For the first time in the franchise history, Mike Richards assisted on an overtime game-winning goal and the Philadelphia Flyers only gained a point.
Saturday night’s game was circled on every calendar in the greater Philadelphia area as soon as this year’s schedule was released. Despite the two teams’ high level of talent, the game was dominated by undisciplined penalties.
The teams combined for 15 power plays, one of which led to Jack Johnson’s overtime goal.
All looked promising at Wells Fargo Center as the game opened when Daniel Briere notched his first goal of the season on a Jaromir Jagr assist. The goal came on the power play after Dustin Penner was given an instigator penalty in a scrap with Flyers agitator Zac Rinaldo.
Just 20 seconds into the game, Rinaldo hit Drew Doughty as the all-star defenseman entered the Flyers defensive zone.
Doughty would attempt to return to the game but was ruled out with an ‘upper-body injury’ according to the Kings.
Rinaldo was nonchalant when asked about the hit after the game.
“He came across the trolley tracks,” he said.
The two teams exchanged a power play each until Andrej Meszaros took an interference penalty. On the subsequent power play, former Flyer Justin Williams was open in the slot and easily beat Ilya Bryzgalov to tie the score.
It wasn’t until the third period when Williams torched his old team again. This time, he did when the teams were even-strength Williams skated his way around the Flyers defense and out-waited Bryzgalov to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
Less than a minute later, Matt Carle tied the game on a power play goal following a hooking call on Richards.
But as the game was on its way to overtime, James van Riemsdyk took a tripping penalty. Philadelphia killed the last 19.9 of regulation, but Richards’ slap-pass to Johnson caught Bryzgalov searching for the puck.
That was the end of the electric and eventful Saturday night.
Despite being booed after an early ovation, Richards understands it's all part of the territory.
"I’ve been booed everywhere, I’ve been cheered in a couple places," he said. "You just go out there and play. Once the puck is dropped, I think it’s the easiest thing to do is just go out and play hockey.”"
For the Flyers, their inability to stay out of the penalty box is the most troubling aspect of their recent play. Aside from being undisciplined, the team has found success on special teams and their goaltending has been solid.
Captain Chris Pronger was frustrated with the team’s penalties.
“It’s not so much the penalties right in front of the net, or stopping a scoring chance or what have you,” he said. “It’s the little hooks, high sticks 200 feet from the net that really hurt you. Those are usually the ones that come back to bite you, and they did.”
Penalties came back to bite the Flyers.
So did their former players.