For much of tonight's game, it seemed like the win could go to either team. But thanks to a quick start in the first period, the Flyers were able to emerge victorious against the Stars to earn their fourth straight win.
Shortly after the puck dropped, it became clear that this game was pretty evenly matched. I noted in the preview that the Stars are pretty similar to the Flyers (in terms of production stats), and that certainly seemed to be playing out on the ice.
By the end of the first period, the teams were equal in shots, and about equal in non-blocked shot attempts. But that didn't matter, because the Flyers were able to emerge with a two-goal lead, the second of which came from a Wayne Simmonds bid on the power play. The Flyers power play has been really great lately, and a lot of that has to do with Simmonds' ability to track the puck in front of the net. Seeing him convert so often is really just awesome.
The Flyers kind of took off at the beginning of the second and started to control play rather decisively. Alas, the momentum they established was stymied pretty quickly after penalties to Zac Rinaldo and Michael Raffl gave the Stars a two-man advantage. Steve Mason and the penalty killers were able to hold Dallas at bay for a while, but Jamie Benn eventually got a tally before Raffl's penalty expired. So much for that awesome penalty kill streak, but we all knew it had to end at some point.
The Stars were decidedly the better team for the reamainder of the period, but luckily, despite facing another short-handed situation, the Flyers were able to keep their one goal lead.
The third period started much like the first -- solid play by both teams with neither really standing out all too much. Wayne Simmonds eventually snapped that trend, delivering his second goal of the night. Unfortunately the Flyers' two goal lead was cut in half just seconds later when Jamie Benn scored his second of the night. Talk about an even matchup. Jeeze.
After a little uncertainty, Michael Raffl got a well deserved goal to give the Flyers a (finally) decisive two goal lead. That would prove to be too much for the Stars to overcome, and our boys skated to a nice little victory.
- Raffl just looks better with every game. In the first period alone, he outworked Sergei Gonchar to gain the offensive zone, made Jamie Benn look like a novice, and drew a hooking penalty by just refusing to give up the puck. I still think he would be better used on the third line in place of Steve Downie, but he sure makes that fourth line less of a liability, so that's good too. His scoring a goal at the end of the third was just icing on the cake.
- Can we talk about how Mark Streit has been lately? He really seems to have elevated his game in the past week, and tonight was no exception. He made a couple of tough keeps at the blue line, and was able to snap a shot behind Tim Thomas right off the face off for the first goal of the game. Maybe his contract is a bit of an albatross, but for now he seems like he might be worth the money.
- Matt Read was curiously absent for the beginning of the second period, which led to Craig Berube doing some line shuffling -- both Vinny Lecavalier and Michael Raffl ended up seeing a little time on the third line. Luckily, fears of losing the Swiss Army knife were quickly dashed when Read eventually returned to the ice. Thinking about him missing significant time due to injury had some of us a little…testy.
- This recap wouldn't be complete without noting that Steve Mason was pretty darn good tonight. He was tested multiple times, and without some stellar saves on his part the Stars could have really had this one by the end of the second. Good for him.
Next game is Saturday at 1:00 against the *gulp* St. Louis Blues. Go Flyers.