Wayne Simmonds scored on a beautiful goal in the second period, beating Ottawa goaltender Ben Bishop between the pads to give the Flyers a two-goal lead in an eventual 2-1 victory on Saturday afternoon. Simmonds started the play in his own end, gave an outlet pass to Danny Briere, who dropped it off for Brayden Schenn, who fed a cross-ice pass to Simmonds who went forehand, backhand, and eventually five-hole to beat Bishop.
Also scoring for the Flyers was Jakub Voracek, notching his co-team leading ninth goal. Ilya Bryzgalov was stellar again for the Flyers, stopping 33-of-34 shots. The Flyers have now won two in a row and finished their five-game home stand with a record 3-2 record.
Marc Methot scored the Senators lone goal, while Bishop stopped 39-of-41 chances. Ottawa, which had won five in a row, has now lost two straight, starting with a 2-1 overtime loss to Boston on Thursday.
A predictable slow start did not derail the Flyers attempt to reach the .500 mark for the first time this season. From the opening faceoff, the Flyers were on their heels. Ottawa swarmed the Flyers and spent more than a minute in the Flyers zone until the Flyers were able to ice the puck.
The Flyers early game druthers had little effect on goaltended Bryzgalov, who was able to “stand on his head” for most of the game.
“Bryz was really good,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He was sharp early, and then at the end as well.”
Bryzgalov stopped several shots from in class, including a point blank tip from Senators forward Chris Neil.
In typical fashion, this Flyers-Senators game was not without its share of fireworks. As Senators forward Mike Lundin carried the puck into the Flyers zone, Harry Zolnierczyk hit Lundin with his head down. Lundin needed to be helped off the ice as Zolnierczyk was given five minute major for charging and a game misconduct.
“When you look at it, Harry didn’t really do anything wrong,” Laviolette said. “As he was lining him up, he didn’t take strides. Everything was down. His arms were down. It was just the impact. It made a loud noise. It appeared going into the hit, everything was in check.”
The Flyers would kill off the penalty on the back of great goaltending by Bryzgalov.
“Penalty kill I thought was terrific today,” said Laviolette. “We had six or seven minutes we had to kill total time. Especially early on when you take that penalty, the five-minute major. They were sharp, Bryz was sharp.”
The Flyers gained some jump in the second period and eventually found the back of the net on the strength of Voracek at the 11:24 mark of the period. Luke Schenn sent the puck out of the zone and up the boards as Ruslan Fedotenko tipped the puck into the Ottawa zone. That is where Voracek displayed his full array of skills. Voracek sped passed an Ottawa defender, muscled him off as he cut into the slot, and fired a wrist shot under the glove of Bishop.
“He seems to keep growing,” Laviolette said of Voracek. “He’s still spreading his wings here. He’s a real strong power forward. One of the strongest in the game.”
The Flyers would keep the pressure on the Senators, as Simmonds would score what would prove to be the game-winning goal, his third game-winning goal in the last four games.
The Flyers would give a goal back to Ottawa with just over five minutes remaining in the game. Senators center Colin Greening would leave the penalty box to get a breakaway chance on Bryzgalov. As Bryzgalov made the save, Greening would retrieve the puck; send it to the point for an uncontested blast by Methot. Methot’s shot appeared to deflect up off of Bryzgalov’s own stick.
The Senators had momentum and would carry that into the third period as they trailed the Flyers 2-1.
From the moment the third period began, it was the Bryz and Nicklas Grossmann show. Grossmann would block two shots on an Ottawa power play and Bryzgalov would continue to make timely saves. Grossmann finished the game with a team-leading five blocked shots.
The Flyers would have the opportunity to score on a five-three power play that included Senators star center Daniel Alfredsson getting a five-minute major and game misconduct for crosschecking Zac Rinaldo in retaliation on a big hit Rinaldo put on Chris Phillips.
The Flyers would waste the 5-on-3 power play and it would almost come back to bite them as the Senators would pull the goalie with one minute left and Kimmo Timonen in the box. Ultimately, Bryzgalov and the Flyers would stand tall and reach .500.
“We got to win hockey games,” said Laviolette. “I thought the guys played hard. We got to get comfortable winning 1-0 or 2-1 games. The effort I thought was good, was there. It was a big win.”
The Flyers are off until Tuesday night, when they play the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden at 7:30 on NBCSN.
Game Notes: Grossmann leads the NHL in blocked shots. Voracek and Simmonds are the co-leaders in goals for the Flyers with nine. The Flyers did not allow a power play goal and are now ranked 12th in the NHL on the penalty kill.