CALGARY, Alberta - The Flyers lost another road game Tuesday, but center Nick Cousins couldn't be blamed.
Making his NHL debut, Cousins played a solid two-way game as the Flyers fell to Vancouver, 4-1, and suffered their seventh consecutive road defeat.
In 10 minutes, 4 seconds of action, Cousins had one shot and won 5 of 6 faceoffs, and nearly gave the Flyers a 2-0 second-period lead, getting denied by goalie Eddie Lack's impressive glove save.
"I thought he was very good," coach Craig Berube said of Cousins. "Fast game out there, and he looked like he had the pace for it. Competitive guy, strong on the puck."
The Flyers will play in Calgary on Thursday and face rookie-of-the-year candidate Johnny Gaudreau, the pride of Gloucester Catholic, and a Flames team that is fighting for its playoff life.
Cousins, promoted from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on Saturday, showed good speed while centering wingers Zac Rinaldo (eight hits) and Ryan White (seven hits, three shots).
The game was "faster obviously than the AHL and there's a lot more structure," said Cousins, who was in the lineup because Matt Read was with his wife, Erin, for the birth of their first child. "I think it took me a little while to get used to, but once I got my first shift under me, I felt more and more comfortable as the game went on."
"He won all those draws and we'd get possession and dump it in," Rinaldo said after practice Wednesday in Calgary. "He kept it simple and got pucks in deep for us, and he was there for every puck that was loose on the forecheck."
In addition, Cousins' line was the only one not on the ice for a Vancouver goal.
Players are much bigger and faster than in the AHL, Cousins said after Alex Burrows scored a pair of third-period goals 17 seconds apart to snap a 1-1 tie.
"It's tough to get through the neutral zone with the puck," said Cousins, who sounded a bit star-struck when he talked about facing the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik. "There's not a bad player out there. It's a tough game to play in. Obviously it's the best league in the world, and it was fun for me."
Cousins, whose parents, brother, and sister traveled from Toronto to attend the game, played with composure and could remain in the lineup.
"He showed me a lot. I liked his game a lot - against a fast team, a good team," Berube said. "He looked very comfortable."
Berube said Read isn't expected to rejoin the team until Saturday in Edmonton, so Cousins will play Thursday - and perhaps longer.
Del Zotto returning. All signs point to defenseman Michael Del Zotto returning to the lineup Thursday after missing six games because he "tweaked something." The Flyers called it an upper-body injury.
Del Zotto, who has seven goals in his last 20 games, told Berube he was ready to return, and the coach sounded as if he was going to put him back in.
Berube said the Flyers "miss his all-around game."
The Flyers won just one of their last six games (1-3-2) without Del Zotto and fell out of playoff contention.