PHILADELPHIA — Brayden Schenn‘s career game sent hats flying in Philly.
With more games like this one, Schenn could deliver the Flyers into the post-season.
Schenn had his first career hat trick, scoring all three goals in the first two periods and leading Philadelphia past the Calgary Flames 5-3 Monday night.
“They’re not easy,” Schenn said. “Goals are hard to come by in this league.”
Not against Calgary.
Claude Giroux had four assists and Wayne Simmonds scored twice for the Flyers, who have won three straight and four of five as they remain in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff race. Philadelphia held on after nearly wasting a 4-1 lead and remained three points behind Pittsburgh for the final wild-card spot in the East.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 29 shots and won his 16th game of the season.
“We’ve got a steep hill for us to climb in order to push back into the playoffs,” Flyers rookie coach Dave Hakstol said.
At least they’re not rolling backward.
Schenn keyed the latest win with an outing worthy of his ascension to the top line. He had his apparent first goal ruled no good on video review, then beat Jonas Hiller glove side just minutes later in the first to make it 1-all.
“I thought it was in. It sure looked like it went in,” Schenn said. “It’s one of those tough ones where there was no white ice under the puck. It was hard to tell. The puck was kind of caught in his jersey or glove, but it’s nice to get rewarded on the same shift with a goal.”
Schenn added two more in the second, his career-high 21st goal enough to make it 4-1 and let fans hurl hats toward the ice in celebration.
“I know I can make plays and produce with those guys,” Schenn said.
Not all the cheers inside the Wells Fargo Center were for the Flyers. Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau heard his share when his name was announced for the assist on Monahan’s goal. Gaudreau, out of nearby Carneys Point, New Jersey, grew up a huge Flyers fan and even played in the youth hockey games at the arena staged during Flyers intermission – when he wasn’t rooting on the orange-and-black from the stands.
“First time I saw him, he was bringing people out of their seats at 15, 16,” Hakstol said. “Here he is a few years later, continuing to do it at the NHL level.”
The Flames made the playoffs last season for the first time in six years, losing to Anaheim in the second round. But Calgary is well out of contention this season, even with Gaudreau among the league leaders in points.
So the Flames made a pair of deals before the deadline, sending defenceman Kris Russell to the Dallas Stars for defenceman Jyrki Jokipakka, forward prospect Brett Pollock and a conditional 2016 second-round pick. The Flames also acquired goalie Niklas Backstrom and a sixth-round pick in the 2016 draft in exchange for forward David Jones.
“We’ve had a couple of tough weeks outside the ice. I’m sure that wears down on the players,” coach Bob Hartley said.
The Flyers decided to stand pat, even with forward Jake Voracek sidelined two more weeks with a lower-body injury. While the Flyers did not reveal the nature of the injury, Voracek has a walking boot on his left foot. He will not need surgery.
Under Hakstol, the rebuilding Flyers have remained in the hunt for a playoff spot. Philadelphia did not make a deadline deal for the first time since 2010.
“We’re looking if we can make ourselves better today and not hurt our future, we’re all for it. Nothing came today that made sense,” general manager Ron Hextall said. “If we wanted to start unloading picks and prospects today, we could have done that and become a better team. Were we going to start letting bodies fly out? No.”
NOTES: The Flyers inducted five-time All-Star defenceman Jim Watson into their Hall of Fame. Watson joined his brother, Joe, inducted in 1996, in the Hall. Watson said he had an emotional phone call with Flyers founder and chairman Ed Snider, who has been battling health issues. “I know you’re a fighter, Eddie. You’re going to get there,” Watson told the crowd. Watson exchanged his blazer for the traditional orange Hall of Fame jacket, and his name was printed on a banner that was raised to the rafters. The Flyers wore No. 20 patches. He became the 25th member of the team’s Hall of Fame.