Since the All-Star break spanned from Thursday to Monday, this will indeed be a very brief Atlantic Watch. For the Flyers, the lone game of the week was a rather embarrassing one. After allowing a goal nineteen seconds into the game and another one a minute later, the Flyers found themselves on the wrong side of a 4-0 shutout to their newly found nightmare in the Tampa Bay Lightning. The loss dropped the Flyers to 33-13-5 on the season and 0-3-0 against Tampa on the season. Apparently, the recipe to stream a line of victories against Philly is an aging goaltender combined with two real scoring threats. Go figure.
Anyways, the Flyers and their divisional foes had quite an influence on the outcome of the All-Star game. Danny Briere scored two goals for Team Lidstrom (coached by Peter Laviolette) while Claude Giroux had a goal and an assist for Team Staal. I'll recap how the teams following Philly in the Atlantic did since last Wednesday along with how each team's All-Stars performed.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 1-0-0. Since they didn't play last Wednesday, the Penguins only game over the last week was last night's shootout victory over the New York Rangers. Dustin Jeffrey led the Penguins to victory last night by opening the Pens' scoring with a goal early in the second to cut their deficit to one. He then scored the lone goal in the seven round shootout. Chris Kunitz had a game-high two points with a goal and an assist.
With the win, and the help of the Flyers' loss to Tampa, the Pens are now only three points behind Philadelphia trailing 71 points to 68. The win also increased their lead over the third place New York Rangers to six points.
If the ground they had gained in the division wasn't enough for them, the Pens also had Sidney Crosby cleared for light workouts. Crosby has missed ten games so far due to the concussion symptoms he suffered in early January. In addition to Crosby, it seems as though Evgeni Malkin might be returning to the line up soon as well. Malkin has recently suffered from a sinus infection, but seems to be getting over it as well as not feeling the effects of a nagging knee injury that has bothered him all season.
The Pens had defesne man Kris Letang and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury attend the All-Star game this year. Letang netted two goals on three shots while Fleury allowed four goals within the opening six minutes. Despite the poor play of Fleury, he ended up on the winning Team Lidstrom while the more deserving Letang suffered a loss on Team Staal.
New York Rangers: 0-0-1. They didn't get the win, but the New York Rangers did get a point in their only game of the week. After obtaining a two goal lead just before the two minute mark in the second period, the Rangers saw their multi-goal lead become a one goal deficit over a ten minute span during the second period. Without focusing on the mini collapse, the Rangers tied the game up with thirteen seconds left in the period on a Ryan Callahan power play goal. A scoreless third period and overtime led to a shootout. Seven different Rangers failed to get the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury preventing them from gaining the additional point on the evening.
The loss causes the Rangers to trail the second place Penguins by six points, one point more than they were trailing Pittsburgh entering the week. They also find themselves sixth in the Eastern Conference leading the Montreal Canadiens by a point (62 to 61).
Similar to the Penguins, the Rangers sent both a defense man and a goalie to the All-Star game. Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist both played for the losing Team Staal. Marc didn't serve his brother's team well going pointless with a -2 rating on the night. Lundqvist suffered the loss allowing three goals on fourteen shots in the third period.
New York Islanders: 1-1-0. The Islanders entered the All-Star break losing to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. In their first game after the break, the Isles entered Atlanta to hand the Thrashers a 4-1 loss. Despite the team's overall outcome, Michael Grabner and Andrew MacDonald can be proud of themselves as both registered a goal and an assist last Wednesday. In their dominance over Atlanta, Kyle Okposo scored two goals and an assist. Okposo's first goal on the night ended up being the game winning goal.
Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo led the Islanders in scoring this week with three points. Grabner added an assist on Okposo's second goal Tuesday night. Okposo's points were more beneficial as they led the Isles to their lone win on the week.
Just because the Islanders didn't have a single player take part in the All-Star game on Sunday doesn't mean an Islander didn't leave his mark on the weekend. Michael Grabner won the Fastest Skater event on Saturday at the NHL All-Star Skills Competition beating Edmonton's Taylor Hall in the final.
