Claude Giroux returned in emphatic fashion tonight from a four-game absence due to a concussion, totaling a goal and three assists as the Philadelphia Flyers took a 4-1 decision over the Stars in Dallas on Wednesday.
Despite allowing a goal 56 seconds after the start of the game, Sergei Bobrovsky shut out the Stars for the remainder of regulation in a 30-save victory as the Flyers halted a two-game losing streak.
Killing the initial excitement of Giroux’s return, Michael Ryder provided a snipe for the game’s first goal before the game was a minute old.
As the Flyers’ defense gave Loui Eriksson plenty of room to create, he left a drop pass for Ryder at the top of the faceoff circle to Bobrovsky’s left. Skating with the puck for a second before shooting, Ryder then let go of a wrister that beat Bobrovsky’s glove hitting the top-right corner of the net for his 12th goal of the season.
The Flyers didn’t learn their lesson as they backed up for another Stars’ possession minutes later. Fortunately for Philly, a Dallas pass to the point hit the heel of a streaking Steve Ott’s stick and out of the Stars’ offensive zone.
As the Flyers started pushing back, Giroux managed to beat Richard Bachman halfway through the period to tie the game at a goal apiece.
Scott Hartnell and Giroux passed it back-and-forth as they entered the offensive zone before Hartnell slid the puck over to Jaromir Jagr, while Giroux went to the net. Awkwardly making his to the slot, Jagr let go of a shot that forced Bachman to leak a rebound to his right, where Giroux whacked home his 17th of the season.
Rewarded for their change in momentum, Vernon Fiddler took a horrible unsportsmanlike conduct for snowing Bobrovsky at the 10:51 mark in the first period.
Needing little time on the power play, Simmonds tipped in a Kimmo Timonen shot from the point 45 seconds into the man advantage to give Philly their first lead in the game.
Taking a pass from Giroux, Timonen let go of a shot that Simmonds managed to tip in front of Bachman while providing a screen on the Stars’ netminder as well. It was his 10th goal of the season, restoring a score that had been taken away from him and given to Danny Briere in Monday’s loss at Colorado.
Minutes after Simmonds’ goal, Ryder took another ill-advised minor for the Stars as he took Jagr down to the ice for a tripping minor.
Out shot 2-1 on the man advantage, the Flyers couldn’t put home another goal to extend their lead.
Things started to get chippy as Ryder laid a strong, legal check on Jakub Voracek near the boards to Bachman’s left. In retaliation, Max Talbot came over and hit Ryder for his teammate. The addition of hits from Tom Sestito and Zac Rinaldo helped to pick up the tension in the first period.
Unfortunately for the Flyers, Rinaldo was tagged with a horrible interference call as only 1:20 remained in the opening period. Ryder had just let go of a pass from his own blue line when Rinaldo nailed him into the boards, which apparently was too late for the officials as they gave the Stars’ their first power play of the game.
Dallas may have had the power play, but it was the Flyers who had the offensive pressure late in the period highlighted with a Voracek shot that went wide as he was by himself at the bottom of the faceoff circle to Bachman’s left.
The period may have ended, but the tension between the teams wasn’t as Peter Laviolette pushed Ott on his way to the locker room to momentarily stun the Stars’ agitator.
The Flyers headed into the locker room with a 2-1 lead and the need to kill off 40 seconds on Rinaldo’s minor. Despite their lackadaisical start, the Flyers out shot the Stars 15-10 in the opening 20 minutes.
To start the second period, the Stars concluded their shotless power play failing to tie the game at two goals apiece.
Shortly after the penalty kill, the Flyers’ fourth line, featuring Rinaldo and Sestito, created a handful of forceful checks in the Stars defensive zone to create some offensive pressure for the Flyers.
Following the check-filled shift, Hartnell made a trip to the sin bin for interference at the 5:37 mark of the second period.
Early on the penalty kill, Talbot took a stick to the face nearly hitting the forward’s eye. After laying down in the corner to Bachman’s left for a few seconds, the refs blew the play dead to assess Talbot’s situation. He was fine and was back on the ice a few minutes later.
Shortly after the successful penalty kill, Talbot was hit in the head again. This time, it was a puck to the side of his helmet as Sheldon Souray attempted to clear the puck from the defensive zone. Keeping the puck in front of him due to the unfortunate clear, Talbot controlled the puck and quickly drew a slashing minor from Souray to give Philly a power play.
Striking on the power play for a second time in the game, it took Jagr 21 seconds to glide into the slot and beat Bachman’s blocker for his 11th of the season. Controlling the puck in the neutral zone and into the offensive zone, Jagr moved the puck to Giroux, who was in between the boards and the faceoff circle to Bachman’s left. Completing the give-and-go, Giroux passed it back to Jagr, who was now open in the slot and was able to advance the Flyers lead to two goals with eight minutes gone in the middle stanza before he saluted the Dallas crowd.
