Flyers win, extend regular-season home streak vs Blackhawks
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — They weren’t exactly the Broad Street Bullies, but the Flyers got a rare victory Saturday by playing the kind of physical hockey for which the franchise used to be known.
Cam Atkinson had two goals and an assist, Joel Farabee chipped in three assists and the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3.
Oskar Lindblom and Derick Brassard also scored for the Flyers, who won for just the fourth time in the last 25 games while continuing their home-ice dominance of the Blackhawks.
“It’s amazing when guys stick up for each other, it kind of brings everyone into the fight,” Atkinson said. “That’s what good teams do. When you support each other and stick up for each other, good things usually happen.”
Dylan Strome had a pair of goals and Alex DeBrincat also scored for the Blackhawks, who have lost five of seven. Kane had an assist, upping his team-leading totals to 39 assists and 56 points.
“Overall, I thought we battled,” Blackhawks coach Derek King said. “We played well, we just couldn’t hold on to that lead.”
The two proud franchises are near the bottom of the NHL standings, with the Blackhawks beginning the day with more points than only seven NHL teams and the Flyers last in the Eastern Conference’s Metro Division with just three teams in the league having fewer points.
Saturday’s game was a far cry from the 2010 Stanley Cup showdown when the Blackhawks won their fourth overall title and first of three in six years. But despite their records, the teams played a spirited contest — plenty of scoring, lots of big hits and stoppages that ended with helmets and sticks littered on the ice.
“It was like an old ’80s game at the old Spectrum, with scrums and everything after,” King said.
For a change, the crowd’s decibel level edged up to the days when Philadelphia’s home arena was sold out and tough on opponents. There have been lots of empty seats this season and often little energy from the home faithful.
“I think everyone loves playing in games like that, very intense, a lot of team meetings in front of each net,” Chicago’s Seth Jones said. “It felt like a playoff atmosphere, fans were in it, we were in it physically, mentally. It stinks to be on the wrong side, but I loved the intensity of the play.”
Atkinson put the Flyers in front for good at 4-3 with 11:32 left in the third with his second of the game and team-leading 20th of the season. He stole the puck from Dominik Kubalik at the Chicago blue line, passed to Farabee and got a return feed in the high slot and shot high past goalie Kevin Lankinen.
“We capitalized on our opportunities,” Atkinson said.
Brassard tied the back-and-forth contest at 3 with 16:51 remaining, ending an excellent passing sequence with a shot that deflected off Lankinen’s pads and over the goal line. It was the fifth of the season for Brassard, and first since he scored twice on Nov. 20 as a hip injury has limited him to just eight games since.
Brassard had a costly turnover in Philadelphia’s 5-4 loss to Minnesota on Thursday, and met with interim coach Mike Yeo on Friday during an optional practice to apologize.
Yeo called out the players after the game against the Wild, and Philadelphia’s Kevin Hayes said: “The boys responded the right way. Goes a long way when the team is sticking up for each other.”
PLETHORA OF PENALTIES
The game featured 12 penalties, and things got chippy at times, especially in the third period. Philadelphia defenseman Kevin Connauton limped off the ice after a hit by Kirby Dach with 8:59 to play.
The Flyers have won 16 straight regular-season contests at home against Chicago. The Blackhawks’ last regular-season victory in Philadelphia came on Nov. 9, 1996. Chicago did clinch the 2010 Stanley Cup on Patrick Kane’s overtime goal in Game 6 at Philadelphia.
Hayes returned to the Flyers’ lineup for the first time since Jan. 17. In the third season of a seven-year, $50 million deal, he has played in just 20 games following a pair of offseason surgeries to his abdomen area. He had a subsequent surgery on Jan. 18 to remove fluid caused by an infection. Hayes recorded an assist on Lindblom’s tally.
Blackhawks: Host Tampa Bay on Sunday.
Flyers: Conclude a club-record eight-game homestand against Vegas on Tuesday.
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