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February 2011

Atlantic Watch: 1/19-1/26

Well, coming up on the All-Star break the Philadelphia Flyers are looking pretty good.

With fifty games played so far, the Flyers are 33-12-5 sitting atop the whole NHL with 71 points. In their final game before the break, Philly put a show on against the Canadiens winning 5-2. Despite there being no overwhelming statistics to drive home the point, the Flyers truly dominated each and every part of their last meeting with Montreal. The win was their 2nd in a row and combined with their 6-2 win over Ottawa on Thursday it was their 3rd positive decision in the week.

In a week they could have won all four games, the Flyers went 3-1-0 dropping their Saturday matinee to the Devils 3-1. At this point in time their lackadaisical effort on Saturday doesn't seem as though it will hurt them much down the road.

Let's take a look at what's going on with the other four teams in the Atlantic Division.

Pittsburgh Penguins: 2-1-0. After getting shutout by the Devils 2-0 on Thursday, the Penguins won back-to-back games against Carolina on Saturday and the Islanders on Tuesday. With injuries keeping Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin out, secondary players need to step up for the Penguins to keep winning. Dustin Jeffrey answered the call this week scoring the first goal in the game against Carolina and assisting on the lone goal against the Islanders. The gap between them and the division leading Flyers widened from three to five points this week. The next game is a visit to Madison Square Garden to take on the Rangers Tuesday night.

New York Rangers: 3-1-1. In what was an up and down week for the Rangers, they find themselves still trailing the Penguins for 2nd in the division. The week started off with a thumping of the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-0 where Marian Gaborik scored four goals. However, the next night the Rangers had the beatdown handed to them as they lost to the Hurricanes 4-1. Bouncing back from their game against Carolina, the Rangers posted back-to-back wins in consecutive shootouts. After a late game goal by Brian Boyle to tie the score at two, Mats Zuccarello was the only player to score in the shootout awarding the Rangers a 3-2 win over Atlanta. Two nights later in Washington, the Rangers needed the shootout once again to find a winner. Three Rangers (Wojtek Wolski, Mats Zuccarello, and Artem Anisimov) scored on Braden Holtby in the shootout to hand them their third and final win of the week. Tuesday night, the Rangers fell to the Southeast's worst team in the Panthers 4-3. On the Panthers' lone shot in the third period, an awkward bounce resulted in Florida's fourth and final goal. Their next game is Tuesday night as they host the Pittsburgh Penguins.

New York Islanders: 1-3-0. The Islanders split their two meetings with the Buffalo Sabres this week as they won Friday night 5-2 in Buffalo and then lost 5-3 at home Sunday. Combined with one-goal losses to both the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, the Islanders ended up winning a fourth of their scheduled games this week. Michael Grabner and Matt Moulson both netted three goals in the four games this week while Kevin Poulin grabbed the lone win of the week saving 26 of 28 against Buffalo on Friday. If the Islanders beat the Hurricanes tonight and the Flames lose to the Blues, the Isles will move from 29th in the league to 28th.

New Jersey Devils:  3-0-0. In what has to be the surprise of the week, the Devils registered the best record in the Atlantic division this week. After shutting out the Penguins on Thursday, the Devils ruined the Flyers chance to gain 1,000 home wins by winning 3-1 at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday. Throw in a 5-2 home win against the Florida Panthers and you have a strong week of hockey from the weakest team in the division. Patrik Elias had 3 goals and an assist on the week. Following in the footsteps of Elias, who potted two against Philly, Jason Arnott netted two of his own in the win against Florida on Sunday. Martin Brodeur had the wins against Pittsburgh and Florida while Johan Hedberg beat the Flyers. The Devils have the hard task of visiting the Red Wings tonight.


Flyers Obtain 1,000th Home Win

The Philadelphia Flyers beat the Montreal Canadiens tonight by a 5-2 count to earn their 1,000th home victory in franchise history.

Chris Pronger tied a career-high with 4 assists, Mike Richards had 2 assists, and Danny Briere had a goal and an assist as the Flyers dominated the visitors for the majority of the game. Sergei Bobrovsky would make 29 saves for his 21st win on the year.

The first period was filled with opportunities for both Montreal and Philly, but the end of the period would witness the powerhouse that is the Flyers' offense open up shop. Bobrovsky kept some close scoring chances from Montreal out of the net early and made 9 saves in the first.

Dan Carcillo made his mark on the game  four minutes in. In front of Philly's bench, a Scott Gomez cross check to Carcillo's back allowed Carcillo to over exaggerate the hit to draw a penalty. Frustrated by the call, Gomez backhanded the puck towards Carcillo, who was still laying on the ice. Gomez then tried charging at Carcillo, but was held up by a ref and pushed around by Pronger. The Flyers didn't see a power play, however, as Carcillo went to the box for roughing for tackling Habs captain Brian Gionta along the boards in the Flyers' defensive zone during a post whistle scrum.

The Canadiens saw the first power play of the game briefly after 4-on-4 had ended as Nikolay Zherdev attempted to avenge a hit placed on him by PK Subban from earlier in the game by slashing the young defenseman. After the Flyers killed off the penalty that only saw one shot against, Zherdev left the box and laid a healthy hit on Yannick Weber that nearly landed him in the Canadiens' bench.

With about five minutes left in the period, the Flyers started to dictate play. After Claude Giroux released a shot from the middle of the circles that hit the outside of the right post, the Flyers went on a power play thanks to an Andrei Kostitsyn slash. Then, Jaroslav Spacek was sent away for holding Richards in the corner and Subban went to the sin bin for slashing Briere along the boards.

The trio of penalties took place 91 seconds apart and cost the Canadiens dearly, as the Flyers ripped home a pair of goals.

Eight seconds into the 5-on-3 Philly advantage, Jeff Carter backhanded in a rebound produced by a Richards' shot. While standing at the top of the crease and right in front of Carey Price, Carter backhanded home his 23rd goal of the year between Price's right arm and right leg pad. Hal Gill displayed his frustration by pushing Carter after he and his Montreal teammates failed on the penalty kill.

Handling the puck affectively and showcasing their offensive dominance, the Flyers took a two goal lead with just over a minute left in the first period, cashing in their second consecutive two-man advantage.

Standing just above the circles, Kimmo Timonen accepted a Pronger dish and would rip a shot past a helpless Price for his third goal of the year. Richards was also rewarded with an assist on the play as Philly still had a man advantage for fifty-one seconds. The power-play hat trick was not to be, but the damage was done as the first period concluded.

With no intention of letting up, Carcillo increased Philly's lead to 3-0 twenty-three seconds into the middle period. Gaining control of the puck in between the middle of the circles, Carcillo found open space through Price's 5-hole with a backhander. After getting knocked to the ice, Carcillo would get up to celebrate his 3rd goal of the year and second in his last 21 games.

Relentless offensive pressure from the Flyers ensued for the next few minutes until Sean O'Donnell went to the box for a questionable interference call on Travis Moen. As Moen was entering the Canadiens' offensive zone O'Donnell slightly pushed him resulting in Moen flopping to the ice. Rather than flagging Moen down for diving, O'Donnell went to the box alone. Montreal didn't utilize the advantage as they only registered one shot on net for the two minutes.

