Thursday, January 20, 2011

Flyers stay hot with feisty win over Ottawa

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Mike Richards tied a season high with four points on two goals and two assists, as the Philadelphia Flyers used a three- goal third period to break open a close game and defeat Ottawa, 6-2.

Danny Briere and Andrej Meszaros posted a goal and helper each for the Flyers, winners of four straight and eight of nine overall.

Scott Hartnell also tallied while Sergei Bobrovsky halted 25-of-27 shots for the victory.
Philadelphia opened up a five-point lead over Pittsburgh in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings after the Penguins were shut out at New Jersey.

Milan Michalek and Nick Foligno found the net for the Senators, who have lost four straight and 10 of their last 11. Brian Elliott was shelled for all six goals on just 22 shots.

Hartnell put the Flyers ahead by a 4-2 count at 7:50 of the third, on his second-chance rebound from the right post. Briere created the chance by circling from behind the net to the left post before sliding a shot to the goal.

It was a three-goal edge for the home club more than three minutes later when Elliott kicked out a Richards shot, but James van Riemsdyk netted the rebound from the left wing.

Meszaros then collected his second tally in as many games on a power play to make it 6-2 for Philadelphia 80 seconds later.

With the Flyers holding such a safe lead, the Senators responded by trying to rekindle the spirit of old battles. First, Jeff Carter was induced to a one-on-one with Jesse Winchester -- Carter's first fight since December, 2007.

Then, In a two-second span with just under four minutes remaining in the contest, no fewer than four fights broke out. Claude Giroux dropped the gloves, as did Jody Shelley, Hartnell and Sean O'Donnell against Foligno, Chris Neil, Jarkko Ruutu and Matt Carkner.  Neil, Carkner, O'Donnell and Shelley all were given game misconducts.

Far from being a distraction, the fisticuffs only enhanced and put an exclamation point on the victory, which vaulted the Flyers above idle Vancouver atop the NHL standings.

The night started as well as it ended. Briere got on the board just after the two-minute mark when he wound up from the bottom of the right circle and scored under the crossbar.

Richards made it 2-0 at 4:14 when he glided through the slot to tip in a Braydon Coburn point shot.
Ottawa had a 5-on-3 advantage prior to the midway point of the second period, which was killed off by the home team. The Sens had a 5-on-4 goal waved off a short time later because Foligno's stick was above the crossbar when it made contact with the puck before the successful shot.

Philly went up 3-0 with 3:43 left in the second on a two-man advantage, when Richards faked a pass from the right circle and slid a shot through Elliott's pads, but Michalek's short-handed breakaway cut Ottawa's deficit back to two less than two minutes later.

Foligno then tapped in a rebound at the right post with 45.6 seconds to go and the visitors were down one heading to the final period.

Notes: Richards also picked up four points (1G, 3A) in a 7-4 win at Los Angeles on December 30...Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger returned to the lineup after missing 13 games with a broken right foot, and notched two assists with a plus-one in just over 20 minutes of ice time...Elliott has dropped 10 straight starts, dating back to a December 26 win over Pittsburgh...Philly has won six of its last eight home games over Ottawa...Although the third period took on a gritty feel, it was nowhere near the record-setting pace of March 5, 2004 between the clubs which finished with an NHL-record 419 penalty minutes...Both sides ended up with a mere 126, 69 of those to the Senators.

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