Right after he scored his second goal of the night, Travis Konecny looked at James van Riemsdyk and yelled, “What a pass!”
It sure was.
Konecny and van Riemsdyk hooked up for the Flyers’ first two goals, made coach Alain Vigneault look like a genius, and led the way in a 4-1 win over the limping Kings.
Konecny leads the team with 17 goals.
“He makes these [nifty passes] all the time and whenever we score is the only time we talk about them," Konecny said. “He’s got great vision and he sees the ice. He sees things other guys don’t, so you’ve just got to get open.”
Joel Farabee scored for the second consecutive game and Brian Elliott made 34 saves in his second consecutive strong outing.
The only bad news was that winger Michael Raffl had to leave the game with an injury shortly after he was flattened by Dustin Brown three minutes into the final period. There was no penalty on the play, but interference could have been called.
Vigneault said afterward that Raffl had suffered an unspecified upper-body injury. He could not say if his winger was pulled off the ice by concussion spotters.
Vigneault tinkered with his lines again after a disappointing loss to Montreal on Thursday. His most notable move was putting Claude Giroux at center between van Riemsdyk and Konecny in his search for offensive consistency.
“We’ve shown some good chemistry in the past," van Riemsdyk said before the game. "I think we are three smart players, we fill in the right spots on the ice, and we are able to make some good plays.”
Giroux has played on a wing this season, most recently on Kevin Hayes’ line. He did center Konecny and van Riemsdyk for a spell last season.
“They’re good players," Giroux said. “They win a lot of battles and they both know how to score goals, so it’s fun to play with them.”
Van Riemsdyk also ended a 12-game goal drought with a power-play tally in the third period. He has assisted on three Konecny goals in the last three games -- all on beautiful passes.
“I was looking for something else and putting [Giroux] back in the middle was an option we had,” Vigneault said. “It worked out tonight. Obviously we’re going to come back with it next game.”
That next game is fairly significant as the surging Penguins make their first visit of the season.
Saturday was Elliott’s first win at the Wells Fargo Center in nearly three months, as Carter Hart has been given most of the work at home. Hart is expected to be out for a few more games with an abdominal strain.
Elliott had an excellent stop on a backhander on a partial breakaway by former Flyer Jeff Carter early in the third, but he couldn’t stop Brown seven minutes later.
“I thought we responded well from our last game,” said Elliott, referring to the 4-1 loss to Montreal. “It’s a good step and we’ve got one more before the break here.”
Konecny’s first goal allowed the Flyers to have the lead after the first period for the first time in 12 games. The last time they played the last-place Kings was Dec. 31, when they trailed, 4-0, after the first period.
Beyond being able to breathe a little easier during the first intermission Saturday, the Flyers put some heat on the Kings, who were at the end of a five game road trip – the last four in the Eastern time zone. L.A. was 0-18-1 when trailing after the first period, 0-11 on the road.
The Flyers scored twice in the second and had another goal disallowed on a goalie interference call when van Riemsdyk collided with Jack Campbell. Or, in Vigneault’s eyes, Campbell banged into JVR.
The Flyers unsuccessfully challenged the call, but they managed to kill the corresponding penalty.
Following five minutes with reporters after the game, Vigneault feigned incredulousness: “Nobody’s going to ask me about my bad coaching challenge?”
Defenseman Justin Braun returned to the lineup and played more than 17 minutes. Mark Friedman was returned to the Phantoms. … The Flyers are off Sunday, will practice Monday, and host the Penguins on Tuesday before going on to their All-Star break and bye week. Their next game after their hiatus will be Jan. 31 in Pittsburgh.