Like He Never Left: Simon Gagne Scores In Return to Flyers
Like a page written out of a movie script, Simon Gagne's return to Philadelphia had all of the necessities.
Gagne scored, he sparked his team and the fans, and the Flyers beat the Washington Capitals, 4-1, in Philadelphia in front of 20,000 Flyers fans awaiting the arrival of their prodigal son.
It couldn't have happened any more perfect for Gagne, who took a red eye flight from Los Angeles yesterday after he learned he was traded back to the team that drafted him in 1998.
"Not really, I guess. Especially after what happened yesterday," Gagne said after the game. "I was flying late last night from L.A. I tried to sleep a little bit, but at the same time I was so excited to be back and it was hard to fall asleep. I tried to get a nice night of sleep, but at the end I wanted to come in here and get a big win. Scoring that tap in goal, it’s a good scenario for sure."
The Flyers were in desperate need of a spark.
Losing another forward, this time it being Tye McGinn, left the Flyers in need of some depth at the forward position. Luckily for them, Los Angeles was hoarding Gagne and not using him at all.
"Yeah, seeing him for the first time coming to the rink a little after 4:00 p.m. was pretty cool," said Scott Hartnell after the game. "I think he obviously feels comfortable. He played here 10-plus years. He definitely adds a lot more excitement to the dressing room and it showed right from the get-go."
Right away Gagne's presence was made in the Flyers locker room and on his line with Max Talbot and Sean Couturier. Right after Giroux scored to open the game, Gagne's line took the ensuing face off and almost immediately Gagne got a scoring chance on Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
"Right off first shift we had a nice scoring chance by Gagne and after that a little bit later I think the first period we had some great scoring chances," said Talbot, who also tallied his first goal of the season in the win. "Obviously a good player like that, he played here for awhile, he's loved by everybody, and to come back here and score a goal in his first game was huge for us."
Gagne didn't beat Holtby until early in the second period. With the Flyers up 2-0 and on their second power play, Brayden Schenn fed Gagne a pass in front of the net that he buried past an out-of-position Holtby to make it 3-0.
That front porch power play goal was very reminiscent of what he did in the playoffs for the Flyers back in 2010 where he scored nine goals. It was almost as if he never left.
"Yeah," Giroux agreed. "I mean he’s fun to watch, he’s a smart player and obviously he knows where to go to score goals."
It was Gagne's first goal of the season and first regular season goal in a Flyers jersey since March 28, 2010. It was also his 260th career goal as a Flyer, which is good for 9th on the team's list and only 30 behind Eric Lindros for 8th.
Overall, Gagne took 19 shifts and played a total of 16 minutes on the ice, putting four shots on net. He even dished out a pair of hits, which impressed his head coach despite what he had been through the past 24 hours.
"I thought for Simon flying through the night and getting here and coming back in... A lot of times of when you come back into a building that you either left or was traded back to, sometimes the night takes over," said head coach Peter Laviolette. "I thought that Simon had a real good game both defensively and offensively for us. Under those circumstances, I thought he did a good job."