(Photo: Kate Frese)
By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
It had been nine games since the Flyers scored more than three goals in a game. They bested that number with their highest goal total since the fourth game of the season.
James van Riemsdyk scored a hat trick, while Nolan Patrick and Wayne Simmonds each had a pair of goals to give the Flyers a 7-4 win over the Minnesota Wild on Monday night at Wells Fargo Center.
The first period started with the Wild grabbing momentum and getting the first goal. On a power play just over seven minutes into the period, the Wild scored as Nino Niederreiter's hard work at the side of the net set up a chance for Jason Zucker at the front of the net. It appeared Hart had the puck covered, but it leaked through and crawled across the goal line to put the Wild on the board first.
Just 52 seconds later, another bounce resulted in a goal for the Wild. Off a turnover by Phil Varone, Matt Hendricks set up Joel Eriksson Ek for a shot from the left circle that hit the stick of Varone and deflected off the arm of Hart and in to make it 2-0.
The Flyers called a timeout and got a chance on the power play minutes later. The Flyers were trying a new-look power play, using five forwards on the top unit. The new design worked on the first attempt. Jake Voracek fired a shot from the high point that was deflected by van Riemsdyk to cut the lead to one.
There was a lengthy review on an offside challenge, and though replay seemed to show that the play was offside, the officials confirmed the call on the ice that allowed the goal to stand and the Flyers to go back to the power play.
The Flyers did not score on that power play or another late in the period, but they did manage to tie the game before the end of the opening 20 minutes. Off a rush, Claude Giroux fired from the high slot and the shot hit van Riemsdyk and beat a screened Devan Dubnyk to tie the game at two with 1:12 remaining.
Shots after 20 minutes were 14-12 Flyers.
It didn't take long for the Wild to regain the lead early in the second. Marcus Foligno was left alone in front and was able to get a second chance to jam the puck in past Hart to make it 3-2 at 2:23.
But the Flyers responded just over two minutes later. Scott Laughton put a chance toward the net that Patrick swatted into the net for his first goal in 25 games and sixth of the season.
With 4:32 left in the period, Patrick had his second of the night. A point shot by Travis Sanheim missed the net, but hit the endboards and bounced right to Patrick at the side of the net. Patrick went between the legs and shoveled the rebound in to give the Flyers the lead.
In the closing seconds of the period, Patrick led another rush that resulted in a goal. Patrick handed off to Laughton and Laughton put a perfect pass across to Simmonds for the goal, making it 5-3 after two periods, despite being outshot, 24-20, through 40 minutes.
Following a Minnesota power play, the Wild were able to get a goal in strange fashion. Eric Staal had a chance stopped but the bouncing puck hit Ryan Suter and went in, only for the goal to be immediately waved off for incidental contact with Hart. After a long review, it was determined that Robert Hagg push Staal into Hart, which overturned the call and cut the lead to one with 11:42 remaining.
The Flyers quickly got the goal back just over two minutes later, with Simmonds getting a breakaway off a steal and scoring on Alex Stalock, who took over in goal for the third, to restore the two-goal lead with his second goal of the game.
With time winding down, Hart stood strong in goal and the Flyers iced the game with van Riemsdyk finishing off a hat trick with an empty-net goal.
Hart made 34 saves in the win. Dubnyk made 15 saves on 20 shots. Stalock stopped five of six shots.
The Flyers also had six players with multi-point games. Both Giroux and Radko Gudas had two assists. Laughton had three assists. van Riemsdyk had three goals. Simmonds had two goals. Patrick had two goals and two assists.
The Flyers return to the ice on Wednesday night to face the Boston Bruins. Game time is 7:30 p.m.