Nearly three months after they were embarrassed in Pittsburgh, the Flyers got a chance to redeem themselves Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center.
Jake Voracek and James van Riemsdyk scored goals and Brian Elliott was flawless as the Flyers defeated the Penguins, 3-0, to go into the All-Star/bye break feeling good about themselves.
“I thought we really got up for this game,” Elliott said. “Sometimes it’s human nature to go on break a little early [mentally], and I think we really stuck to our guns. You saw that in the preparation and focus in the room before the game and that’s a good sign moving forward.”
The win avenged a 7-1 loss to the Penguins on Oct. 29.
Elliott, playing because of an injury to Carter Hart, made 19 saves and recorded his first shutout of the season. He was backed by a pristine effort by a defense that was led by Ivan Provorov.
“We were really defensive-minded and staying on top of guys,” said Elliott, whose team allowed just three third-period shots. “I thought we really frustrated them. You give them time and space and they can make plays, and we took it away.”
“I think we were more willing to play D first, and they cheated a bit and that’s where we got our offense,” rookie left winger Joel Farabee said.
Justin Braun iced the win with an empty-net goal.
Midway through the third period, Elliott enabled the Flyers to maintain their 2-0 lead by stopping Bryan Rust from point-blank range after he took a pass from Sidney Crosby from behind the net.
Second-period goals by Voracek and van Riemsdyk -- they both finished off slick passing plays -- staked the Flyers to a 2-0 lead.
Farabee, who had an outstanding game, fed Sean Couturier to put the Flyers’ first goal in motion. Couturier made a cross-ice feed to Voracek as he angled toward the goal from the left circle and scored on a backhander with 14 minutes, 34 seconds left in the second.
With 1:20 remaining in the period, another pretty passing play increased the lead to 2-0.
Claude Giroux intercepted a pass in the neutral zone, anticipated where Travis Konecny was going to be stationed, and the right winger collected the pass after it caromed off the right boards. Konecny then slid a pass to van Riemsdyk, who redirected it through the legs of goalie Tristan Jarry.
The Alphabet Soup Line -- Giroux, Konecny and van Riemsdyk are known as G, TK and JVR, respectively -- had struck.
“Everyone looks at the play when the goal happened,” said Konecny, whose new line combined for three goals and seven points in the previous game, a 4-1 win over the Kings. “But it was one of the nicest plays G has ever made. It’s such a heads-up play to lay the puck into an area like that. Me and Reemer kind of did the end of the work.”
Van Riemsdyk liked the Flyers’ defensive effort.
“We talked about playing with good details, with and without the puck, and just trying to be in the right spots so you don’t have to run around and do anything too crazy,” he said after the Flyers’ second shutout of the season.
The Flyers had the more quality chances in the first period, outshooting the Penguins, 12-8.
But Pittsburgh came closest to scoring as Andrew Agozzino redirected a pass off the left post with 3:39 left in the opening period.
Down the other end, Jarry, who began the night tied for the NHL lead in save percentage (.929) and second in goals-against average (2.16), made key stops on Couturier, Braun, Konecny, and Giroux.
Farabee, moved to Couturier’s line to replace the injured Michael Raffl, had the Flyers’ best scoring chance in the first, but he fired wide on a breakaway with 9:54 to go in the session.
As the Flyers were killing a penalty late in the first, Kevin Hayes drew loud cheers as he went one-against-four and ragged the puck for about 15 seconds and fed a teammate in his team’s defensive end to kill more time.
In the teams’ previous meeting back in October, Pittsburgh built a 4-0 first-period lead and never looked back.
“We’d like to think," van Riemsdyk said before the game, before scoring his 14th goal, “we’ve grown since the start of the season.”