The return of Simon Gagne overshadowed what could be considered the first of many must win games before changes may need to be made. Two struggling teams squared off at the Well tonight, and needless to say, the Flyers needed to have their act together.
The first period could not have gotten off to a better start, with Giroux slamming home a point blank shot that came off a great pass from Hartnell, which was the epitome of “take the hit, to make the play,” passed it too Giroux…FROM HIS KNEES. Scottie had the only assist on the 1st goal (Voracek could get secondary credit with a review), which came 23 seconds in. Minutes later, the Flyers got their first power play opportunity of the contest. Capitalizing on it was key, and it took the 1st unit 1:09 to put the good guys up 2-0. Giroux hit Hartnell with their patented, high slot pass-shot, which Holtby saved…right to Simmonds who slammed home the easy rebound. That was the end of the scoring for the period, which saw solid defense in front of Bryz, led by Nicklas Grossmann who had 4 blocked shots to lead all skaters. Gagne saw 4:33 of ice time, and Coburn led all Flyers with 7:41.
The second period starts off similar to the first, not with a 23 second goal, but with a power play. The first power play unit doesn’t do much, but then we go back to the future with the second unit. What everyone had hoped for had come true, and it went a little something like this..
“FLYERS GOAL, SCORED BY NUMBER 12, SIMONNNN GAGGNEEE”
That is right, in his first game, Gagne scored, and received one of the loudest cheers I have heard all season rang through the WFC…Briere and Schenn with the assist right at the end of the power play to put the Flyers up 3-0. Play slowed down through the 2nd, until fan favorite, Max Talbot ABSOLUTELY SNIPED his first goal of the season on a slapper from the HIGHHHH slot, with the assists coming from Luke Schenn and Bruno Gervais. That would mark the end for Holtby’s night, as he was chased in favor of recent call-up and rookie Philipp Grubauer. Neuvirth was scratched due to the flu, marking this to be Philipp’s first NHL experience. Flyers finished the period out shooting Washington 12-3, bringing the total to 22-12. Erik Gustafsson was injured in the period after blocking an Eric Fehr shot and would not return.
The third started with some back and forth play, with the Flyers getting their third power play of the contest, but was unable to score, despite a great opportunity in front by Brayden Schenn, which was set up by a Gagne poke check pass. After the power play, the most exciting part of the period came when Ovie was tripped by Lennay Kekua (get it?) coming across the blue line. Big moment shortly after when Luke Schenn also tumbles to the ice, leaving Ovie alone with Bryz and a chance to redeem himself. Bryz is up to the task, and makes the big save short side. The shutout wouldn’t last the rest of the game, as Joel Ward taps in a rebound off a shot from the point that Bryz couldn’t handle. With 24.6 seconds left in the game Harry Z destroys Mattieu Pearrault, to create some excitement before the inevitable victory. Harry ends the game with a 5 minute major for kneeing and a game misconduct, and the game ends 4-1.
Flyers played a complete game, with solid play from all 4 lines, all 3 d-pairings and Bryzgalov. Hopefully this is a victory we can build off this victory, and take Saturdays game from Ottawa.
3rd star-Simon Gagne 2nd star-Scott Hartnell 1st star-Claude Giroux
Flyers face the Ottawa Senators on Saturday at 12:00 at the Wells Fargo Center, grab your tickets here!