Richards Leads Flyers in 5-3 Win
After a three game losing streak, the Philadelphia Flyers finally found the win column. It wasn’t easy or pretty, but the team showed some much needed resolve in Saturday’s 5-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils.
Although the team failed to win their last three games, they did come away with points in the two shootout losses to New Jersey and Calgary. However, the lack of offense recently has been, well, offensive. The Flyers are one of the highest scoring teams in the NHL, yet they managed only three goals in the three games before Saturday’s contest.
To break out of the offensive slump was not only encouraging, but entirely necessary. Recently the power play has been a thorn in the side for the team, and Saturday was no different. Without registering a power play goal against the Devils, the Flyers have scored only twice in their last 42 power play opportunities. For a team with such a talented group of forwards, the slump doesn’t seem to be reality.
The recent slumps offensively helped make Saturday even sweeter. Mike Richards always receives attention for being one of the best defensive forwards in the league, but when his team needs him most he always seems to show up offensively. Saturday was no exception.
Just three minutes into the game, Ilya Kovalchuk rifled a wicked slap shot past Sergei Bobrovsky on the man advantage and it seemed like it would be another slow start for the Flyers. Less than twenty seconds later, the Flyers knotted the score at one on a James van Riemsdyk goal. Although van Riemsdyk scored, it was Richards who did some brilliant work in the crease and creating the opportunity for the young winger.
Travis Zajac would net the Devils’ second goal before the end of the first period and Claude Giroux tied the game at two in the second. Although everything was even on the scoreboard, the Flyers held a 25-13 advantage in shots on goal. Because of New Jersey’s style of play and the recent struggles for the Flyers, it would have been easy to for the home team to become frustrated. Richards wouldn’t let that happen.
The captain found a way to deflect a Chris Pronger point shot by Johan Hedberg less than three minutes into the third period. From there, the Flyers added another goal on a beautiful Jeff Carter pass to Danny Briere in front of Hedberg. New Jersey scored with less than a minute left to make things interesting before Jeff Carter found the back of an empty net to give the Flyers their much needed win.
Saturday’s game was an encouraging step for the Flyers. They avoided becoming complacent against New Jersey’s defense and found a way to create some scoring. The team got big contributions from Briere, Carter, Richards and Giroux. The four forwards each have scored double digit goals thus far, and when a team is struggling to score the top guns have to come through. Richards led the charge and the Flyers got a win that they absolutely had to have.
The win over New Jersey wasn’t glamorous, but no one should be surprised. After all, Mike Richards doesn’t really care for being glamorous.