Why did Jake Voracek fight?
VANCOUVER — Call it #FlyersAfterDark.
Strange this always seem to happen with the Flyers out on the left coast, particularly in the Pacific Northwest.
On a night honoring the life of the "Big Irishman," former Flyers coach Pat Quinn, there were bagpipes and leprechauns and gallons of green beer inside Rogers Arena to celebrate St. Patrick's Day.
Then, there were a few other oddities on the ice.
Like Jake Voracek dropping the gloves with Canucks defenseman Dan Hamhuis. And Craig Berube's line combinations adding up to a solid, balanced lineup. And even Zac Rinaldo playing a more complete game, which included an impressive backcheck, forced turnover and drawn penalty on the same shift.
Most weird was Voracek's fight.
It seemingly sparked out of nowhere in the second period - and not for payback because Hamhuis once declined a deal with the Flyers after they acquired his rights.
"I got hooked," Voracek said. "I cross-checked him. It's an emotional game. It was a square fight - and we moved on right after."
When it was over, Voracek skated to the box, while Hamhuis was forced to retreat to the dressing room for repairs with blood dripping off his visor. It was just the 3rd fight of Voracek's career.
"He got me pretty good, too," Voracek said.
The Flyers scored just 61 after that, when Michael Raffl pumped in his 17th goal of the season. Was the timing a coincidence? Or were the Flyers ignited by their leading scorer fighting?
"From my standpoint, when somebody fights, it pumps up the team a little bit," Voracek said. "I was standing up for myself. I think we were playing pretty good at the moment - it wasn't any (planned) reason to try to get (us) going or something.
"Fights happen in a hockey game. It was a good fight. We lost the game."
Coach Craig Berube wasn't thrilled forgoing five minutes with his top player, but he understood that frustrations boil over - particularly with the Flyers already out of the playoff race. Their "tragic number" is down to 11 points, either won by Boston or lost by the Flyers, over the final 10 games.
Voracek said the Flyers can blame their putrid road record (9-19-9) when they watch the Stanley Cup playoffs go on without them for the second time in three seasons. Steve Mason still has just one road win all year. Only the Maple Leafs, Oilers and Sabres have fewer road wins this season.
"I mean, we don't want to see Jake fighting like that, but he takes care of business on his own if he chooses to," Berube said. "It doesn't hurt us. I don't like to see him fight too much, though. He's a very good player and we need him on the ice."
COUSINS' DEBUT: Berube was impressed with the NHL debut of forward Nick Cousins, the Flyers' third round pick (68th overall) from 2011. Cousins, 21, had a great look at a goal toward the end of the second period but was robbed by Eddie Lack.
"Very good," Berube said of Cousins. "It was a fast game out there tonight, and it looked like he had the pace. He's a competitive guy, worked hard, won battles. He had a very solid game."
With his parents and siblings in attendance from Belleville, Ontario, Cousins said it took him a bit of time to get adjusted to the pace of play. He's in sole possession of 5th place in AHL scoring, but the NHL was a whole different animal.
"It's a lot faster than the AHL and there's a lot more structure," Cousins said. "It took me a while to get used to, but I think once I got my first shift under me, I got more comfortable as the game went on.
"Guys are a lot bigger and faster. It's tough to get through the neutral zone with the puck. There's not a bad player on the ice."
Cousins was most impressed watching Henrik and Daniel Sedin work their magic in the Flyers' zone. Daniel Sedin assisted on both of Alexandre Burrows' goals, which came 17 seconds apart in the third period.
LINES: Berube shifted Ryan White to the wing to make room for Cousins at center, skating him with Rinaldo on the left side. He also moved around wingers between the first and second line to create perhaps the Flyers' most balanced lineup of the season. Each line seemed to fit together perfectly - and Berube said he believed the Flyers out-chanced Vancouver the entire game.
The big question is whether Matt Read will return to the lineup on Thursday night in Calgary. He was back home with his wife, Erin, as she gave birth to the couple's first child on Tuesday night. It was the first game he missed all season.
Has Cousins earned a crack at the Flames? Or will Rinaldo remain in the lineup?
Michael Raffl - Claude Giroux - Jake Voracek
Brayden Schenn - Sean Couturier - Wayne Simmonds
Zac Rinaldo - Nick Cousins - Ryan White
Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Vinny Lecavalier
Nick Schultz - Mark Streit
Nick Grossmann - Andrew MacDonald
Luke Schenn - Carlo Colaiacovo
STAT WATCH: Vancouver's two third period goals were not only the fastest scored against the Flyers since 2010, but also the two goals by Burrows were the quickest against the Flyers by the same player since January 21, 1993 when Boston's Vladimir Ruzicka scored twice in 14 seconds in a 5-4 Flyers loss at the Spectrum. (per Elias Sports Bureau)
QUOTABLE: "We find a way to lose hockey games instead of win them."
— Craig Berube on the Flyers' game-changing 17 second span in which Vancouver pulled away in the third period.
On Twitter: @frank_seravalli