Flyers Drop Hectic, Offensive Game To Jets 9-8

Overcoming a four-goal deficit, scoring three goals early in the third period, and taking part in a game with 17 goals overall unfortunately meant just one thing for the Philadelphia Flyers tonight – an incredible 9-8 loss to the Winnipeg Jets.

Tanner Glass, Blake Wheeler, and Nik Antropov all had three points for the former Thrashers tonight as the visitors registered a symmetrical three goals in each period.

Despite allowing seven goals on 43 shots and being pulled once, Ondrej Pavelec got the win for Winnipeg, which was kicking off a seven-game road trip which will take it through the Southeast Division. 

Kimmo Timonen (4A) and Danny Briere (2G, 2A) led all skaters in points tonight with four apiece. James van Riemsdyk came alive late and posted two goals and a helper. Nonetheless, Sergei Bobrovsky suffered the loss by allowing five goals on 15 shots as the Flyers fell for the fourth time in their last five games.

After a lackluster performance last night in Montreal, the Flyers almost gave the Jets an early lead.

While Chris Thorburn skated into the left corner, he threw the puck out in front of Bobrovsky and it managed to find its way to the goal line but obscured by the young Russian’s pad. Several Jets, including Thorburn, threw their hands up in the air as if they had gained the lead just over two minutes in, but no conclusive evidence could be found by the refs that the puck did in fact cross the goal line. 

Moments after the review, Jaromir Jagr made a wonderful feed to Scott Hartnell, who received the pass at the top of the crease as Pavelec was out of position. Hartnell put home the shot and tumbled into the corner in typical fashion, but the Flyers celebrated a 1-0 lead just 4:10 into the game.

Although they dictated play for the next several minutes, an unlucky bounce resulted in the Jets’ first goal of the night. After being held shotless for nearly five minutes, a Wheeler chance from the point managed to hit Randy Jones’ skate in the slot and fool Bobrovsky to tie the game at a goal apiece. Since we’re all aware of Jones’ skill set, it’s no surprise that it was his first goal of the season.

It didn’t take the Jets long to gain the lead as Jim Slater put home a wrist shot from the slot to make the score 2-1. A nice feed from Thorburn allowed Slater to let go of a wrister that found the back of the net for his fourth goal of the season.

With two serious injuries in the last two games, the Flyers almost suffered another injury late in the first on the penalty kill. Jumping in front of a Zach Bogosian slapper, Max Talbot blocked the shot with his foot and hopped around the ice before skating to the bench.

Luckily, Talbot was fine and returned in the second period to make his presence known.

If that didn’t make Andreas Lilja’s interference minor late in the first period problematic enough, the Jets found the back of the net for a third time in the opening period. As Tobias Enstrom glided along the blue line, he let go of a shot through traffic that Kyle Wellwood craftily deflected in the slot for his fourth goal of the season.

After 20 minutes, the Flyers trailed 3-1 and lacked any signs of passion or inensity. Not so for the supposed sell-out crowd, who began to test their leather lungs.

Coming out slow and without energy to start the second period, the Flyers saw their deficit quickly increase to four goals.

Glass, with two assists already in the first period, made a miraculous deflection on an Enstrom shot to beat Bobrovsky and give himself a three-point night for a 4-1 Winnipeg edge at 3:39.

Exactly one minute after Glass’ goal and only three seconds after a Briere interference call, Nik Antropov found himself alone in front of the Flyers’ net after a Tim Stapleton faceoff win and capitalized to give the Jets a 5-1 lead.

This was the end of Bobrovsky’s night as Ilya Bryzgalov came in for the remainder of regulation.

Just because they were down by four goals early in the second period and lacking momentum, the Flyers — to their credit unlike Wednesday in Montreal — didn’t give up on the game. Given a two-man advantage, as Johnny Oduya and Andrew Ladd sat in the sin bin 44 seconds apart, the Flyers started cutting into their mountain of a deficit.

Grabbing the rebound off a Timonen shot, Claude Giroux put home his sixth goal of the season right on the doorstep at 6:25 during the 5-on-3 to get the Flyers to within three.

Unfortunately, the Jets reset their lead back to four with an Evander Kane power-play goal. While Braydon Coburn sat in the penalty box for slashing, Antropov provided a slick backhanded pass between his legs to Kane on the other side of the crease. The goal, coming at 10:39, was Kane’s second on the season and his first on the power play. 

The Flyers, still unwilling to go away, scored just minutes later to cut the lead to 6-3. Giving the Jets a taste of their own medicine, Timonen shot from the left point on another power play and the puck redirected off Hartnell’s stick in the slot and Briere’s body at the left post at 14:11. With the lucky bounce, Briere had his third goal of the season and his second point of the night while inching his team closer to tying the game.  

Continuing the string of bizarre bounces in the game, Talbot was credited with a tally that got the Orange and Black within 6-4 roughly 2 1/2 minutes later. Pavelec kicked out a Matt Read shot, but an errant clear from a Jets defenseman caromed off an onrushing Talbot’s skate. The puck hit the left post then Pavelec’s back and slid into the Jets’ net with 3:19 left in the middle stanza.

