Flyers right winger Travis Konecny felt his game would come around, and after a rough start he is beginning to see positive signs.
Konecny earned the Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist, fight) in sparking the Flyers to a 4-0 win over the hot New York Rangers during a Black Friday matinee at the Wells Fargo Center.
He scored the game's first goal and added two assists as the Flyers snapped a four-game losing streak.
Konecny, who had 24 goals and 23 assists in 81 games last year, began this season with five points in his first 13 games.
In his last nine games, he nine points, four goals, and five assists. The 21-year-old Konecny insists he hasn't been doing anything differently.
>> PHOTO GALLERY: Flyers 4, Rangers 0
"Just sticking with it," he said. "I didn't really change anything."
The first line of Konecny, Sean Couturier, and captain Claude Giroux was dominant in a game in which the Flyers broke things open with three goals in the final 5 minutes and 21 seconds.
Couturier had two goals and an assist while Giroux totaled three assists, moving up again in the Flyers record books.
"G [Giroux] and Coots [Couturier] have been playing well, it was just a matter of me trying to find my game and slowly get started," Konecny said.
Friday was a good indicator of how dangerous that line is when all three are clicking.
"As good as Cootsy and G are, he stirs the drink on that line and he gets in a fight and energizes the building," left winger Dale Weise said.
The Flyers (10-10-2) hadn't been involved in a fight in their first 20 games, but have had two in the last two contests. Konecny got in a second-period fight with Ryan Strome. Neither appeared to have a decisive edge.
As for eventually earning the Gordie Howe hat trick?
"It was my first and could be my last but it was pretty cool to have," Konecny said.
After being outscored by 4-0 Wednesday in the first period of their 5-2 loss at Buffalo, the Flyers understood they couldn't sleepwalk through another opening period.
The Flyers led, 1-0, after the first period, with a 15-8 shots advantage against a Rangers team that was 9-1-1 since Oct. 30, including a three-game win streak.
Before Friday, the Flyers had allowed the first goal in their previous four games and were 0-3-1 in that span.
That streak ended when Konecny opened the scoring with 6:39 left in the first period. From the top of the right circle, Konecny sent a wrist shot that a sliding Henrik Lundqvist saved, but the puck deflected behind him and hit off defenseman Brady Skjei and into the goal.
The play started when Giroux passed to Couturier, who sent a cross-ice pass to Konecny, who sent the puck on goal. With the assist, Giroux moved past Brian Propp into No. 2 on the Flyers' career list. Giroux, now with 483 assists, still has a long way to catch No. 1 Bobby Clarke, who had 852 assists.
Cal Pickard earned the shutout with 31 saves, his best coming with 5:56 left when he stopped Lias Andersson, who was alone in front of the net.
Shortly after that save on Andersson, Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo, from Sewell, N.J., hit the post, and 20 seconds later the Flyers made it 2-0 on a crisp passing play from Giroux to Konecny to Couturier, who one-timed it in with 5:21 left.
Jordan Weal made it 3-0 with an empty-netter with 2:02 remaining. Couturier then beat Lundqvist with 1:37 left for his 10th goal, with Giroux and Konecny earning the assists.
Lundqvist was brilliant in goal with 42 saves. The Flyers took 46 shots, their most of the season.