The Flyers saw their fifth power play of the game after David Desharnais went to the sin bin for slashing Blair Betts. Despite keeping up their offensive onslaught, Philly was unable to convert with the man advantage keeping the score 3-0.

The Canadiens didn't give up despite receiving thirty-three minutes of abuse from the orange and black. Several chances and scrums near Bobrovsky's crease led to a Desharnais blast from the point through traffic finding the back of the net as Bob never saw the puck. Desharnais' 3rd goal of the season kept Montreal within modest reach seeing the score become 3-1.

Lightning in a bottle could have seen Montreal take away all of Philly's momentum and put them right back in a position to win the game.

It almost happened as Spacek released a shot from the top of the left circle that hit Bobrovsky's sleeve then hit the inside of the right post. Bob would reach back and cover the back on the goal line and a brief review showed Montreal had not scored as the puck dangled on the line but not over it.

As the period was winding down, what looked like the Flyers worst power play on the night (off a too many men on the ice call) turned out to be the team's third successful attempt in the game.

After spending time in their defensive zone and creating the least chances yet with the man advantage, Briere stood just inside the blue line between the circles and saucered a pass to Hartnell who settled down the puck as he was skating past the left face off dot, then sent the puck to Giroux's stick as he was skating past the right side of the net.

A dejected Price, who had dropped to his knees awaiting a Hartnell shot, turned to witness Giroux placing his 19th goal of the year in the back of the net and saw his team regain their three-goal deficit as the score became 4-1.

The third period began with Philly killing off the remaining 1:43 in a Andrej Meszaros slashing penalty. Physical play found its place early in the period as Lars Eller put a strong hit on Hartnell in the Flyers' offensive zone. A minute later, Carcillo and Ryan White exchanged words and shoves off of a face off. One way to get back into a game is through physical play and the Canadiens used it effectively.

Minutes after the violent interactions between both teams, Andreas Nodl went to the box for tripping about six minutes into the period. After successfully killing off that penalty without any real chance coming from Montreal, Pronger was sent away for a weak roughing call on Scott Gomez in the corner. 

This penalty-kill went worry free as well as there were no solid Montreal scoring chances. However, the fear of another late game collapse loomed as the Canadiens started to control the play to a certain extent.

After much Flyers' pugilism, the Canadiens cut the home team's lead in half with just under five minutes left in the game. Mathieu Darche threw a pass to the slot while skating along the boards to Bobrovsky's left. The puck bounced off  Braydon Coburn's upper leg/mid section redirecting the pass in between Bob's legs and into the net for Darche's 9th goal of the season.

As if the outcome was in any doubt, Briere made sure it was with his 26th goal of the season. With Price on the bench, Briere let a shot go from just past the red line next to the Canadiens bench and watched the shot slide in.

The goal, by the rightful owner of an All-Star berth, made the lead 5-2 with 25 seconds remaining.

Both of Philly's special teams units, power play and penalty kill, played extremely well tonight. The powerplay converted on 3-of-5 chances while the penalty kill successfully turned aside all seven of Montreal's power-play opportunities. Carter, Timonen, and Giroux all clicked on the advantage tonight for Philly.

Consistent play 5-on-5 has allowed the Flyers to stand at the top of the standings despite having mediocre special teams. It's nice to see a win come in overwhelming fashion due to the special teams play, as the Flyers were just 13-for-108 coming in.

Always looking for a psychological edge, Richards gets the last laugh in the battle between he and young blueliner Subban. On a night where Richards' had a pair of assists, Subban showed his rookie flaws. With his team in a big enough hole, Subban slashed Briere up high to put the Flyers on an extended 5-0n-3. The slash was easily avoidable and the penalty pretty much handed the Flyers a two goal lead just before the end of the period.

On a less important play, Subban was also incapable of keeping the puck in the zone due to a stickless Jody Shelley pressuring him out of the zone. A simple dump or cross ice pass would have allowed the Canadiens to take advantage of a Flyer without a stick, but since Subban focuses on himself and looks for highlight reel plays Montreal had to evacuate the zone. 

Notes: The Flyers improved to 18-1-0 when leading after the 1st period (were leading 2-0 tonight), and are the first team to reach 70 points league-wide (currently have 71)...Philly went 3-1-0 against Montreal for the 2010-2011 season and are currently 10-3-0 against the Northeast division (BOS 1-2-0, MTL 3-1-0, BUF 2-0-0, TOR 2-0-0, OTT 2-0-0).


Flyers Get Cup Revenge With 4-1 Win In Chicago

In the only match up between the two teams which met in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, the Philadelphia Flyers visited the Windy City and handed the home team a 4-1 loss.

Jeff Carter tallied two goals and one assist on the evening while Claude Giroux assisted on all four goals. Nikolay Zherdev scored Philly's game-winning goal and assisted on their first goal of the contest.

Chicago's only goal came courtesy of a Marian Hossa penalty shot in the third period. The Flyers' penalty kill kept the Blackhawks' top-ranked powerplay unit off the score sheet as they wouldn't convert on either opportunity.

The game started off with chances for both teams. Chicago had more chances early, but the Flyers had the best chance. Scott Hartnell threw the puck on net from the blue line resulting in a rebound for Ville Leino. Showing his patience, Leino drew Crawford out of the crease and tried sneaking the puck just inside the post. His attempt was denied by Duncan Keith who then cleared the puck to the boards.

After a very uneventful fight between Hartnell and Bryan Bickell, Niklas Hjalmarsson tripped Giroux in the corner behind Crawford leading to the first power play of the game. Philly would generate three shots, but wouldn't register a goal.

The Blackhawks, using the momentum from a successful penalty kill to their advantage, started putting a lot of pressure on Sergei Bobrovsky resulting in an eventual holding call on Braydon Coburn. That advantage wouldn't produce a goal for Chicago due to Bobrovsky's strong goaltending and the game opened up shortly after.

The opening period wasn't as exciting as anticipated. A few penalties and a fight that nobody was able to witness on television were the major events. The Flyers didn't seem to forecheck as much as usual and spent a lot of time in their zone narrowly avoiding a Chicago goal. The lack of pressure may have been a result of playing a game and traveling the day before, but the Blackhawks did the same.

The beginning of the second period started off with a bizarre goal, but one beneficial to the visitors.

As the puck bounced around the crease and Hawks goalie Corey Crawford for a matter of seconds, the Flyers kept whacking away at the puck until Jeff Carter was credited with his 21st of the year. The play seemed as though it was going to be blown dead multiple times as the puck kept moving underneath Brian Campbell and Crawford, but since the refs were able to see it, the whistle was never blown.

The Flyers came out of their defensive shell in the second period and started dictating play. The majority (if not the whole period) was spent in the Blackhawks' defensive zone and saw several scoring chances from the Flyers. Good chances came from Jeff Carter, Kimmo Timonen, and Zherdev in the period.

