So, after his trademarked #HartnellDown spill into the boards, Hartnell got up and whacked his team-leading 26th goal of the season behind James Reimer off what he called "a lucky bounce."
And then the melee ensued. Eddie Shore style.
"It was the best celebration of a goal I've seen," Max Talbot said. "It was no fist-pump, no anything. Just drop the gloves and go. It was pretty great."
With the flashing, red goal light giving them a tan, Hartnell and Phaneuf settled their differences just feet from the Maple Leafs net. The goal, meanwhile, got the Flyers started on their way to a 4-3 win over the surging Maple Leafs at the Wells Fargo Center.
It was the Flyers' first win in four games, snapping a season-high three-game winless streak.
"I thought it was just a typical 'Hartnell Down,' but he stayed in there and got a goal and a fight," Claude Giroux said. "When he gets [ticked] off, I think that's dangerous for the other team. He's on the puck, he's jumping. That was a great goal for him."
For Hartnell, it was just his second fighting major of the season - his lowest production in that category since 2005-06. He said it was his first to immediately follow a goal.
"I just went right after him," Hartnell said. "It was pretty standard. If someone does something to you like that, a cheap play or a slash, you stand up for yourself."
Otherwise this season, Hartnell has traded the fisticuffs for goals and assists. He added an assist a period later for his second "Gordie Howe hat trick"; that is, a goal, an assist and a fight in the same game.
Howe himself posted two such hat tricks in his career, a statistic that is officially recorded and kept by 10 NHL teams.
"It's pretty cool," Hartnell said. "It doesn't show up in the stats or anything like that, but what counts is that we got the two points tonight. The Rangers won in overtime. Teams are winning behind us. We wanted to put some separation between ourselves and the Maple Leafs."
With the win, the Flyers avoided having Toronto - which was in ninth place just 2 weeks ago - creep within three points for the first time since early December.
The Flyers are now 14-4-3 this season when Hartnell scores a goal. Coach Peter Laviolette believes there is something to that stat.
"There's no question, when he plays a physical game, he seems to be a lot more involved," Laviolette said. "I think that's one of the key elements of that line. He gets in on the forecheck, he hacks and whacks in front of the net and he makes things happen."
Hartnell's goal wasn't the only positive for the Flyers, as they never played behind against Toronto. Sergei Bobrovsky said he was glad he had "a chance to redeem" himself after a six-goal shellacking by New Jersey last Saturday. And Giroux tallied a pretty goal, one that he hopes will get him back on track in the scoring department.
Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (two assists) bested Giroux on the scoresheet, but Giroux (61 points) maintains a one-point edge on Kessel in the scoring race. Evgeni Malkin leads the league with 62 points.
For the Flyers, their top line was finally able to break through after posting 16 shots on net Tuesday against the Islanders.
"Even last game, we were getting pucks on net and they weren't going in," Giroux said. "It was a big goal. I think you just want to try and help the team win, and scoring is a good sign that you're helping."
For the second time this season, Brayden Schenn got the best of the sibling rivalry. He netted the game-winner with his older brother, Luke, collecting a minus on the play.
"It's always nice to score," Schenn said. "I guess with him being out there, it's nice to rub one in, too."
Scott Hartnell's other Gordie Howe hat trick was on Jan. 11, 2011 in Buffalo . . . Max Talbot was 7-for-10 on faceoffs . . . Both Luke and Brayden Schenn collected high-sticking penalties in the first 3:34. The two brothers, self-described best friends, posed for a photo and chatted postgame . . . Zac Rinaldo was tuned up by Mike Brown in a first-period fight . . . The Flyers play at Toronto twice in March.
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