The long drought is over - the Philadelphia Flyers have finally won a shootout.
Jakub Voracek and Wayne Simmonds both scored in the skills competition, and Steve Mason stopped four out of five shots, including a toe save on Erik Karlsson, a player certainly not lacking in the talent department.
So the Flyers will not repeat the fate of the New Jersey Devils and finish the season winless in the shootout, which is certainly a relief. And considering the fairly demoralizing last few weeks, it was simply nice to have something to cheer about tonight.
The game itself? A bit of a mixed bag.
As usual, the top line was their dominant selves. And also per usual, the other lines struggled to match the Giroux-Voracek-random winger (tonight, it was Brayden Schenn) combination.
The first period was a snoozefest, with only 16 total shots, but things started to pick up in the second, and by the third, the pace was something close to breakneck, as the Senators and Flyers traded chances and goals. Then, in overtime, they survived a nearly-disastrous opening shift during which Braydon Coburn and Nick Schultz were stuck on the ice for over two minutes.
In the end, it was a game between two bad teams that are pretty even in overall skill level, and the Flyers found a way to kick off their homestand with two points. After the way they concluded the most recent road trip, surely the Flyers will take that.
Some more observations on tonight's game:
- Claude Giroux looked a bit hesitant in his first game back since having his leg cut last week, but it didn't prevent him from playing like one of the three best players on the ice. He was involved with quite a number of even strength chances, and even set up Wayne Simmonds for the game-tying goal on the power play in the third. G will be fine.
- Michael Del Zotto was another standout, pushing the play offensively and even drawing penalties. I'm still mystified as to why he was scratched for a month, considering the caliber of player that apparently jumped him on the depth chart.
- With Giroux probably playing at around 80%, Jakub Voracek needed to provide a little bit extra to help carry the first line, and he certainly did so. Aside from taking a roughing penalty on a Flyers power play (although admit it, watching Jake punch a guy was pretty amusing), Voracek was making all of the right decisions on the ice. He may not have gotten a point, but he probably deserved one, and he did add a goal in the shootout.
- CSN blew up the zone entry that led to Ottawa's only goal, and the Senators were indeed (barely) offside. But it was a really tight play, and even if that play had caused the Flyers to lose the game, it's tough to blame the refs on that one. Certainly not a gimme call.
- Scott Laughton blocked a shot in the third period and did not return, so we'll be crossing our fingers that he's not hurt badly.
- Mark Streit had a couple of pretty ugly plays tonight. He got burned on Mike Hoffman's goal, and had a couple of pretty sloppy zone exits when he tried to do everything himself. Not suggesting that Streit should be scratched or anything, but maybe now would be a good time to move him away from the defense's biggest anchor.
- Another game, another Flyer injured by a freak skate injury. This time, it was Brayden Schenn who took a skate to the chin, courtesy of teammate Simmonds. He missed some shifts at the end of the second period and early in the third, and then returned with his chin all stitched up. He's a hockey player so he'll be fine, but those plays are always scary to watch.