After trailing 3-0 after 40 minutes and seeing the Columbus Blue Jackets extend their lead to 4-2 late in the game, the Philadelphia Flyers fought for a full 60 minutes to pump out a memorable 5-4 win at home. Claude Giroux scored the game-tying goal and had his 100th NHL goal serve as the game-winner tonight on his way to a four-point night, as his second goal of the night might be the goal of the season to date. Jakub Voracek had a three-point night and Mark Streit had a pair of helpers, while Steve Mason held on for the win in a 25-save effort.
As for the Blue Jackets, they had a rare third-period meltdown, as Curtis McElhinney allowed five goals against on 16 shots in the final 20 minutes and 10 skaters earned a point in the loss.
Trailing 3-0 with only one period left, Philly got on the board with a tally from a former Blue Jacket. After he nearly set up Giroux for a goal, Voracek hustled below the goal line to grab the loose puck before circling around to the slot and ripping home his ninth of the season past McElhinney’s blocker. Hope was restored on the Flyers’ bench and in the seats when a Braydon Coburn shot from the blue line somehow beat McElhinney to make it a one-goal game in a matter of 1:02.
After the crowd was back into it and the team was buzzing, a puck that quickly moved away from Scott Hartnell below the Flyers’ goal line was captured by Artem Anisimov, who quickly fed Blake Comeau in the slot to make it 4-2 with 11:25 remaining. The tally sucked the air out of the rink and looked as though it would slow down the Flyers.
A little less than seven minutes later, however, a smart pinch by Erik Gustafsson rewarded the blue liner with his second goal of the season to make it a one-goal game again. As Mason headed to the bench on a delayed penalty call, Giroux lead an odd-man rush up the ice before he fed a pass to Wayne Simmonds just inside the blue line. Simmonds failed to beat McElhinney, but he forced the goaltender to push a rebound right to Gustafsson in the circle to McElhinney’s right. The d-man slammed the disc home on what was essentially an empty net.
It was just 53 seconds after Gustafsson’s tally that Giroux knotted the game at four, as he pounded home a rebound at the side of the net. Michael Raffl deflected a Voracek attempt and caused the puck to travel past McElhinney, but it hit the iron. As the disc sat in the crease, Giroux deposited it home for a 4-4 game with 3:46 left in regulation.
Then, with the goal everybody will be talking about, Giroux backhanded one top shelf past McElhinney’s glove to make it 5-4 with 1:38 left.
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Each period of the win tonight looked like a different Flyers’ club. The first period saw a team that was dominating, but couldn’t find the back of the net, while the second period saw the Orange and Black fall after giving up the game’s second and third goals. The third period showed the grit and determination of a club that pushed themselves into a playoff position and isn’t willing to let it go. Any way you cut it, tonight’s win was huge for several reasons.
Many felt as though the Flyers’ win over the Detroit Red Wings earlier in the month could have served as a turning point in the season. That result didn’t quit do as much for the Flyers as anticipated. Tonight’s win, however, was even more impressive than their win in Michigan. A five-goal period featuring the squad overcoming adversity is one way to help build team confidence and quickly.
Despite dominating the first period and earning a 14-4 shot advantage, the Flyers trailed by a goal after 20 minutes. Cam Atkinson was able to use R.J. Umberger as a decoy on a 2-on-1 before he potted a shorthanded attempt with 4:44 left in the opening stanza.
The second period was a different story, as the Blue Jackets held an 18-9 shot advantage and extended their lead to three goals.
It became 2-0 in favor of the guests on another converted counterattack bid, as Jack Skille slapped one by Mason’s glove 4:44 into the middle frame. It looked as though the Orange and Black’s chances of coming back in the third dwindled with Nick Foligno’s goal in the period’s final seconds to extend the Flyers’ deficit to three with only one period remaining. The hosts responded however with a third period that will be remembered for awhile.
These two teams square off again on Saturday, as the Blue Jackets will surely be seeking revenge for tonight’s loss in Columbus.
Notes: The last time the Flyers scored five goals in a period was the last time they played the Blue Jackets, which was a 9-2 win on November 5th, 2011…Tonight was the Flyers’ eighth straight home win and they extended their point streak to four games…Mason stopped 25 of 29 shots tonight in his first game ever against his old team. Voracek had a goal and two assists…Giroux extended his point streak to five games tonight. He has 10 points (four goals and six assists) in that span…The Flyers improved to 1-0-0 against the Blue Jackets this season. They are now 13-9-3 against the Eastern Conference and 7-4-2 against the Metropolitan Division…The Flyers are now 16-15-4. They were 15-17-3 after 35 games last season.