Flyers whip hapless Senators

Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson (11) watches as the Flyers' Scott Hartnell (19) and Maxime Talbot celebrate a goal.
Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson (11) watches as the Flyers' Scott Hartnell (19) and Maxime Talbot celebrate a goal. (   FRED CHARTRAND / Canadian Press)

Led by rookie Matt Read, they pounced early and often, netting four goals in the first period en route to victory.

Posted: October 19, 2011

OTTAWA, Ontario - Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, the Flyers' forgotten man, played solidly in his first appearance of the season Tuesday night, but his teammates made his job easier with one of their best starts in recent history.

Rookie winger Matt Read had three points in a four-goal first-period eruption that carried the Flyers to a 7-2 win over sad-sack Ottawa at Scotiabank Place.

"I've been given the opportunity and I'm just trying to make the best of it," said Read, 25, who is playing in all situations and directing a power-play unit from the point. "Just going out there and working hard and trying to do the little things right."

Read finished with four points, and two other rookies, Sean Couturier and Harry Zolnierczyk, scored their first NHL goals, both in the waning minutes.

"The monkey's off my back. There's no more pressure to score the first one," Couturier said. "I think the whole team had a solid game, except for maybe the second period, where we were a little bit sloppy."

Zolnierczyk was recalled because of an injury to Andreas Nodl. He was playing in his first NHL game.

"I can't even describe that kind of feeling," the speedy Zolnierczyk said about his goal.

Bobrovsky made 21 saves as the Flyers improved to 4-0-1 heading into Thursday's early-season showdown with visiting Washington. You have to go back to 1986, when the Flyers were 5-0, for a better five-game start for the franchise.

In a first period in which every Flyer seemed to be on the scoresheet except equipment manager Derek Settlemyre, the Flyers built a 4-0 lead and never looked back.

"A good road period for us," said winger Wayne Simmonds, who had one of the goals in the first period, pouncing on a rebound and scoring on a spin-around shot from the slot. "We came out hard. We were on the puck the whole 20 minutes and got rewarded."

Read had an even-strength goal and two assists in the first period, which included power-play scores from Simmonds and Claude Giroux, along with Max Talbot's first goal as a Flyer.

Read became the first Flyers rookie to notch three points in a period since defenseman Alexandre Picard did it against New Jersey on Feb. 1, 2007. Picard finished with five assists in that game.

"Everyone in the NHL is a lot smarter and more-conditioned . . . and it's so much easier when you're out there playing with smart guys," Read said. "I reaped the benefits tonight by playing with two good linemates." He was referring to Couturier and Scott Hartnell.

After the first period, Ottawa goalie Alex Auld (four goals allowed on 10 shots) was replaced by Craig Anderson.

The Flyers didn't go to the penalty box in the first period, but they gave Ottawa four second-period power plays and lost their momentum. Ottawa held a 12-7 edge in second-period shots and got to within 4-1 when Jason Spezza tapped home a goal-mouth pass from Daniel Aldredsson with 1 minute, 1 second left in the stanza.

Bobrovsky was sharp in the period, however, as he made a handful of difficult stops and resembled the goalie who had a 0.40 goals-against average and .982 save percentage in the preseason.

"I thought he looked really good in camp," coach Peter Laviolette said before the game. "He's an extremely hard worker, on the ice and off the ice. And this is a good spot to get him going now. The schedule wasn't real taxing at the beginning of the year, but now we're coming up to a group of games here where he can get some work."

The Flyers host Washington on Thursday and St. Louis on Saturday. Ilya Bryzgalov, who signed a nine-year $51 million contract in the offseason, is expected to start both games.

The Flyers were 3 for 6 on their much-improved power play, making them 7 for 18 in their last three games. They had at least two power-play goals in each of their last three games, something they did not accomplish last season.

The four goals in the first period were the most for the Flyers in an opening period since they netted five in an 8-7 loss to Tampa Bay last Nov. 18. The last time they had scored four in any period was in a 7-4 win in Los Angeles on Dec. 30.


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

 

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