Cou­turier, El­liott help Fly­ers blank slump­ing Black­hawks

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By Aaron Bracy

PHILADEL­PHIA >> The Fly­ers are rid­ing high on con­fi­dence, and it’s show­ing in their re­sults.

Sean Cou­turier had two goals and an as­sist, Brian El­liott made 33 saves and the surg­ing Fly­ers con­tin­ued their dom­i­nance over Chicago in Philadel­phia with a 4-0 vic­tory over the slump­ing Black­hawks on Satur­day.

Claude Giroux tal­lied a goal and two as­sists and Nolan Pa­trick added an empty-net­ter for the Fly­ers, who have won five of six over­all and 15 in a row at home in the reg­u­lar sea­son against the Black­hawks. Chicago last won a reg­u­lar-sea­son game in Philadel­phia on Nov. 9, 1996.

“Con­fi­dence helps,” Cou­turier said. “Right now ev­ery­thing is go­ing well. It’s huge when you have con­fi­dence to make plays. We’re mak­ing it tougher to play against.”

The Black­hawks have lost six straight games and two in a row un­der coach Jeremy Col­li­ton. The 33-yearold Col­li­ton re­placed Joel Quen­neville, the NHL’s sec­ond-win­ningest reg­u­larsea­son coach who was fired on Tues­day af­ter 10 sea­sons at the helm.

“We’re do­ing some good things,” Col­li­ton said. “I just would like to see that sus­tained a lit­tle more.”

El­liott was solid all game and made some key saves in the third pe­riod, in­clud­ing stop­ping Pa­trick Kane from close range on a Black­hawks power play, while record­ing his 38th ca­reer shutout. He also de­nied Do­minik Kahun and Nick Sch­maltz on shots from the slot that came right af­ter the other early in the third.

It was the sec­ond straight strong per­for­mance for El­liott, who de­nied all 16 shots he faced in re­lief of Calvin Pickard in Thurs­day’s 5-4 over­time win over Ari­zona.

“He was our most im­por­tant player,” coach Dave Hak­stol said.

“We’re play­ing hard, feel­ing good, feel­ing con­fi­dent,” Hak­stol added. “We’re bat­tling hard and play­ing hard, and it’s re­sult­ing in points.”

Giroux staked the Fly­ers to a 1-0 lead with 5:04 left in the first pe­riod when he took ad­van­tage of a Chicago turnover. Black­hawks de­fense­man Dun­can Keith’s clear­ing at­tempt from the end boards went right to Giroux, who faked a fore­hand shot be­fore beat­ing Corey Craw­ford with a back­han­der from the slot.

The lead was two goals with 11:06 left in the sec­ond when Cou­turier used his back­hand to score on a break­away just as time ex­pired on a Chicago power play. Giroux passed ahead to Cou­turier, who had one step on Black­hawks winger Chris Ku­nitz.

And Cou­turier made it 3-0 with 15:43 left in the third when his cen­ter­ing pass went off the skate of Black­hawks de­fense­man Bran­don Man­ning and over the goal line.

The Black­hawks have been outscored 30-12 dur­ing their los­ing streak.

“We’re mak­ing lit­tle mis­takes here and there,” Chicago cen­ter Jonathan Toews said. “We need to be bet­ter af­ter we give up goals.”

Said Craw­ford, “It seems like there are al­ways tough stretches dur­ing the sea­son. We just have to dig our way out of it.” NOTES >> Giroux has 11 points (4 goals, 7 as­sists) in his last six games . ... Chicago LW Bran­don Saad (right arm) and C Mar­cus Kruger (left leg) did not play. . Giroux passed Rick MacLeish to move into fourth place in club his­tory in points . ... Philadel­phia im­proved to 44-16-11 all-time at home against the Black­hawks. ... The Fly­ers next play the third game of their sea­son­high five-game home­s­tand on Tues­day against Florida.

CHRIS SZAGOLA — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Philadel­phia Fly­ers’ Brian El­liott, left, cel­e­brates the win with Sean Cou­turier, right, fol­low­ing the third pe­riod of an NHL hockey game against the Chicago Black­hawks, Satur­day in Philadel­phia. The Fly­ers won 4-0.

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