A Saturday Matinee

               giroux goal Picture Courtesy of NHL.com


Today was the 3rd and final between the Philadelphia Flyers (33-19-10) and the Ottawa Senators (21-30-10). This final game saw the Flyers on the road in Ottawa and the Flyers were looking for their first win against the team this year. The first two games saw a 5-4 Ottawa win and 4-3 (SO) win for Ottawa as well. So, on top of the current point streak the Flyers are on, plus, that attempt of the first win versus the Senators; this game had a lot of meaning for the Flyers. This game also had some good news for the Flyers as Travis Konecny returned to the lineup which put the top line of Giroux, Couturier, and Konecny back together. The game saw Petr Mrazek (9-7-3) start his 2nd game in a row, in between the pipes, for the Flyers and Craig Anderson (17-19-3) start for the Senators. Mrazek came into this game with a career record 4-0-2 all-time versus the Senators.

The 1st period saw one of the quickest starts if the past few games. 28 seconds into the period the Flyers brought the puck into the Senators’ zone. Ivan Provorov pinched in, shot the puck and scored for his 11th goal of the year, putting him in the top 5 among d-men in scoring. Claude Giroux (52) and Shayne Gostisbehere (40) got the assists to put the Flyers up 1-0 early on. The scoring would continue for the Flyers. 7:14 into the period Ottawa tried clearing the puck but, Robert Hagg was able to knock the puck down with his glove, side step one Senator shoot the puck and put it past Anderson to put the Flyers up 2-0. The goal was Hagg’s second of the year and it was unassisted. Then at 11:22 Gostisbehere got a hooking penalty against Ryan Dzingel to give the Senators their first powerplay of the game. At 12:14, with a little give and go with the puck, Mike Hoffman (17) scored on the short side to cut the lead to 2-1. This was a powerplay goal assisted by Thomas Chabot (11) and Bobby Ryan (15). The period ended with a shot total of 12-11 in favor of the Flyers.

The 2nd period was full of sloppy play on both sides of the puck but, the goalies were able to keep the puck out of the net. Until, 12:05 into the period Hoffman shot the puck on Mrazek. Mrazek let up a rebound and Zack Smith put the puck in the net. However, Flyers’ coach Dave Hakstol looked at the replay and challenged the goal. Hakstol was challenging the goal saying the Senators were offsides. Now, if the Flyers lose the challenge they get a delay of game penalty. The referees went over to get on the phone with Toronto, where there is an NHL official looking over the plays. They got the call and upon further review the replay showed the Senators were offsides so, the goal was negated. The rest of the period neither team was able to muster up any goals. The period ended with a shot total of 12-10, again in favor of the Flyers.

The Flyers headed into the 3rd period with a 2-1 lead and they were hoping to add more to that lead. Just like that, 4:15 into the period Brandon Manning found Giroux behind everyone to give him a breakaway opportunity. Giroux made a deke and put the puck past Anderson for his 22nd goal of the season. Manning (8) had the lone assist and the Flyers went up 3-1 early in the period. That goal for Giroux was his 7th in the last 9 games, as well as, 8 points in the last 4 games and 16 points in the last 9 games. But, it didn’t stop there. Oskar Lindblom made a great play to get the puck away from Erik Karlsson. Lindblom, then passed the puck down the puck to Jakub Voracek, who passed to Manning. Manning shot the puck towards the net from the puck and it went in. Originally, the goal was thought to be Manning’s but, as they looked closer it was clear that Nolan Patrick tipped the puck into the net. This goal (7:05) was Patrick’s 9th of the season which, made it a 4-game goal streak for him. Manning (9) and Voracek (56) got the helpers on the goal to put the Flyers up 4-1. 1:51 later, Manning dumped the puck into the zone and Anderson went behind the goal to play the puck. But, it was just not a good day for the Senators, as the puck hit the glass in the corner and took one of the strangest bounces I’ve ever seen. The puck hit the corner and almost did a direct 90-degree bounce toward the net and went in. You couldn’t blame Anderson because 9.9 out of 10 times the puck goes around the boards. It was a bounce that went the Flyers way and the way they are playing these kinds of events happen. The was Manning’s 6th goal of the season with Radko Gudas (8) getting the assist and put the Flyers up 5-1. Having a lead like that, the Flyers were looking to protect that lead. Unfortunately, towards the end the Flyers were playing a little lackadaisical. It was 4 on 4 hockey as Jori Lehtera and Max McCormick both got minors for roughing. Zack Smith dropped the puck off and Ryan Dzingel came in a took a slap shot to blast it past Mrazek for his 17th goal of the year. Smith (13) and Mark Stone (36) got the helpers as they cut the lead to 5-2. With 57 seconds left in the period the Senators had the puck in the Flyers’ zone and it was collapsing. Matt Duchene was able to get down deep and take the puck from a rebound Mrazek let up, Mrazek thinking he had it, and backhand it into the goal for Duchene’s 17th of the season. As the final seconds ticked down the Senators pulled Anderson but, it wasn’t enough. The final score was 5-3 Flyers’ win.

This win gave the Flyers 5 wins in a row, as well as, 6 straight road game victories which was the first time the Flyers have done this since 2008. The Flyers are now 9-0-2 in their last 11 games with an 11-game point streak. Nolan Patrick had a career high 9 shots in the game. Brandon Manning had a 3-point game (1G, 2A). The Captain Claude Giroux continues to produce this year. Today’s game he put together a 2-point game (1G, 1A). So far, this year Giroux is in the top 5 of several stats which is helping the Flyers continue this current success. Giroux is 4th in the NHL in assists (52), 2nd in points (74), tied for 4th in powerplay points (30) and 3rd in faceoff % (59.21%); that is a minimum of 400 faceoffs. Giroux also has 649 points making him 7th all-time overall in Flyers history, as well as, his 22nd multi-point game this year.

The Flyers are now in a tie for 1st place in the Metropolitan Division with 76 points. The team they are tied with is the Pittsburgh Penguins (36-22-4). They are now 1-point ahead of the Washington Capitals (34-20-7). However, both teams play tonight at 7pm EST. All Flyers fans are rooting for the Buffalo Sabres (18-32-11) and the Florida Panthers (27-25-6). The Sabre play the Capitals and the Panthers play the Penguins. The Penguins hold the tie breaker with the Flyers but, the Penguins played 1 more game then the Flyers. So, the Flyers need a little help from the two teams.

The push for the 1st position continues as the Flyers next game is on Monday against the Montreal Canadiens (23-29-8). This will be the 3rd and final meeting between the two teams. The Flyers have defeated the Canadiens the previous two game 5-3 and last Thursday 3-2 in the thrilling overtime game. This will be the first and only time the Flyers will play in Montreal this year. They look to sweep the Canadiens this year and keep the point/win streak going. On the day of the trade deadline, will the Flyers make any move? Can the Flyers continue this exciting run as the push towards 1st place? Tune in Monday night to find out. I will also have full coverage on all the moves on deadline day around the NHL.

-Anthony Calabrese

Lead NHL and Philadelphia Flyers Content Contributor

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