Flyers shut out Toronto in preseason opener

Posted: September 20, 2011

TORONTO - The Flyers left most of the regulars at home and took plenty of rookies and on-the-bubble players to Toronto, where they opened their exhibition season with an impressive 4-0 victory Tuesday night.

A 3-0 second period, which included goals by rookies Zac Rinaldo and Mike Testwuide, along with a power-play score by newly acquired Wayne Simmonds, keyed the win. Sean Couturier, the Flyers' No. 1 draft pick in June, also scored. Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves, including some acrobatic stops during a five-on-three Toronto power play in the final period.

"Camp seemed fast, like we were attacking the puck. Guys had some jump, and that's how it appeared in the game tonight," said coach Peter Laviolette, whose team did not have a shutout in the regular season or playoffs last year. "It's a good way to start."

Rinaldo is known for his feistiness, but he snapped a scoreless tie by scoring on a breakaway, converting a backhander on a feed from Jakub Voracek.

"I've been itching to bring the finesse out, and I finally brought it," Rinaldo said.

Rinaldo, who led the Flyers with four hits, could make the roster and assume the role played by Dan Carcillo the last few years.

"If it was needed, I would have stepped up," he said of being a policeman on the ice. "I mean, I'm the first one to hit someone or drop the gloves, but it wasn't needed tonight, so I concentrated on the game and played hockey. It's a huge stepping-stone for me. Tonight I showed what I can do with the puck."

Couturier, 18, another player fighting for a roster spot, closed the scoring with a spin-around goal from the right circle in the third period.

"That," said Couturier, who also had an assist, "was pretty special. I was kind of nervous before the game, but once I got out there, I felt pretty good."

Three of the four goals were scored by rookies.

"Everyone is working together, and we're all trying to prove ourselves," Couturier said. "We all have an opportunity here."

Center Adam Mair, 32, one of the few veterans in Tuesday's lineup, also has an opportunity to win a job. He is a gritty player in the Darroll Powe mold, and Laviolette wants to take a long look at him in camp.

Mair, who has spent parts of 11 seasons in the NHL, is with the Flyers on a tryout contract. He centered rookies Harry Zolnierczyk and Tom Sestito, who won a one-sided fight over former Flyer Joffrey Lupul. Mair contributed three hits and solid penalty-killing.

Flyers center Danny Briere has seen the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Mair alter games with his physical style. They were teammates in Buffalo.

"He's an energy guy. He's one of those guys that can change the course of a game just by a big hit," Briere said earlier in the week. "I remember a game in L.A. when he took Ziggy Palffy out of the game with a huge hit. That set the tone for us to win. He did that more than once."

Mair is a long shot to earn a spot on a team that is deep at center, where Briere and Claude Giroux are mainstays.

The two other center spots are up for grabs. Couturier, who could be shifted to wing; Brayden Schenn; Blair Betts; Ben Holmstrom; Michael Nylander; and Mair are candidates.

Breakaways. Defenseman Matt Carle had a pair of second-period assists. . . . The game featured a matchup of a pair of brothers - the Flyers' Schenn and Blake Kessel, and the Leafs' Luke Schenn and Phil Kessel. Brayden Schenn had an assist and won 56 percent of his faceoffs. . . . Eight of the 12 Flyers forwards were rookies. . . . Ilya Bryzgalov will start Wednesday against Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center.


Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com, or on Twitter at BroadStBull.


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