Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Five-goal comeback lifts Flyers over Red Wings in Detroit

Detroit, MI -- For only the second time in the last 25 years, everything went right for the Flyers at Joe Louis Arena.

Going 3-for-3 on the power play, rallying from a 3-1 second-period deficit and burying the wounded hosts with four strikes in the third period sent Philadelphia to a badly needed and unexpected 6-3 victory over the Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Never mind that the third line has become the de facto first line with the continuation of a month-long hot streak, or the visitors allowed six short-handed opportunities over the first two periods, the end result was positive.

Only 1-18-2, including playoffs, in Michigan since the start of the 1989-90 season, the Orange and Black played most of the second period as if the streak of futility would continue.

But Matt Read kicked off a four-goal rally on an even-strength tally with 3:22 left in the middle stanza, then Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell ripped home power-play goals sandwiched around a Sean Couturier marker, and the magic which had for so long eluded this inconsistent club finally stuck around until the final buzzer.

"Two years ago, that was one of our main attributes - coming back in the third period," Read said. "Good teams find ways."
"That was one of our main attributes two years ago -- coming back in the third period. Good teams always find ways to do it," said Read. 
"Two years ago, that was one of our main attributes - coming back in the third period," Read said. "Good teams find ways."

Read, Couturier and Steve Downie combined for nine points and Steve Mason put together another solid performance with 32 saves. The Flyers improved to 2-1-0 on their current six-game road trip thanks to netting a season-high for goals in one contest.

Despite missing Pavel Datsyuk (concussion) and Henrik Zetterberg (back), the Wings still appeared in control thanks to two scores from Tomas Tatar and one from Johan Franzen by the midway point of regulation.

Jimmy Howard was left in for five scores on 33 shots, and Detroit fell to 5-5-6 on home ice this season.

“I think we had this game in our hands, and we lost in the third period,” Tomas Tatar said, echoing a sentiment that was spoken often in the other locker room this season. “We stopped playing and we stopped skating, and they just took over the game.”

Howard was helpless as Couturier found Read atop he crease, and needlessly flopped to the ice before the goal which brought Philly within 3-2 was scored from the opposite post.

Giroux knotted the score at the 5:15 mark of the third, less than a minute into a Stephen Weiss hooking minor, when his shot from the bottom of the left circle sailed home high to the far side.

It was a 4-3 contest when Downie's offering from the right-wing boards near the blue line was tipped home by an uncontested Couturier at 8:28, then Hartnell gave the visitors a two-goal margin after Jakub Kindl was sent off for hooking. He showed a flash of his form from two seasons ago with a turnaround one-timer off a Giroux dish in the left circle with 9:58 showing.

The penalty kill shut down a Couturier minor for hooking with 4:52 remaining, then the reborn checking center flipped the clincher into an empty net with 59 seconds to play.

“Anytime you’re up 3-1, you want to win the game,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock said. “Our penalty kill has been stellar for us all year long, gave up a couple of goals. We had power plays ourselves and never got it in.”

Early on, it looked like the status quo for the Red Wings, whose domination of the Flyers on home ice lasted for the past generation.

Tatar beat Mason past the midway point of the first period, and though Downie registered his first goal since coming to Philly from Colorado on October 31, Franzen and Tatar combined to provide a two-goal spread with tallies 1:49 apart.

The former ripped a shot from the left circle on a rush, just a step ahead of Nick Grossmann, and the latter converted a loose puck from the left side of the crease less than a minute into a 5-on-3 created when Downie and Zac Rinaldo took penalties eight seconds apart. 

"Penalties really slowed us down in the second period," said Couturier. "In the third, we just wanted to play with more discipline and play within our system like we know we can. Special teams were clearly the difference tonight."

Earlier in the season, this was the point the whole thing could have collapsed into a rout. Still, a penalty kill ranked 13th at 83.6 percent checked away six of seven opportunities and the Wings' PK, clocking in at second (86.9 percent) was exposed by the 23rd-ranked power play.

Notes: Couturier, who was a game-best plus-3, finished with a regular-season best four points (2G, 2A), matching his output during an 8-5 win in Pittsburgh during Game 2 of the 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals ... The Flyers had scored five goals on four previous occasions ... Hartnell collected a season-high three points (1G, 2A) ... The last time Philly scored as much as six goals in Detroit, it was a 9-6 loss on Feb. 16, 1990, and the last time that number was reached in a win was in an 11-6 decision on Feb. 23, 1988 ... Mason kept his streak alive of allowing three goals or fewer in every single appearance since his acquisition from Columbus last March ... Detroit's Joakim Andersson won 16-of-17 faceoffs (94 percent), tops for both clubs ... Brayden Schenn was 0-for-8 in the offensive zone and was a game-worst 2-for-15 on draws ... Philly continues its road swing in Dallas on Saturday afternoon.

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