No shutout, just another Flyers victory

Flyers' James van Riemsdyk checks Hurricanes' Tuomo Ruutu during the third period of last night's home victory.
Flyers' James van Riemsdyk checks Hurricanes' Tuomo Ruutu during the third period of last night's home victory.
Posted: February 11, 2011

BRIAN BOUCHER admits he let his mind wander.

With his team holding a comfortable two-goal edge and just a little more than 8 minutes to play, Boucher could almost reach out and grab the Flyers' first shutout of the season.

"Maybe it crossed my mind for a second," Boucher said with a laugh.

And almost in that instant, the shutout vanished like a mirage in the Mojave desert. It took exactly 40 seconds for Danny Briere's insurance goal to turn into the game-winning goal when Tuomo Ruutu slapped a weak rebound into the net.

"But I only had a second, because that's when they scored," Boucher said. "I don't think I lost my concentration, but maybe somebody up in the press box jinxed me."

Jinxed or not, the Flyers remain the only team in the NHL without a shutout this season - a feat that even the worst teams in the league have done, multiple times. By our count, that's the eighth time the Flyers have skated into the third period this season with a shutout opportunity and failed to get one.

More importantly, the Flyers staved off the Hurricanes' hunger to leave the Wells Fargo Center last night with at least one point and hung on for the 2-1 win, thanks to two power-play goals earlier in the third period.

"We look for the wins first," Chris Pronger said.

Last night's victory was the closest the Flyers have come to a shutout this season.

"I'm sure if you ask Brian, he doesn't care about the shutouts," Briere said. "It's about getting the wins to keep climbing in the standings."

The Flyers not only stopped their streak of three losses in games that follow 4 off days, but also improved their lead in the Eastern Conference to three points over Pittsburgh with 28 games to play.

It was the Flyers' 15th win of the season in a one-goal game, improving their record to a 15-4-5 in those tense situations.

"You have to start learning how to win them and [last] night was a good start," Pronger said. "It was goose eggs [tied 0-0] going into the third period and you don't see that very often, but you have to stick with the game plan and stick with how you need to play to be successful.

"I think it was our ability to refocus between periods. It wasn't our best second period by any stretch of the imagination but we were able to counter that and come back in the third with a lot better effort."

The Flyers also were able to counter two of the most boring periods of hockey they've played this season. Peter Laviolette tried to wake his team out of its snoozefest with a timeout in the second period, but he had to wait until the intermission to really give his team an earful.

It worked.

"It was kind of a slow start to the game," Boucher explained. "But things picked up from there and it was a tight game. It felt like a game that you'd have in the playoffs."

Jeff Carter scored just 18 seconds into the final stanza to give the Flyers their first lead, as the Flyers were able to connect on a power play. They are 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) with the man advantage over the last eight games.

"I think the message was pretty clear that the power play hasn't won a game in a long time," said Claude Giroux, who assisted on Briere's goal. "We've talked a lot about it and watched videos over the last few days. I think [last] night was a good example of guys moving the puck and guys going to the net. It was good."

While Laviolette would have preferred his team to continue attacking and taking a three- or four-goal lead, he knows pressure situations like last night will come up again and again over the final 28 games and into the playoffs.

"Two days from now, [the games] are going to look no different than today," Laviolette said. "You gotta show up and play hard; the other team is going to try to pin you back because they're desperate."

Carolina was desperate, already hanging onto the eighth-place playoff bubble. It showed in the third period.

"It's good getting ready for the playoffs," Briere said. "We're going to be facing a lot of teams fighting for their lives."

"I really believe that good teams find a way to win when it's tied in the third period," Giroux said. "I think it's a good sign."

Giroux scare

Claude Giroux, the Flyers' leading scorer with 51 points, left the game briefly in the second period after he was hit with a slap shot in the left knee and hobbled off the ice.

He returned to the bench a short while later and played the rest of the game.

"I got caught out of position and I just tried to get back in the lane," Giroux said. "He hit me in a spot with no padding. But it's all good, though. It's part of hockey."

Slap shots

The Flyers improved to 3-0 against Carolina this season and 15-0-3 against the Hurricanes in their last 18 meetings . . . Defenseman Matt Carle's assist on Danny Briere's third-period goal was his first power-play point of the season . . . Brian Boucher is 6-1-0 against the Hurricanes with a 1.58 goals-against average.

For more news and analysis, read Frank Seravalli's blog, Frequent Flyers, at

www.philly.com/FrequentFlyers. Follow him on Twitter at

http://twitter.com/DNFlyers.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|