Flyers Get A Surprise Winner Out of Fedotenko
Sometimes, coaches get a little more out of certain players than they hope for in certain situations.
For head coach Peter Laviolette, he wanted to neutralize Washington's top scoring tandem of Alex Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro. By doing so, he put forechecking specialists Sean Couturier and Ruslan Fedotenko out onto the ice.
Laviolette wound up getting more out of Fedotenko in that situation than he had hoped. Fedotenko got himself in the right position, scoring the game-winning goal to seal a comeback 5-4 overtime win for the Flyers, stealing an important two points in the process.
"We got control of the puck a little bit in the offensive zone and I should have had a chance to give Kimmo [Timonen] a breakaway pass," Fedotenko said after the game. "I missed it but we still had possession of the puck. We started moving around and I got back. Kimmo gets opened up again and I just give it to him across the ice and go back to the net pretty hard. He saw an opportunity to give it right back and almost a backdoor tap-in."
Timonen's pass was on the money to Fedotenko, who snuck in behind the defense and tapped Timonen's pass over the right pad of Washington netminder Braden Holtby to win the game. It was Fedotenko's second goal in as many games (third of the season), and both goals wound up being the respective game's final goals.
This goal, however, was a little more meaningful to Fedotenko and the Flyers rather than his empty-netter on Saturday against the Bruins. In fact, it may be a key contributor to the Flyers' attempt to turn their season around.
"It’s important, every win, every point right now is crucial," Fedotenko said. "We are fighting for playoffs. It’s a lot of teams are fighting for playoffs. I feel like it’s very important. Again, the way we did last night and today, now it’s over. We need to focus on the next game and make sure we get the next two points."
Fedotenko's role this season has been more of a defensive role. The 34-year-old winger has been a penalty kill specialist and has been an anchor on the fourth line.
Skating with Simon Gagne and Mike Knuble the past few games, they have been getting more ice time due to their ability to trap the puck in the opposing zone. In fact, Fedotenko logged 16:30 of ice time with 6:11 of it being short-handed.
It's a mindset like that which gave Laviolette the confidence to put Fedotenko out on the ice in over time to shut down Ovechkin and Ribeiro.
"I view Fedotenko as a real smart defensive player," Laviolette said. "Knowing that Ovechkin’s coming over the boards, Couturier and Fedotenko seems like a good match, not knowing it would go the other way. We are talking about making sure that it didn’t come back to our end and the game didn’t end that way.
"We wanted to make sure we had the right players on the ice, even if it was going to push away 45 seconds of the overtime. We just wanted to make sure we did the right things defensively and get the match-up we wanted to get. For it to turn around like that and have it go in the other direction, it was nice to see.
"Fedotenko is a guy we rely on and we count on for a lot of defensive minutes, penalty kills, and role type minutes. Certainly there is an offensive upside to him and to his game and he has done this not just tonight but in his past as well."