PHILADELPHIA — Jakub Voracek slimmed down this off-season, and it has resulted in great gains thus far.
Voracek scored two goals, and Steve Mason made 35 saves to earn his first win of the season as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 on Tuesday night.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Luke Schenn added goals for the Flyers, who began a four-game homestand with their third straight win on their own ice. They dropped their first three games in Philadelphia.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored for the Oilers, who opened a five-game trip with their third straight loss.
Voracek, who entered Tuesday second in the NHL with 16 points, remained on a tear. He opened the scoring with a wraparound goal 3:59 in and then tallied again on a shot from the slot that went over the left leg of Viktor Fasth with 3:56 left in the first period to put Philadelphia in front 2-0.
“It’s important to get out quick,” Voracek said.
The same could be said for his season. Despite setting career-highs in goals (23) and points (62) last season, Voracek followed coach Craig Berube’s advice and dropped 10 pounds over the summer by eliminating “pasta and bread” from his diet.
“I feel quicker,” he said. “So far it’s been better for me, but I don’t want to get overconfident. It’s only 12 games.”
The changes have been evident late in games.
“His speed doesn’t drop off in the third period,” Berube said.
The Oilers played without captain Andrew Ference and leading scorer Taylor Hall. Ference served the first of a three-game suspension for his illegal hit against Vancouver’s Zack Kassian in Saturday’s 3-2 home loss. Hall injured his knee and is expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks.
Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins wasn’t satisfied with the overall effort of his short-handed club.
“We can’t have five or six guys step up,” he said. “We need (everyone). If you’re not maximizing your potential, you’re doing your team a disservice.”
Mason, 33-18-7 with a 2.50 goals-against average last season, was 0-4-1 with a 3.55 GAA in six starts before Tuesday.
“I never once doubted myself,” Mason said. “I have a lot of confidence in myself and just have to build on this one.”
Chants of “Mason! Mason!” echoed from the crowd after a pair of point-blank saves on Nail Yakupov and David Perron with 14 minutes left in the game.
Mason appreciated the fans’ encouragement.
“Playing in Philly is a special thing,” he said. “The fans have been supportive of me, even through the tough start. You love them for that.”
The Flyers goalie wore a new mask, switching to one that reduces glare. He had struggled to adjust to new lighting installed at the Wells Fargo Center in two home losses.
Fasth made his first start after missing eight games with a groin injury.
“I felt a little rust in the beginning but felt better as the game went on,” Fasth said. “I wish I could’ve made a couple more saves.”
The Flyers took a three-goal advantage when Bellemare’s shot from the left circle went off Fasth and trickled over the goal line 4:09 into the second.
Nugent-Hopkins beat Mason 1-on-1 from close range to put Edmonton on the board with 10:06 left in the period, but Schenn answered 2:07 later on an assist from his brother, Brayden.
As he fell to the ice, Brayden Schenn sent a pass in front from behind the net, and Luke fired a one-timer that went under Fasth’s right arm before caroming in off the left post.
The goal ended a 32-game scoreless streak for Luke Schenn, who hadn’t scored since March 1.