Flyers roar back to ice Buffalo, 7-2

The Flyers' red-hot Wayne Simmonds gets the puck by Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth for his second goal during the second period.
The Flyers' red-hot Wayne Simmonds gets the puck by Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth for his second goal during the second period. (STEVEN M. FALK / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 17, 2012

Oh, to be a fly on the wall and hear what Flyers coach Peter Laviolette spewed to his team after a dreadful opening period Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

"It was not really pretty," center Max Talbot said. "We didn't come out like we wanted to."

But after falling into an early 2-0 hole, the Flyers scored seven unanswered goals - including two each by Talbot and Wayne Simmonds - en route to a much-needed 7-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres.

Simmonds netted his 19th and 20th goals, both on power-play rebounds, despite being hit in the mouth in the pregame warm-up. He received 25 stitches in his upper and lower lip and played with a face shield for the first time this season.

"He's a warrior," said goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who allowed a soft goal to Thomas Vanek but blanked Buffalo over the final 50 minutes, 30 seconds. "He pays the price in front of the net, and that's why he was awarded with the goals."

"In front of the net, no one can move him," said Claude Giroux, the shifty center who also had a sensational night. "He gets those garbage goals and people think it's easy, but it's actually pretty hard."

Giroux had a career-high five assists, one shy of the club record set by Eric Lindros in 1997. The last Flyer to have five assists in a game was Alexandre Picard in 2007.

"Everything I was chipping [to his teammates] was going into the net," Giroux said after increasing his point total to 67, two behind league leader Evgeni Malkin of the Penguins. "All the boys played great."

Scott Hartnell added four points (goal, three assists) for the Flyers.

The Flyers, who notched just their second win in the last seven games, erased a 2-0 deficit with four second-period goals, highlighted by the power-play scores from the blistering Simmonds, who has seven goals in his last eight games. (Simmonds' mouth was badly swollen after the game, and he could not speak with reporters.)

Rookie defenseman Erik Gustafsson scored a second-period goal, the first of his NHL career. Gustafsson took a slick drop pass from Jakub Voracek and fired a right-circle shot inside the left post and past relief goalie Ryan Miller.

"One of the best feelings I've ever had in my life," said a smiling Gustafsson, who hopes to stay in the lineup when newly acquired Nicklas Grossman arrives.

The win was tempered by the Flyers' loss of two more players - Danny Briere and Tom Sestito - to injuries. Briere appeared to injure his shoulder as he was knocked into the boards by Patrick Kaleta in the first period. Sestito may have injured his hand in a second-period fight with Zack Kassian.

After the opening period, Laviolette told the players they had to be accountable for their actions and play with more passion. His outrage left an impression.

"It was definitely a wake-up call," center Brayden Schenn said. "It's good that he came in here and let us know, and it was good to see the team respond. He wasn't calm, that's for sure."

The seven goals were the most for the Flyers since a 9-2 romp over Columbus on Nov. 5.

"These are the wins that bring us together," said Talbot, who has a career-high 16 goals. "We didn't start the way we wanted to. We talked about it between the first and second, and we started to play and never looked back. It's a win that happened at the right time.

"We could have just shut it down, but the guys answered back and showed a lot of character. . . . We proved that when we play the right way, we're really a dangerous team."


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


 

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