Tyler J. Altemose
To say that the Philadelphia Flyers were on a hot streak coming into last night’s game against the Florida Panthers is an understatement. To say that the Florida Panthers were nowhere near prepared to handle a team as hot as the Flyers is equally understated.
Peter Laviolette made no adjustments to the red-hot club that thumped the Carolina Hurricanes Thursday night at the RBC Center. It would prove to be a wise decision.
The Flyers came out strong in the first period. They maintained solid offensive pressure against the Panthers and ensured that any pucks coming into the defensive zone were quickly cleared.
Mike Richards scored soon after the midway point in the period. He received a pass in the slot from Andreas Nodl who worked the puck up along the right side boards. Richards got the puck past Florida netminder Scott Clemmenson, netting his first ever goal against the Panthers. It put the Flyers up 1-0.
Lavvy spoke to the media after the game about Richards’s performance.
“He was flying out there tonight. He was a noticeable player. He had a lot of speed in his game―a lot of attack to his game. … I think Mike's been getting stronger as we go here. We look really good. He's played really well.”
Scott Hartnell added a tally soon afterward in a classic “bing, bang, boom” maneuver. Defenseman Kimmo Timonen retrieved a bouncing puck near the blue line (bing). He gave a cross-ice pass to a waiting Ville Leino toward the right side of the net (bang) who in turn gave a cross-ice pass to Hartnell who was set up on the left side of the Panthers’ net. Hartnell buried the puck (boom) for his fifth goal of the season. Leino currently leads the team with 12 assists.
The Flyers maintained their dominance coming into the second period. Mike Richards got his second goal of the night on a 5 on 3 just prior to the halfway mark. Richards, Pronger, Timonen, and Briere cycled the puck around the perimeter. Pronger took a shot from the left side of the blue line which bounced out to a waiting Richards on the right side. Richards took the shot off of the rebound and scored, putting the Flyers up 3-0.
Claude Giroux would score moments later on that same power play. He managed to backhand a shot over a mob of humanity that formed in front of the Panthers net after a blast from Timonen at the point. The puck jumped over a sprawled out Clemmensen and into the net, giving the Flyers a healthy 4-goal lead.
Giroux wasn’t finished there, however. Just two minutes later he stole the puck in the neutral zone off of a Panthers turnover. He caught a breakaway and beat Clemmenson off of a backhand shot to put the Flyers up by 5.
“When you play good defense you create turnovers,” defenseman Kimmo Timonen told reporters after the game. “That has to be key for us down the road. If you look at the teams who won Stanley Cups in previous years it's all about defense. It has to start from defense.”
The Panthers would respond in kind only a minute later. Keaton Ellerby received a rebound that drifted off to the left side boards. He took a shot which deflected off of the visibly high stick of Cory Stillman and past Flyers netminder Sergei Bobrovsky. The goal was not reviewed.
The third period saw a change to the Flyers lineup. During the second period, Andreas Nodl blocked a shot and was seen in pain immediately afterward. He would not return for the third period, so Laviolette had to adjust the lines. After the game it was revealed that he injured his foot while blocking the shot and that there was swelling. Fortunately, however, x-rays were negative. He is reported to be “50/50” for Monday’s game against the Senators per CSN Philly.
The third was much quieter for the Flyers than the previous two, which was in stark contrast to their previous few games where they tended to start out slow and end strong.
During the final minutes of the game, Mike Santorelli fired a quick wrister from the right side which surprisingly beat Bobrovsky before he was able to get down into the butterfly. It was the only tally of the third period for either team.
The Flyers would go on to win by a final score of 5-2 thanks to a solid effort all around.
“Obviously we have a lot of guys that can score goals. I think when we play as a team and everybody chips in that's when we are pretty dangerous,” Giroux told the media. “The last two games we've been working hard and having fun doing it. We have fun on the bench, too. Guys are just having a lot of fun. So any time you have 20 guys going hard it makes your job a lot easier.”
Last night’s win marks the ninth consecutive game in which the Flyers have acquired at least one point. They are 8-1-1 in their last ten games. They currently sit atop the Atlantic division and remain in second place in the Eastern Conference. Additionally, the team also boasts the league’s greatest point differential of plus-21.
The Flyers remain in Philly as they take on the recently-dominant Ottawa Senators Monday night. The Senators are 7-3-0 in their last ten games.
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Stars of the Game
1. Mike Richards
2. Claude Giroux
3. Ville Leino