New Jersey Devils: 1-1-0. The Devils and Islanders took the same approach to the All-Star break; enter it on a bad note and come out strong for the second half of the season. Losing 3-1 in Detroit last Wednesday ended the Devils' four-game winning streak (a streak that included a win over a Flyers team who looked to be going through the motions). The break allowed the Devils to gather and regain focus after dropping their first game in regulation after going 6-0-1 in their previous seven. What ensued was a tight game against Ottawa that was won late in the third period on a Dainius Zubrus goal finalizing the score at 2-1.
Despite an impressive 7-1-1 stretch over their last nine games, the Devils still find themselves dead last in not only the division but the league. However, the Devils could move past the Oilers this week to move to 29th overall. Not the most exciting news, but it's better to be the second worst team in the league rather than the worst team in the league.
Patrik Elias represented the league's worst team at the All-Star game on Sunday. He ended up doing a nice job posting a goal and an assist. Elias only had one shot, but that was all he needed to find the score sheet.
Thanks to a poor start and rust from the All-Star break, the Flyers experienced their 3rd loss on the season to Tampa Bay by a score of 4-0. Teddy Purcell tallied his first career two-goal game scoring Tampa's first two goals on the night. Poor positional play from the defense and unfortunate bounces resulted in Philadelphia's early deficit. Both Martin St.Louis and Simon Gagne had two assists on the night while Steve Downie netted a goal late in the first period. Dwayne Roloson recorded the shutout for Tampa tonight. It's the fourth time all season the Flyers have been shutout. The win extended the Lightning's winning streak to six and handed the Flyers their second loss within the last four games.
It didn't take long for the Flyers to find the game's first deficit. After causing a turnover in the neutral zone, Simon Gagne spun clockwise right in front of the Flyers' bench passing the puck to Teddy Purcell standing at the blue line. Thanks to Braydon Coburn over pursuing the play, Purcell and Vincent Lecavalier enjoyed a 2-on-1 against Kimmo Timonen. Purcell tapped the puck to Lecavalier who then passed the puck back to Purcell as Timonen dropped to the ice in an attempt to break up the pass. From the lower half of the circles, Purcell let a shot go in the slot that found the inside of the right post as Sergei Bobrovsky sat deep in the crease. Purcell's ninth goal on the season gave Tampa Bay the one goal lead ninteen seconds into the game.
The early shenanigans didn't stop there for Philly. Just over a minute later, Gagne let a wrist shot rip from the top right part of the right circle that went wide to Bobrovsky's left. The puck bounced off the endboards and slid between Bobrovsky's legs to the top of the crease as Bob was looking towards center ice. Purcell netted his second goal of the night on the lucky bounce as Bobrovsky was unaware of where the puck was. Before the Flyers could realize the All-Star break was over, they found themselves in a two-goal hole to the Southeast power house. The first period woes didn't stop their for the Flyers as a former teammate hurt them later in the stanza.
Chances came and went for the Flyers over the remainder of the period as strong play from the powerplay unit nearly cut the deficit in half. However, their hardwork didn't pay off as Steve Downie found the net for his fifth goal on the season extending the Lightning's lead to 3-0. While entering the zone along the boards to Bobrovsky's right, Downie changed direction skating to the slot along the top of the left circle allowing a back checking Mike Richards to screen Bob along with Steven Stamkos. After Downie released a weak wrist shot from the slot, the puck would find its way through Bobrovsky's 5-hole. The remaining five minutes in the period yielded little action, but the struggle that was the opening minutes of the game for Philadelphia ended up being enough for the Lightning.
The second period saw a better effort from the orange and black, but the improvement didn't translate into goals. Peter Laviolette attempted to shake things up by replacing Bobrovsky with Brian Boucher; he'd save all eleven shots he saw in the period. For the second straight period the Flyers ended up outshooting the Lightning. Despite a brief surge from Tampa near the middle of the period, most of the play was spent in Philly's offensive zone. The offensive pressure from Philadelphia peaked on both powerplay chances in the period. The powerplay chances stemmed from a hooking call on Simon Gagne and a holding call on Sean Bergenheim. No matter what the Flyers put on net, Roloson had an answer stopping every shot he saw in the period. The deficit remained three as the game entered the final period.
