Flyers Backcheck: Laughton’s First Rains on Carolina

After buzzing around the net for three weeks, Scott Laughton finally received the fruits of his labor with his first career NHL goal. Laughton’s second period goal in Saturday’s 5-1 drubbing of Carolina was the fourth of five Flyers goals overall, which peddled the surging Flyers to points in four of their last five games. As for the Canes, a fifth straight loss proves that when it rains on Carolina, it storms… or something like that.

More Secondary Scoring

At 8-18-3 now, many teams throughout the league have had the Canes’ number. On Saturday, the Flyers would not be the rare exception.

Heading into Saturday’s matinee, Carolina owned a four-game winning streak against Philadelphia, with the silver lining showing up in the Flyers gaining points in two of those last four meetings. Philly wasted little time in demonstrating their short memory against Carolina, scoring within the first minute of the tilt, and never looking back.

Sean Couturier’s seventh goal of the year marked the fifth time the orange and black jumped out in front in the last six games. Couturier’s wrap-around finish was his second goal in as many games, and his seventh point in his last six games. To say he’s on fire would not only be a cliché, but an understatement as well.

Over the last three weeks of November, Couturier managed just one goal and three points through 16 dormant games. But since the commencement of the road trip Dec. 2 in San Jose, Couturier has collected three goals and seven points in six games. — Rob Parent, Daily Times

After Couturier’s score, the secondary scoring was just getting started. Wayne Simmonds would pad the lead later in the period with a slap shot that whizzed past Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin. Simmonds, who’s known for scoring in bunches, collected his 13th of the season after the puck touched the sticks of Brayden Schenn and Scott Laughton.

The Flyers would see their momentum challenged early in the second, though, after Matt Read was sent to the box for tripping in one of the few pushes Carolina was able to muster up. Eric Staal would be the latest to take advantage of a Flyers penalty kill that’s now allowed four power play goals in their last three games. Unlike most of the previous 28 games, however, Philly would respond.

Less than two minutes later, the Flyers would get a power play of their own – their first and only of the day. Jakub Voracek would give Philadelphia their sixth power play goal in their last 19 times on the man advantage, and another two-goal lead.

That would set the stage for Scott Laughton, who assisted on Couturier’s score, to finally bang home the first of his young NHL career.

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“It’s a pretty big weight lifted off my shoulders,” said Laughton before heading into the dressing room for the second intermission. “It feels really good. I’m pretty excited.”

Michael Raffl would deliver the knockout blow halfway through the second, with Voracek and Claude Giroux jumping on the point bandwagon – their second of the game respectively.

The Flyers played quite possibly their most complete game on Saturday, scoring three second period goals, and killing off the next two Carolina power plays. The third period was as eventful as watching grass grow. But for a team that’s struggled with a number of issues, it was one of the most entertaining clock kills in recent memory.

Umberger’s 200th Rains on Carolina

With goals coming as if they were being handed out by Oprah, R.J. Umberger continued to make strides in his play. The 32-year-old veteran finished with an assist and a plus-one rating on 10:51 of ice time. The assist would not only be his first helper in 21 games, but the 200th of his 10-year NHL career.

Finding chemistry on Philadelphia’s third line with Sean Couturier and Matt Read has unquestionably been a factor in Umberger combining solid efforts of late. And with the energized line seeing more offensive zone starts in their last two games now, the former Blue Jacket has contributed to the Flyers’ finding their much needed secondary scoring.

It would take Umberger his 702nd career game to reach his recent milestone, but with 200 assists now locked away in the books, the Pittsburgh native is now only 15 assists shy of teammate Jakub Voracek’s career assist total.

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But hey, look at the bright side. Umberger was able to dish out number 200 four games sooner than Tim Higgins. Who? Just go with it.

Umberger can now set his sights on a new career milestone. He now needs 29 goals to match his career assist totals. While it’s severely unlikely that he’ll hit that achievement this season, he’ll have his 400th career point if and when he does (minus any assists).

Tidbits from Another Win

Steve Mason Doing Work

Although the Canes were able to generate 26 shots on net, Steve Mason was strong once again nevertheless. Mason finished the afternoon winning just his second game in his last eight outings, but was stingy enough to keep his opponent under two goals for the third time throughout that same span. The “Stone Cold” netminder improved his record to 6-9-4 with a .918 save percentage on the season.

Jake Voracek Watch

With his 12th multi-point game of the season, Jake Voracek moved back into sole possession of the NHL’s top spot among point scorers. Voracek collected his 37th point with an assist on Michael Raffl’s second period door slammer, moving him one point ahead of Dallas’ Tyler Seguin, and two points ahead of Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.

With both Pittsburgh and Dallas in action tonight, Voracek’s lonely seat at the top may be for just a little while, although he won’t be caught by Crosby tonight. Pittsburgh’s captain is out of action due to an “illness” his team denies is the mumps. Yeah, ok.

Luke Schenn’s Presence

With Michael Del Zotto out as a healthy scratch for the second straight game, Flyers head coach Craig Berube dressed Luke Schenn in his place once again. In 20:42 of ice time, Schenn turned in a solid performance once again. Schenn led all skaters with six blocked shots, while adding three hits.

Schenn’s day didn’t start out too well, however. The 25-year-old blue liner was ultimately responsible for Eric Staal’s second period power play goal. The Flyers are now 10-8-4 with the older Schenn of the brotherly duo in the lineup. Without him, Philly is 1-5-1.

Sixth Time’s the Charm

When the Flyers unveiled their alternate third sweaters this year, much disappointment was due to the lack of originality. After all, it was the exact same sweater as the ones wore in the 2012 Winter Classic. And much like the result of that New Year’s Day game versus the Rangers, the Flyers haven’t fared well since when wearing them.

That is until today, of course. The Flyers are now 1-4-1 when wearing their recycled third sweaters, and now have their first points in them since losing in a shootout in 2012.

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Bring on the Bolts

With the four-game homestand halfway through, the Flyers will look to extend their winning ways against a team they haven’t beat in their last five tries. The Flyers last beat the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb. 5th, 2013, but the good news is that it was done at home – where next Tuesday’s game will be held.

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While Philly’s overall losing streak to the Bolts stands at five, the Flyers have won three of their last four at home against the Lightning. Let’s just enjoy this one for now, though.