Flyers hit a grand slam with home win

Claude Giroux is all smiles after scoring a power-play goal in the first period of the Flyers' 5-2 win over Montreal.
Claude Giroux is all smiles after scoring a power-play goal in the first period of the Flyers' 5-2 win over Montreal.
Posted: January 26, 2011

WITH A TEMPLATE of what not to do heading into a long layoff etched in front of them dating back to Dec. 20, Danny Briere's empty-net goal sent the Flyers into their weeklong All-Star break last night atop the NHL's standings.

"We remembered what happened against Florida," Briere said of the Flyers' 5-0 loss in December before a 7-day break. "We wanted to have a better showing in front of our fans."

The showing - what might have been, at times, the Flyers' most dominating performance this season - ended up as a 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, giving Flyers fans the 1,000th home-ice win in franchise history.

With the victory, the Flyers became the NHL's first expansion franchise to hit that impressive total.

"Having personally attended nearly every one of these glorious victories, it certainly is impressive to be the first NHL expansion team to reach 1,000 regular-season home victories," Flyers chairman Ed Snider said. "This achievement is a true testament to the many men who have put on the orange and black and proudly wore the Flyers' famous logo for nearly 45 years.

"This milestone is a representative of Flyers hockey. We want our home to be a very tough place for our opponents to play."

Last night, the toughest thing for the Canadiens was to stay out of their own way. The Flyers went 3-for-5 on the power play after capitalizing on just 13 of their last 108 chances in their previous 27 games, a troubling success rate of just 12 percent.

Two of those goals - the Flyers' first two of the game - came just 63 seconds apart at the end of the first period, as Jeff Carter and Kimmo Timonen scored with the Flyers skating on a two-man advantage.

Chris Pronger assisted on both of goals from the point. He finished with a season-high four assists.

"The power play needed to come up big," Pronger said. "We were moving the puck quicker, we weren't just standing there and thinking. And then we got some traffic in front of [goalie Carey Price]."

"Five-on-threes usually dictate the game," Briere said. "You can't miss on those opportunities. Those two goals put them back on their heels. After that, we were rolling."

Dan Carcillo scored 23 seconds into the second period - the Flyers' third goal in a span of 2:41 - and the Flyers kept their foot down on the gas pedal.

During one 2-minute stretch during the second period, Carter's line - with Claude Giroux and Nik Zherdev - worked the puck around the ice at a dizzying pace. The Flyers had 1:37 of sustained offensive-zone pressure, a rarity during even-strength play.

"It was amazing to see them go," Briere said. "When you're sitting on the bench, you see your teammates go, and you want to keep it going. For the other team, it's deflating, you're wondering when it's going to come out of the zone."

"Don't forget the two [defensemen], too," Pronger said with a grin. "They were doing some stuff out there, too. But when you're coming after a team with wave after wave, it's deflating for them."

It was a welcome change of pace for a team that had made a habit over the last few weeks of winning games after coughing up three-goal leads.

"That's one thing, we didn't want to sit back again," Briere said. "They did score those two goals to make it a tight game toward the end, but overall we played fairly solid. It was an intense game, with a lot of chippiness and guys going back and forth. It was a physical win."

The Flyers don't play again until next Tuesday in Tampa Bay. Players will scatter today to vacation anywhere from South Beach in Florida to Costa Rica to Ottawa - without a rink in sight. Briere, Giroux and coach Peter Laviolette will be heading to Raleigh, N.C., for the All-Star Game.

"We certainly played better approaching a break than we did last time," Laviolette said. "We did talk about it, and I thought we responded with a really strong effort. We wanted to end it on the right note. But this game is as important as the game we play when we come out of the break."

Slap shots

Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his sixth straight win. "Confidence is the most important thing for me," Bobrovsky said. "So I can calm down and play to the best of my abilities and keep winning" . . . At 33-12-5, this is the Flyers' third-best record in franchise history after 50 games . . . Braydon Coburn and Chris Pronger combined to block 11 shots . . . Blair Betts was only credited with two blocked shots, but spent almost half of his time on the ice (6:53 out of 12:57) on the penalty kill. It might have been Betts' most noticeable game of the season . . . Jeff Carter picked up a goal on one of his six shots on net.

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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