All that came from the third period was a Steven Stamkos goal nearly nine minutes into the period making the lead 4-0. His 39th goal of the season came on a pass from Martin St.Louis, Tampa's duo that has caused damage to most teams they've played this season. This was the only goal Boucher allowed saving fifteen of sixteen shots on the night. Roloson stopped all eleven shots he saw in the period and saved all 38 shots he faced on the night registering his second straight shutout and fourth on the season.
The Flyers lost the game tonight within the first few minutes. Sloppy play early and an unfortunate bounce was the difference in what was an otherwise tight game. The rust of having a week off was seen in tonight's game as the Flyers were unable to move affectively through the neutral zone. Most of the first period saw the Flyers turning the puck over in the neutral zone or offensive zone. Tampa's first goal on the night was off a turnover in the neutral zone while a Scott Hartnell turnover in the offensive zone led to a Tampa Bay goal later in the period.
Another sign of rust came from the defense occasionally being out of position. Braydon Coburn's aggresive play at the very beginning of the game resulted in Purcell's first goal. It was a play Coburn didn't need to make and allowed Purcell and Lecavalier to enter the zone with a 2-on-1. Aside from Coburn, Chris Pronger also had a shaky start. Nearly turning over the puck twice and leaving Dana Tyrell with an open chance to score shorthanded as Pronger pursued the same man as Timonen summed up Pronger's main plays in the first period. These aren't routine plays frome the two and were probably due to the fact they had not played a game over the last week.
Goaltending was the difference in the game. Sergei Bobrovsky only played the first period, but allowed three goals on six shots while Roloson kept his team in the game throughout. Two of Tampa's goals came while Bobrovsky was deep in the crease. Bob's positioning in relation to the net has been talked about a lot this season, but tonight it proved to be negative. It will be interesting to see how Bob will play in his next appearance, whether he'll be more aggressive or still remain in the back part of the crease.
Notes: This was the 4th time all season the Flyers had been shutout (11/16 @MTL, 12/1 vs. BOS, 12/20 vs. FLA). The Flyers are now 0-3-0 against Tampa Bay (the most games the Flyers have played against any team this season without winning or registering a point). The Flyers out shot the Lightning 38-22 out shooting the opposition in all 3 periods (1st/13-6 PHI, 2nd/ 14-11 PHI, 3rd/ 11-5 PHI). The Flyers are now 6-4-1 against the Southeast this season (TBL 0-3-0, WSH 2-0-1, ATL 1-0-0, CAR 2-0-0, FLA 1-1-0).
The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens tonight by a 5-2 count to earn their 1,000th home victory in franchise history.
Chris Pronger tied a career-high with 4 assists, Mike Richards had 2 assists, and Danny Briere had a goal and an assist as the Flyers dominated the visitors for the majority of the game. Sergei Bobrovsky would make 29 saves for his 21st win on the year.
The first period was filled with opportunities for both Montreal and Philly, but the end of the period would witness the powerhouse that is the Flyers' offense open up shop. Bobrovsky kept some close scoring chances from Montreal out of the net early and made 9 saves in the first.
Dan Carcillo made his mark on the game four minutes in. In front of Philly's bench, a Scott Gomez cross check to Carcillo's back allowed Carcillo to over exaggerate the hit to draw a penalty. Frustrated by the call, Gomez backhanded the puck towards Carcillo, who was still laying on the ice. Gomez then tried charging at Carcillo, but was held up by a ref and pushed around by Pronger. The Flyers didn't see a power play, however, as Carcillo went to the box for roughing for tackling Habs captain Brian Gionta along the boards in the Flyers' defensive zone during a post whistle scrum.
The Canadiens saw the first power play of the game briefly after 4-on-4 had ended as Nikolay Zherdev attempted to avenge a hit placed on him by PK Subban from earlier in the game by slashing the young defenseman. After the Flyers killed off the penalty that only saw one shot against, Zherdev left the box and laid a healthy hit on Yannick Weber that nearly landed him in the Canadiens' bench.
