Wow...What a game.
No clever song titles, no catchy movie lines, no historical or literary references.
This game needed none of that.
I know the season is still in its infancy and frost hasn't yet been on the pumpkin, but this game - more than any other to date - had a playoff atmosphere. This was a calling card game
. This one would be remembered come playoff time.
This matchup was advertised as a knock-down, drag-out donnybrook between two speedy, high scoring, transition teams vying for bragging rights among the elite in the Eastern Conference. Those who saw this game got their money's worth...every penny.
People were saying that the Flyers have done well so far, but that they not played anyone yet. Nice win over Jersey, but the Devs were tired from a back-to-back with the Penguins. The Flyes got lucky.
The test was Carolina.
Playing Carolina was like playing their alter-ego - fast young team, potent offense, stellar goaltending. Much like Superman fighting his evil twin, Bizarro. They knew each other's weaknesses because they were their own.
What the fans got was a no-holds-barred, bare knuckle barroom brawl where each gave as much as they received. In the end, the Flyers remained standing...bloody but unbowed. They survived not because they necessarily deserved it - they were outshot by a margin of 44 to 30 - or because they played a stellar total game - they were underwhelming for much of the first and soundly outplayed in the second - but because they willed
themselves to win. Failure was not an option
The KGB line had been absent for much of the fireworks of the past few games. Knuble, Gagne and Briere seemed invisible at times, allowing others to do the heavy lifting. Was it other teams were checking them better or just that they were missing a beat? Who knows. What was for sure, was that Eric Staal and company were in town and it was time for the first line to stand up and be counted.
Enter the somewhat enigmatic, ridiculously talented Simon Gagne. Just 5:12 into the first period, Danny Briere tipped a pass from Braydon Coburn over to Gagne, who slipped a wrister past John Graham for the first goal of the contest.
You had a feeling that this would not last. And it didn't. 46 seconds later, the Canes' budding superstar, Eirc Staal connected on his 6th of the year on the power play. A punch taken and one given right back.
The Canes came out to play in the second and soundly outshot the Flyers 19-5. As a result of outplaying the Orange and Black in the second, the Canespicked up an even strength goal from, former Flyer, Justin Williams at the 17:52 mark. Carolina took a 2-1 lead into the end of the second period. The teams had traded punches and the Flyers had taken the worst of the shots.
While I was hoping the Flyers would play better in the 3rd, I was extremely nervous that the team had run out its string of luck and into a superior opponent. Down by a goal at home, entering the third period, looking slightly fatigued...the last 20 minutes would show a lot about this young team and about their progress during this young season.
The Flyers answered the bell. At the 1:32 mark of the 3rd period and the tail end of a power play, Captain Canada, Mike Richards blasted a slapper past Graham for his team leading 5th goal of the season to knot the game at two. All of a sudden, the Flyers had jump in their skates and took the play to the Canes. Both teams had major chances to end it with Sami Kapanen's wrist shot getting blocked from out of nowhere by Tim Gleason at 10:17. The Canes picked up a power play at 17:41 for delay of game by Jeff Carter on a clearing attempt that went up into the seats. Carter could have chewed nails at that point. Man down, 2:19 to go against a dangerous power play that had already scored on one of its three shots.
What happened next was just amazing to watch and spoke volumes about this team's character. The Flyers killed the power play, Derian Hatcher laid a breathtaking, near penalty hit on Corey Stillman (more to come from Mr. Hatcher) and Marty Biron Hoovered up any puck that came his way. Whew...I was tired just watching it! Overtime.
During the brief intermission, you just had the feeling that something good was going to happen. This was not true last year (sorry for bringing it up again). You felt that something...don't know what, don't know who or how was going to go right. Enter Simon Gagne. #12 tucked the puck off his skate into the goal behind Graham 48 seconds into Overtime, after a nifty pass from Derian Hatcher who got the feed from Danny Briere. Simon Gagne bookended the scoring and won the Flyers' 6th game in dramatic fashion. Punch for punch, round for round these two teams battled. The Flyers stood alone when the dust settled.
I just sat there slack-jawed. How did they pull this one off? I really don't want to know..I just don't want to get off this crazy ride.
* Danny Briere had two assists and was +2 for his team leading 11th point
* Gagne potted two goals for his 3rd and 4th
* Mike Richards scored his team leading 5th goal of the year
* Marty Biron upped his record to 6-1, stopping a season high 44 shots
* Coburn, Timonen and Hatcher all had assists
* R.J. Umberger continues to make himself irreplaceable with gritty play and another assist
* The Orange and Black finish the homestand 4-0 capturing all 8 points
* They post their first 5 game winning streak in nearly two years and lead the Atlantic Division with 12 points
Well done boys!
As the immortal Gene Hart
used to say...Good night and good hockey!
Thanks for reading...