The game's second fight happened late in the second. In response to a questionably high hit he received from Dan Carcillo, Jake Dowell decided to drop the gloves with the veteran pugilist in the corner to Bob's left. Despite leaving the fight with a bloody face, Carcillo definitely had the upper hand through the whole fight landing more punches and stronger punches. Dowell landed one solid punch, which resulted in Carcillo bleeding.

The final six minutes or so of the period saw each team apply a fair amount of offensive pressure. The Flyers' closest scoring chance came with about twenty seconds left in the period, when Giroux deflected a Carter shot. Crawford saved a Flyers goal moving right to left gloving a puck that seemed destined for the top left corner. The Flyers would lead 1-0 entering the final stanza.

A one goal lead entering the final twenty minutes is still anybody's game. With this in mind, the Flyers put away the next goal in the stanza's first three minutes to extend their lead to two.

After winning the puck in the corner, Zherdev would then cause a turnover on the right side of the Hawks' net. While Zherdev was taking the puck behind the net and attempting a wraparound, Campbell and Crawford got their sticks entangled resulting in Zherdev sliding the puck just inside the right goal post. It was the 15th goal on the year for the Ukrainian enigma which made it a 2-0 Flyers edge.

Carter increased the lead to three less than three minutes later when he batted in a thigh-high cross ice pass from Giroux at the right post. Brent Seabrook turned the puck over to Giroux while he was coming onto the ice and Giroux glided into the Blackhawks' zone. From the top of the left circle, Giroux paused and saucered the puck to Carter who bunted it by Crawford's right pad for his 22nd on the season.

The Blackhawks showed urgency immediately after the three goal deficit took place. After a play that resembled the Flyers' first goal of the game, suffocating pressure from the Hawks in Bobrovsky's crease (allegedly) led to Coburn gloving the puck and throwing it into the corner. Somehow, an official spotted the infraction and Hossa was chosen to take the shot.

He wasted no time, scoring straight down the middle five-hole on Bob and cutting the Philadelphia lead to two with thirteen minutes left in the game.

The remaining time was a showcase for the Flyers' ability to create and dictate play. At a point in the game when the Blackhawks should have been showing desperation and effort, the Flyers were walking into the zone and to the net almost scoring numerous times.

The best chance came on a 2-on-1 where Briere dropped it back to Leino who then handed it right back to Briere who got stuffed by Crawford on a shot that came within feet from the net.

With fifty-two seconds left in the game,  an empty-netter sealed the deal.

Carter's dump into Chicago's zone allowed the unsteady winger to beat out several pursuing Blackhawks to the puck along the boards. While protecting the puck between the boards and right circle, Hartnell released a shot on the backhand with his body positioned parallel to the faceoff dot ending the Hawks' chances of coming back.

For all the hype of two Stanley Cup combatants meeting for the first time since June, the game played out as expected; strong Flyers' forecheck, good goaltending from the rookie goalies, and a Flyers win.

It clearly wasn't the same Blackhawks team the Flyers played in the Finals last year because of roster changes and Chicago encountered a much steadier and consistent Philadelphia team. Chicago did manage to capitalize on Philly's weak third defensive pairing of Oskars Bartulis and Lukas Krajicek last year in the playoffs, but Sunday was a different story as Andrej Meszaros and Sean O'Donnell both played sound defense and allowed the offense to forecheck affectively.

Bobrovsky, perhaps the newest and most unknown quantity, played a great game keeping the Flyers in the game after several close scoring chances from the 'Hawks. An eleven save first period paired with crucial saves in the third period produced the seventh time "Bob" has limited the opposition to exactly one goal on the season. It also marked the ninth time Bobrovsky made 30 or more saves in a game.

Notes: Carter and Giroux were both a team-high plus-4 on the day... Coburn led all Flyers with 5 hits; Troy Brouwer had a game high 6 for Chicago...The Flyers improved to 14-2-0 in the last 16 regular season games against the Blackhawks...This marked the second game this year Bobrovsky allowed one goal on which the score resulted from a penalty shot; the other game was Philly's 6-1 win on October 30th against the New York Islanders...The Flyers are 2-1-1 against the Central division this year (DET 1-0-0, NSH 0-0-0, CHI 1-0-0, STL 0-0-1, CBJ 0-1-0).


Flyers Lose 3-1 In Poor Effort

In a game that reminded you of the inconsistencies of last year's Philly team, The Flyers dropped a 3-1 loss to the Devils at home on Saturday. 

A two-goal effort by Patrik Elias and another strong performance from Johan Hedberg allowed New Jersey to beat the team at the top of their division. Bad decisions, getting outworked, and possibly looking forward to tomorrow's rematch against Chicago could be some excuses as to why the Flyers played so poorly today. The loss drops the Flyers to 31-12-5 on the year and 3-1-1 against New Jersey this season.

 After killing off a holding call a little over a minute into the game, the Devils found the scoresheet first on a Henrik Tallinder shot from the point. An Adam Mair shot that was blocked by Brian Boucher and company in front bounced to Tallinder who blasted a shot that Boucher never saw. Tallinder's second goal on the year gave New Jersey a 1-0 lead.

The Devils weren't done for the period as they enlarged their lead to two seven minutes later. Elias stopped a Mark Fayne wrap around the boards and took the puck to the front of the net. The puck found a way to squeak by a leaky Boucher who was attempting to hug the left post. The soft goal gave the Devils a 2-0 lead with just under eight minutes to play in the first period.

The remaining time left in the 1st period saw several scoring chances by the Devils that the Flyers would not answer. Boucher kept the Flyers in the game early as he saved eight of the ten shots he saw in the 1st period.

The second period saw a better effort from Philadelphia, but it still wasn't the Flyers team that currently sits first in the Eastern Conference. Multiple minor penalties held the Flyers up in their attempt to tie the game. A high-sticking call on Claude Giroux three minutes into the period, a Chris Pronger slash nine minutes into the period, and a Scott Hartnell roughing with six minutes left in the period kept Philly from putting a constant string of pressure on Hedberg.

Despite their horrible play in the 1st and a penalty stricken second, the Flyers still found themselves in a position to save the game.

With just 20 seconds left in the period, James van Riemsdyk would nudge the puck past Hedberg to cut the lead to one entering the final period. A beautiful backhanded pass from Richards at the Flyers' blueline led to Giroux possessing the puck just inside the offensive zone. From there, Giroux switched the puck from his backhand to his forehand back to his backhand before lofting a pass to JVR in the slot who would tip the puck past Hedberg. The goal was van Riemsdyk's 12th on the year.

The Flyers were still under performing as the third period rolled around, but several minutes of offensive pressure and the ability to stay out of the penalty box led to a Flyers' threat to tie up the game.

Outshooting the Devils 12-6 in the third period, the Flyers were on the verge of tying up the game until a late penalty by Giroux. With just over two minutes left, Giroux would go to the box for cross checking and leave his team in a tough position.

