Flyers beat Avalanche on banner night

Jeff Carter disappears in team hug after scoring game-winning goal late in third period at Wells Fargo Center.
Jeff Carter disappears in team hug after scoring game-winning goal late in third period at Wells Fargo Center.
Posted: October 12, 2010

STANDING WITH his gloves propped up on his stick, just inside the Flyers' blue line in a dark Wells Fargo Center, Mike Richards watched a highlight video of last year's awe-inspiring run to the Stanley Cup finals.

"It gave you the chills," Richards said.

But the banner that was unveiled minutes later in the rafters, reading "Eastern Conference Champions 2009-10" was both a spine-tingling flash of pride for Richards and his teammates and a painful reminder that the Flyers fell two games short of the ultimate prize, all at once.

It was also the final cap on one of the Flyers' most memorable seasons in their 43-year history.

"It was good, it was obviously exciting," Richards said. "But at the same time, it was nice to move on to this year and forget about last year."

Claude Giroux and Jeff Carter made it pretty easy for the Flyers to forget about their shortcomings last June with their first-period breakaway goals, which helped propel the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche in their home opener.

Both goals came as a result of the Flyers' rabid penalty kill. Giroux scored on a shorthanded breakaway, and Carter's goal came on a rush 4 seconds after a penalty expired.

Just last week, Giroux entered this season without a single shorthanded goal in his brief career - a surprising stat for a player with his speed and skill.

Last night was his second shorthanded goal in three games, which he picked up with a top-shelf roasting of Avalanche starter Craig Anderson on a backhand-forehand-backhand move.

"We try to be aggressive," Giroux explained. "It was all 'Richie' [Richards]. He made a nice play, and I had a breakaway, and I was lucky to put it in. But I think when you're aggressive, you're going to have chances to score.

"It's not like you're looking for it, but when you're aggressive, you're going to get more chances."

Richards said that aggression comes with the encouragement of assistant coach Craig Berube, who manages the Flyers' penalty-killing portion of the game plan.

" 'Chief' [Berube] gives us free rein to go up the ice when we want to," Richards said. "We catch a lot of teams complacent, and when we do that, it gives us a little bit of an opportunity.

"We watch video [of the opponent] every morning on the day of a game, make sure that we know what their breakout and what their tendencies are. If you can exploit that a little bit, you can get some opportunities and make them count."

In all, the Flyers' penalty kill held Colorado scoreless on three man-advantages.

Sergei Bobrovsky, making his home debut, stopped 25 of 27 shots. After Brandon Yip scored on a turnaround shot midway through the second period, Milan Hejduk knotted the game at 2 only 32 seconds into the third period with a dribbler that trickled through Bobrovsky's legs.

"I didn't really get a chance to see the player," Bobrovsky said with the help of a translator, describing Hejduk's goal.

Bobrovsky said he was actually more nervous in Philadelphia last night than he was in Pittsburgh last Thursday when he opened the new Consol Energy Center.

"It was a little bit more difficult, because there are more expectations here and you want to please everyone a little bit more, so it was a little bit more difficult here at home," Bobrovsky said.

He rated his Wells Fargo Center debut as "fairly good" but "not great." But last night, the Flyers didn't need Bobrovsky to be great. Just good. Carter's second goal of the game with 2:38 remaining lessened the pressure.

"It's obviously not a good sign to come out a little flat in the third and give up an early one," Carter said, "but we showed it last year that the guys in here never give up and they just keep going."

Last night was one final time to review the miracles of last year's playoff run. It was also a challenge to accomplish the same - and win two more games.

"It was thrilling to see that banner go up," Giroux said. "It was fun. But that's not the banner we want up there."

Slap shots

Darroll Powe added an empty-net goal for the Flyers with 1:11 remaining, icing the game with his first goal of the season . . . Mike Richards picked up two assists and was a plus-3 . . . The Flyers are 0-for-11 on the power play this season . . . Jody Shelley has played a combined 7 minutes in his last two games . . . Jeff Carter, Danny Briere and Scott Hartnell combined for 18 of the Flyers' 38 shots . . . The Flyers are 25-12-6 in home openers. *

For more news and analysis, read

Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

http://go.philly.com/frequentflyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

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