Saturday, October 25, 2014

Emery's stellar goaltending and Raffl's two goals lead Flyers to 4-2 win

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by Hal Greenblatt
Phanatic Hockey writer

Philadelphia, Pa -- Brayden Schenn’s power play goal off redirected a Jakub Voracek shot passed Detroit goalie Jonas Gustavsson to give Philadelphia a 4-2 over the Red Wings.

Michael Raffl added two goals and Nicklas Grossmann recorded his first of the season. Raffl also added an assist on Grossmann’s goal while Voracek and Michael Del Zotto each had two assists. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Mark Streit each recorded assists. Ray Emery was strong in net for Philadelphia, stopping 35-of-37 Detroit shots. The Flyers have now won two straight.

"Didn't play a very good game, but two points is two points," said head coach Craig Berube.

Riley Sheahan and Pavel Datysuk both scored for Detroit, each notching their first of the season. Andrej Nestrasil, Tomas Jurco, and Darren Helm all recorded assists. Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was rarely challenged, but allowed 3 Flyer goals on 17 shots.

The debut of Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne Gostibehere was overshadowed by a tightly checked, strong defensive hockey game. Despite two power plays in the first period, the Flyers failed to score and recorded only five shots on net. Detroit recorded the only tally of the first period on Sheahan’s first of the season.

The Flyers had a defensive lapse that allowed Sheahan an easy flip over the stick of Emery. Both Flyer defenseman followed Detroit’s Nestrasil to the corner, where he found a cutting Sheahan at 15:33 of the first period.

Philadelphia spent most of the second period stuck in their own end, as Detroit’s forecheck and stifling defense did not allow for a Philadelphia shot for the first fifteen-plus minutes of the second period. The Flyers finally broke through the Red Wings defense with just 1:39 remaining in the period.

Raffl took the puck to the right corner, where he left it for Bellemare. The French rookie found a cutting Grossmann, who snipped a one-timer passed the Detroit netminder for his first of the season, giving the Flyers a 1-1 tie heading into the final period.

The third period yielded the most action of the game, as Detroit and Philadelphia skated up and down the ice, registering chance after chance. The Flyers broke through at the 6:01 mark of the period, as Raffl recorded his first goal of the night.

Raffl, cutting down the middle of the ice, took a saucer pass from the blue line from Voracek that allowed the Hungarian a one-on-one chance against the Detroit netminder. Raffl wouldn’t miss this opportunity, as he placed a backhander top shelf to give the Flyers a short-lived 3-2 lead.

"He's working very hard, he's winning a lot of board battles, he's skating very hard," said Voracek on Raffl. "He's making the simple plays. He deserved those two goals tonight."

Just 42 seconds after Raffl’s goal, a defensive breakdown (and broken stick from Gostibehere) allowed Datsyuk, Detroit’s all-world forward alone, one-on-one with Emery. The Russian waited for the Flyers goaltender to make the first move and potted his first of the season.

"I was surprised he got that puck," Emery spoke of Datsyuk's goal. "It was going far right, but you try and do your best. That's a pretty talented player."

Philadelphia would eventually take the lead for good with just under nine minutes remaining. Detroit defenseman Nicklas Kronwall would be called for hooking and the Flyers vaunted power play would strike and score the first power play goal the Red Wings have allowed all season.

"It was a hard working power play," Voracek said. "We kept it going for a while in the offensive zone. I got the puck, I just turned around and I saw Schenner, high slot, and when the high slot guy is open, it's usually a good play. It's always dangerous. He did a good job and it was a huge goal."

The Flyers would play on their heels the rest of the way, denying all Detroit advances, as the team blocked 31 shots. Raffl would pot his second goal of the game, an empty-net tally that would give the home team a 4-2 victory.

"We finished the game way better than we started it, and that's something we'll take with us," said Grossmann.

The Flyers face Jeff Carter and the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

Notes: Detroit allowed their first power play goal against on the season...Rookie defenseman Shayne Gostibehere recorded 12:27 of ice time...Jakub Voracek has recorded a point in seven of the Flyers eight games...The Flyers power play finished 1 of 5...The Flyers penalty kill did not allow a goal against in three opportunities...Flyers prospect Sam Morin attended the game as he recovers from an injury...

You can follow Hal Greenblatt on Twitter at @HMGreenblatt
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