In a final push to tie the game, Laviolette would pull Boucher. Unfortunately, Rolston would hand an outlet pass from the defensive zone right to Elias who skated into the Flyers' zone and slammed the puck home on the open net making it 3-1. The remaining forty-two seconds bled away and the Flyers would see their four game winning streak snapped.     

The Flyers made too many poor decisions today to expect a win. Several turnovers in the defensive zone led to numerous New Jersey chances. If it wasn't for Boucher's ability to bail out his teammates, the lead could have easily been three or four nothing entering the second period. 

On the offensive side of things, nobody on the Flyers wanted to shoot today. Too many times were there one too many passes made on a rush or odd man opportunity where a good scoring chance resulted in a broken up pass.

Hartnell and Giroux both took stupid penalties today. Hartnell's roughing on Sestito came after the play and was completely unnecessary. Giroux's cross checking on Elias came with just over two minutes left in the game and pretty much sealed the deal for the Devils. It could have very easily not been called, but Giroux should know better than to cross check a player into the boards with the ref right there. The game was on the line and the Flyers had been putting pressure on Hedberg for ten minutes. The penalty essentially killed the momentum and any chance the Flyers had of tying the game.

Notes: This was the Devils first win in Philadelphia since their 3-2 overtime win on December 4, 2008...Johan Hedberg has racked up 7 games allowing one goal or less this season and 2 have come against Philly...Giroux was the only Flyers layer who was a plus today...Nobody on New Jersey was a negative...The Flyers fell to 12-2-1 against the Atlantic division this season (PIT 3-1-0, NYR 3-0-0, NYI 3-0-0, NJD 3-1-1).


Flyers Dominate Sens With Goals And Fists

The Flyers extended their winning streak to 4 games tonight as they dominated the Ottawa Senators 6-2.

The scoring started early with a pair of goals from Danny Briere and Mike Richards in the first 4 1/2 minutes. Richards' second goal on the night extended the Flyers lead to three, but another collapse from the Flyers allowed Ottawa right back into the game. A Milan Michalek short-handed breakaway goal and a Nick Foligno strike late in the second cut the lead to one entering the third period. Three goals in the third put the game away for Philly as the game ended with numerous fights.

The home team started the scoring early again tonight, scoring the first goal just seconds after the 2 minute mark. Briere skated along the boards after receiving a pass from Andrej Meszaros and planted a shot past Brian Elliott with a slapshot as he was gliding into the top-right part of the right circle. The goal was Briere's 25th on the season.

A little over two minutes later the Flyers would see their lead double as Richards stashed his 16th of the season with a nice tip-in of a Braydon Coburn shot. The other interesting note from the period was the only penalty, which was awarded to Chris Pronger -- back after a 13-game absence from a busted right foot -- for tripping up Zack Smith. The rest of the first period uneventfully passed as the Flyers entered the middle stanza with a two goal advantage.   

The second period started with some pressure from Ottawa followed up by an extended 5-0n-3 for the Senators. After James van Riemsdyk tried to scoot around Sergei Gonchar, he was assessed a tripping penalty as Gonchar embellished a nudge to the back. Nineteen seconds later, Darroll Powe joined van Riemsdyk in the box with a high-sticking call against Erik Karlsson. 

Philly ended up killing off the penalites and provided an offensive chance of their own when Richards took the puck down the ice along the boards and in on net. 

The end of the 2nd period saw a flurry of goals. Claude Giroux drew two penalties 53 seconds apart to give Philly a 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity of their own.

Seven seconds later, Richards handled the puck backing into the corner and, while faking a pass into the slot, turned slightly and released a quick shot on an unsuspecting Elliott who let the puck in through his legs. The goal was Richards' second of the night and extended the lead to 3-0.

Once again, though, the Orange and Black showed their brief defensive hiccups. The comfortable lead lasted all of a little more than 1 1/2 minutes as Michalek skated in on Sergei Bobrovsky, putting the breakaway opportunity home and making the score 3-1 with two minutes left in the period.

With 45 seconds left in the period, Foligno stood at the top of the crease and slammed home a rebound with no obstruction from Philly's defense for his 8th goal of the year. The period ended with Jeff Carter being dumped into Bobrovsky with a check from Chris Kelly.  

Unable to build off the momentum from the period before, Ottawa saw the game slip away from them midway through the third period. Thanks to a Filip Kuba turnover behind the net, Briere picked up the puck and worked left to right behind the net eventually throwing a pass cross crease setting up Hartnell who pounded away at a couple rebounds eventually netting his 16th of the season.

Then, it was 5-2 as a Richards shot from the right wing created an easy rebound for van Riemsdyk who hit a wide open net. 

Due to their newly-acquired deficit, Ottawa entered freak-out mode starting a line brawl after Claude Giroux showed some rare fire and laid out a Senator. Chris Neil and Darroll Powe received double-minors for roughing while Carter and Jesse Winchester would receive five-minute majors for fighting. 

The physical play didn't help Ottawa as Meszaros scored 22 seconds after the penalties were assessed. Meszaros caught Elliott out of position and slapped home his 3rd goal of the year, second in as many games.

With the game clearly in Philadelphia's favor, the fighting was just getting started. After getting dumped into the corner, Briere skated into the slot and ended up getting his jersey grabbed by Shannon in an attempt to start a fight. Briere declined because he's Danny Briere and doesn't fight. Just 90 seconds  later, Giroux handled himself fine in a fight against Foligno as both would exchange punches and Giroux would end it with a takedown.

The last hoorah involved a line brawl with fights between Shelley and Neil, Hartnell and Jarkko Ruutu, and Matt Carkner with Sean O'Donnell. Shelley and Neil fought to a draw despite Shelley's size advantage. Hartnell would kill Ruutu with several punches early while Carkner landed a few on O'Donnell who fell to the ice and covered up. As the penalty box filled and the time ran out, Philly enjoyed a 6-2 win.

Something that's turning into a habit for the Flyers is allowing teams right back into games they're dominating. On Sunday, Philly gave up two goals to the Rangers to make it a one goal game, on Tuesday Washington scored two goals in under a minute to tie up the game, and tonight the Senators got right back into the game with two goals late in the 2nd.

It seemed like a problem that was occurring due to Pronger's absence, but since this was Pronger's first game back tonight there must be something else wrong with the team. Whatever it is, the club's depth and resilience is making up for any mistakes.

Notes: The Flyers have outscored Ottawa 11-3 this season in 2 games. This was Carter's and Giroux's first fights of the year...Ruutu was the only Senator who was a plus on the night with a +1...Carter was the only Flyer in the negative at -1. Blair Betts was 7/7 on faceoffs tonight...Neil had a game high 19 penalty minutes for Ottawa, which racked up 69 of the game's 126 PIMs.


Flyers Beat Caps In Overtime

It took a little longer than expected, but the Philadelphia Flyers extended their winning streak to three games tonight with a thrilling 3-2 overtime win against the Washington Capitals.

Jeff Carter would score early, Claude Giroux would score late in the second, and Andrej Meszaros tallied in overtime to get the win for Philly. Sergei Bobrovsky  made 23 saves on the night and register his second win on the year against the Caps.

