PHILADELPHIA – Looking for a scoring boost, the Blackhawks reunited the top line that helped them win three of the past seven Stanley Cups. But it was the Flyers’ No. 1 unit that ruled on this night.
Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek each had a goal and two assists and linemate Sean Couturier also scored to lead Philadelphia over the Hawks, 3-1, on Thursday.
Brian Elliott made 38 saves for the Flyers, who avenged Nov. 1’s 3-0 loss at the United Center while beating the Hawks for the 14th straight time in Philadelphia during the regular season.
The Hawks’ last regular-season victory at Philadelphia came Nov. 9, 1996. They did clinch their 2010 Stanley Cup title with a Game 6 win on the Flyers’ home ice.
Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane starred on that team, and coach Joel Quenneville put the trio back together against Philadelphia.
But the Flyers’ top unit outplayed them.
“It’s a big matchup, a big challenge, but we’re willing to go against anyone,” Couturier said. “We feel confident about our game right now. For sure, they’re top guys in the league. Every game you want to outscore the other line or outcompete them and as a line we’re pretty confident right now that we can do that every night. Tonight we did a good job.”
Flyers coach Dave Hakstol bumped Couturier up from second-line center this season and shifted Giroux to left wing for the first time in his career.
The results thus far have been eye-opening as the trio has combined for 59 points – or 44 percent of Philadelphia’s offense.
“There’s three good players on that line and they all play the game differently,” Hakstol said. “They have different strengths, but a big credit to them. They’ve worked well for our hockey team.”
Connor Murphy scored for the Hawks.
Couturier upped his team-leading total to 10 goals by finishing Giroux’s pass from close range four minutes into the second period to give Philadelphia a 3-0 lead.
The Hawks got on the board with 3:47 remaining in the second when Murphy scored on a rebound from the left circle. Murphy’s father, Gord, is a Flyers assistant and watched the goal from the bench.
That was the only goal the Hawks could muster, and they have only three goals in their past three games.
“When the pucks aren’t going in, you have to find a way to play a more complete game and we didn’t do that tonight,” Toews said. “We all just have a little faith, stick with it and once we see a few go in everyone is going to feed off that confidence, that energy those goals give us.”
The Hawks had a chance to pull closer during a 5-on-3 power play near the end of the period, but the Flyers were able to kill it off.
The Flyers, playing with pep in their step after four days off, took a 2-0 lead with a pair of first-period goals in a strong opening 20 minutes.
Giroux opened the scoring five minutes in by firing a one-timer from the slot past Corey Crawford. Voracek put Philadelphia ahead by two with 7:52 left in the period when he scored on a one-timer from the right circle after a cross-ice pass from Shayne Gostisbehere.
The assist gave Gostisbehere 100 points and made him the fastest to that mark for any defenseman who started his career with the Flyers.
Crawford stopped 28 shots.
Notes: Hawks defenseman Gustav Forsling returned after missing three straight games with an upper-body injury. ... Flyers rookie Nolan Patrick missed his seventh consecutive game with an upper-body injury, but did skate on his own during the morning skate. He is targeting a return next Tuesday at Minnesota. ... The Flyers held a moment of silence before the game for former Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, who died in a plane crash Tuesday.
Up next: The Hawks play at Carolina on Saturday night.
The Flyers finish a three-game homestand Saturday night with the first of two straight against Minnesota.