With about five minutes left in the period, the Flyers started to dictate play. After Claude Giroux released a shot from the middle of the circles that hit the outside of the right post, the Flyers went on a power play thanks to an Andrei Kostitsyn slash. Then, Jaroslav Spacek was sent away for holding Richards in the corner and Subban went to the sin bin for slashing Briere along the boards.
The trio of penalties took place 91 seconds apart and cost the Canadiens dearly, as the Flyers ripped home a pair of goals.
Eight seconds into the 5-on-3 Philly advantage, Jeff Carter backhanded in a rebound produced by a Richards' shot. While standing at the top of the crease and right in front of Carey Price, Carter backhanded home his 23rd goal of the year between Price's right arm and right leg pad. Hal Gill displayed his frustration by pushing Carter after he and his Montreal teammates failed on the penalty kill.
Handling the puck affectively and showcasing their offensive dominance, the Flyers took a two goal lead with just over a minute left in the first period, cashing in their second consecutive two-man advantage.
Standing just above the circles, Kimmo Timonen accepted a Pronger dish and would rip a shot past a helpless Price for his third goal of the year. Richards was also rewarded with an assist on the play as Philly still had a man advantage for fifty-one seconds. The power-play hat trick was not to be, but the damage was done as the first period concluded.
With no intention of letting up, Carcillo increased Philly's lead to 3-0 twenty-three seconds into the middle period. Gaining control of the puck in between the middle of the circles, Carcillo found open space through Price's 5-hole with a backhander. After getting knocked to the ice, Carcillo would get up to celebrate his 3rd goal of the year and second in his last 21 games.
Relentless offensive pressure from the Flyers ensued for the next few minutes until Sean O'Donnell went to the box for a questionable interference call on Travis Moen. As Moen was entering the Canadiens' offensive zone O'Donnell slightly pushed him resulting in Moen flopping to the ice. Rather than flagging Moen down for diving, O'Donnell went to the box alone. Montreal didn't utilize the advantage as they only registered one shot on net for the two minutes.
The Flyers saw their fifth power play of the game after David Desharnais went to the sin bin for slashing Blair Betts. Despite keeping up their offensive onslaught, Philly was unable to convert with the man advantage keeping the score 3-0.
The Canadiens didn't give up despite receiving thirty-three minutes of abuse from the orange and black. Several chances and scrums near Bobrovsky's crease led to a Desharnais blast from the point through traffic finding the back of the net as Bob never saw the puck. Desharnais' 3rd goal of the season kept Montreal within modest reach seeing the score become 3-1.
Lightning in a bottle could have seen Montreal take away all of Philly's momentum and put them right back in a position to win the game.
It almost happened as Spacek released a shot from the top of the left circle that hit Bobrovsky's sleeve then hit the inside of the right post. Bob would reach back and cover the back on the goal line and a brief review showed Montreal had not scored as the puck dangled on the line but not over it.
As the period was winding down, what looked like the Flyers worst power play on the night (off a too many men on the ice call) turned out to be the team's third successful attempt in the game.
After spending time in their defensive zone and creating the least chances yet with the man advantage, Briere stood just inside the blue line between the circles and saucered a pass to Hartnell who settled down the puck as he was skating past the left face off dot, then sent the puck to Giroux's stick as he was skating past the right side of the net.
A dejected Price, who had dropped to his knees awaiting a Hartnell shot, turned to witness Giroux placing his 19th goal of the year in the back of the net and saw his team regain their three-goal deficit as the score became 4-1.
The third period began with Philly killing off the remaining 1:43 in a Andrej Meszaros slashing penalty. Physical play found its place early in the period as Lars Eller put a strong hit on Hartnell in the Flyers' offensive zone. A minute later, Carcillo and Ryan White exchanged words and shoves off of a face off. One way to get back into a game is through physical play and the Canadiens used it effectively.
Minutes after the violent interactions between both teams, Andreas Nodl went to the box for tripping about six minutes into the period. After successfully killing off that penalty without any real chance coming from Montreal, Pronger was sent away for a weak roughing call on Scott Gomez in the corner.
