Saturday, February 09, 2013

Briere's OT winner gets Flyers past Hurricanes

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor 

Sometimes all it takes is a little luck to push things in the right direction.

After a listless third period which saw the Carolina Hurricanes tie the score and send the game into overtime, Danny Briere's fluke tally at the 1:47 mark of the extra session sent the Philadelphia Flyers home victorious on Saturday afternoon.

Briere was walled off as he skated from the left wing into the slot, but shot anyway, and the puck deflected off the near post, then caromed off the back of Cam Ward, before trickling over the goal line.

His second goal of the season, and second in the span of a week and both coming against Carolina sent the hosts to a 3-0-1 homestand just prior to a six-game road trip.

"Some of the bounces didn't really go our way, but overall I thought it was a pretty good game," Briere said. "When I cut to the middle, like I did at first, my plan was to drop it. I realized that their defenseman was up, and the second defenseman and forward were backchecking, lunging to go toward Kurtis (Foster), as well, so I decided to keep the puck. There was a little opening in the slot to shoot it in."

Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 30-of-33 shots for the win. Brayden Schenn, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek also lit the lamp for Philadelphia, which was coming off a shootout loss to Florida on Thursday.

Ward allowed four goals on 32 shots in defeat, less than 48 hours after posting a season-high 45 saves in a victory at Ottawa. Jiri Tlusty, Jeff Skinner and Joe Corvo lit the lamp in the loss.

We were skating better, moving the puck better, creating a higher tempo (in the third period)," said Carolina head coach Kirk Muller about his team elevating their play. "We talk about being a team that plays 60 minutes...but this is always a tough place to play. We need to win more one-on-one battles, that was the strength of their hockey club. But to pick up a point on the road, during a long road trip, is a positive sign."

Carolina silenced the crowd only 17 seconds after the opening faceoff, when Tlusty banged home the rebound of a Corvo right point blast. Eric Staal set up the play by winning a right-circle draw back to the slick blueliner, and the goal-scorer took advantage of a seam in coverage.

The masses were moved at the 6:34 mark, when Carolina's Tim Wallace unleashed a vicious check from behind on Tye McGinn along the right wing in the Flyers' defensive zone. The aggressor was shown the gate on a major for boarding and game misconduct, and the hosts got a three-minute power play after Braydon Coburn was sent off for roughing when he tried to answer for his teammate.

A short time later, a tripping call to South Jersey native Bobby Sanguinetti produced a 4-on-3 which then became a two-man advantage for 1:37. Timonen hit the near post from the left circle early into the 5-on-3, then Claude Giroux rang one off the pipe and Ward was strong during two other scrambles in the crease.

"We got what we wanted, but the pipe got in the way," said Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette of the puck motion on the two-man edge which didn't result in a score. 

The Flyers did even the score with 6:08 remaining as Schenn moved from the slot to the left circle for a redirection to the far side of a Timonen wrister at the left point. 

Read put the hosts on top with 1:33 played in the second period. Forechecking deep in the Hurricanes' zone, Mike Knuble was in perfect position to force a bad clear on the right wing by  Staal, and the puck found the sophomore, who skated in and beat Ward with a wrister from the slot.

Skinner tied the game once more during a 4-on-4 situation on a wraparound attempt which snuck through the crook of Bryzgalov's arm as he tried to seal off the crossbar at 11:17, but 15 seconds later, Voracek tipped home a pass to make it 3-2.

Schenn's rush up the left-wing side had the 'Canes backing in, and he zipped a pass across the ice just in front of the stick of Carolina defenseman Tim Gleason for the easy score by the Czech winger.

The visitors tied the game, 3-3, at 7:58 of the third period, when Corvo's high wrister from the right point caromed off bodies in front of the Philadelphia net and trickled over the goal line.

Bryzgalov made his biggest save of the contest seconds into a Nicklas Grossmann elbowing minor with just under eight minutes to play, gliding across his crease to shut off a Staal one-timer from in close. 

Read had two golden chances to end it with seconds to go in regulation. Voracek had a step on a defender in the Carolina zone, but turned back in the right circle to find Sean Couturier, who fumbled the puck a bit before slipping a blind, backhand pass to his teammate, all alone on the left side.

Ward closed the pads on the first shot, but the rebound came out to the near post, and Read lifted his next chance high and wide of the near side as time expired. 

"Ithought we played pretty solid for two periods and then they got better a little bit in the third," Voracek said. "I think we were a little bit lucky to get it to overtime."

Notes: Schenn added two assists for his first 3-point effort of the season, and first since his goal and two assists in a 4-3 OT win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 11, 2012 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in Pittsburgh...Briere's OT strike was his first since January 7, 2012 in a 3-2 OT win against Ottawa, where he finished off his hat trick with the game-winner...Wayne Simmonds returned to the lineup after a three-game absence, playing 15:41, generating two shots and two hits... Sanguinetti, along with Jay Harrison, were game-worst minus-threes, while Schenn was a game-best plus-three...The Flyers begin their road swing on Monday in Toronto, where Luke Schenn returns for the first time since the offseason deal which saw him come to Philadelphia for James van Riemsdyk...The Flyers improved to 20-4-3 with three ties against Carolina at home since the franchise relocated from Hartford in 1997, and have won  eight of their last nine as the host against the Hurricanes...Tlusty's opening score was the quickest allowed by the Flyers since Sidney Crosby tallied 15 seconds into Game 2 of the Eastern quarters in Pittsburgh...Skinner and Corvo led all players with seven shots apiece.

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