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After essentially owning the action for, oh, the first five minutes of the first period, the last five minutes of the first period, and the entirety of the second period, the Philadelphia Flyers still had nothing to show for their efforts. They were down 3-1 on a few unfortunate goals against an injured Michael Leighton -- who left the game in the first -- and a defensive breakdown in front of his replacement, Brian Boucher.
A whopping 17 first period shots didn't work. 12 second period shots didn't work. Completely outplaying the Nashville Predators just didn't work. But about halfway through the third period, something finally gave. Matt Carle should've been called for a hooking penalty, but the whistle stayed silent. Claude Giroux kept the play alive along the boards in the Nashville end, and before you knew it, the puck was bouncing around in front of the net. The Flyers couldn't finish all game long, but a bounce finally went their way when Simon Gagne banged the loose puck home to cut the deficit to 3-2.
From there, the Flyers really stepped things up. They controlled the play even more. They put the Predators on their heels. As a result, the referees wound up helping them as well. Several calls should have probably been made against the Flyers during this stretch, but when you're dictating the course of the hockey game, it becomes easy to get away with more things. On the other hand, it also forces the other team to make more errors, and that's exactly what Dan Hamhuis did with 12:43 remaining in the third.
With the Flyers swarming in the Nashville end, Hamhuis intentionally knocked the net off of it's moorings. That's a delay of game penalty and the officials called it properly. Chris Pronger, quickly becoming known as the clutch scorer apparently, blasted a slap shot by Pekka Rinne to tie the hockey game. You have to feel bad for the Nashville fans, but you also have to give credit where it's due to the Flyers for taking advantage of their breaks.
The good guys would dictate the play for most of the remainder of the game following Pronger's goal. They held the puck in the Preds end, they cycled well, they forechecked hard, the defensemen pinched effectively, and the forwards backed them up when necessary. It was, simply put, very solid hockey, and exactly the kind of hockey that Peter Laviolette wants this team playing.
Unfortunately, despite several chances once the game went into overtime, the Flyers couldn't put one home. They'd go on to lose in the shootout on one measly goal from Martin Erat, but it's tough to be too mad about this game. The Flyers seemed jinxed in the first period with the weak goals against and the Leighton injury, but the fact that they wound up putting 45 shots on Rinne and controlled the entire game is a very strong sign.
It's easy, of course, to sit there and say that this happens all the time. It does seem like the Flyers do this kind of often, losing games they should win. But how often do they literally completely control the game against a very solid team like this and still lose? Like I said, tough to be too mad.
After the jump, questions with answers and the comment of the night.
Questions with Answers
- Does Scott Hartnell build upon the solid games he's put together recently in his Nashville homecoming? What about Kimmo Timonen? Both players were pretty solid, but Hartnell in particular looked good. He's really improved in the last three games and it continued tonight. Strong forechecking, never giving up on the play, all that stuff.
- It's the token question, really: Michael Leighton? Yeah, uh, tough to answer. In the, what, 10 minutes he played, he allowed two goals. It's tough to say if either were his fault, but it was less than good. Hopefully he's not out too long.
- The Nashville PP could hurt the Flyers tonight, according to reports from the Music City. Can the Flyers stay outta the box like they have in recent games? They took penalties but none were called against them. Last time they went a whole game without going on the penalty kill? January 11, 2006.
Comment of the Night
Hey, I was expecting him to pass.
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