PHILADELPHIA -- Stay out of the penalty box. Mike Richards says it's an easy thing to do. Why is it that the Flyers, especially Danny Briere, can't seem to do it?
Tonight, as the orange and black blew a 4-1 third period lead en route to a still-unbelievable 5-4 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks, penalties, the momentum shifts those penalties bring and one big power play goal against did them in. Let's quickly go over the latter half of the third period.
The Flyers are in complete control of the game when San Jose cuts the lead in half with 12 minutes and change left. The Sharks have a bit left in the tank at this point because, after all, the game is within reach. But it's manageable. The Flyers are still up two on home ice with time running out in a game they've completely dominated. Not the end of the world, right?
Enter: Jeff Carter. Two minutes for cross checking. Time, 8:43 of the third period. That's Carter, two minutes for cross checking at 8:43. Note, that's just 1:10 after Jason Demers cut the lead in half. San Jose controls things with the extra man, but the Flyers are able to kill it off. The Sharks still have the puck, though...
Eight seconds later, Logan Couture scores. 4-3 game. Ut oh, and still more than nine minutes to go. Peter Laviolette calls time out. We've got this!
And... 35 seconds later, Briere. Two minutes for tripping. Time, 11:26 of the third period. That's Briere, two minutes for tripping at 11:26. Faceoff comes down into the defensive end, Joe Thornton beats Blair Betts. Joe Pavelski scores two seconds later. That's Pavelski, his ninth, from Thornton at 11:28. 4-4.
See what a few momentum-killing penalties can do against a team with that many weapons?
But it's okay. They tied things up so fast that, sure, maybe we couldn't even blink without risking missing the rally, but at the same time, there's a ton of time left. 8:32 left, to be exact. And luck might be turning, too, because the goal scorer, Pavelski, takes a penalty! Hallelujah! Two for tripping on Briere's next shift.
Momentum swing, and it looks good for the Flyers. Until... 37 seconds later. Hey, Danny. Scott Nichol is bleeding. So much for the power play.
Wait, so let's reset that for a second. In back-to-back shifts, you're on the ice for a penalty of your own, a drawn penalty against the Sharks and another penalty of your own. That's impressive, bud. Luckily, though -- and we're not just saying that, there was a lot of luck involved -- the Flyers were able to kill off that double minor to bail Briere out, and that seemed to give the Flyers a bit of jump.
They were able to keep pressure on the Sharks until the end of the period, which is obviously a good sign. Despite all the negatives in the third, they didn't give up. And that's where we meet overtime, and that photo above.
They gave away a point in regulation and easily, they could have just fallen apart. I don't think any of us would've blamed them, either. But they didn't. The entirety of overtime, even despite some iffy non-calls and coincidental minors that led to some really open 3-on-3 play, was controlled by the Flyers.
It paid off, too.... just about a hundredth of a second too late, as you can see in that photo up there.
In the shootout, can you even blame them for not coming out on top? Two minutes after they think they've won the game, after blowing a three-goal third period lead, they're forced to return to the ice to try to win the game again. Effectively, the Flyers felt like they won the game twice tonight, and now you're asking them to do it again?
Sometimes the emotional roller coaster just becomes too much to handle. In the shootout, that appeared to be the case. Too bad. If they could just stay more disciplined, they never would've had to get on the ride.
A few bullet points:
- Briere was unhappy with the penalty call that led to the double-minor. He said that Scott Nichol was holding his stick and that it could've easily been called the other way. IPersonally, I look at Danny's history of stick infractions and I can't give him the benefit of the doubt.
- Led with this, but it's worth repeating: Richards talked about how it's easy to correct the issue we saw tonight. "Just stay out of the box." It certainly doesn't seem all that easy, does it Mike?
- The Sharks scored their first goal and the tying goal right off of face offs. Both were wins by Joe Thornton, and Pavelski's looked like a set play.
- Overall, face offs were atrocious tonight. 61 percent in favor of the Sharks. That's.... bad. Lavi didn't have an answer for it after the game.
- Games against the Sharks are always deflating losses. Let's hope we don't see them in June.
- I thought Antero Niittymaki sucked in shootouts?
- The Sharks scored their goals pretty quickly in the third, but the Flyers did just the same in the second, when Ville Leino and Nik Zherdev scored less than a minute apart. Nice to see Leino, who's been pretty quite lately, get on the board.
Post-Game Video: Peter Laviolette
Post-Game Video: Danny Briere
Video of Pronger and Leino hasn't processed on YouTube yet. Will update later. Check the BSH YouTube page if you're impatient.
Questions with Answers
- Why are the Sharks idling in the West? Does tonight's game give us a glimpse into their troubles? Hard to answer this one given what happened tonight.
- Antero Niittymaki returns to Philly... not the first time, but whatever. How's he perform? He looked kinda shaky throughout. He made some key saves at some key times, but I wouldn't give him high marks.
- Will Danny Briere and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, perpetrators of one of the worst fights in NHL history, renew pleasantries tonight? No. Stupid question, idiot.
- Came so close to a few PP goals the other day. No more teasing tonight, right? No PP goals tonight, except Pavelski's.
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