VANCOUVER â€” Shayne Gostisbehere’s career night helped the Philadelphia Flyers to a morale-boosting victory in their push for a playoff spot.
The second-year defenceman set up all three of his team’s goals, including Brayden Schenn’s winner in the second period, for his first three-point game in the NHL as the Flyers downed Vancouver Canucks 3-2 on Sunday.
“It’s good to get some points, but I think it was more important to get the two points for our team,” said Gostisbehere. “We really needed those.”
Wayne Simmonds and Jakub Voracek also scored for Philadelphia (28-24-7), while Michael Neuvirth made 18 stops to get the win.
The runner up for rookie of the year last season, Gostisbehere has been a healthy scratch five times in an up-and-down sophomore campaign, but now sits at four goals and 21 assists in 53 games.
“He has his confidence and a little bit of swagger,” said Simmonds. “He’s a heck of a player and has unbelievable skill. He can be a catalyst offensively for us.”
The Flyers lost the first two games of their three-game swing through western Canada â€” a 3-1 defeat to Calgary on Wednesday and 6-3 setback in Edmonton on Thursday â€” but after Sunday sit just two points back of the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We were playing some pretty good hockey of late, but the pucks weren’t going in,” said Schenn. “We tightened up defensively and were able to score a few more goals.”
That included connecting twice on the power play after going just 2 for 19 over their six previous outings.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” said Schenn, who scored his league-leading 14th goal with the man advantage.
Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen had the goals for Vancouver (26-28-6), which got 25 saves from Ryan Miller.
The Canucks couldn’t build on Saturday’s 2-1 overtime win against Calgary following a 2-4-0 road trip and head into their five-day break four points back of the Flames for the West’s second wild-card spot.
Trailing 3-2 through 40 minutes, Vancouver’s toothless 28th-ranked power play got a chance early in the third, but failed to even register a shot. The Canucks finished the night 0 for 4 are now 0 for 12 over their last four games after recording goals in five straight.
“Execution was off, we got shots blocked again, didn’t make the right decisions with the puck,” said Vancouver captain Henrik Sedin, whose team had just six shots in the third period. “(Against Calgary) I thought we had a lot of chances. Tonight we were back to just scrambling again.”
The penalty kill has also surrendered four goals over the last three games.
“Our specialty teams let us down,” said Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins. “I don’t want to put all the pressure on the power play or a few guys because it’s a team and we’ve got to play as a team, but saying that we probably need a little bit more out of the power play.”
Miller made a couple of nice stops to keep his team within striking distance late in the third, but Vancouver didn’t really threaten Neuvirth from there as Philadelphia held on for just its second win in the last six (2-4-0).
Up 1-0 after the first period thanks to Simmonds’ 25th of the season on the power play, the Flyers caught Vancouver napping early in the second when Gostisbehere fired a puck from behind the Philadelphia net off the boards to create a 2-on-1. Miller stopped Sean Couturier’s initial shot, but Voracek was there to jump on the juicy rebound for his 15th and first in 10 games.
The Canucks gave up another power-play goal just 1:27 later when Schenn wheeled into the high slot and ripped his 18th to make it 3-0 past a screened Miller, who made 35 saves against the Flames on Saturday.
The Canucks showed some life when Granlund continued the goal barrage at 3:43 on a slick deflection for his 15th past Neuvirth, who allowed all six goals in that loss to Edmonton.
The Philadelphia goalie made a nice stop on Brandon Sutter midway through the period, but Hansen got Vancouver to within one at 12:42 after Bo Horvat cut hard to the net. The puck popped out front to Hansen, who chipped a fluttering shot past Neuvirth’s glove for his sixth.
The Canucks nearly tied things seconds later when Reid Boucher jumped on a terrible turnover by Michael Del Zotto in the Flyers’ end, but Neuvirth was there to make a point-blank glove save.
“There was good things in the game, but ultimately we lost and we need to make up some ground so it’s frustrating,” said Miller. “We showed good spirit but it doesn’t really mean much now.”
Notes: Horvat now has four goals and four assists over his last eight games. … Sunday marked the first time this season the Canucks haven’t split starts in back-to-backs when both Miller and backup Jacob Markstrom are healthy. … The Canucks are scheduled to return to practice at 4 p.m. local time Friday before welcoming San Jose to town Saturday. … The Flyers host Washington on Wednesday.
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press