The Philadelphia Flyers expected an instant impact from the return of Claude Giroux, and that’s exactly what they got from their top scorer.
Giroux had a goal and three assists in his comeback from a four-game absence because of a concussion as the surging Flyers beat the Stars, 4-1, last night in Dallas.
Giroux received medical clearance to play last weekend, and he was inserted into the lineup after he was able to participate in the morning skate.
“He’s clearly established himself as a top player in the league,’’ Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “He missed some time and wanted to get back in there. He’s capable of that. It shouldn’t surprise anybody.’’
Giroux was out since he was injured in a game against Tampa Bay Dec. 10 when he was accidentally hit in the back of the head by teammate Wayne Simmonds’s knee.
Giroux recorded his third four-point game of the season. The last Flyer with at least three games of four or more points in a season was Mark Recchi, who had three during the 2000-01 season.
“It’s exciting for him to play again,’’ teammate Jaromir Jagr said. “I knew right away, first shift, he had a lot of energy.’’
Simmonds and Jagr added power-play goals, and defenseman Andrej Meszaros connected at even strength for Philadelphia.
Jagr has 657 career goals, breaking a tie with Brendan Shanahan and taking over sole possession of 11th on the all-time list.
Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell both had two assists, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 30 saves as the Flyers improved to 10-2-1 in their last 13 overall and 13-3-2 on the road this season.
Blackhawks 5, Canadiens 1 - Andrew Brunette and Patrick Sharp scored 21 seconds apart midway through the second period, and Corey Crawford made 20 saves in his first start in more than two weeks as host Chicago beat Montreal.
Viktor Stalberg scored midway through the third period and Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell added late empty-net goals for NHL-leading Chicago. The Blackhawks rebounded from a 3-2 loss at Pittsburgh Tuesday, improving to 8-1-1 in their last 10 games.
Andrei Kostitsyn scored a power-play goal for Montreal, which lost its fourth straight - including the last three since interim coach Randy Cunneyworth replaced Jacques Martin last Saturday.
Crawford hadn’t played since being pulled early in the second period of a 4-3 shootout loss to Phoenix Dec. 5.
Sharks 7, Lightning 2 - Logan Couture scored two of San Jose’s team-record five goals in the first 14:47 as the host Sharks won their third straight.
Dominic Moore and Martin St. Louis scored for the Lightning, who had a two-game winning streak snapped and lost their eighth in 11 games.
It was the Sharks’ five fastest goals in a regular-season game and a season high for goals. Antti Niemi stopped 22 shots for his third straight win.
Canucks 4, Red Wings 2 - Roberto Luongo stopped 38 shots and Alex Burrows scored for the fourth straight game to lead host Vancouver.
Chris Higgins and Cody Hodgson scored 21 seconds apart midway through the first period and Alex Edler had the other goal as the Canucks won their third straight and improved to 12-2-1 in their last 15 games.
The Red Wings lost for just the second time in seven games (5-2-0).
Coyotes 4, Hurricanes 3 - Lauri Korpikoski scored his ninth goal of the season early in the third period to lead Phoenix in Raleigh, N.C.
Ray Whitney, a former Hurricane, also had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes. Cal O’Reilly and Rostislav Klesla also scored for Phoenix.
Tuomo Ruutu got his team-leading 11th goal for Carolina, and Andreas Nodl and Jiri Tlusty also scored.
Avalanche 3, Blues 2 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 37 shots and Jay McClement scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period to lift Colorado to its seventh straight home win.
Paul Stastny and Cody McLeod also scored for the Avalanche and Matt Hunwick, Kevin Porter, and Shane O’Brien each had an assist. Colorado has won seven consecutive at home for the first time since 2003.