This penalty-kill went worry free as well as there were no solid Montreal scoring chances. However, the fear of another late game collapse loomed as the Canadiens started to control the play to a certain extent.
After much Flyers' pugilism, the Canadiens cut the home team's lead in half with just under five minutes left in the game. Mathieu Darche threw a pass to the slot while skating along the boards to Bobrovsky's left. The puck bounced off Braydon Coburn's upper leg/mid section redirecting the pass in between Bob's legs and into the net for Darche's 9th goal of the season.
As if the outcome was in any doubt, Briere made sure it was with his 26th goal of the season. With Price on the bench, Briere let a shot go from just past the red line next to the Canadiens bench and watched the shot slide in.
The goal, by the rightful owner of an All-Star berth, made the lead 5-2 with 25 seconds remaining.
Both of Philly's special teams units, power play and penalty kill, played extremely well tonight. The powerplay converted on 3-of-5 chances while the penalty kill successfully turned aside all seven of Montreal's power-play opportunities. Carter, Timonen, and Giroux all clicked on the advantage tonight for Philly.
Consistent play 5-on-5 has allowed the Flyers to stand at the top of the standings despite having mediocre special teams. It's nice to see a win come in overwhelming fashion due to the special teams play, as the Flyers were just 13-for-108 coming in.
Always looking for a psychological edge, Richards gets the last laugh in the battle between he and young blueliner Subban. On a night where Richards' had a pair of assists, Subban showed his rookie flaws. With his team in a big enough hole, Subban slashed Briere up high to put the Flyers on an extended 5-0n-3. The slash was easily avoidable and the penalty pretty much handed the Flyers a two goal lead just before the end of the period.
On a less important play, Subban was also incapable of keeping the puck in the zone due to a stickless Jody Shelley pressuring him out of the zone. A simple dump or cross ice pass would have allowed the Canadiens to take advantage of a Flyer without a stick, but since Subban focuses on himself and looks for highlight reel plays Montreal had to evacuate the zone.
Notes: The Flyers improved to 18-1-0 when leading after the 1st period (were leading 2-0 tonight), and are the first team to reach 70 points league-wide (currently have 71)...Philly went 3-1-0 against Montreal for the 2010-2011 season and are currently 10-3-0 against the Northeast division (BOS 1-2-0, MTL 3-1-0, BUF 2-0-0, TOR 2-0-0, OTT 2-0-0).
Well, coming up on the All-Star break the Philadelphia Flyers are looking pretty good.
With fifty games played so far, the Flyers are 33-12-5 sitting atop the whole NHL with 71 points. In their final game before the break, Philly put a show on against the Canadiens winning 5-2. Despite there being no overwhelming statistics to drive home the point, the Flyers truly dominated each and every part of their last meeting with Montreal. The win was their 2nd in a row and combined with their 6-2 win over Ottawa on Thursday it was their 3rd positive decision in the week.
In a week they could have won all four games, the Flyers went 3-1-0 dropping their Saturday matinee to the Devils 3-1. At this point in time their lackadaisical effort on Saturday doesn't seem as though it will hurt them much down the road.
Let's take a look at what's going on with the other four teams in the Atlantic Division.
Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-0. After getting shutout by the Devils 2-0 on Thursday, the Penguins won back-to-back games against Carolina on Saturday and the Islanders on Tuesday. With injuries keeping Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out, secondary players need to step up for the Penguins to keep winning. Dustin Jeffrey answered the call this week scoring the first goal in the game against Carolina and assisting on the lone goal against the Islanders. The gap between them and the division leading Flyers widened from three to five points this week. The next game is a visit to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers Tuesday night.
New York Rangers: 3-1-1. In what was an up and down week for the Rangers, they find themselves still trailing the Penguins for 2nd in the division. The week started off with a thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-0 where Marian Gaborik scored four goals. However, the next night the Rangers had the beatdown handed to them as they lost to the Hurricanes 4-1. Bouncing back from their game against Carolina, the Rangers posted back-to-back wins in consecutive shootouts. After a late game goal by Brian Boyle to tie the score at two, Mats Zuccarello was the only player to score in the shootout awarding the Rangers a 3-2 win over Atlanta. Two nights later in Washington, the Rangers needed the shootout once again to find a winner. Three Rangers (Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello, and Artem Anisimov) scored on Braden Holtby in the shootout to hand them their third and final win of the week. Tuesday night, the Rangers fell to the Southeast's worst team in the Panthers 4-3. On the Panthers' lone shot in the third period, an awkward bounce resulted in Florida's fourth and final goal. Their next game is Tuesday night as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.