Just hours after seeing general manager Paul Holmgren's contract extended for another three seasons, the Orange and Black became the first team in the NHL to reach the 30-win plateau.

In just their 2nd home game of 2011, the Flyers would commit the same mistake they did against the Rangers by letting Washington back into the game late. After losing a 2-0 lead on  a pair of quick goals by the visitors midway through the third period, the Flyers still came out on top despite making the game harder on themselves than it had to be.

Similar to the Rangers game on Sunday, the Flyers jumped out to the early lead with a Carter goal 1:30 into the game.

Jason Chimera overskated the puck at the Flyers' blue line which lead to Carter taking the puck down the ice. While driving to the net, he worked to the outside of young defender John Carlson and skated behind the net before banking the puck off an out-of-position Michal Neuvirth.

Shortly afterwards, DJ King tried to get his team going by dropping the gloves with Jody Shelley. The fight didn't initially motivate his team, but the Caps did start to dictate play during the middle of the period. Washington would cause turnovers in the offensive zone and generate numerous and close scoring chances. Despite the mid-period surge, the Flyers would ultimately gain a power play with 5 minutes left in the period. The home team failed to convert on the opportunity and the rest of the period would go scoreless as the Flyers would lead 1-0 after one.

The Flyers introduced Semyon Varlamov into the game by almost scoring in the first minute of the 2nd period. Mike Richards drove to the net and was able to get Varlamov on his back, but he was unable to score on the goalie in desperation save  mode.

On the ensuing shifts the Caps would hit the post twice. After the Flyers gained momentum again, they'd capitalize on their chances and increase their lead. As Carter was skating behind the net and into the corner, he turned around and passed it to Giroux who was moving into the slot. Claude kicked it to his skate and put a move on Varlamov leading to a slam-dunk into an open net for his 18th goal of the year.

"Bob" then came up big near the end of the period as he would make a save on Chimera who was on the doorstep trying to deposit a cross-ice feed. The period therefore ended 2-0 in favor of Philadelphia.

The third period saw the Flyers trying to unsuccessfully nurse that two-goal edge, and the Capitals made them pay for their misplaced patience on scores within 40 seconds of each other. Mike Knuble struck against his former club on a loose puck in the crease, then Alex Ovechkin was cleared of gloving the puck in via replay for a 2-2 tie.

The Flyers almost got a lucky bounce when a shot went off Mike Green and came within inches of crossing the goal line before Varlamov covered up the puck with about 5 minutes left. As the final frantic minutes in the game passed, neither team could break the deadlock.

The overtime period wouldn't last long as Meszaros ripped a shot past Varlamov from the bottom of the circles with 1:09 played in the extra session.

All told, the Eastern Conference leaders would outshoot Washington 30-25, including a narrow 13-12 margin in the 3rd period and overtime.

The Flyers ran into the same problem they ran into against the Rangers, namely, vainly trying to check away a lead without trying to extend it in the third period.

On Sunday, the Flyers also allowed two 3rd period goals to win 3-2 after being up by 3-0 at the end of the 2nd. Tonight, they went into the 3rd up 2-0 and allowed the next two goals. It's a problem that may be caused by Chris Pronger's absence. The emotional leader on the team, Pronger is the one who is capable of calming the team down and waking the team up at the right times. An appropriate time for a team to wake up would be when they're getting outworked in the 3rd period.

Notes: The Flyers had also beaten the Capitals, 2-0, on January 9, 1986 when they became the first team in the NHL to reach the 30-win mark that season...Bobrovsky is now 1-0-1 against Washington on the year. The Flyers hadn't won in regulation against Washington since a 4-2 win in DC on February 24, 2009 (3-4-1)... The Flyers improved to 2-0-1 against Washington on the year and upped their mark to 6-3-1 against the Southeast division (Tampa Bay 0-2-0, Atlanta 1-0-0, Carolina 2-0-0, Florida 1-1-0).


Flyers Hang On For 3-2 Win

The Flyers won 3-2 against the Rangers tonight, but it didn't end gracefully.

After going up 3-0 less than five minutes into the second period, the Flyers wouldn't score for the remainder of the game. It seemed as though the Flyers would skate out the clock after a couple minutes were played in the third, but the Rangers had different plans. Brian Boucher allowed a soft Wojtek Wolski goal and a hungry Rangers team capitalized on the momentum scoring less than 3 minutes later to make it a one-goal game.

Thanks to Boucher's overall play, though, Philly hung on to win despite the Rangers dominating the last 10 minutes of the game.

The game started off sloppy for the Flyers as they missed an early opportunity on the power play and weren't connecting on several passes. Despite the early rust, the Flyers got on the board first, roughly 6 1/2 minutes in.

Ville Leino would have the puck behind the net and sent it back to Matt Carle on a beautiful and unexpected spin-o-rama pass. Carle then wound up and his slapper was redirected by Carter in front of the crease slipping the puck by Rangers goalie Martin Biron.

Shortly after gaining the 1-0 lead, James van Riemsdyk would go to the box for goaltender interference. The Rangers had several chances on the advantage and created pressure after the man advantage but failed to convert.

That wasn't the case for the visitors, who would score shortly after their second power-play opportunity ran out.

While several Flyers were crashing the net, Leino would receive a pass from Carle and put it past Biron after kicking it to his skate. The Flyers would get one more great chance later in the period as JVR hustled to recover a puck in the New York zone and went in solo on Biron, who'd make the original save and block Carter who tried putting a rebound top corner.

The second period started with early chances by both teams. After a good chance by renowned pest Sean Avery coming down the wing and creating a rebound for his teammates, Claude Giroux would go up ice and set up Matt Walker for a shot from the slot that Biron saved. The Rangers would go on a powerplay 2 1/2 minutes into the period on a tripping call against Andrej Meszaros, but ended up increasing their deficit instead.

Thanks to a New York turnover in Philly's defensive zone, Giroux carried the puck down the right wing with Mike Richards on a 2-on-1. Giroux would flip the puck to Richards at the last second, and the captain lifted the puck over Biron for a shorthanded goal and a 3-0 lead.

The Rangers' frustration showed through in the next few shifts as a scrum broke out  in front of Boucher and a line brawl took place to the Rangers' advantage. Kris Newbury would check Walker from behind, Brandon Prust scrapped with Darroll Powe, and Avery naturally took on Philly's toughest player in Carle. As expected, the calls would even out as it seemed the refs wanted to keep the Blueshirts in it for just a little longer. Being the resilient team they are, the Flyers would come down the ice and put pressure on for the next few minutes before a brief surge by New York. After New York's minute of pressure, the Flyers picked up their defensive pressure in the neutral zone and started causing turnovers that led to more offensive chances.

With about 4 minutes left in the period Avery would start trash talking Philly enforcer and former teammate Jody Shelley and of course didn't back up his word; he also threw a couple choice phrases at Richards before being taken off the ice when Rangers head coach Tortorella realized his uselessness. The period ended with the Rangers getting their best opportunities so far in the game but still behind three goals.

