PHILADELPHIA — After a lull in which they lost five of six and seven of nine, the St. Louis Blues roll into Philadelphia for a Saturday afternoon showdown having won three in a row, including a hard-earned 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.
The Flyers, on the other hand, are struggling to find some kind of consistency, following a 5-1 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday with an emotionally charged, 6-4 win over the New York Islanders on Thursday.
The Blues have won three in a row despite scoring just seven goals in those wins, all on home ice. Excluding empty-netters, St. Louis has scored more than two goals just once in the past 13 games but has won six of those games. Backup goaltender Carter Hutton was the star of Thursday night’s win with 32 saves.
“We did what we had to do,” Blues coach Mike Yeo told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I still think we can get better at our game. I still think when we’re at our best, we’re forcing teams to defend. I think sometimes we let teams off the hook, but for the most part, we played three teams that we knew were going to be very competitive, very fast, very structured, and to find a way to get three wins was impressive.”
The Flyers dealt with a cascade of boos in their lopsided loss to the Penguins but rebounded with a spirited win over the Islanders that featured a Gordie Howe hat trick by center Sean Couturier and two goals and an assist by defenseman Ivan Provorov, who was on the ice for four goals against the Penguins.
“The game against Pittsburgh wasn’t my best,” Provorov told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Those games happen. You have to be able to learn from those and bounce back.”
Brian Elliott earned the win for the Flyers while making his 15th straight start. He spent much of his career with the Blues.
“It probably wasn’t my best game, but these guys really came out hard,” Elliott said. “It was a game we needed to win.”
After their game against St. Louis, the Flyers will face the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday before a mandatory bye week that will have them off the ice for four days. The Flyers wanted call-up winger Tyrell Goulbourne in the lineup against the Islanders, but the hard-hitting rookie never made it to Philadelphia due to weather conditions.
“What we’re looking for from him is a little bit of energy,” Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said. “He’s got outstanding speed, he’s a heavy player, he’s got a heavy stick, and he’s a good penalty killer.”
The Blues have been riding the strong play of Hutton, who has started and won three in a row while giving Jake Allen an unintended rest.
“I think he’s forcing us to put him in,” Yeo said of Hutton, who has allowed two or fewer goals in three of his last four starts. “This is about Hutts and the job he’s doing, the performance that he’s giving us night after night. Right now, he’s a competitor and he’s winning games.”
“It’s fun,” Hutton said. “It’s good to play. You play once every two weeks or three games in a row, it doesn’t matter to me. I just try to compete. No matter who’s in net, we’re going to pull the weight around here.”
Blues defenseman Vince Dunn sat out Thursday’s game with an illness and is questionable.