Even though they couldn’t find a fifth goal before the end of the second period, the Flyers had miraculously shifted the momentum — and the volume of the home crowd — in their favor entering the final twenty minutes of play needing just two goals to tie.

The hailstorm finally came, as Philly lit the lamp three times in a 1:53 span early in the third period. 

Coburn’s errant point shot slowed up just enough for Briere at the right side, and the slick Quebecois put in the rebound for his second goal of the night only 1:09 in. 

Just 1:14 later, Read gloved down the rebound of Lilja’s shot and put it down to the ice quickly before shoving it into a half-open cage. Read and the rest of the faithful went into absolute pandemonium after the goal as Philly had just tied the game at 6-6.

The Flyers kept rolling and sent lightning bolts of electricity through a disbelieving crowd just 39 seconds later. As Briere danced with the puck behind the net, he cut towards the front and slid the puck through the blue paint over to James van Riemsdyk, who slammed it home on the other side of the crease to give the Flyers a 7-6 advantage.

As amazing as it was to watch the Flyers raise the roof, it made it just that much more painful to watch the Jets lower the ceiling by netting a pair of their own goals quickly after JVR’s.

Alexander Burmistrov forged a 7-7 deadlock just 28 seconds after JVR’s goal, followed up by a Mark Stuart tally off a Stapleton pass a mere 61 seconds after that.

To make matters worse, the Flyers had to kill off two minors in the middle of the period. A Jakub Voracek hooking minor and an Erik Gustafsson tripping minor slowed down the Flyers’ comeback leaving them with just 9:23 left in regulation to draw even.

The game looked as though it was settling down for a bit until JVR tied it up for the Flyers with less than four minutes to play. With Timonen waiting to set up a play along the boards, he finally saw JVR cutting to the back post and hit him with a spot-on cross-ice pass. The New Hampshire product’s second goal of the game tied the score at an absurd 8-8 with 3:39 left in regulation. 

However, Ladd quieted the masses for good when he scored with just 1:06 left in regulation. Inability to clear the defensive zone and exhausted defensemen on the ice led to Ladd’s goal — brought into focus by Wheeler being allowed to creep off the right boards and virtually to Bryzgalov’s doorstep before finding Winnipeg’s captain for the deciding tally.

Pulling Bryzgalov for the remainder of regulation, the Flyers tried in vain to send this improbable contest to overtime, but they fell just short as they dropped their second game in a 24-hour span.

The game was exciting and the Flyers did overcome a four-goal deficit, but this was still a regulation loss. Similar to last year’s wild 8-7 home loss to Tampa Bay, this game was entertaining, but it’s still a disheartening and inexplicable loss.

The setback showcased several problems the Flyers experience often as of late: bad goaltending, horrible defense, and an inability to take advantage of chances.

Both Bobrovsky and Bryzgalov looked horrible tonight. The only thing that can be said in the 23-year-old’s favor after making 10 saves on 15 shots was the fact Bryzgalov came in and made six saves on 10 Jets’ shots. Neither made spectacular saves and both allowed several soft goals.

The defense is clearly suffering from the loss of Pronger, but allowing nine goals to the Jets — or any other team for that matter — is totally unacceptable.

Scoring 17 goals in their first eight games, the Jets came out and mocked Philly’s leaderless defense. A lot of those goals were deflections and missed assignments by the defense. The defense can’t necessarily stop the deflections, but they can body up on the players in front of the net and do what they can to prevent the goalies from being screened.

A lot of people will blame Lilja and Gustafsson, but Matt Carle struggled with the puck all night and ended up a minus-3, while Coburn turned the puck over to start the sequence of plays leading up to Ladd’s game-winner.

If there isn’t panic and urgency in the Flyers’ game when they take the ice Saturday against the Hurricanes, there is a major problem with this team. They showed little to no fire tonight after being smashed by the lowly Canadiens last night. If losing back-to-back games to crappy teams, especially the way they lost their game tonight to the Jets, isn’t enough to wake this team up, Paul Holmgren may try to shake things up.    

Notes: Atlanta/Winnipeg has won five games in a row in Philadelphia…The 17 combined goals tied a single-game record for contests involving the Flyers…It was also the most goals the Flyers have scored in a loss…The nine goals by Winnipeg matched an all-time high against Philly first set by the original Jets’ 9-6 victory at the Spectrum on October 23, 1993…Hartnell has a three-game point streak (3 goals, 2 assists); it’s his first three-game point streak since January 14th…Jagr has assisted on two of Hartnell’s three goals this season…Tonight was Timonen’s first four-assist night since December 13, 2008…Jones’ goal in the first period was his first since December 10, 2010…In their five wins this season, the Flyers have out scored the opposition 11-3 in the first period but in their five losses, they’ve been out scored 9-4…Glass recorded his first three-point game in the NHL and now has six points in nine games after he had 10 points in 93 regular-season and playoff games last year for Vancouver.