Better With Popcorn

Flyers Fall Short in Raleigh

Friday night was Rod Brind’Amour retirement night at the RBC Center in Raleigh when the Philadelphia Flyers took on the Hurricanes. Obviously, in such a situation the Flyers faced quite a tough test in the third of the their four game road trip. They didn’t help themselves early on, and despite showing great heart, they fell short.

After the pre-game ceremony for the former Hurricane captain and flyers icon, the two teams took to the ice. However, one of the Flyers’ key cogs was missing from the lineup. Captain Mike Richards was a late scratch due to flu-like symptoms. In the loud and emotionally charged RBC Center, the team would need all the help they could get. After all, this was probably the most important home game for the Hurricanes this season.

From the puck drop, the home team showed that they were out to make good on the celebratory night. Just 4:12 into the game, Chad LaRose redirected defenseman Joe Corvo’s point shot after it had been deflected. The puck appeared to be a pinball, as it bounced around in front of goalie Sergei Bobrovski. When LaRose deposited the puck through Bobrovski’s five-hole, the Carolina crowd roared.

Less than three minutes later, they would roar even louder.

After defenseman Andrej Meszaros couldn’t keep the puck in the Flyers’ offensive zone, Jay Harrison found rookie Jeff Skinner who broke down the ice for a two-on-one situation. Skinner fired a rocket that found the same spot as LaRose’s goal. The puck got through Bobrovsky right between the legs. Yet, somehow the Flyers weathered the remainder of the period and went into the locker room only trailing 2-0.

The second period started to look like more of the same for the Flyers when Andreas Nodl took a hooking penalty just 2:37 into play. But the spectacular penalty-killing unit came up big again for the Flyers when Blair Betts beat Cam Ward high glove side on a shorthanded opportunity. The goal put some extra jump in the Flyers step, and play evened out much more than it had in the first period.

Facing a 2-1 deficit with 20 minutes to play, the Flyers took to the ice and seemed poised to tie the game. But as the period wore on, the Flyers’ opportunity seemed dim. The more and more the team fought on, the closer they got until Braydon Coburn finally tied the game with 5:11 seconds to play. The tie wouldn’t last long.

In an eerily similar play to the one that gave the Hurricanes their second goal, Kris Versteeg failed to keep the puck in the offensive zone. As a result, Jussi Jokinen took the puck down the ice with Erik Cole in another two-on-one. Bobrovsky was caught cheating to Jokinen just enough for Cole’s one-timer to beat the young Russian. The goal would be the game’s final tally, and the home crowd would go home happy on their old captain’s night.

Although the Flyers lost for the first time since December of 2006, the loss wasn’t a bad one for the team. Their resiliency in an intense environment was impressive. As the season winds down, more and more of their games will be in environments like the one they saw on Friday. Hopefully, they learned from it.

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