KANATA, Ont. -- Each of the Flyers’ three games this season against the Senators, the 14th-placed team in the 16-team Eastern Conference, have been the equivalent of root-canal procedures.
On Saturday night, it took a shootout to get past the pesky Sens.
“Getting that extra point is huge,” said Sean Couturier, who scored the only goal of the shootout in the Flyers’ 5-4 win. “I don’t think we played that well, [but] we grinded it out and found a way to come out with two points. That’s huge.”
James van Riemsdyk had his second consecutive two-goal game, one on a breakaway and the other a greasy goal that caromed in off a Senator’s skate. He has eight goals in the last 11 games – several that will not be on any highlight reels. Regardless, his emergence has helped compensate for the loss of Oskar Lindblom and Scott Laughton.
“You don’t usually ask how … just how many,” he chuckled.
Saturday makes 11 of the last 13 games against the Senators to be decided by one goal. Brian Elliott made 30 saves, including 17 in the first period alone, to improve to 8-4-2.
It was the Flyers third win a row, following last week’s disastrous road trip.
Fortunately for them, they’re done with the Senators for the season.
“You have to bear down,” Elliott said, referring to teams at the bottom of the standings. “Because that’s when they can bury you. We just persevered through the end.”
The Flyers nearly ended it several times in the 3-on-3 overtime, but Ottawa goalie Marcus Hogberg made seven saves in the extra session.
The Flyers power-play managed five shots in more than eight minutes of advantage time, including Kevin Hayes’ goal in which he outmuscled Erik Brannstorm.
Jake Voracek also scored for the Flyers, who played without Matt Niskanen for the first time this season. Niskanen was a late scratch because of the flu. Phil Myers was able to battle through the same illness and played 18 minutes, with the majority of his shifts on the top pairing alongside Ivan Provorov.
The Senators were in even worse shape, missing three of their top six defensemen.
The Flyers will play the Rangers on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center in their final game before the Christmas break. It’ll be the first time the Flyers see their rivals this season. New York hosts Anaheim on Sunday. They are 3-2 in the second half of back-to-back games.