New York Islanders: 1-3-0. The Islanders split their two meetings with the Buffalo Sabres this week as they won Friday night 5-2 in Buffalo and then lost 5-3 at home Sunday. Combined with one-goal losses to both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders ended up winning a fourth of their scheduled games this week. Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson both netted three goals in the four games this week while Kevin Poulin grabbed the lone win of the week saving 26 of 28 against Buffalo on Friday. If the Islanders beat the Hurricanes tonight and the Flames lose to the Blues, the Isles will move from 29th in the league to 28th.
New Jersey Devils: 3-0-0. In what has to be the surprise of the week, the Devils registered the best record in the Atlantic division this week. After shutting out the Penguins on Thursday, the Devils ruined the Flyers chance to gain 1,000 home wins by winning 3-1 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. Throw in a 5-2 home win against the Florida Panthers and you have a strong week of hockey from the weakest team in the division. Patrik Elias had 3 goals and an assist on the week. Following in the footsteps of Elias, who potted two against Philly, Jason Arnott netted two of his own in the win against Florida on Sunday. Martin Brodeur had the wins against Pittsburgh and Florida while Johan Hedberg beat the Flyers. The Devils have the hard task of visiting the Red Wings tonight.
In the only match up between the two teams which met in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, the Philadelphia Flyers visited the Windy City and handed the home team a 4-1 loss.
Jeff Carter tallied two goals and one assist on the evening while Claude Giroux assisted on all four goals. Nikolay Zherdev scored Philly's game-winning goal and assisted on their first goal of the contest.
Chicago's only goal came courtesy of a Marian Hossa penalty shot in the third period. The Flyers' penalty kill kept the Blackhawks' top-ranked powerplay unit off the score sheet as they wouldn't convert on either opportunity.
The game started off with chances for both teams. Chicago had more chances early, but the Flyers had the best chance. Scott Hartnell threw the puck on net from the blue line resulting in a rebound for Ville Leino. Showing his patience, Leino drew Crawford out of the crease and tried sneaking the puck just inside the post. His attempt was denied by Duncan Keith who then cleared the puck to the boards.
After a very uneventful fight between Hartnell and Bryan Bickell, Niklas Hjalmarsson tripped Giroux in the corner behind Crawford leading to the first power play of the game. Philly would generate three shots, but wouldn't register a goal.
The Blackhawks, using the momentum from a successful penalty kill to their advantage, started putting a lot of pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky resulting in an eventual holding call on Braydon Coburn. That advantage wouldn't produce a goal for Chicago due to Bobrovsky's strong goaltending and the game opened up shortly after.
The opening period wasn't as exciting as anticipated. A few penalties and a fight that nobody was able to witness on television were the major events. The Flyers didn't seem to forecheck as much as usual and spent a lot of time in their zone narrowly avoiding a Chicago goal. The lack of pressure may have been a result of playing a game and traveling the day before, but the Blackhawks did the same.
The beginning of the second period started off with a bizarre goal, but one beneficial to the visitors.
As the puck bounced around the crease and Hawks goalie Corey Crawford for a matter of seconds, the Flyers kept whacking away at the puck until Jeff Carter was credited with his 21st of the year. The play seemed as though it was going to be blown dead multiple times as the puck kept moving underneath Brian Campbell and Crawford, but since the refs were able to see it, the whistle was never blown.
The Flyers came out of their defensive shell in the second period and started dictating play. The majority (if not the whole period) was spent in the Blackhawks' defensive zone and saw several scoring chances from the Flyers. Good chances came from Jeff Carter, Kimmo Timonen, and Zherdev in the period.