The final period started with the Flyers going on the power play due to a Prust hooking call a minute in. That was cut short as Meszaros would get called for hooking with 35 seconds remaining on the man advantage. It wouldn't make a difference as the Rangers still couldn't solve Boucher on the shortened power play.

The game seemed out of reach for the home team until Wolski ended Boucher's chance at a shutout with a bad angle shot halfway through the period. As he was gliding past the goal line, Wolski let go of a shot that hit off Boucher's leg pad and into the net. Rookie forward Derek Stepan would cut the lead to 3-2 with just under 8 1/2 minutes left as he was set up for an open net by former Norwegian Olympian Mats Zuccarello.

The Rangers would start buzzing shortly after with several scoring chances as the Flyers looked as though they may give up another three-goal lead in the 3rd period. However, after 8 minutes of frantic pace and unlimited offensive chances by New York, the Flyers escaped with a one-goal triumph despite being outshot 10-3 in the 3rd period.

Carle helped the Flyers get the early lead as he got assists on both first-period goals. He created a shot that Carter could easily deflect in front and gave the puck to an open Leino in front of the net.  Leino also helped the Flyers jump out to the 2-0 lead after 1 period with a goal and assist. Giroux created several chances on the night, but only one resulted in a goal -- which happened to be the game-winning score.

After not allowing a goal for 49:13 of the game action, Boucher ended up allowing two goals in a 2:24 span midway through the 3rd period, but still picked up the win after saving 34 of 36 shots on the night.

Both of these traditional rivals never fail to bring the violent aspect of the game to the forefront when they meet up and Sunday was no exception.

After a first period that involved JVR running over Biron, the second period showed a cheesed-off Rangers team attempting to get back into the game through fighting. Thanks to Avery, two mismatches ensued on the ice as Avery dropped the gloves with Carle and Shelley talked with Brandon Dubinsky. To nobody's surprise, Avery demolished Carle and then talked trash to the Flyers' bench.

Rangers fans will most likely point out last year's incident of Marian Gaborik forced to hold on desperately while fighting Dan Carcillo being similar to this incident between Avery and Carle.

The two scrapes are different for several reasons. Last year, Gaborik initiated the whole situation and was the first one to drop his gloves while tonight's fight was clearly instigated by Avery. Another difference was in last year's fight Carcillo stopped once Gaborik went down to the ice (like one is supposed to) while in the Avery/Carle fight Avery kept swinging away at Carle while he was already prone on the ice.  

Notes: This game was the first start for both Boucher and Biron in the season series...The Flyers have won four straight against the Rangers dating back to last year's season finale...Richards scored his third shorthanded goal tonight tying him for top spot in the league with Carolina's Matt Cullen, Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders, Giroux, Brad Marchand of Boston, and Prust...Giroux's assist on Richards' score gives him 5 shorthanded points on the season tying him with Prust and Matt Cooke for most in the league...The Flyers are now 12-1-1 against divisional rivals this season (Pittsburgh 3-1-0; Rangers 3-0-0; Islanders 3-0-0; Devils
3-0-1).


Flyers Rally Late For 5-2 Win

The Flyers came to Atlanta looking to put the memory of Thursday's bad third-period behind them.

It took a little while longer than expected, but the Atlantic Division leaders came through with a 5-2 victory thanks to a three-goal burst in the final 20 minutes.

As the period grew older, the time spent in Philly's offensive zone grew larger. Strong forechecking and pressuring each Thrasher with the puck allowed the Flyers to stay in Atlanta's defensive zone and recover several bad neutral zone passes.

With just over seven minutes left in the game, the Flyers finally capitalized.

Scott Hartnell worked hard along the boards to gain control of the puck and slap it towards the net as he was gliding out of the zone. Atlanta goaler Ondrej Pavelec had the save lined up until Ville Leino deflected the shot into his leg pad creating a rebound that went directly to Danny Briere.

Philly's leading goal scorer would put the shot home for his 24th on the year and a 3-2 Flyers' lead.

The Thrashers weren't subdued yet. A couple big slap shots from Dustin Byfuglien created scoring chances and Rich Peverley missed the net as Sergei Bobrovsky was on his stomach after a rebound.

As the clock ticked under three minutes to play, Claude Giroux gathered a Matt Carle pass on the left wing, skated towards the slot and placed a shot just under the crossbar through traffic increasing the Philly lead 4-2.

That goal put the game away as Atlanta would show no fight for the rest of the game. A Jeff Carter empty netter with 40 seconds left would make the final score 5-2.

The first period looked as though it would be done within 25 minutes after there had only been two whistles within the first 10 minutes. Both teams applied decent pressure within the first ten minutes, but there weren't any real good scoring chances.

Philly provided several takeaways and good keeps in Atlanta's defensive zone to keep pressure on Pavelec, whose biggest save was on a Carter slapshot (where he made the original save and covered the rebound up quickly before Giroux could get a stick on it).

The majority of the action in the opening period occurred within the last 5 minutes. After Atlanta was assessed a bench penalty for too many men on the ice (served by Anthony Stewart), the Flyers peppered Pavelec with 3 shots on net in the two-minute span. Despite being on the power play, the closest thing to a goal was a Bobrovsky turnover.

While stopping the puck behind the net, Bob had the puck stolen from him by Evander Kane. Kane attempted a wraparound at the right post where he mishandled the shot and saw the puck moved into the corner after Carter slid into the crease and knocked the puck out of harm's way.

Kane also provided another chance for Atlanta later in the period when he tried going five-hole on Bob while on a 2-on-1 rush with Bryan Little. Bob didn't back down, making the save and covering the puck.

The second period started with the Flyers on the advantage due to Nik Antropov's interference on Blair Betts with one minute left in the first.

The Flyers failed to convert on this chance and on another power play 1:13 later due to Tobias Enstrom's trip on Darroll Powe. Unlike the first period, there were several scoring chances and goals for both teams. 

Briere created several chances near the Thrashers' net and Giroux missed a walk-in chance from the slot getting robbed by Pavelec's glove. Another chance for a goal was muffed when Leino led a 3-on-1 with Briere and Hartnell. Instead of shooting or passing, Leino slowed up and had the puck poke-checked away from him.

After several chances and minutes of pressure applied by Philly, Atlanta spent time in the Philadelphia zone and took the lead due to another unfortunate bounce.

Andrew Ladd found the back of the net with 3:23 to play in the second after receiving an attempted centering pass from Niclas Bergfors which hit a refs' skate and then a Flyers player.

As in their 7-5 loss 24 hours earlier, instead of sulking, the Flyers answered back quickly.

Jody Shelley (yeah, Jody Shelley) bravely blocked a Byfuglien shot from the right point, chased down the puck at center ice and ripped a slap shot home from the left circle. The puck could not have been placed any better as it hit the inside of the intersection between the crossbar and right post.

Not even half a minute later, the Flyers took advantage of a stunned Atlanta squad when Kimmo Timonen held the puck at the top of the circles and put a shot passed a screened Pavelec.

