Simmonds' Four Point Night Dispatches Canes
Teams destined to miss the playoffs put on 60 minutes of hockey devoid of defense and chock full of a dominant performance by winger Wayne Simmonds in a 5-3 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night.
18 shots in the first period for the Flyers proved the insignificant defensive pressure by the Hurricanes. In fact, Jakub Voracek almost scored within the first 10 seconds of the game forcing starter Justin Peters had to make a desperate save to keep the puck from crossing the goal line.
Simmonds' first career hat trick frustrated the absent Carolina defense, and happened to be the difference. Matt Read set up Simmonds busting down the right wing with a cross crease pass that eluded a stunned Marc-Andre Bergeron to make the score 2-1 in the second period.
Justin Faulk had just celebrated scoring a fluky goal on a fancy Kevin Westgarth keep, but seconds later, Read set up Simmonds with another cross crease pass for his second goal of the game to give the Flyers the lead back at 3-2.
Simmonds' artistry continued when he accelerated down the right wing and flipped the puck through the gaping five hole of Peters for an odorous tally to re-establish a two-goal lead for the Flyers at 4-2.
Back and forth the teams went until Eric Staal scored a pretty tally on a pinpoint passing play between Alex Semin and Jiri Tlusty to cut the lead to one. Simmonds continued his dominance with an assist to Read for a breakaway goal with a blocked shot off his shin. Unfortunately for the Hurricanes, the goal came after hitting the post just seconds prior.
Read snapped a nine-game goalless drought with the tally.
It appeared as if Simmonds would extend it to five points on this night. With just seconds left in the third period, Simmonds collected an awful Carolina turnover (of which there were many), and centered it to a cutting Read. His pass deflected off Read's skate and into the net with just 0.3 seconds showing on the clock. The officials disallowed the goal after the game.
"Something was clicking tonight, [Simmonds] was always in the open area," Read said. "It was a great game by him."
It was not only Simmonds' first hat trick of his young career, but the first four point night of his career as well.
Flyers' starter Steve Mason made some large saves in this game, totaling 26. His array of work included a large glove save on Semin in the first period off of a Brayden Schenn turnover.
Mason picked up the second victory by a goaltender not named Ilya Bryzgalov for the Flyers this season with the win on this night.
Same could not be said of Peters, who received zero defensive help from his depleted group. He stopped 33 of 38 shots that the Flyers threw at him. Scoring chances heavily favored the Flyers from start to finish. The Hurricanes had close to zero zone time and no shots until minutes into the game.
It did not look entirely positive to escape the first period at a 1-1 tie. Nonetheless, the Flyers' effort worked them out of a jam, and into victory.
Giroux helped Voracek get his revenge on Peters in the early going, scoring his 20th goal of the season with a pretty stretch pass behind the nonexistent Hurricanes defense. Voracek snapped five-hole past Peters to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead.
Loose defense contributed to Carolina tying the game at one. A rim-around by Luke Schenn to Danny Briere flubbed off his stick directly to Jeff Skinner, who rocketed the tying goal past Mason. Skinner's goal was unassisted, though Briere should have picked up a de facto assist on the play.
Just three games remain in the regular season for the Philadelphia Flyers, and playing loose proved to be the name of the game. The goaltending wheel of fate continues to turn between Ilya Bryzgalov and Mason, leaving the fans to wonder who will start the next game against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.