|Final - 12.26.2009||1||2||3||OT||SO||Total|
Normally, when the Flyers win two straight games, it's not a big enough deal to make the headline. These are not normal times. The struggling hockey team from South Broad Street did indeed win their second game in a row tonight, their first win streak in over a month. Philadelphia beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in Raleigh thanks to a Mike Richards shootout winner.
It really shouldn't have come to that though. The Flyers were riding high through the first two and a half periods, but after Danny Briere made it 3-0 on a power play goal at the nine minute mark of the third, the Hurricanes awoke from their slumber. Michael Leighton had played sometimes brilliant, sometimes shaky, sometimes lucky hockey until that point, but his luck expired when Jussi Jokinen capitalized just 24 seconds after Briere's tally.
From there on out, it was all Hurricanes. Brandon Sutter embarrassed Braydon Coburn a few minutes later when he chipped the puck in the zone, outskated the Flyers defenseman, and put the puck over the shoulder of Leighton to bring his team within one. With Carolina still controlling the pace late, Jokinen would put a wrister past Leighton to tie it with just over three minutes to go. We were demoralized.
Carolina continued to press for the winning goal, and when Jeff Carter took a high sticking penalty with about a minute left in the third, things looked even worse. The Flyers successfully killed off the remainder of regulation, even getting a shorthanded scoring chance and nearly winning the game on a last second clear by Kimmo Timonen that took a funny hop on Carolina goaltender Cam Ward. It went wide.
The Flyers killed off the final minute of the power play, which carried over into overtime. It was then that the game got fun, with back and forth excitement at both ends. There were several chances at both ends, but Ward was the hero of the five minute extra session, making two huge saves that got the game to a shootout.
Leighton started off the shootout with a magnificent glove save on Tuomo Ruutu. Danny Briere buried the Flyers first attempt, and Jokinen, one of the NHL's most prolfiic shootout participants, beat Leighton but hit the post. Richards then sealed the win with a drifter through Ward's five hole.
It should've been an easy win, but Carolina was determined to take the Flyers the distance. In the end, the win is all that matters, and the Flyers pulled it out tonight. It's more to build on as the continue the road trip tomorrow on Long Island.
After the jump, some more assorted thoughts on an unnecessarily exciting Flyers victory, questions with answers, highlights, and the comment of the night.
Some more thoughts on the win...
- The tying goal happened because of a lost faceoff in the defensive zone. The Flyers had trouble in the faceoff dot during the Carolina resurgence in the third period, leading to an unaccaptable amount of attacking time for the Hurricanes.
- Braydon Coburn had yet another terrible game. He was beat indivdually several times, most obviously as noted on the Sutter goal.
- On the other hand, Matt Carle had an excellent game. He saved Leighton in the first period on a puck that beat the Flyers goalie and trickled toward the net. Carle caught up with it at the goal line to save one. He also jumped up in the offensive zone several times to create chances.
- Briere's goal and Carter's goal were both the result of laser beam snap shots. Both went over the shoulder of Ward, and Briere's almost knocked the water bottle off the net. Both players snuck into the top of the circle without Carolina noticing, leaving plenty of time to place the shot.
- 76 total shots were taken in the game. Leighton made 37 saves, Ward made 33.
- It's reassuring when Richards, Carter, and Briere are the ones putting the puck in the net. I know I sound like a broken record, but the only way the Flyers can win is when their best players are the ones playing like it.
Questions With Answers
Tonight's questions were answered by flyrsfrk05 in the game thread. Since my laptop battery is dying, those answers re-appear here. Different perspectives are always fun anyway, right?
- Battle of the goaltenders: does Leighton use the motivation to put in an excellent game, and does Ward return to true form after an embarrassing loss? Both were pretty good in my opinion. Leighton made some big saves despite getting hung out to dry in the 3rd period. Ward looked good for just getting back from injury. He made some incredible saves especially the one on Richards at the end of the third. Ward certainly kept the ‘Canes in the game.
- Carolina is a terrible PK team. Can the Flyers PP take advantage and start to get themselves back on track after a decent outing against Tampa? The PP went 1 for 3. Danny Briere ripped a laser past Cam Ward’s glove hand to put the Flyers up 3-0. Only 3 PPs but it was good to see the Flyers get a PP goal.
- Mike Richards put the team on his back against the Lightning on Wednesday. Does he do it again? Richie looked pretty good. He opened the scoring after picking up a rebound on his own shot. He also scored the clinching shootout goal. He played well but I wouldn’t necessarily say he "put the team on his back" because he was on the ice for the Flyers’ defensive breakdowns where he, as well as Pronger and especially Coburn, looked like chickens running around with their heads cut off.
- The never-ending question — after taking the 2nd period off against Tampa, can the Flyers put together a 60 minute effort tonight?No, no way. The Flyers played 55 minutes of solid hockey, dictating the play and getting good chances but completely crapped out after Jussi Jokinen scored his first goal. The ’Canes grabbed the momentum in the second half of the the 3rd period and completely ran circles around the Flyers. Of course, the 5-10 minutes that the Flyers collapsed, the ’Canes tagged them for 3 goals to tie the game and force OT.
Comment of the Night
Shootouts are a joke.