Ducks spoil opener in Philly
Ryan Garbutt’s goal broke a tie in the third period and sent the Anaheim Ducks to their first win of the season, 3-2 over the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night.
The Ducks opened 0-3-1 and had failed to score more than two goals in any of those games. Chris Wagner and Corey Perry also scored to help the Ducks spoil Philadelphia’s home opener.
Korbinian Holzer’s angled pass from behind the net led to Garbutt’s onetimer that stunned Steve Mason for the winner.
Wayne Simmonds and Matt Read scored for the Flyers. The Flyers have lost all three games since winning on opening night and dropped to 27-16-6 lifetime in home openers.
John Gibson stopped 20 shots for the Ducks.
The Flyers ramped up the emotion Thursday night, kicking off the home opener at Wells Fargo Center by recognizing their 50th anniversary season, complete with a video slideshow of deceased former players, coaches, staff and family members of the organization.
Coach Dave Hakstol had talked about the need to channel that emotional energy into the game.
Brayden Schenn needed no such push, since what was most players’ fourth game of the season was his first.
“It’s never fun watching,” said top-line left wing Schenn, fresh off serving a three-game suspension dating to the Game 6 loss of the playoff downer with the Washington Capitals last April.
“I’ve been out there for seven days, just practicing and skating and stuff like that, doing extra work,” Schenn said. “I’m excited to play tonight but I have to play the right way early on and not get in too much trouble. Like I said before, put your head in the right spot, put your emotions in the right place and everything else will take care of itself.”
Schenn took care of what seemed to be a fairly outlandish penalty from the league’s lords of discipline for a hit he put on Capital annoyance T.J. Oshie in that last playoff game. Flyers general manager Ron Hextall and Schenn pondered an appeal but decided not to do so.
Schenn did put in a full training camp, complete with appearances in six exhibition games. He spent the last week of the preseason practicing before serving the suspension.
For that reason, coach Dave Hakstol had no problem putting Schenn on the top line.
“I played with those guys long enough to know what they do night in and night out,” Schenn said of top-line and top power play mates Claude Giroux and Wayne Simmonds. “I know what to get from (Simmonds); he’s going to be hard working, up and down the ice. He’s going to go to the net and he’s going to make plays. Playing with (Giroux) you try to get the puck in his hands, and when he has it in his hands you try to get open.
“Hopefully the three of us can get it going early on tonight.”
Also paving the way for Schenn to step back into that spot was Michael Raffl’s misfortune. Raffl had taken Schenn’s spot during the suspension, only to be injured in Chicago Tuesday. He’s serving what likely will be a two-week upper body injury sentence. As for Schenn... “He’s worked hard here the last couple of weeks to stay ready, so it’s nice to get him back in,” Hakstol said. “He’s just got to come in and do his job. He’s coming in three games late here and everybody’s got a little head start on him in terms of regular-season level. But he’s worked hard and he’s ready to get back into the battle.”
Three games into the season, Matt Read, who was relegated to the fourth line early in training camp, had gotten off to a fast start. Read scored three goals on the road trip, two of them in a losing cause to the Blackhawks.
Read was given a grateful kick to the third line and has fit in well. Sprung on a nice chip pass from center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, he scored his fourth goal in four games midway through the home opener Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks.
Four goals in four games. Eleven goals in 79 games a season ago.
“I still believe; I’m still a confident player,” Read said. “I have to keep playing ... doing what I have to do out there and trying to make my linemates better. Just trying to help this team win every night.”
Read said his stepped-up fitness plan with a personal trainer in the offseason, the first time he did that, has paid off.
“I worked extra hard this summer, doing a lot more conditioning on the ice,” Read said. “I was out there two days a week from the beginning of June for 45 minutes, without pucks, just skating . ... High velocity for 10 seconds, then 10-second break . ... I feel like I’m in just as good a shape as ever, maybe a little bit better.”
NOTES » After sitting out a game in favor of Russian free agent signee Roman Lyubimov, Nick Cousins was back in the lineup. Said Hakstol: “No matter what role we put him in, he finds a way to contribute. He’s not a guy we want to leave out of the lineup too long.” ... Also still out is defenseman Radko Gudas, who has two more games to serve on his six-game suspension.
Flyers goalie Steve Mason, left, defends as the Ducks’ Nick Ritchie, center and Flyers’ Ivan Provorov battle for control during the second period Thursday in Philadelphia. Anaheim won 3-2.