PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jonathan Toews had a goal and an assist, Petr Mrazek made 37 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks won for the first time in the regular season in Philadelphia in more than 26 years with a 4-1 victory over the Flyers on Thursday night.
Before Thursday, Chicago hadn’t won a regular-season game in Philadelphia since Nov. 9, 1996. The drought comes with a huge asterisk, though, as the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup championship in 2010 in Game 6 in Philadelphia.
“This was a good confidence builder,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said.
It was the fifth win in six games for the surging Blackhawks, who entered tied with Columbus for fewest points in the league.
“We’re just connected right now, playing some pretty good hockey together,” Chicago All-Star defenseman Seth Jones said. “I think we’re all on the same page when it comes to how we have to play at the moment and everyone’s buying in. So it’s been good.”
Philadelphia lost for just the third time in its last 11 contests.
“Across the board, we looked flat,” Flyers coach John Tortorella said. “I don’t think we played with enough energy. You could tell from the start, it’s one of those games. I didn’t like much of it at all.”
The Flyers had on their regular jerseys and all players skated during warmups for this one. The organization made headlines on Tuesday night when defenseman Ivan Provorov chose not to warm up in a Pride-themed jersey on a night in which the Flyers recognized the LGBTQ community.
Provorov, a Russian Orthodox, cited his religious beliefs for his stance and Tortorella defended him prior to Thursday’s game.
“Provy did nothing wrong,” Tortorella said. “Just because you don’t agree with his decision doesn’t mean he did anything wrong.”
Morgan Frost scored for Philadelphia.
The Blackhawks went up with the only two goals of the second period.
Toews netted his 13th of the season on a skillful deflection from the slot of Jones’ shot from long range with 10:09 left in the period. Six minutes later, Reese Johnson put Chicago in front 2-1 with a wrist shot from the middle of the ice that went under goalie Carter Hart’s right arm. Colin Blackwell made an outstanding, second-effort play to set up the goal, feeding Johnson while falling to the ice.
“I don’t think in the first or second period we did enough forechecking,” Tortorella said. “We’re a forechecking team. I think we forgot that a little tonight.”
A game after scoring on a shot between his own legs on a highlight-reel goal, Frost notched another pretty tally to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead 8:52 into the contest. He turned around Jones with some nifty stickhandling while crossing the blue line before firing a wrist shot past Mrazek's glove side.
The Flyers nearly tied it late in the period, but defenseman Caleb Jones blocked Cam York’s try at an empty net after Mrazek had been pulled away after a save.
Tyler Johnson padded the Blackhawks’ lead just 35 seconds into the third when he converted from a sharp angle after Hart stopped Patrick Kane’s initial shot. Hart made 25 saves.
NOTES: The teams will meet for the second and final time in the last game of the regular season on April 13 in Chicago. … The Flyers were playing their third game in four nights as part of a busy January that will see them play 14 contests in 27 days.
Blackhawks: At St. Louis on Saturday night.
Flyers: At Detroit on Saturday night.
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Aaron Bracy, The Associated Press