PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The Philadelphia Flyers opened a crucial homestand needing wins any way they could get them.
A variety pack of goals was the perfect way to start.
Matt Read and Sean Couturier each had a goal and an assist to lead the Flyers to a 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.
The Flyers scored short-handed, on the power play, even strength, and into an empty net.
Wayne Simmonds scored the power-play goal, and Jakub Voracek added the empty-netter to seal the win.
The Flyers earned the win after dropping four of five on the road. Three of the four losses were by one goal. They have dropped to the bottom portion of the Eastern Conference and need to make the most of the four-game homestand to jump back into postseason contention.
“It’s huge, especially if we want to stay in the playoff race,” Couturier said.
They got an unexpected lift from Read, who has only three goals and seven assists in 28 games. He had one of each in the first period, giving the Flyers a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“I just keep shooting pucks, getting in front of the net, getting in the hard areas,” Read said. “Things kind of bounced my way tonight.”
With Steve Mason 0-5 against the Devils, Ray Emery got the start for the Flyers. Emery was 0-4 with a 4.12 GAA in his last four starts. But he was hardly tested with 17 saves against the Devils for his fifth win of the season — matching Mason’s total in eight fewer games.
Emery improved his career record against New Jersey to 8-4-0-2 with a 1.78 GAA.
Not even the return of leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri (11) could spark the Devils. Cammalleri returned after missing two games with a strained gluteus muscle.
“Maybe we’ve got to get a little greasier, get to the net and find ways to get a little of the sandpaper to our game around the net,” he said.
The Flyers scored first on perhaps one of the unlikeliest of scenarios for a team that has struggled as much as any playing short-handed. The Devils had been spectacular of late, killing 44 of 49 power plays against during the last 14 games.
But with the Devils down a player early in the first, Couturier scored his sixth goal for Philadelphia’s first short-handed goal of the season.
They scored at even strength, too. Couturier blindly passed the puck in front of the net, Read pounced and stuck it past Cory Schneider for the 2-0 lead.
“I just fired backdoor,” Couturier said. “Luckily, he was there.”
Read scored 24 goals in the 2011-12 season and 22 last season, leaving him mystified about the cause of his season-long slump. He had his first multipoint game since April 6, 2014, against Buffalo and scored for the first time since Nov. 15.
“Coot’s pass was pretty lucky, it went through about three guy’s skates and landed right on my tape,” Read said.
The Flyers entered 13th in the Eastern Conference and seven points out of a playoff spot. With home games ahead against Carolina, Tampa Bay and Florida, now is the time for the Flyers to gain ground.
The Devils scored their lone goal in the second when Martin Havlat scored a power-play goal for the Devils. Havlat tipped Scott Gomez’s slap shot from along the boards to cut it to 2-1.
The Devils have lost two straight.
“We didn’t panic with the 2-0 deficit,” said Schneider, who had 32 saves. “We stuck with it and got one on the power play, but they played pretty solid.”
Simmonds’ 12th goal stretched the lead to 3-1.
NOTES: Devils C Dainius Zubrus sat out his second straight game with a leg injury. … Flyers C Vinny Lecavalier was a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. … Gomez’s assist tied him with Scott Stevens for fourth on New Jersey’s career list. John MacLean is third with 354. … New Jersey’s Travis Zajac and Adam Larsson have come down the mumps. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said the team has been offered the vaccination and called the outbreak around the NHL “a concern.” “We’ve got it covered as much as we can. Clean buildings and wash your hands, and vaccines and everything else you can do,” he said. “We’ve done everything we can do to protect our players and our staff.” … Voracek has 10 goals.
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