and emotional three-game road trip, the Flyers regrouped on home ice.
Left winger David Kase, a rookie playing in his fourth NHL game, scored his first goal and it turned out to be the game-winner as the Flyers outlasted the Anaheim Ducks, 4-1, on Tuesday night and raised their home record to 11-2-4.
“All our guys worked so hard and we needed a win,” said Kase, who played against his brother, the Ducks’ Ondrej, and had his parents travel from the Czech Republic to be at the game.
Carter Hart made 40 saves as the Flyers snapped a three-game losing streak. The 21-year-old goaltender is 9-1-2 at home this season.
Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek, and Sean Couturier (empty-netter) also scored for the Flyers.
It was the Flyers’ first home game since left winger Oskar Lindblom was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. During a break in Tuesday’s game, a video tribute to Lindblom was shown on the scoreboard, and the fans, holding “I Fight For Oskar" signs, stood and applauded.
Lindblom visited with the players at Tuesday’s morning skate and after the game.
“It was great to see him again around the guys, and we wanted to get this win for him and every win for the rest of the season will be for him,” Giroux said.
Fifty-five seconds into the second period, Giroux gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead, finishing off a slick tic-tac-toe passing play. Couturier, from the left circle, threaded a pass to Travis Konecny in the right circle, and the right winger made a quick and perfect feed to Giroux, who tapped the puck into a wide-open net from the doorstep.
Konecny returned to the lineup after missing three games with a concussion.
“We’re playing on the same page,” Giroux said about being reunited with Konecny and Couturier.
About 3 1/2 minutes after Giroux’s goal, a joy-struck Kase pumped his arms several times after deflecting Travis Sanheim’s shot past goalie John Gibson, increasing the lead to 2-0.
“It was a big moment for me,” Kase said. “First goal in the NHL and it was against my brother, and that was special, too.”
Before the game, Kase said he wanted his line, which included Morgan Frost and Voracek, to score two goals and win the game. That’s exactly what happened.
Like Kase, Voracek is a Czech Republic native, and coach Alain Vigneault thought it would work to Kase’s advantage if they were together and could speak the same language.
“It would have been nice to celebrate with him. I went to get the puck [after Kase’s goal] and he was already going to the bench. I was high-fiving with the referees,” Voracek cracked.
After Rickard Rakell’s power-play goal cut the Flyers’ lead to 2-1 late in the second, Voracek restored the two-goal lead less than a minute after the Flyers killed a penalty. With 15:49 left in the third. Voracek, using Frost as a decoy on a two-on-one, whipped a shot past Gibson from the right circle. It was his first goal in the last 10 games and it gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead.
Voracek likes what he has seen from Kase.
“For his size, he plays a very physical game,” he said. “And he’s really good on the forecheck. I think as a line we worked pretty well today. We scored two big goals.”
The Flyers rebounded from a road trip in which they went 0-3 and were outscored, 14-5, by Colorado, Minnesota, and Winnipeg. During the trip, the Flyers lost three players to injuries or illness, including Lindblom.
“The road trip didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Vigneault said. “We went through a very challenging and personal situation that we’re going to go through in the next month. In that, we have jobs to do, we have work to do and it’s important we all do it. I really believe Oskar would want us to do our jobs the right way and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to stay focused and continue to improve.”
“It was a bad week — physically, mentally,” Giroux, whose team is 7-9-1 on the road, said after the morning skate. “Anything that could have gone wrong went wrong. … We’re not happy with the way we’ve been playing, but you know what, with the position we’re in right now, we’re still in a good position to succeed."