Thursday, October 27, 2011

Sloppy Jets outlast sloppier Flyers, 9-8

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Rather than try to come up with a clever, or all-encompassing opening paragraph which might require the ability to stare a hole into this computer screen for an indefinite period before inspiration strikes, I will share some fragmented thoughts I had running through my mind regarding Winnipeg's mind-boggling 9-8 win over the Flyers tonight.

  • A thousand monkeys tapping away at a thousand typewriters for their collective lifetimes had a better shot at creating the Great American Novel before being able to bang out a game story this bizarre.
  • I laughed. I cried. I threw up in my mouth more than once.
  • The riot act isn't enough for both teams. Maybe "Protect and Survive," or selections from the U.S. Constitution will do.
  • No team that blows leads of 5-1 and 6-2 deserves to win.
  • No team that rallies from deficits of 5-1 and 6-2 deserves to lose.
  • However, if you come back from a four-goal deficit and can't hold a lead in the third period, you should be summarily executed like in some Central American banana republic complete with blindfold and last cigarette.
If you can snap out of the funk you're no doubt experiencing from a defeat which was snatched from the jaws of victory, realize that you've been a part of history for better or worse. Besides the Jets and Flyers burying themselves in an avalanche of poor defense and more consecutive red lights than Atlantic Avenue in Ventnor, the following occurred:
  • The clubs combined for 17 goals, which is a single-game record between these two franchises. The previous high was 11.
  • The 17 total goals also matched the most in a single game between the Flyers and an opponent. Philly won a 9-8 game in Calgary on February 27, 1982, took a 13-4 decision against Pittsburgh on March 22, 1984 and also won an 11-6 game in Detroit on February 23, 1988.
  • It was the most goals any team claiming the Winnipeg moniker scored against the Orange and Black since the first edition of the Jets took a 9-6 decision at the Spectrum on October 23, 1993.
  • The eight scores were the most the Flyers have ever recorded in a loss, eclipsing the seven in a 10-7 loss in Game 5 of the 1989 Patrick Division Finals in Pittsburgh, and an 8-7 loss to Tampa Bay last November 18.
Ultimately, a three-goal burst in a 1:53 span which capped a five-goal turnaround was wasted as Andrew Ladd beat Ilya Bryzgalov with 1:06 left in regulation for the deciding score.

Bryzgalov, who was the focal point of the comeback from a 6-2 hole, ended up four goals on 10 shots and did not suffer the loss. But his insertion for starter Sergei Bobrovsky -- who did get saddled with the loss after giving up five goals on 15 shots, kick-started a rally which electrified the announced crowd of 19,588.

Nik Antropov scored in front after Tim Stapleton won a right-circle faceoff just three seconds into a Danny Briere interference call and Winnipeg was up by a 5-2 count at the 4:39 mark of the second period.

Cue the goalie change, and minors to Johnny Oduya and Ladd 44 seconds apart gave the Flyers a 5-on-3 edge. Claude Giroux made the most of the two-man advantage, sliding home a cross-ice dish from Kimmo Timonen at 6:25.

Even after Evander Kane converted an Antropov pass from in close for a power-play score at
10:39, there was a sense of the storm to come.

Kenndal McArdle was sent off for hooking at 12:08 and Philly drew within 6-3 as Timonen's point shot changed direction off Scott Hartnell's stick, then Briere's arm at the left side of the crease.

It was a 6-4 game with Kane in the box for shooting the puck over the glass in the defensive zone. A moribund arena was finally shaken to life at 16:41 when Matt Read carried down the left wing and threw a shot on net which Ondrej Pavelec kicked away. A Jets defenseman quickly cleared the disc, but it caromed off the skate of the onrushing Max Talbot, hit the near post, rebounded off Pavelec's back and trickled over the goal line.

Then, the three-goal burst early in the third pushed the home team into the lead, forced Pavelec from the game, and sent fans into a frenzy.

First, it was Briere on the doorstep off a Braydon Coburn pass that once again exploited the superhighway near the Winnipeg crease to bring the Flyers within 6-5 at 1:09.

Then, at 2:23, Andreas Lilja's left-point shot was stopped by Pavelec, but the rebound popped into the air, where an inexplicably uncovered Read settled the puck and slid it home at the left post. That finally caused Claude Noel to rescue his starter from further embarrassment.

Chris Mason came on, but James van Riemsdyk netted his first of the contest only 39 seconds later as he, too, was all alone but stationed at the right post to tap in a Briere pass across the blue paint.

The crowd -- and those in the press box -- hardly had time to catch our breath and realize the Flyers were ahead 7-6 before the game was tied as Alex Burmistrov had all day to send home a spinning Antropov pass from in close just 28 seconds later.

Incredibly, the pendulum swung back the other direction only 61 seconds after the tying tally, as Mark Stuart rifled home a Stapleton offering from the left circle on a rush. And things seemed destined to fall apart around Mason with 12:18 remaining, when Jakub Voracek roared in alone down the right wing, but the 35-year-old Alberta native confidently kicked aside the opportunity.

It proved to be some kind of invisible trigger for Jets coach Noel, as Pavelec suddenly reclaimed his crease with roughly nine minutes remaining.

Nonetheless, Philadelphia kept the pressure on and forged an 8-8 deadlock with 3:39 remaining after Timonen threaded a pass from the right-wing boards at the outer edge of the circle all the way to van Riemsdyk for a tip-in on a half-open net.

But all the good feeling went for naught in the final stages. Scott Hartnell came out like his hair was afire, and Jaromir Jagr made one of his frequent falling spells look marvelous on a great lead pass for a tip-in and 1-0 lead just 4:10 into the contest.

Then the wheels fell off as Winnipeg responded with three straight against Bobrovsky. Randy Jones -- a former Flyers defenseman who is still maligned by this fanbase -- picked up his first of the season just after the midway point of the first period to tie the game, Jim Slater put the Jets ahead at 13:39 and Kyle Wellwood expertly redirected a Tobias Enstrom drive in the slot at the tail end of a Lilja interference call at 18:37.

The worse got worser in the second when Tanner Glass received an Enstrom offering and placed it past Bobrovsky at 3:39 for a 4-1 Winnipeg advantage.

Notes: A total of 28 players recorded at least one point (15 by Winnipeg)...Briere (2G, 2A) and Timonen (4A) led all scorers with four points, while Glass (1G, 2A), Antropov (1G, 2A) and Wheeler (3A) paced the victors...There were 17 goals but only 12 total penalties...Atlanta/Winnipeg has won five straight games in Philadelphia, and has won eight of the last nine meetings overall since February of 2009...The Thrashers/Jets franchise tied an all-time high for goals in one game, first set in a 9-0 win at Carolina on November 12, 2005...Zac Rinaldo, recalled from Adirondack of the AHL prior to the game after Braydon Schenn went down with a broken foot for 4-6 weeks, managed to record seven hits in just 6:45 of ice time...Erik Gustafsson also was recalled and Schenn was moved to long-term injured reserve...Stapleton, Bryan Little and Enstrom all notched a pair of assists...Van Riemsdyk added an assist for a three-point night...Both clubs are off until Saturday, when the Jets continue a seven-game road swing at Tampa Bay and the Flyers stay home to host the Hurricanes.

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