Feb 22, 2012, 12:16 AM EDT
Have any area bartenders invented a drink that involves something like a palm full of Tums followed by three consecutive belts of bourbon? Because that’d be perfect after watching any of the games between the Flyers and the Winnipeg Jets this season. Damn shame that’s the last we’ll see of them unless they meet in the playoffs. Not that it’s necessarily heart-friendly hockey, and neither coach can be happy with the quality of cleanups in front of their own net, but Tuesday night’s was no doubt wildly entertaining. In the end, the Flyers would silence a building that had been raucous since before the opening faceoff, first scoring the game-tying goal with less than 10 seconds in regulation, then the winner with 46 seconds left in OT.
The boys would pepper Jets goalie Ondrej Pavelec with 55 shots (tying a franchise record for shots on the road), and despite the ultimate outcome, Pavelec may have been the best individual player on the ice. Fortunately, the Flyers overcame lapses on the penalty kill and in goal, maintained their frenzied attack all night, and finally broke him for the 5-4 win.
Hell of a hockey experience for those of us watching at home, can’t imagine how it must have felt for the orange-clad Flyers fans strewn around the building. While we’re all waiting around for them to play that perfect game at every level, there’s something to be said for the nailbiters, and not just for their entertainment value. Check out all the action below.
It says a lot about the Flyers that they weathered a complete inability to stop the Jets’ power play, as well as some shakiness in net. Even the haters can’t pin more than a goal or two on Bryz, but that’s a lot in a game this close, and one of them in particular could have sent a lesser team’s momentum into the ground. Instead, they bailed him out, and he had the opportunity to do the same in return.
As we’ve come to expect from these teams so far this season, the action came early and didn’t stop until the final horn. Still pissed that Ilya Bryzgalov publicly spurned the idea of playing in Winnipeg, the Manitobans let him have it all night. It’s probably wrong to admit, but it was hard not to grin and acknowledge that despite it being in part at our goalie’s expense, the fan presence at MTS Centre is pretty awesome. Any lifelong fan of the sport should at least be happy to see an NHL franchise reborn after returning to Canada.
Even Ilya Bryzgalov joked after the game about the reception he received. Don’t let anyone tell ya different either. He was kidding… [Video here]
POINTS IN THE PAINT. LOTS OF ‘EM.
The game opened like a tennis match, back and forth action and little in the way of efforts to slow things down. No surprise from opponents who combined to score 27 goals in their first two meetings of the season.
Unfortunately, a leaky Flyers penalty kill surrendered the first goal, a screened blast from Dustin Byfuglien. Goals due to traffic or shooters being very close were easy to come by at both ends though. Scott Hartnell and particularly Wayne Simmonds may as well have been banging cymbals in front of Pavelec for all the noise they brought to the crease area. Neither team could effectively clear for their respective goalies, and there were a lot of dirty markers to show for it.
Claude Giroux tossed a nice shot into a relatively open net (though the window was only open a second) off a backhand pass from Hartnell.
G would later say to Coatsey that Hartnell would claim he saw him on the back door, but there’s no way he did when he threw a blind pass across the crease. Great to see how comfortable these guys are with each other on and off the ice. Probably why there was somehow gas left in the tank late in a game that began to look unwinnable.
Harts scored the first goal of the second period, a play absolutely gorgeous in its dirtiness. With Pavelec locked in, it was going to take some screening and redirection to beat him. On an early power play, they employed both. Hartnell and Simmonds have had some great success working a high-low screen on power plays lately, but this time they both stayed low, well under the Jets’ defensive square. Kimmo fired a shot through down the pike, and Simmonds put the perfect angle on a deflection that would carom off of Pavelec’s pads to Hartnell, who buried it with relative ease.
The Jets answered with a pair of Andrew Ladd goals, the first coming on the power play. Interestingly, both new Flyers defenders—Nicklas Grossman and Pavel Kubina—were on the PK together. Not sure it mattered, as the play Blake Wheeler put on might have beaten a pairing that’s played together for years. The whole arena thought Wheeler was going behind the net when he stopped and slipped a quick pass back to Ladd, who placed it on Bryz’s far side.
Was it stoppable? Sure. But sometimes you have to credit the playmaker
and the shooter, and they deserve it on this one.
Lavvy took a timeout to give his skaters a break after the goal and an icing call, but in a surprising twist… the Jets came out and immediately scored. Again, it was Ladd. Winnipeg had great traffic in front, swatting down a point shot, then pushing it past Bryzgalov.
Thankfully Max Talbot chipped home a rebound into an open net not unlike an opportunity he’d narrowly missed earlier. Talbot’s 17th(!) of the season tied it at 3.
The third period brought some insane action, which despite a bad early goal by Evander Kane, heavily favored the Flyers. Bryzgalov was fooled by some English on a Kane wrister that, yes, seemed to knuckle or curve, but really shouldn’t have beaten an NHL goalie.
Bryz would likely tell you the same.
After that, to their credit, the Flyers kept attacking in waves, rather than wilting. Pavelec was on fire at the other end. Nothing shaky was going to beat him. For a while, it looked like nothing at all, particularly this save on Jake Voracek.
Not going to see many better than that one.
The Jets simply couldn’t stop the Flyers from putting shots—some very dangerous—on their goal. Atlas finally shrugged one though. JVR picked up steam as the game wore on, cycling through different lines and getting huge ice time late. With the Flyers down a goal and Bryz pulled for the extra attacker, he powered up the boards with the puck, right through the defense, then fed Simmonds in front of the net with less than 10 seconds left on the clock.
Tie game. And yes that was a Winnipeg fan flipping off the Flyers’ celebration. (Replay video above, or click here.)
In the OT, the Flyers kept the pressure up, though it started to look like we might see a shootout (literally, not just the figurative version that had been going on for nearly 65 minutes). They had some good opportunities, and Bryzgalov made probably his best save of the game in the OT, but the combination of Danny Briere and Jaromir Jagr sucked the air out of the building with dominant, willful performance down low.
Briere was heavily draped, but played larger than his frame in protecting the puck and keeping his wheels spinning. As soon as he got free, he fed the puck back to Jagr, who somehow threaded a perfect shot past Pavelec.
Pandemonium in area living rooms. Silence in The ‘Peg.
Simmonds is as hard-working an NHL forward as I’ve seen. His game is intensely physical, with momentum that puts defenders and goalies on their heels and forces them into making physical mistakes. In addition to yet again adding to his career-best goal total (22), Simmonds now leads all NHL’ers in February goal scoring with nine tallies.
Scott Hartnell leads the league in power play goals with 14.(<—Sentences I never thought I’d write before the season.)
Brayden Schenn wasn’t among the night’s scorers, but he made a very impressive save with Bryz down and out on a dangerous Jets scoring opportunity. [Video]
Nick Grossman had another solid game, including a great play cleaning up a dangerous turnover by Andrej Meszaros. In the Flyers’ style of play, that’s huge. Kubina had some promising shows and looked fine overall, but did get burnt by Kane pretty badly, though Bryz came up with a big save.
Giroux had a career-high 10 shots on goal.
Still a lot of work to be done by that PK unit… Three WPG PP opps, three goals.
Again, huge props to Pavelec. His defense was no help for long stretches, and he made 50 saves, including 17 in the third period alone.
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