Hosting the Nashville Predators for their only meeting this season, the Philadelphia Flyers were on the right side of an explosive third period as they won 3-2 tonight.
The third period saw a total of three goals in over a span of ten minutes. Ville Leino had his first career two-goal game scoring both of Philadelphia’s third period tallies. Jeff Carter recorded a game-high three points with a goal and two assists while Claude Giroux had a pair of helpers as well.
Leino’s late game goal allowed the Flyers to avoid back-to-back losses after dropping a 4-0 road decision to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
In a game that started out much stronger than Tuesday’s for the Flyers, they ended up gaining the lead at the halfway point of the opening period.
After Kimmo Timonen and Nikolay Zherdev worked with the puck down near the goal line, Matt Carle did a great job keeping the puck in along the boards backhanding a pass to Giroux through traffic. Giroux avoided turning the puck over as a pair of Predators pressured him by lofting the puck to Carter, who danced with the puck near the bottom of the circle to the right of Anders Lindback.
Moving from between the boards and the circle to the slot, Carter ripped a shot past Lindback’s blocker giving Philly the 1-0 lead. The goal was Carter’s 24th on the season.
The joy of scoring their first goal since the All-Star break didn’t last long as Nashville tied the game up 59 seconds later. Cody Franson took the puck coast-t0-coast before releasing a shot at the top of the right circle. Marcel Goc was rewarded for driving hard to the net as he put in the big rebound given up by Sergei Bobrovsky netting his ninth of the season.
Nashville had a few chances after their goal, but were unable to take the lead. The biggest chance the Flyers had for the remainder of the period came on a Danny Briere breakaway. He’d fail to convert as Lindback kept up with his quick moves making a left pad save along the ice near the left post. In a first period where the Flyers had chances early and late, the score was even due to a very brief defensive and goaltending lapse.
With the subtraction of goals and addition of multiple penalties, the grit and physical play picked up in the second period.
A scrum and a fight added tension to what was looking to be a rather dull game at the end of one. Chris Pronger made a defensive play on Martin Erat in the earlier part of the peiod and irritated Erat to the point of retaliation. The two pushed each other from the bottom of the circles to the Predators’ offensive blue line and kept going after the whistle. Later in the perod, Daniel Carcillo dropped the gloves with Kevin Klein with about a minute left in the period. The fight was established with more grabbing than punching before the referees seperated the two.
The Flyers were awarded the first power play of the game seven minutes into second period thanks to a delay of game call after Klein cleared the puck over the glass. Philly failed to capitalize on the chance as they couldn’t even muster a shot on net during the man advantage. Entering the third period, the Predators saw their first power play of the game as a minute remained on a Carcillo boarding call.
After killing off the remaining time on the penalty, the Flyers started putting pressure on Lindback just before the first television timeout of the period. Scott Hartnell drew a hooking penalty on Joel Ward and Philly provided about a minute of offense before Nashville touched the puck assessing them with the punishment.
Being handed only their second man advantage of the game with six minutes gone in the third, the Flyers came through on the limited special teams opportunity. Carter deflected a pass from Mike Richards, who was standing just above the goal line to the left of Lindback, on net allowing Leino to squeak it in just between Lindback’s pads and the post. It was Leino’s 12th goal on the season and put his team up by a goal for the first time since the first period.
History repeated itself as the Flyers gave away a lead moments after gaining it for the second time in the game. With Giroux sitting in the box for high-sticking, Joel Ward redeemed himself for costing his team a goal earlier in the period by putting in one of his own. Ward’s seventh goal of the season tied the game at two goals apiece with a little under ten minutes left in regulation. The mark came 3 1/2 minutes after the Flyers gained their second lead of the game.
Unwilling to settle for blowing two leads, Leino put away his second goal of the game (and period) with just over three minutes left in regulation. The shifty Finn’s 13th goal of the season put Philadelphia up for the third and final time on the night as the Predators couldn’t get a third puck past Sergei Bobrovsky in the final three minutes.
In a game with minimal man advantage opportunities, both teams’ power play units came through with crucial goals in the third period. Leino’s power play goal was answered minutes later with a Ward power play goal. Both teams went a combined 2-for-6 on the evening.
Despite having his aggressive slapshot shut down, Shea Weber still found his way onto the scoresheet with an assist on Ward’s game-tying goal in the third. Weber took thirteen shots tonight, but only six of them found their way to the net.
Notes: Leino achieved his first two goal game tonight in his 120th NHL game…Carcillo and Klein combined for 14 of the game’s 18 penalty minutes…Tonight marked the second time in the last four games that Carter has had a 3 point game (1/23/11- 2 goals and 1 assist @ Chicago)…Since this was Philly’s only meeting with Nashville this season, they’ll go 1-0-0 against the Predators and 3-1-1 against the Central division on the season (DET 1-0-0, NSH 1-0-0, CHI 1-0-0, STL 0-0-1, CBJ 0-1-0). They improved to 6-4-3 against the Western Conference so far this season.