Sometimes things work out just like you really need them to.
I didn't have a particularly clear picture while watching tonight's game, so I couldn't really tell much from the angles being given when the refs went to review Kyle Turris' potential go-ahead goal for the Senators in the third period that Nicklas Grossmann heroically kicked away at the very last second. I cautiously agreed with the call of no goal, but I saw a lot of people who thought it was going to be called a goal -- in our comments, on Twitter, etc. -- which would have just been an absolute backbreaker in a game the Flyers had largely had the better of up to that point.
But in a season that hasn't seen a lot of breaks go the Flyers' way, one finally did, and boy, did they take advantage of it. The call of no goal on the ice stood (the correct call, I thought, though as mentioned above I was far from convinced), and a minute of game time later the Flyers were well on their way to their second straight home win thanks to two more goals.
It was a win that I thought they earned, as the Flyers controlled the play for the most part other than for maybe a little bit early in the third period. Strong efforts up and down the lineup and in goal, combined with a trio of guys breaking extended goal droughts, gave the Flyers a home win that they really needed.
Oh, and Cherry Hill Native™ Bobby Ryan scored zero points and committed a late penalty. It's OK, Cherry Hill Native™ Bobby Ryan. Cherry Hill still loves you.
Other bullet points:
* Maybe by itself the fact that the Flyers didn't give up a goal at 5-on-5 tonight would be noteworthy, but that they've done it for four straight games now is a bit impressive, no? They've allowed three, total, in their last eight games. Improved defense and good goaltending -- more on that in a sec -- have helped.
* Impressive game from all of the Flyers' forward lines, I thought. As he's been trying to do, Craig Berube matched up his lines a lot (in particular, getting Claude Giroux's line against Kyle Turris' and Sean Couturier's line against Jason Spezza's) and it worked out pretty well. Every single Flyer came out positive in shot differential tonight (even the ones on the fourth line!) and eight of the team's top nine forwards scored a point. The type of balanced attack we all were hoping we'd see this year, basically.
* SEAN COUTURIER SCORED A GOAL A REAL HOCKEY GOAL. Like they usually say about slump-busting goals, it was about as ugly as they get, with Couturier shooting the puck from just below the goal line near the corner of the rink and the puck sneaking its way in through Lehner on the post. The look of relief on his face as he scored was priceless, especially after he straight-up missed a shot on an empty net earlier in the game. So good to see him finally get one on the board.
* SO DID KIMMO TIMONEN AND IT WAS AWESOME. Right after the aforementioned no-goal call, Timonen got a hold of the puck and just cut right in front of the net and slid it past Lehner to score what would ultimately be the game-winning tally. That was more or less the best burst of speed we've seen Timonen put on all year, and it couldn't have come at a much better time. I think he's looked better as the season's gone on, which is great to see -- that blue line may only go as far as he can take them.
* Until that Timonen goal (and including the period of time leading right up to it with the Sens tying the game and then almost taking the lead) it was starting to look like another great effort from Steve Mason in goal wasn't going to hold up for a win. But it's great that they got it for him because he put together another really, really solid game in net for the Flyers. Turned aside a few really good chances by that Turris line of the Sens', and other than maaaaaybe losing track of the puck a little bit after a weird bounce on the second goal I had no real complaints about his game. He kept the Flyers about as long as he could and then made some big saves down the stretch, including a saved penalty shot by Turris late in the third.
* Big as Mason was at even strength, he gave up two goals on the penalty kill, which is inevitably going to happen when a team commits as many stupid penalties as the Flyers did tonight. They went shorthanded six times, including three (!) delay of game penalties for putting the puck over the glass. Yes, you hope that your penalty kill does better than 67% in a game, but you also hope that you don't end up putting them out there that often. We've talked about discipline a lot this year. Nights like tonight need to not happen on that front.
* Even though I really don't put a ton of stock into faceoff numbers, what Adam Hall has been doing at the dot lately is nothing short of ridiculous. 41 wins in his last 48 draws, including 11 of 13 tonight. Oh, and he got his first point as a Flyer on a short-handed empty-netter in the final minute, which was cool.
* Now, thanks to losses elsewhere in the division, the Flyers are currently two points out of a playoff spot. Thank you, Metropolitan Division.
Questions to Answer
1. Jakub Voracek had two goals last time against Ottawa. Tonight? No goals, but a real nice setup of Claude Giroux on the first goal. Thought that whole top line played a strong game.
2. Bobby Ryan! Homecoming! What happens!? Had a good chance snuffed out by Mason early on. Otherwise committed a penalty and did little of note, bringing much shame to the greater Delaware Valley area, of course.
3. The PK has struggled (comparatively) in the last few games. How's it look tonight? Looked real good in the first period but both Ottawa goals came with them on the power play so it's still a work in progress I suppose.
4. Battle of two really strong goaltenders ... who wins? The Steve Mason Experience rolls on.
Comment of the Night:
Kinda nice goal, but he's not even from Cherry Hill
-- Clutterbuck4MVP, on Giroux's first-period goal
Buffalo on Thursday at 7. Keep this going. Go Flyers.