Flyers Furious Five Goal Third Period Beats Columbus, 5-4

Published on December 21st, 2013

By Anthony Mingioni

PHILADELPHIA-For the first time this season, the Philadelphia Flyers find themselves over the .500 mark. How they got to that point on Thursday night will one of the more remarkable tales of this campaign.

The Flyers blasted five third period goals past Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Curtis McIllhenny. In doing so, they rallied from a two goal deficit in that period to win 5-4.

Led by captain Claude Giroux’s two goal, four point performance in that period, the Flyers first line keyed the team’s ferocious comeback with an eight point performance (right wing Jake Voracek adding a goal and two assists and Michael Raffl adding an assist of his own).

“We talked before the game about moving up, being in a playoff spot,” head coach Craig Berube said. “(We) responded in the third period with a great effort from everybody. The goals went in. Our captain came up big.”

Giroux’s game winning goal will be on plenty of highlight reels as he whipped an off balance back hand shot that completely crossed up McIllhenny at 18:22 of the third period.

It was a remarkable play for Giroux and the 100th goal of his NHL career.

“I was tired. I was just trying to get it on net and most of our goals just shoot it on net and go for rebounds,” Giroux said. “I think we did a good job of going to the net to get those rebounds.”

The Flyers comeback allowed goaltender Steve Mason to enjoy a victory in his first game against his former team despite not having his best performance.

“It feels unbelievable. You know, went around the room and thanked everybody and G [Giroux] said you don’t have to be the one winning us games.” Mason said. “It was nice to be in this position where against my old team they came through and got me the two points and this is from a team’s standpoint a real big victory.”

The Flyers had a solid first period in terms of positional play and put pressure on the Blue Jackets, generating a 14-4 shot advantage with at least four legitimate scoring chances but McIllhenny was able to keep his team level.

The Jackets started the scoring on their third shot of the game. As the Flyers attempted to press on the power play, Voracek lost the puck at the point and Cam Atkinson moved quickly down the ice on a two on one break. Looking off his winger all the way, he fires a hard wrist shots that beat Mason under his glove.

Early in the second period, a mistimed line change caused confusion for the Flyers and Voracek again lost the puck, this time to defenseman Nikita Nikitin. Another two on one break later and right wing Jack Skille staked his team to a two goal lead.

The Flyers then committed one of hockey’s cardinal sins: giving up a goal near the end of the second period as checking winger Nick Foligno was able to find the puck during a goal mouth scramble and managed to get it past a prone Mason.

The team second period effort did not please the Flyers head coach.

“We didn’t play our game after (the Skille goal). We got outworked and outshot.”

“I can’t stand getting outworked. Can’t stand it.”

Entering the third period, the Blue Jackets lead seemed insurmountable as they had a 9-0-1 record when leading after two periods, but the Flyers returned to the ice with a more focused approach.

Gaining the offensive zone, Voracek made up for his earlier miscues as he made a power move off the back boards off the left post to the circle and picked the corner with a hard wrist shot to cut the Jackets lead to 3-1.

A little over a minute later, defenseman Braydon Coburn picked up the puck along the boards near the blueline and fluttered a shot towards McIllhenny. The puck somehow eluded him, cutting the score to 3-2.

Columbus coach Todd Richards called a 30 second time out to settle his players down.

The Flyers would be nearly undone three minutes later when Scott Hartnell lost track of a puck behind the net. Columbus center Artem Anisimov swooped in and got the puck to winger Blake Comeau whose quick shot beat Mason . But as the game got into the final five minutes, Philadelphia would gain good fortune as Wayne Simmonds would be sprung into the offensive zone on a pass by Giroux. His quick shot from the slot caromed off McIllhenny and straight to a pinching Erik Gustafsson.

The Swedish defenseman fired it home from the right side of the net.

A mere 53 seconds later, the Flyers top line tied the game as Raffl made a strong move into the attacking and fired a shot that Giroux was able to tuck home at the left post, setting the stage for the conclusion.

The victory moves the Flyers into third place in the Metropolitan Division and for the first time this season a playoff berth.   Voracek echoed his coach’s sentiments about the importance of finally getting above .500.

“Yes, we sit there before every game. I think it was our fifth chance that we could get over 500. This is the first time after the start…we got there pretty quickly. We have been playing very well lately as a team and we just have to keep going.”

The Flyers will meet the Blue Jackets again on Saturday in Columbus before playing their final home game of 2013 against the Minnesota Wild on Monday.

 

Flyers and Blue Jackets battle | Source:  Andrew King

Flyers and Blue Jackets battle | Source: Andrew King

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