In the end, Flyers beat Ottawa Sens-less

Flyers' Jeff Carter and Senators' Jesse Winchester mix it up in third period of last night's win.
Flyers' Jeff Carter and Senators' Jesse Winchester mix it up in third period of last night's win.
Posted: January 21, 2011

HOW DOES THE old joke go? I went to a boxing match last night and a hockey game broke out.

Well, anybody who came to last night's Flyers game saw several boxing matches break out. It was almost enough to make the crumbling Spectrum proud and Kate Smith rise up and sing "God Bless America."

On a night when the Flyers beat the Senators, 6-2, the loudest cheers occurred in the third period during Jeff Carter's fight with Ottawa's Jesse Winchester and Claude Giroux's battle with Nick Foligno.

Generally, having skilled players like Carter and Giroux exposing their valuable hands to fighting isn't the best idea. But as coach Peter Laviolette said afterward, sometimes a guy's gotta do what a guy's gotta do.

"It's not something you want to see on a regular basis," Laviolette said. "You always worry when you see something like that. But it's part of the game, too. That's the way we had to play."

The ridiculous third period featured 10 fighting majors and five misconducts. It also overshadowed a sloppy second period in which the Flyers let a 3-0 lead dwindle to 3-2. The second actually ended with an Ottawa player crashing into Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, leaving Bobrovsky slightly shaken.

The lowly Senators, who have one win in their last 11, were taking the play to the Flyers in their house and Laviolette let them know about it between periods.

"That was the message between the second and the third, definitely," Danny Briere said.

"We seem to fall asleep after good starts," he said. "That's something we're going to have to be careful about, especially when we start playing Pittsburgh or Boston; the big teams in the East."

The Flyers responded with the fisticuffs, but more important by outscoring the Senators, 3-0, in the final frame. Mike Richards had a pair of assists to go along with the two goals he scored earlier.

Chris Pronger played 20 minutes, 24 seconds in his first action since sustaining a broken foot Dec. 15. He had two assists and was a plus-1 and had a heavy part in helping the Flyers kill off a five-on-three in the second period.

Carter's bout was his first since he squared off with Pittsburgh's Ryan Whitney on Dec. 11, 2007. Carter did not register a point and was a minus-1 on the night.

"I wasn't doing much else out there," he said. "I figured I'd do something."

The spark for Carter's fight came when Giroux checked Winchester. This led to Foligno calling out Giroux exactly 4 minutes later.

"Yeah, I just didn't like the way he hit our guy," Foligno said. "I think [Giroux] was a willing partner, too. He's a stand-up guy as well. He knew it and he wanted to probably get into it as well. He was looking for a partner and found me and it was a good fight."

Said Giroux, who fought for the first time this season: "There was a couple of hits; fans like it. It's a good time."

If there is one criticism of late for the Flyers, it has been their inability to drop the hammer when they have the lead. Just this week, they've let the Rangers, Capitals and Senators all back into the game after having multiple-goal leads.

"You don't want to think you can just hit a switch and turn it back on and push down on the gas" to regain momentum, Pronger said.

Briere celebrated his recent selection as an All-Star replacement by notching his 25th goal of the season to open the scoring. Briere now has at least one point in eight of his last nine games and is on pace to score 44 goals. His career high is 32 twice.

"I kind of pump-faked it for a quick second to give Ville [Leino] the chance to get to the net," Briere said. "I let it go and somehow it found the back of the net."

The official scoresheet says that Richards, Briere and Andrej Meszaros were the three stars of the game. Give public-address announcer Lou Nolan a fourth star.

Though he came to the arena feeling fine, he developed a frog in his throat just before the opening faceoff. The last thing in the world he needed was a game that featured eight goals and 126 minutes in penalties. By the time the final horn blew, Nolan was as gassed as the players. The game reminded him of 2004 when the Flyers and Senators set an NHL record with 419 penalty minutes.

"When Ottawa comes in, crazy things happen," said Nolan, who was sounding like Herman Munster by game's end. "It's OK. As long as we got the win."

Phantoms in the house

The Phantoms have come down from the Adirondacks and will take on rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton in a special engagement tonight at the Wells Fargo Center.

Goaltender Michael Leighton and defenseman Danny Syvret are among the familiar faces toiling for the Flyers' affiliate. The Phantoms are in last place in the AHL, but are 8-4-2 over their last 14. Leighton is 1-5-1 since being sent to the Phantoms on Jan. 4, but he has a respectable 2.58 goals-against and .913 save percentage.

"I think he has been a great professional," Phantoms coach Joe Paterson said. "He developed himself in the American Hockey League, so he knows what it takes to get to the point to get to the NHL. So he's been good that way, his practice habits have been really good. I think he knows the only way back up here is to come down, do well in practice and win games, and have a chance to go back up again."

Defenseman Erik Gustafsson leads the team with 27 points. Winger Denis Hamel has a team-high 12 goals. A number of Phantoms were at the Flyers' game last night.

"There's about 11 guys here tonight," said Paterson, who played for the Flyers in 1984-85. "They had the option if they wanted to come to the game tonight. So they are up watching and are pretty excited to play here."

Tickets are available at the box office or at ComcastTix.com, but for a service fee of $5.75 per seat. Ouch.

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