After struggling to make an impact at center, Scott Laughton may have found a home at his new position, left wing.

A center in juniors and the AHL and NHL levels, Laughton has four points since being shifted to left wing three games ago.

"Three games in a row he's been a good player. He's made an impact each night," coach Dave Hakstol said after perhaps Laughton's best NHL performance, a dominating effort in Tuesday's frustrating 3-1 loss in Carolina. "He's generated opportunities with some of his speed, his tenacity. He looks like a confident player out there."

It's no secret that the Flyers have a shortage of quality wingers, a position general manager Ron Hextall figures to address in the offseason. But maybe, just maybe, he has found a missing piece right in front of him.

Laughton, 21, was drafted in the first round (20th overall) in 2012. In 89 career NHL games at center, he had just six goals and 20 points.

At wing, he has, well, spread his wings. He has more room and has looked much faster than he did in the middle, where his defensive responsibilities were greater.

In the loss against Carolina, Laughton scored a goal - ending a 22-game drought - and created several scoring chances on a line with rookie center Nick Cousins and Matt Read.

"Most likely that group stays together because they had a heck of a night," said Hakstol, who had Michael Raffl centering the line in the previous two games.

Laughton and Read nearly connected on a second-period two-on-one that would have given the Flyers a 2-1 lead. But goalie Cam Ward denied Read.

"I think the last couple games, Reader's been on top of pucks and creating battles because he's so skilled," Laughton said. "I felt good out there but just have to capitalize on a couple more."

Before his recent stretch, Laughton was benched in three of four games. He had never played wing at any level except "once at World Juniors. It's pretty easy in our system with Hak, with our guy cutting across. I can kind of use my speed across the ice. I've been comfortable there the last three."

On Tuesday, the Flyers outshot the Hurricanes, 37-18, and had their best cycle and forecheck this season.

"It's tough when you play that good and the results aren't there, but we have a big homestand coming up, and we have to win a lot of games," Laughton said.

The Flyers (26-22-11) start a season-high six-game homestand Thursday against Minnesota (27-23-10). They have 23 games left and entered Wednesday five points out of a playoff spot.

Like the Flyers, the Wild are a desperate team. Entering Wednesday, they were two points out of a playoff berth in the West.

Hakstol said the Flyers have to "turn the page" on Tuesday's loss and build off the good things they did. They are back at the Wells Fargo Center and confident they have a playoff run in them, a confidence that will grow if Laughton has indeed found a home at his new position.

Breakaways

Captain Claude Giroux will miss his third straight game with a suspected concussion. Minnesota star Zach Parise will also be out with a suspected concussion. . . . Goalie Steve Mason is expected to get the nod. . . . Mikko Koivu will play in his 742nd career game Thursday with the Wild, one shy of equaling the franchise record set by current Flyer Nick Schultz.

scarchidi@phillynews.com

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