Timonen unfortunately would go to the box later in the period for hooking Kane and Peverley scored on a rebound created by a Bergfors shot with just 3 seconds left in the period.

The 3rd period was only 1:19 old before Andrej Meszaros got called on a very, very questionable interference call. Atlanta's power play consisted of another set up for Byfuglien to tee up from the blue line and Kane getting laid out by Sean O'Donnell.

As Kane was protecting the puck from Carle, O'Donnell glided into Kane who had his head down. Play stopped as Kane needed time to get back to the bench after absorbing a hard but legal check from the wily veteran.

As it has many times before during the first half of the schedule, the Briere line came through for this team. There may have been only 3 points among the line tonight (Briere goal, Leino and Hartnell 1 assist each), but each of their points came on the most crucial shift of the game. Neither team had dominated the game up to that point in time, but Briere's putback allowed Philly to pressure Atlanta for the rest of the game on their way to another victory. The line also created several scoring chances throughout the game as Briere also provided some nice and uncharacteristic back-checking in a handful of shifts during the second period.

Two players who aren't expected to do much came through for Philly this evening. Shelley played more shifts than usual in the first two periods, and capped off his play with the Flyers' critical initial goal; a tally that came seconds after the Thrashers broke the scoreless tie late in the second period.

O'Donnell also had a big night. He had a good check along the boards in the first period and had the beautiful hit on the young Kane in the third. O'Donnell also played reasonably well defensively tonight.

Both goaltenders played great tonight as the game was scoreless closing in on the end of the 2nd period. Pavelec made some great saves throughout stoning both James van Riemsdyk and Giroux on different occasions. Pavelec also stopped Hartnell in the crease near the middle of regulation which would have given the Flyers a 1-0 lead; he made 31 saves on the evening.

Bobrovsky performed strongly yet again tonight. He was able to see the puck through traffic and he didn't allow Byfuglien's feared slap shot past him once this evening. The Thrashers' opening goal against was a tough shot from the slot while the second was the result of a bad rebound. However, he performed well making 27 saves on the night.

Apparently the Thrashers aren't used to the physical brand of hockey that has been instilled in Flyers' hockey for years now. Multiple occasions throughout the game indicated how much tougher the Flyers were than the Thrashers. Kane was hit hard by both Meszaros and O'Donnell in the third period while Coburn pushed Little to the ice after a whistle in the 1st and Meszaros roughed Little up near the boards in the second. The physicality allowed the Flyers to apply so much forechecking pressure and also led to several Atlanta turnovers.


Flyers Win With Big 3rd Period

After falling behind by two goals, the Flyers scored five straight to extend their winning streak to 4 games since January 2nd with a 5-2 decision over the Sabres.

Sergei Bobrovsky would tie a career-best by stopping 38 of Buffalo's 40 shots on net keeping the Sabres off the scoreboard for the last 2 periods. It was Bob's 2nd win against Buffalo in as many tries.

Danny Briere shook off an All-Star snub to score the tying goal for the Flyers in the 2nd period and add 2 more assists in the 3rd as the Flyers outscored Buffalo 4-0 in the last 40 minutes.

In addition to the win in Detroit and the sweep of the home and home against New Jersey, the Flyers are atop the Atlantic Division and the Eastern Conference by three points heading to Boston on Thursday.

Buffalo ended its two-game winning streak tonight and looks forward to their Thursday game hosting the Hurricanes.

The beginning of the 1st period was uneventful until Paul Gaustad scored his 4th of the year on his 2nd rebound attempt. After making the original save, Bobrovsky was looking for help from his defenders for a clear or body contact on Sabres near the crease. Unfortunately neither happened and Buffalo took the lead 5 minutes into the game.

Halfway through the 1st, Nathan Gerbe would circle around the net to the top of the circles and send a shot wide of the net off the endboards. It was from here that Cody McCormick took a shot from behind the goal line and put it in off Bobrovsky's back for a 2-0 Sabres lead.

On the next shift, the line of Briere-Hartnell-Leino hustled and created several solid scoring chances briefly shifting the momentum to the Flyers. After a Mike Weber interference call on Claude Giroux in the corner due to the Flyers' new found surge, the visitors made quick work on the power play.

Briere would set up a Kimmo Timonen slap shot from the point that Scott Hartnell would deflect in front of Miller while screening him at the same time. With the use of only 15 seconds on the power play, the Flyers had cut the lead to 2-1.

The 2nd period started out much like the 1st as the first couple minutes were quite uneventful. It would take a little bit of Flyers' forechecking before the 1st penalty of the period was called.

After a few chances, Braydon Coburn ended up with the puck near the blue line and ripped a shot on net. Ryan Miller made the first stop, and the rebound bounced to his right near James van Riemsdyk, but Buffalo defenseman Jordan Leopold saved a goal for Buffalo by hooking JVR.

The Flyers generated 3 shots on the extra man opportunity, but no goals. Several minutes later (after a few Flyers confronted Gaustad), Timonen received a legitimate holding call on Tyler Ennis, who also received 2 for diving. Despite being a call that displeased many fans, this would be the Flyers' biggest break of the evening.

At the end of the two-minute 4-on-4 battle, Timonen found the puck past the Sabres' defense which started a 2-on-1 with Briere. Timonen saw his pass to Briere slowed in the slot, but Danny would put the shot top shelf to tie up the game with just under 2 minutes left in the 2nd period.

The Flyers were unable to gain any momentum going into the 3rd due to another legitimate holding call on Coburn. After killing off the final 1:13 of Coburn's penalty, the Flyers fired up what turned out to be an explosive 3rd period.

About 2 minutes in, Briere and Leino started a 2-on-1 into the Buffalo zone. Briere's shot was kicked away by Miller, but the puck would bank in off Ville Leino's skate. The goal was called good on the ice and after a very brief call to Toronto, the call stood, giving the Flyers a 3-2 lead.

Leino never displayed a kicking motion, but rather a stopping motion as he began to be hooked while approaching the crease for a rebound.

It was from here on in the Flyers would dictate the play as they created very many scoring chances within the next few shifts. Both JVR and Jeff Carter would hit the post shortly after the Flyers' go-ahead goal. The lead would later be extended to 4-2 on a great individual play by captain Mike Richards.

From a failed Andrej Sekera pass attempt, Richards intercepted the puck and broke away. Shortly after undressing Miller, Richards made his signature move to the backhand inside the right post for a two-goal margin with 8 1/2 minutes left to play.

Hartnell would add on the empty netter with just under 2 minutes remaining and Philadelphia took away a 5-2 triumph.

Bobrovsky was phenomenal tonight as he outplayed the goalie opposite of him in Miller. He was dented for 2 first period goals, but neither were his fault.

The first was the defense's inability to help him out and the second was just a lucky bounce. "Bob" would save all 29 of the shots he saw in the final 2 periods. A strong 2nd period in which Bobrovsky allowed no goals on 15 shots through traffic and physical contact set up the Flyers comeback. This was Bob's 1st win since his December 15th 5-3 victory in Montreal -- which originally set his career high with 38 stops.

