Goals from unexpected sources and strong goaltending helped the Flyers beat the visiting Dallas Stars 3-1 on Saturday night, in the first of two meetings this season.
Andrej Meszaros opened the scoring with a late first period goal and Darroll Powe netted a shorthanded goal early in the second period that ended up being the game winning tally.
After a garbage goal by Brenden Morrow later in the period, Jeff Carter scored the lone goal of the third period to put the game away for Philly. The win is the Flyers’ second in a row and eighth in 10, and improves them to 35-13-5.
Dallas received a rude invitation from the host Flyers as Philly relentlessly forechecked and aggresively pursued the puck in the opening minutes of the game. The Stars’ inability to prevent Philly’s cycling in the zone led to Kari Lehtonen’s frustration spilling over into violence.
After covering up the puck in the crease, Daniel Carcillo arrived at Lehtonen’s doorstep only to be greeted with a punch. A roughing call was assessed to Lehtonen and the Flyers only had a Chris Pronger shot go on net over the next two minutes.
Since the Stars were unable to provide any chances at even strength, one would think their first opportunity of the period was about to happen as they went to a man advantage after a Matt Carle tripping call halfway through the period. Two minutes later, the game remained scoreless after two shots by Brad Richards were denied by Brian Boucher. Most of the remaining time left in the period was spent in the Flyers’ offensive zone leading to the first goal of the game.
Ville Leino carried the puck from the left wing all the way around the net and back to the right side, where he found Meszaros. The lanky defenseman danced with the puck from the blue line towards the inside of the left circle. Finding an opening through traffic, Meszaros ripped a shot top right corner that Lehtonen saw too late putting the Flyers up 1-0. The goal was Meszaros’ 4th on the season and came with 1:20 left in the first period.
The second period started off with the Flyers shorthanded due to a Nikolay Zherdev holding call late in the first. A situation favoring the Stars to score resulted in quite the opposite outcome.
With about half a minute left in the penalty to Zherdev, Powe and Blair Betts entered the zone 2-on-1. A slight hesitation gesturing a pass to Betts allowed Powe to blast a wrist shot from the right circle over Lehtonen’s glove to increase Philly’s lead to two. Powe’s first shorthanded goal this season was also his 4th overall and first since mid-November.
The two tallies spanned two periods, but were only separated by 1:39 of game clock.
The Flyers’ forecheck started to back off in the second period allowing Dallas to create offensive chances. All the chances led to the Stars cutting their deficit to one a little over twelve minutes into the period.
Mike Ribeiro skated from behind the net to the right side of the crease with his back to the blue line and gave a pass to Morrow who was standing right next to the goal line on the left side of the net. Morrow’s 23rd on the year gave the Stars a one-goal deficit with plenty of time to get the equalizer.
The Stars’ best chances of the game came in the remaining seven minutes of the second period and opening minutes of the third. It took the Flyers only four minutes into the third to start taking over again. The pressure essentially resulted in the demise of Dallas as Mark Fistric was called for holding Danny Briere. The Flyers didn’t score on the power play, but it did add on to the strong forecheck Philly produced that period.
All their hard work and effort resulted in the game’s final goal with about ten minutes left in regulation.
A hard wrist shot from the bottom of the left circle by Carter leaked it’s way through Lehtonen and over the goal line for Philly’s third goal on the evening. Carter’s 25th on the season put the Flyers up by a pair with too little time for the Stars to come back.
After a half period of the Flyers dumping the puck out of their defensive zone and missing several empty-net chances, the game ended with the Flyers on top 3-1.
Boucher had a strong game making 30 saves on 31 shots keeping the Flyers in the game despite surges from the Dallas’ forwards in the second and third periods. Boucher’s big save of the night came on a Steve Ott wrist shot from the middle of the left circle that was heading to the top right corner of the net before Boucher gloved it down with a sweeping flourish.
Notes: Boucher improved to 12-6-2 on the year and won his first game since January 16…Carter became the 2nd Flyer this season to reach the 25 goal mark; the other is Danny Briere who currently has 26 goals…The Flyers had an uncharacteristic 2nd period scoring as many goals as the Stars and getting heavily outplayed for a portion of the period…The win over the Stars was the Flyers 2nd win over a Pacific Division team this season (Kings @ LA 7-4 on 12/30/10). The Flyers are 2-2-1 against Pacific Divsion this season (DAL 1-0-0, SJS 0-0-1, ANA 0-2-0, PHX 0-0-0, LAK 1-0-0).