Read sparks Flyers past Devils
In the Flyers' 28th game, there was a Matt Read sighting at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night. Read had his first goal in 11 games - and his first multi-point performance of the season - as he sparked the Flyers to a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
In the Flyers' 28th game, there was a Matt Read sighting at the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night.
Read had his first goal in 11 games - and his first multi-point performance of the season - as he sparked the Flyers to a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.
"I wouldn't say I was losing confidence, but getting frustrated a little bit," said Read, who had just one goal in his previous 20 games. ". . . Things just bounced my way tonight."
The Flyers, opening a four-game homestand, have a modest four-game points streak, during which they are 2-0-2. They allowed a season-low 18 shots in front of backup goalie Ray Emery, who has a 1.78 goals-against average in 14 career games against the Devils.
"All around, we played solid," said Sean Couturier, who, like Read, had a goal and an assist. "Not only did we play good, tight defense, but our forecheck was great and we were reloading hard. That was the key. We created some turnovers and we reattacked. And we didn't just sit back in the third period."
While the Flyers were on a power play, Wayne Simmonds scored on his second rebound, giving the Flyers a 3-1 lead with 4 minutes, 16 seconds remaining, and Jake Voracek added an empty-net goal with 2:30 to go.
The Flyers scored shorthanded, at even strength, on a power play, and into an empty net.
If the Flyers are going to make a playoff run, they need Read to return to the consistent scorer who had 24 and 22 goals in his only NHL seasons that were not shortened by a lockout.
"I've never been in anything like this," Read said before the game. Entering the night, he had just two goals in 27 games.
The slump caused him to call his older brother Mark - who used to play on the Junior B level and now lives in London, Ontario - to get some advice.
"He's very knowledgeable in a hockey sense, and he watches all of our games," Read said. "He's given me a couple of tips. He just said I have to be more aggressive and shoot the puck more. ... I have to keep working hard and get into those dirty areas and get closer to the net for shots."
That's exactly what happened as Read converted a Couturier pass to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead with 6:23 left in the opening period. It marked the first time since Nov. 6, a span of 15 games, that the Flyers had a 2-0 lead in the first.
Couturier was near the left boards when he threaded a pass that went past three Devils - Marek Zidlicky, Jon Merrill, and Stephen Gionta - and onto the stick of Read, who beat goalie Cory Schneider from the doorstep.
"Somehow the puck went through about six players' legs and ended up on my stick," said Read, who finished with a season-high five shots. "I don't think the goalie saw it."
About 6½ minutes earlier, it was Read who made a terrific play to set up Couturier's sixth goal of the season.
With New Jersey on a power play, Read blocked Zidlicky's shot and, after he pounced on the loose puck, he was tripped by Zidlicky. No matter. A delayed penalty was called, and Read got up and raced down the ice on a two-on-one. The 28-year-old winger fed Couturier, who knocked in the Flyers' first shorthanded goal of the season.
"As a line, I think we are getting a little more comfortable lately, which is huge," said Couturier, who centers Read and R.J. Umberger. "We're all working hard, getting good pressure on the defense and forecheck."
The Flyers are hoping to gain ground in the Metropolitan Division on the homestand. They started the night seven points out of a playoff spot.