Briere, Hartnell, and Leino all played amazingly yet again. Briere registered 1 goal and 3 assists, Hartnell had 2 goals and 1 assist, and Leino had a goal. Briere had the crucial goal in the 2nd period against his former team to tie up and set up Philly's 3rd period dominance. Hartnell stood up for Giroux by fighting Gaustad after he had looked to lay out Claude earlier in the game. This was the line's 2nd impressive performance in a 3 game span; Thursday's 4-2 win was due to 4 goals from this line.

Timonen had an eventful night as he set up Philly's 1st 2 goals. Richards ended up with 4 blocked shots on the night and a big hit in the 1st that helped set up Hartnell's 1st goal on the night.

JVR didn't play as awesome as he did on Saturday, but he did impress none the less. Carter would receive multiple chances throughout the game, but was unable to put them home as he was robbed multiple times by Miller.

The biggest headache of the night for Philly was Gaustad. It's true McCormick would have a hell of a game, but Gaustad agitated the Flyers throughout. In the middle of the 2nd period, Gaustad and Giroux would engage in a shoving match after Gaustad missed laying Giroux out. Minutes later, Gaustad would fight Hartnell after Hartnell started things up after the whistle (and unfortunately during the commercial break). Then, in the 3rd period, Gaustad hit Sean O'Donnell away from the puck which started O'Donnell's abuse on him for the ensuing play. All in all, Gaustad would ultimately not affect the Flyers as they stuck to their game plan and won.

Notes: This was Philly's first win in Buffalo since 11/6/09. Flyers are 7-2-1 against Buffalo since the beginning of the '08-09 season. Miller has never recorded a regular season shutout against the Flyers. Sabres still haven't had a 3 game winning streak on the year (if they had won tonight, they would have had their first). Bobrovsky is 2-0-0 against Buffalo in his career with a 2.50 GAA.


Flyers Sweep Home and Home

In what seemed to be the exact opposite of Thursday, the Flyers completed the sweep of their home and home with the Devils today with a  2-1 win. Instead of starting slow and finishing strong, the Flyers came out strong and slowed down towards the end of the game. With 3 times as many chances as the Devils in the 1st period, the Flyers were able to gain a 2-0 lead that they would hold onto for a close one goal win. Combined with Thursday's 4-2 victory, the Flyers were able to outscore New Jersey in the home and home 6-3. The win extends the Flyers' win streak to 3 and extends the Devils' losing streak to 4.

The 1st period was all Flyers. Despite being outshot 12-11 in the first 20 minutes, the Flyers would out chance the Devils 9-3 and outscore them 2-0. The first goal of the game was caused by a great individual effort from JVR and a weak play by Hedberg. Skating into the zone from center ice, JVR would drive to the net protecting the puck to his left side and just put the puck on net which is where Hedberg decided to let the puck go in between his legs making it 1-0. Later on in the period, Giroux would penetrate the box on the powerplay and give the puck to Briere who was on the side of the net. Briere would then bank the shot off the back of Hedberg's shoulder and into the net for a powerplay goal; Philly was 1 for 4 on the powerplay in the 1st period. Hedberg was then pulled with 5:19 left in the 1st period making 8 saves on 10 shots. Brodeur would save the lone shot he saw in the 1st period.

The 2nd period would be a different story as yet another lucky bounce taking place in a game between these 2 teams would shift momentum. Thursday, it was the lively boards at the Prudential Center that got Philly started. Today, it was Ville Leino's skate that got Jersey going. An Andy Greene shot would hit Leino's skate, loop over a jumping Timonen, and over an unsuspecting Boucher resulting in the Devils' only goal on the day. The Devils would use the break to their advantage by almost tying it up with a Kovalchuk chance in the crease on their 2nd powerplay opportunity within the period. Boucher would snuff out Kovy's chance with a great leg save. The Devils relentless pressure throughout the period looked to have come to an end with van Riemsdyk drawing a holding call on Tallinder. However, a penalty kill that saw the Devils get more chances than the Flyers gave New Jersey the momentum back just before the end of the period.

Unfortunately for the Devils, the momentum would not carry over as the 3rd period was played fairly even. New Jersey would take control at the end of the period when they were in complete desperation mode. Big saves by Boucher on great chances from Zharkov and Zubrus let the Flyers ultimately hold on for the win. The last 40 minutes saw strong play from the last place Devils, but undisciplined play and missed opportunities (a summary of there season) caused the Devils to not extend the game to overtime.

Yet another stronger performance by Boucher today extended the Flyers win streak over the Devils to 3. Along with providing 34 saves on 35 shots, Boucher made some key saves when the Flyers' defense broke down. In addition to the aforementioned kick save on Kovalchuk, Boosh made a great save on an Arnott opportunity off a Meszaros turnover and the saves late in the 3rd period to keep the Flyers on top. The Devils' only goal today, one could argue, would be a tough save for most goalies. Boucher didn't see the puck after it hit Leino's skate until it was in the back of the net. Today's one goal game was Boucher's 6th one goal game on the year. The win makes his record 2-0-1 against New Jersey this year and 10-4-2 on the season.

James van Riemsdyk grabbed 1st star of the game honors as he deserved. After putting the Flyers up, he drew a penalty late in the 2nd period that seemed to kill New Jersey's momentum along with creating another scoring chance in the beginning of the 3rd period. van Riemsdyk's goal was his 10th on the year and his 2nd on the season against the Devils.

A stretch of bad goaltending and undisciplined play hurt the Devils today. Hedberg started strong making his first 8 saves, but then quickly fell apart allowing goals on back to back shots. In a relief appearance, Brodeur would make 19 saves and allow no goals against. The Devils would take 6 penalties on the day, which were only 2 more than the Flyers but were costly none the less. Both the incidents which Tallinder got called for a penalty (double minor on Shelley for high-sticking and holding on JVR) could have been easily avoided. He was in the box for JVR's goal and killed his team's momentum in the 2nd period with the holding call. In addition to Tallinder's penalty, the Devils got called for a too many men on the ice penalty 3 minutes into the 3rd. When a team gets one of those calls, it's a sign that nobody is paying attention or focusing (including the coaches).

The next time these two teams play is January 22nd in Philly, where the Flyers will be looking to beat New Jersey for the 3rd and final time at home this season.

Notes:

Briere scored on the powerplay in the first period making Philly 1 for 6 on the day; they're 2 for 15 on the year against New Jersey. JVR's goal makes him the 7th Flyer with at least 10 goals on the year; Leino and Nodl both have 9. Meszaros led all Flyers in ice time with 24:20; Andy Greene had a game high 24:38. The Flyers are now 3-0-1 against New Jersey on the year, 12-2-1 against New Jersey since the beginning of the 2009-2010 season (including playoffs), and have won 13 of 16 games between the two clubs dating back to the final 2008-2009 regular season match up. The Flyers are at the halfway point of their regular season with a 26-10-5 record; they're on pace for a 52-20-10 record and 114 points.