Following the goal, the chippiness returned as Ott started trash-talking to Danny Briere before a faceoff in the Flyers’ defensive zone.
As Bobrovsky held on to the puck for a whistle, Marc-Andre Bourdon grabbed the agitating Ott and was prepared to fight in defense of Briere. Ott declined the fight invitation, but Brenden Morrow joined in on the trash-talking as both he and Bourdon went to the box for unsportsmanlike conduct minors.
The Stars had the best chance in the four-on-four situation as Andrej Meszaros wiped out in the defensive zone.
Turning around for a loose puck near the faceoff circle to Bob’s right, Meszaros fell down leaving Radek Dvorak open for a breakaway opportunity. Bobrovsky stoned Dvorak with a glove save, but failed to cover the puck as the Flyers eventually cleared the puck for Bob.
After Bob’s save, the tension grew with pushing and shoving from Souray and Andreas Lilja after a play in the Stars’ defensive zone. As Zolnierczyk came onto the ice and was setting up for a faceoff, Souray pushed the rookie forward multiple times to cause another stir up.
As the next play finished, a faceoff in the neutral zone led to Sestito and Adam Burish jostling before the puck was dropped resulting in 10-minute misconducts for both players.
The following play led to more pushing and shoving after the whislte, but also resulted in another Flyers’ power play as Jake Dowell was called for goalie interference.
Despite putting two shots on net, the Flyers couldn’t register their third power-play goal of the game, but a questionable high-sticking call put Philly on another power play just 33 seconds after Dowell’s minor ended.
As Zolnierczyk skated near the boards with the puck to Bachman’s left he stopped abruptly forcing Mark Fistric to throw out both his arm and his stick at the forward. Fistric may have not deserved the high-sticking call, but he deserved a roughing call, meaning he would have been in the box either way.
With four shots aimed at Bachman, the Stars’ goalie had to only make two saves before the end of the second period as Briere had a shot blocked and also had a shot miss the net.
As the second period concluded, the Flyers looked forward to a third period with a 3-1 lead along with 14 seconds remaining on Fistric’s minor. Philly was out shot 9-6 in the second frame, but they were the only team to register a goal in the fiery game.
Killing off the final seconds in Fistric’s minor, the Stars dictated play for the first couple minutes of play in the final period.
Surviving the early period surge from Dallas, the Flyers deposited their fourth goal of the game as Meszaros made up for his slip-up earlier in the game which led to Dvorak’s breakaway opportunity.
Drawing a defender to him in the neutral zone, Giroux whipped the puck cross ice to Meszaros, who entered the offensive zone with only one defender between him and the Stars’ goalie. Moving past the lone defenseman, Meszaros let go a powerful wrister that beat Bachman blocker-side for his fourth goal of the season and his second goal in his last four games.
Later on in the period, Ott drew Bourdon into a holding penalty as the Stars’ forward declined another fight from Bourdon.
Failing to convert on their third power-play chance of the game, the Stars couldn’t put a shot on net during their man advantage, which featured Matt Read without a stick for the tail end of the penalty kill.
Looking for his first goal with the Flyers, Sestito missed a golden opportunity with a perfect feed from Voracek in the game’s final minutes. As Sestito raced to the slot, Voracek hit him with a pass that landed on the blade of the hulking forward’s stick while Bachman was out of position. Sestito put the shot directly into the goaltender’s leg pads rather than the wide-open net he had available.
The Flyers kept the the Stars off the scoreboard for the entire third period as they waltzed their way to a 4-1 win in Dallas.
Showing no signs of coming back from his concussion too early, Giroux made a huge impact on the game providing a goal and creating two easy goals for his teammates. The only point Giroux didn’t hand to his teammates was his secondary assist on Simmonds’ game-winner. He set up both Jagr and Meszaros beautifully for goals that required both players to just make a good shot for the finish.
Earning points in the first two games of their current road trip, the Flyers look to continue their streak Friday in New York against the Rangers.
Notes: This is the Flyers’ sixth straight win against the Stars dating back to their 4-3 home win on November 24th, 2008…With his goal in the first period, Giroux extended his point streak to six games registering four goals and 10 assists over that span. Giroux also earned his third four-point game of the season…This is the Flyers’ first win since their seven-game winning streak was snapped…Simmonds’ goal in the first was his 50th career goal and his fifth goal in the last seven games…Tonight was Timonen’s fifth multi-assist game of the season…Hartnell’s two assist gives him back-to-back multi-point games and gave him his ninth multi-point game of the season…Morrow set his season high in PIM for a game with 12 tonight…The Flyers improved to 1-0-0 against the Stars this season, 4-0-1 against the Pacific Division (DAL 1-0-0, SJS 0-0-0, PHX 2-0-0, LAK 0-0-1, ANA 1-0-0), and 6-1-2 plus tonight against the Western Conference.