Like we've been saying all year: Luke Schenn and Vincent Lecavalier were holding back the Flyers, and tonight's win is proof.
Just kidding. (Mostly.) But in their first game after their biggest (and only) trade of the season, the Flyers skated stride-for-stride with a solid Minnesota team, and despite some bad news along the way they managed to get the last laugh in a 4-3 overtime victory.
The game opened up pretty heavily in favor of the home team, as Minnesota brought a steady stream of pressure the Flyers' way in the game's first few minutes and the Flyers needed a couple of excellent saves by Steve Mason to keep the Wild from lighting the lamp first. All of which allowed the Flyers to do so, as Michael Raffl chased down a Sean Couturier chip into the offensive zone, drew the entire Minnesota defense towards him, and put a perfect spot right on Couturier's stick in front to get the Flyers on the board first.
Things improved from a performance standpoint from there, as the Flyers managed to largely control play for the rest of the period and into the next one. But Minnesota would even up the score late in the first, as Marco Scandella's point shot beat Mason in the slimmest of spaces on the short-side (thanks in large part to three players, two of which were Flyers, screening him in part or in whole on the shot).
That tie game would carry into intermission, but the Flyers kept the pushing it into the Minnesota end of the ice with regularity, and they were finally able to cash in big time about halfway through the period. With the game at 4-on-4, Brayden Schenn caught Michael Del Zotto streaking up the middle of the ice and Del Zotto finished it easily to take the lead.
And just 52 seconds later, the team's much-maligned-of-late "third line" got together to double that lead. Ryan White carried the puck up through the ice and got it up to Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the offensive zone, and his feed to Chris VandeVelde gave him a chance that Dubnyk would deny -- only to pull himself way out of the crease, leaving White ready to pick up the rebound and toss it in to the wide open net to add another tally.
However, not all news from the second period was good news. Prized rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere left the ice about five minutes into the period and did not return, and the team would announce late in the game that he had a "lower-body injury". It's unclear where the injury happened, as there was no obvious injury-inflicting hit on Ghost's final shift, but there was some speculation he may have hurt his knee on this first-period tripping penalty committed by Mikko Koivu.
And then, with a few minutes left in the second period, Minnesota would draw back within a goal after an ill-advised pass from Claude Giroux was tipped out of the offensive zone by Minnesota's Jason Zucker, who beat Radko Gudas to the puck for a breakaway and sent it five-hole past Mason.
That goal helped to ignite the Wild a bit, as they turned up the heat on the Flyers almost immediately after the period began and pushed hard for the tie for much of the final frame. The Flyers -- playing, of course, one defenseman short, as Gostisbehere never returned for the final frame -- held strong for most of the period, but a miscommunication behind the net between Mason and Nick Schultz allowed Zach Parise to snag the puck and put it home, tying the game up against his former college coach's team.
A few close calls in the final minutes would go unrealized, and overtime also saw a number of chances for each team go by the wayside. Finally, though, it was the Flyers who would convert, as Del Zotto -- playing in the spot usually reserved for Gostisbehere next to Giroux and Jakub Voracek in overtime -- finished on a beautiful cross-ice pass from Voracek just to Dubnyk's left and gave the Flyers their first win on the road in almost a month.
Additional observations to follow Friday morning.
Comment of the Night:
No wonder he's a hero in Minnesota
-- JamesDeen, regarding Nick Schultz's turnover that led to the tying goal