Flyers extend home winning streak with victory over Wild

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHILADELPHIA -- Before hitting the road for a couple weeks, the Philadelphia Flyers took care of business at home.
Right winger Wayne Simmonds scored two goals, goaltender Steve Mason made 26 saves, and the Flyers beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 Monday night to extend their home winning streak to nine games.
Defenseman Luke Schenn and center Claude Giroux also had goals for Philadelphia (17-16-4).
The Flyers last won nine in a row at the Wells Fargo Center during the 2005-06 season. They won't get a chance to make it 10 for a while, as they play their next six games on the road before returning home to face the Montreal Canadiens on Jan. 8.
"We got to take this show on the road," left winger Scott Hartnell said. "You can't be homers and expect to make the playoffs and take the next step, so we got to take what we do here at home and put it on the road."
Center Mikael Granlund scored for the Wild (20-14-5). Minnesota lost its third game in a row.
"Well, I'm not going to try to paint a rosy picture, and I'm not going to try and make any excuses. Flat out, we need to be better," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "It's every one of us and it starts with me."
The Wild learned about 20 minutes before the game that left winger Zach Parise wouldn't play because of a lower-body injury. Parise is tied for the team lead with 27 points, and he is second in goals with 15.
He was missed.
Schenn gave the Flyers a 1-0 lead just 1:52 into the game when he pinched into the offensive zone and fired a one-timer past goalie Niklas Backstrom (27 saves).
Simmonds made it 2-0 on a power-play goal midway through the first, scoring on a pretty tic-tac-toe move with Giroux and right winger Jakub Voracek.
Granlund cut it to 2-1 when he scored on a one-timer during a two-man advantage late in the first.
The Flyers regained their two-goal cushion on Giroux's goal at 7:46 of the second. Voracek set it up by winning a battle for the puck along the boards and sending a pass to defenseman Braydon Coburn, who fired a slap shot from the left circle. Giroux skated in front and tipped it past Backstrom.
Mason preserved the 3-1 lead with an outstanding save on a point-blank shot by center Mikko Koivu in the third.
"It was definitely a big save," Mason said. "If we don't make that, it becomes a one-goal hockey game. That could have become an entirely different hockey game, and those are the saves that we need to come up with in order to have success."
Simmonds finished the scoring with an empty-net goal.
"Obviously it would've been nice to go in (to the Christmas break) with a win, but I don't think it would've changed the fact that we need to consistently be better," Wild center Kyle Brodziak said. "We got to dig deep. Maybe that's why it's a good time to spend a few days to reflect. Everyone can reflect individually, and just try to reset our minds on what we need to do to get ourselves out of this. That's basically it."
The Flyers have come a long way since a 1-7-0 start. They head into the NHL's Christmas break sitting in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.
"I think it's great," Simmonds said. "Obviously we've been hot at home. We just have to carry it on the road and play the same way we have been playing at home, we'll be fine."
NOTES: Flyers D Erik Gustafsson will miss around two weeks with a left knee sprain suffered Saturday night. D Andrej Meszaros replaced him in the lineup. ... Flyers RW Jakub Voracek extended his career-best points streak to eight games with an assist on RW Wayne Simmonds' goal. ... Flyers RW Steve Downie missed his second game in a row with an upper-body injury. ... Flyers LW Scott Hartnell got his 500th career point with an assist on D Luke Schenn's goal. ... Wild D Ryan Suter has an assist in seven straight games. ... The Wild finished a stretch of three consecutive games vs. Eastern Conference opponents. ... Minnesota G Josh Harding, who made 21 saves in a 2-0 win over the Flyers on Dec. 2, remains sidelined while adjustments are made to his medication for multiple sclerosis.

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