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Laughton impresses Flyers in his return

Rookie Scott Laughton has been back with the Flyers for just the last two games, but he is starting to turn heads.

Scott Laughton. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)
Scott Laughton. (Michael Bryant/Staff Photographer)Read more

Rookie Scott Laughton has been back with the Flyers for just the last two games, but he is starting to turn heads.

"I thought Laughton played really well," coach Craig Berube said after the 20-year-old center played 10 minutes and 53 seconds in the Flyers' gut-wrenching, 3-2 loss to Minnesota on Thursday. "He skated, competed, and had a heavy stick out there."

"He was outstanding," winger Jake Voracek said, adding that Laughton played strong defense and had a knack for breaking up plays with a quick stick. "He's a very good player. That whole line was playing really well."

Laughton was promoted from the fourth to third line, and he centered R.J. Umberger and Vinny Lecavalier. He shook free for six shots (three on net), created some good scoring chances, and won four of six faceoffs.

"I felt good. I thought I was skating pretty well. I tried to be physical," Laughton said after the Flyers allowed the winning goal with 45.4 seconds left. "You can feel good all you want, but at the end of the day, you want to get wins on the board, and that's the most important thing."

The Flyers will try to end a four-game losing streak Saturday night when they host Columbus, which faced Boston on Friday. Eight nights ago, the Flyers dropped a 4-3 decision to the Blue Jackets, who were missing eight injured regulars, had lost nine straight, and used backup goalie Curtis McElhinney because Sergei Bobrovsky was sidelined with a finger injury. Bobrovsky, an ex-Flyer, has since returned.

Laughton, the Flyers' No. 1 pick in the 2012 draft, is stronger, bigger, and more confident than in his first stint with the club two years ago. And if he continues to play like he did Thursday, he may stay for a while, maybe even for good.

"I'm definitely a little more confident now," he said. "Two years ago, I started during the lockout year. I was 18 years old out of juniors and didn't really know what to expect."

Laughton made a smooth transition from juniors to the AHL; he had six goals and 11 points in 13 games with the Phantoms this season.

"You're playing against men instead of 16-year-olds; you're playing against pretty big guys, and it's a way tougher game - and you don't have time with the puck," he said. "I've been fortunate and given lots of opportunities and ice time, and I think I've thrived on that."

Breakaways. Chris VandeVelde suffered a lower-body injury in the third period Thursday and is listed as day to day. If VandeVelde can't play Saturday, Jason Akeson figures to return to the lineup. . . . Defenseman Michael Del Zotto is also listed as day to day with an unspecified injury.