The Flyers have scored 13 goals in the last 24 and a half hours. They've chased a goaltender in three of their last five games. Tonight, eight different Flyers had multi-point games. They've done it against the decay of the Eastern Conference and now against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
Yes, folks, the swagger is back.
Philadelphia waltzed into Mellon Arena tonight and from the get go they took the Penguins to the task. Jeff Carter, who coming in had five points in three games against Pittsburgh this season, opened the scoring bright and early in the first period on the power play. 41 seconds later, James van Riemsdyk made it 2-0 on a breakaway set up by a beautiful feed from Arron Asham.
Of course, the Penguins never go away easily. Sidney Crosby pulled the Penguins within a goal, but Matt Carle put one past Marc-Andre Fleury on the power play later in the first to regain the two goal lead. This would be the story of the night. The Flyers would pull away several times, but each time the Penguins would claw their way back. Pittsburgh caught breaks, including a goal that should've been but wasn't in the second period, but the Flyers didn't let that dictate the play. Each time the Penguins tried to get themselves back in the hockey game, Philadelphia had an answer.
Normally, the Flyers would lose these kind of games, especially against this opponent. They're the thorn in the Flyers side and when they hang around, it usually comes back to bite you in the end. That wasn't the case tonight. Michael Leighton, while allowing four goals, played superb hockey and made critical saves at several critical times. The offense was clearly there, and most of all, the special teams were fantastic again.
The power play went two-for-two on the night. That's a 100 percent conversion rate for those scoring at home. The penalty kill, while aided by the Penguins atrocious league-worst power play, killed three of three Pitt chances. Again, 100 freaking percent. How much fun is that?
Well, it probably decided the game. Each time the Penguins would score a goal and bring some heat, they would pin the Flyers in the defensive zone and, inevitably, the orange and black would take a penalty. If Pittsburgh scores on those man advantages, it's a different hockey game. Instead, the Flyers did an excellent job of keeping the Pens to the outside and limiting the pucks that got through to Leighton while killing penalties. Bad Pittsburgh power play or not, the Flyers got the special teams job done.
This is the kind of game the Flyers can and must build on. Look at the schedule for the rest of January: Lightning, Stars, Leafs, Capitals, Blue Jackets, Rangers, Hurricanes, Penguins, Thrashers, Islanders. Two of those ten teams are considered good, and the Flyers just handled one of them tonight.
Mark January 7th on your calendar. Tonight, the Flyers began their resurgence.
After the jump, questions with answers, the comment of the night, and highlights of this huge victory.
Questions With Answers
- Do the Flyers have their swagger back? They looked intimidated against Pittsburgh in their last two outings. Do they look the same tonight or are things different? The Flyers jumped on the Pens right out of the gate. Well, Pitt applied pressure on the first two shifts of the game, but after that, it was all Flyers until they established the two goal lead.
If Boucher starts, can he jump in and play well despite not starting a game in weeks and only seeing two periods of action since?If Michael Leighton starts, can he show the front office why they should keep him around? He's certainly making it a difficult decision, isn't he? As written above, he did allow four goals, but that doesn't come close to telling the story. Leighton made several gigantic saves at critical times to keep the Flyers lead in tact.
- Does Claude Giroux show any effects of playing with the flu? Not at all. He set up Gagne and Richards several times and, as usual, his moves dazzle.
- Jeff Carter, while clearly having an off year, had five points in three games against the Pens. Can he keep that up? Make that seven points in four games. Thank you, come again.
Comment of the Night
Highlights - Pitt announcers almost make them lowlights, though