Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Giroux provides spark as Flyers down Stars

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Claude Giroux provided a jolt of electricity to a club which badly needed one, figuring in all the offense by tallying a goal and three assists in his return from a concussion as the Philadelphia Flyers downed Dallas, 4-1, on Wednesday night.

His third assist of the game was a crucial one, as he drew Dallas defenders toward him along the right wing in the neutral zone before leading Andrej Meszaros on the left side. The rangy defenseman went in untouched and put the visitors up 4-1 at the 5:22 mark of the third period.

That was enough to support Sergei Bobrovsky, who made 30 saves. Jaromir Jagr and Wayne Simmonds contributed a goal each as Philly put the brakes on a two-game skid during which it was outscored by a 9-2 margin.

Michael Ryder provided the lone goal for the Stars, who have lost three straight home contests against the Orange and Black.

Richard Bachman was tagged for all four goals on 30 shots in defeat.

All the talk about Giroux making an impact in his return was muted just 56 seconds after the opening faceoff, when Meszaros backed off as Loui Eriksson cruised down the left wing and Ryder picked up the drop pass and ripped a shot over Bobrovsky from the circle.

It ramped up again just before the nine-minute mark.

Jagr and Scott Hartnell worked the puck into the Dallas zone, with Jagr having trouble corralling a return pass up the middle. He did manage to push the disc towards Bachman, and it skittered to the left side where Giroux got just enough on his chance to beat the sliding Stars netminder for a 1-1 game.

And then it was a 2-1 Flyers lead on a power play with 8:24 remaining, as Simmonds fought off his checker between the circles and redirected a high point drive from Kimmo Timonen. Giroux was instrumental in the score, controlling the puck before handing off to the Finnish veteran.

At the eight-minute mark of the second period, Jagr and Giroux worked their own brand of magic through the middle of the ice on a Philly power play. The former fed the latter and then received a return pass for a beautiful finish to Bachman's stick side to make it 3-1.

Bobrovsky preserved the lead with two point-blank saves on one shift during a 4-on-4 as the clock ticked down to six minutes remaining in the period. The first and most important stop came when Meszaros slipped and fell near his blue line, and Radek Dvorak went in alone. But Bobrovsky got his body in front of the sharp wrister.

Notes: Jagr's second-period goal gave him 657 for his career, moving him past Brendan Shanahan and alone into 11th place on the all-time list...Dallas fell to 1-3-2 at home against Philadelphia since 2000...The Flyers continue their pre-Winter Classic road trip in Manhattan on Friday.

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