Flyers Let Lead Slip, But Finish With a W
The Philadelphia Flyers faced off against the New York Islanders Thursday night. One could easily assume it would be an easy win. They were only playing the lowly Islanders, right? Wrong. Peter Laviolette said himself that the game would be a challenge. The Islanders have been a winning team lately, and you never want to underestimate your opponent.
The Islanders would score the only goal of the first period. Frans Nielsen skated into the zone with the puck by himself and fired a shot to beat Sergei Bobrovsky stick side. He just found a lane down the left wing and made no mistake with the puck.
The Flyers were out-shooting the Islanders and even had plenty of shots blocked, but they just couldn't seem to solve Al Montoya.
The second period is where the Flyers really came to life. Just under a minute into the period Mike Richards was Johnny on the spot to turn around and fire a rocket of a shot while right in slot. The Flyers have seemed to struggle at times to pot in big rebound goals or to take control of lose pucks in front of the opposing net-minder, but Mike Richards made no mistake with this one.
The line of James van Riemsdyk, Jeff Carter, and Claude Giroux was absolutely incredible tonight. It was hard to keep track of how many scoring chances each guy had. Claude Giroux specifically looked like he was shot out of a cannon. He was a man on a mission. He looked that way late in the game against Phoenix on Tuesday. He was just playing outstanding at both ends of the ice.
The second goal for the Flyers came from James van Riemsdyk. Claude Giroux made a spin-o-rama pass to JVR for a goal that gave the Flyers their first lead of the game. The finish by JVR was fantastic, but you can't say enough about the pass from Giroux. It was similar to a pass he made to Mike Richards earlier in the season for a goal. He just has this keen sense for knowing where his linemates are. At times he can be a little bit too unselfish, but his passing skills are excellent.
Sergei Bobrovsky also looked more on top of his game in the second period.
The third period was interesting to say the least. The Flyers added to their lead early on thanks to some more hard work from the line of Carter, Giroux, and van Riemsdyk. This time it was Carter who got on the board to make it a 3-1 hockey game, him and JVR were doing the dirty work in front of the net and Carter redirected a Giroux shot.
Unfortunately just over a minute later the Islanders cut the lead in half. There was a scramble behind the Flyers net and the rebound came out in front to Matt Martin. Just like that it was a new hockey game.
The score remained the same as the third period went on. The Islanders pulled Montoya for the extra attacker. The Flyers almost did the unthinkable (for the Flyers it would have been) and scored an empty netter right away but failed to hit the target. Matt Martin struck again to tie the game at 3 with 28 seconds remaining.
All's well that ends well in this case... Late in overtime when it looked like a shootout may have been necessary, the Flyers ended up with an odd man rush. The crowd was pressuring each guy that touched the puck to shoot, but no one would. It turned out to be a wise decision. Giroux, Carle, and Leino all chose to pass. And who's stick did the game end up on other than that of Andrej Meszaros. Meszaros is not immune to being an overtime hero. In a game against Washington where the Flyers coughed up a lead, Meszaros was the hero in OT. So it was only fitting.
And so the Flyers defeated the New York Islanders for the 12th time in a row at home and the 19th out of 20th overall. It wasn't easy, but getting the second point in OT was important. The Flyers played a great game overall. Blowing the lead was a bit concerning, but they never let that deflate them, and that's what says a lot. There's no quit in this Flyers team.
Notes: There was some concern over Chris Pronger as he blocked a shot with his hand and did not return. But much to the relief of Flyers fans everywhere, the x rays came back negative... Kris Versteeg looked great in this game. Him and Richards have definitely developed chemistry.