The Philadelphia Flyers had a matinee Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center against the Winnipeg Jets, and they showed about a half an hour late. The team was able to overcome a sluggish start and rally from a one goal deficit after two periods to come back and beat Winnipeg 4-3. After playing behind all day, the Flyers (9-10-1, 19 points) scored two power play goals in the third period to take down the Jets (7-9-1, 15 points) in the second game of an important five game home stand.
The Flyers didn’t appear to have their legs or much life the first ten minutes of the game, which looked more like the Evander Kane show. Kane, who had plenty of opportunities early, scored just under five minutes into the game to give the Jets a 1-0 lead. Dustin Byfuglien took a point shot that ricocheted off the boards to Nik Antropov who hit Kane for an early lead. After the Kane goal, the Jets had complete control of the game.
About nine minutes into the game, with his team being out shot and outplayed, Wayne Simmonds decided to give his team a boost and drop the gloves with Chris Thorburn. Neither player landed a decent punch but it was enough to get home crowd and team back into the game.
After the Simmonds fight, the Flyers, who were being out shot 12-1 with just fewer than nine minutes to play, found their legs and started generating some quality scoring chances. With less than five minutes left in the first, Danny Briere took a drop pass from Brayden Schenn and put a shot on net. Briere followed up his initial shot and continued to dig at the puck and Schenn was able to slam home the rebound that slipped through Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec, tying the game at 1-1.
At the start of the second, Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov made some huge saves to keep the Flyers in the game. Just over two minutes into the second, Blake Wheeler picked Brayden Schenn‘s pocket as he was trying to carry the puck out of the Flyers zone. Wheeler then hit Olli Jokinen with a pass and spun around at the right circle and was able to beat Bryz through the five hole.
After the Jets got back to back penalties late in the second, leading to a 5-3 power play for 1:58, Giroux was able to convert on an absolute laser, cutting the Flyers deficit to 3-2.
The Flyers entered the third down 3-2 and 0-7 on the season when trailing after two periods. After successfully killing a penalty, Erik Gustafsson drew a tripping penalty on Burmistrov. On the ensuing power play, Giroux made a great move to get the puck into the offensive zone and hit Jakub Voracek, who got the puck Schenn for his second goal of the game.
Shortly after tying the game, Scott Hartnell was able to draw two penalties on Kane, giving the Flyers another man advantage. This time it was Schenn hitting Simmonds to give the Flyers a 4-3 lead. The Flyers were able to add a Zac Rinaldo empty net goal with one second left in the game and clinch a 5-3 win at home.
The Flyers were able to move into the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings, although at this point they do have games in hand on everyone, after playing their league leading 20th game of the season.
Scott Hartnell surprised everyone with his return to action, about a week earlier than expected, and he didn’t disappoint. Hartnell had a couple big hits in the game, including one in the first period that along with the Simmonds fight, really energized the team. Scott was a pest and was battling all game and performed well for a player that has been out of the lineup for the last few weeks. Hartnell knew he was needed more than ever with Matt Read being out and really played a nice role in his return.
Jakub Voracek continues to play well, tallying three more assists Saturday, putting him in the top six in the league in that category and top seven in the league in overall points.
Brayden Schenn is also putting together a nice season. With two goals on Saturday, Schenn now has seven points in his last five games.
Another player who cannot be overlooked is Wayne Simmonds, who got his second Gordie Howe hat trick, a goal, assist and fight in the same game, in the past week. Simmonds has shown he is more than willing to drop the gloves in recent games to get his teammates fired up and it has worked wonders.
Grossman and Rinaldo also had very physical games against Winnipeg, tallying seven and twelve hits respectively on the score sheet. Both players brought a very physical presence to the game that lead to some frustrating moments for Jets players and also lead to power play time for the Flyers.
The special teams units were also great yesterday, with the power play going 3-6 against the league’s worst penalty kill unit. The Flyers penalty kill was perfect yesterday killing all four of the Winnipeg opportunities.
The Flyers next game is Monday, against the Toronto Maple Leafs and at the Wells Fargo Center. This will be an opportunity to avenge a loss on the road in Toronto and will also mark the return of James van Riemsdyk back to Philly.
The Flyers need points on this home stand to stay in the playoff picture when the rest of the conference catches up in games played. Monday is another must win game for a team that needs a consistent run to jump start their playoff push.Tags: Brayden Schenn, Claude Giroux, comeback, Jakub Voracek, NHL, Philadelphia Flyers, Wayne Simmonds, win, Winnipeg Jets