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Back on track, Flyers set to face Blackhawks

Jan 17, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Kevin Hayes (13) celebrates with center Scott Laughton (21) after scoring a goal for a hat trick against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Flyers will look for their ninth victory in 11 games when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.

The Flyers dispatched the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 on Tuesday thanks in large part to the first career hat trick from Kevin Hayes.

In a season filled with highs and lows, Hayes was benched early on by head coach John Tortorella. The rebound has been impressive with Hayes coming back to earn his first All-Star Game nod in nine seasons.

“I think every guy in this room wants to win every night,” Hayes said. “It’s not a team or an organization that’s expecting to lose, We’ve had some bad streaks obviously, but the guys in this room show up every night. Things have been going our way lately.”

One night earlier, the Flyers were blanked 6-0 on the road by the Boston Bruins.

But the young Flyers have slowly started to mature under Tortorella and the positive results are showing. Backup goaltender Sam Ersson made 25 saves and improved to 5-0-0 in his brief career.

It’s unclear if Ersson or Carter Hart will get the start against Chicago.

“I think you need to answer,” Tortorella said of rallying after the loss in Boston. “Both teams played last night. We really spent a lot of our (pregame) meeting just talking about being simple and trying to play as fast as we can. I think in the back to backs, the team that starts the quickest I think has the biggest edge.”

Rasmus Ristolainen scored his first goal since Jan. 22, 2022, and the first of his career shorthanded.

After a rough start this season, the Blackhawks will be searching for their fifth win in six games.

With 56 seconds remaining in regulation during Tuesday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks’ Seth Jones tied the game with a goal then scored at 2:24 of overtime for a 4-3 Chicago victory.

The Blackhawks have only 12 wins all season.

“It feels really good,” Jones said. “You know, we didn’t start the way we wanted to in this game, and after the second, we came in here and it was all positive talk and what we needed to do and tie it up and get back in the game. And we did that. It’s always good when the (defensemen) get involved and help the forwards out putting the puck in the net.

“We haven’t done it enough this year, so it’s nice to kind of start getting that going for us in the second half,” Jones added.

Blackhawks goaltender Petr Mrazek rebounded after a shaky start against the Seattle Kraken when he gave up four goals on five shots in 12 minutes and was pulled in an 8-5 loss. He stopped 30 shots against the Sabres.

“Yeah, last game was rough,” Mrazek said. “We’ve moved on. The third period was big on our side, and we put the puck on the net and had the screen there, tips, and so those are the greasy goals that we need to score.

“We showed the character of the team and how we can play together. We knew we would talk about it after the second period, what to do in the third, go harder to the net because we didn’t have many opportunities in the first two periods. But we showed that we can do it,” he added.

–Field Level Media

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