The game's second fight happened late in the second. In response to a questionably high hit he received from Dan Carcillo, Jake Dowell decided to drop the gloves with the veteran pugilist in the corner to Bob's left. Despite leaving the fight with a bloody face, Carcillo definitely had the upper hand through the whole fight landing more punches and stronger punches. Dowell landed one solid punch, which resulted in Carcillo bleeding.
The final six minutes or so of the period saw each team apply a fair amount of offensive pressure. The Flyers' closest scoring chance came with about twenty seconds left in the period, when Giroux deflected a Carter shot. Crawford saved a Flyers goal moving right to left gloving a puck that seemed destined for the top left corner. The Flyers would lead 1-0 entering the final stanza.
A one goal lead entering the final twenty minutes is still anybody's game. With this in mind, the Flyers put away the next goal in the stanza's first three minutes to extend their lead to two.
After winning the puck in the corner, Zherdev would then cause a turnover on the right side of the Hawks' net. While Zherdev was taking the puck behind the net and attempting a wraparound, Campbell and Crawford got their sticks entangled resulting in Zherdev sliding the puck just inside the right goal post. It was the 15th goal on the year for the Ukrainian enigma which made it a 2-0 Flyers edge.
Carter increased the lead to three less than three minutes later when he batted in a thigh-high cross ice pass from Giroux at the right post. Brent Seabrook turned the puck over to Giroux while he was coming onto the ice and Giroux glided into the Blackhawks' zone. From the top of the left circle, Giroux paused and saucered the puck to Carter who bunted it by Crawford's right pad for his 22nd on the season.
The Blackhawks showed urgency immediately after the three goal deficit took place. After a play that resembled the Flyers' first goal of the game, suffocating pressure from the Hawks in Bobrovsky's crease (allegedly) led to Coburn gloving the puck and throwing it into the corner. Somehow, an official spotted the infraction and Hossa was chosen to take the shot.
He wasted no time, scoring straight down the middle five-hole on Bob and cutting the Philadelphia lead to two with thirteen minutes left in the game.
The remaining time was a showcase for the Flyers' ability to create and dictate play. At a point in the game when the Blackhawks should have been showing desperation and effort, the Flyers were walking into the zone and to the net almost scoring numerous times.
The best chance came on a 2-on-1 where Briere dropped it back to Leino who then handed it right back to Briere who got stuffed by Crawford on a shot that came within feet from the net.
With fifty-two seconds left in the game, an empty-netter sealed the deal.
Carter's dump into Chicago's zone allowed the unsteady winger to beat out several pursuing Blackhawks to the puck along the boards. While protecting the puck between the boards and right circle, Hartnell released a shot on the backhand with his body positioned parallel to the faceoff dot ending the Hawks' chances of coming back.
For all the hype of two Stanley Cup combatants meeting for the first time since June, the game played out as expected; strong Flyers' forecheck, good goaltending from the rookie goalies, and a Flyers win.
It clearly wasn't the same Blackhawks team the Flyers played in the Finals last year because of roster changes and Chicago encountered a much steadier and consistent Philadelphia team. Chicago did manage to capitalize on Philly's weak third defensive pairing of Oskars Bartulis and Lukas Krajicek last year in the playoffs, but Sunday was a different story as Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell both played sound defense and allowed the offense to forecheck affectively.
Bobrovsky, perhaps the newest and most unknown quantity, played a great game keeping the Flyers in the game after several close scoring chances from the 'Hawks. An eleven save first period paired with crucial saves in the third period produced the seventh time "Bob" has limited the opposition to exactly one goal on the season. It also marked the ninth time Bobrovsky made 30 or more saves in a game.
Notes: Carter and Giroux were both a team-high plus-4 on the day... Coburn led all Flyers with 5 hits; Troy Brouwer had a game high 6 for Chicago...The Flyers improved to 14-2-0 in the last 16 regular season games against the Blackhawks...This marked the second game this year Bobrovsky allowed one goal on which the score resulted from a penalty shot; the other game was Philly's 6-1 win on October 30th against the New York Islanders...The Flyers are 2-1-1 against the Central division this year (DET 1-0-0, NSH 0-0-0, CHI 1-0-0, STL 0-0-1, CBJ 0-1-0).