"What a morning for a hockey game, PHL!!!" Hartnell tweeted, posting the picture to his Twitter (@Hartsy19) account.
Morning and hockey games do not usually go together. In fact, yesterday's 11:30 a.m. puck drop was the Flyers' earliest since March 14, 1992 (11:05 a.m.), against the Capitals and the NHL's only scheduled morning game this season.
"When you come to the rink in the morning, it's kind of weird," Claude Giroux said. "But I just had a couple of coffees, and I was ready to go."
Hartnell provided plenty of jolt, as he deposited a Dustin Byfuglien Black Friday giveaway into a wide-open net to send 19,937 fans to their feet only 48 seconds into yesterday's matinee. Powered by Hartnell's early energy on the forecheck, the Flyers outshot Winnipeg, 13-2, in the first period and hung on for a 2-1 win after tiring in the latter half of the game.
Without Hartnell's early burst, the Flyers might not have had enough to outlast the Jets in the second and third periods.
"It's nice, your first shift just going right to the slot, and there's a nice, little present waiting for you there," Hartnell said. "I'll take it. It was a big start for us. We needed to have a big start. We had two bad games for us there on the road."
To watch Hartnell, with his rambunctious style, it is no surprise that the Flyers often go as he does. The proof is in their record: They are 3-0-2 when he scores a goal this season.
Going back to the day he arrived in Philadelphia via trade from Nashville, the Flyers are 85-20-10 in games in which Hartnell scores at least one goal. That means they've collected a point in 82.6 percent (95-for-115) of games he scores.
"That's a pretty good percentage," Hartnell said, raising his arms in celebration. "I'll take a goal every game if we can go 82-0.
"I think when everyone's into the game, emotionally and things like that, it feeds off. We do have a lot of young guys that look up to guys like myself. It's all about being prepared and going to the net. That's where I score my goals."
Steve Mason, who was nearly flawless in stopping 25 of 26 Winnipeg shots, said Hartnell's goal was exactly what the Flyers needed with such a strange start time.
"These are tough games to get going for," Mason said. "You get out of bed, eat breakfast and then you are playing a game. I thought the guys did a really good job of coming out in the first period and really taking it to them. It set us up for the rest of the game."
Sean Couturier added a shorthanded breakaway goal to make it 2-0 in the second period, contributing offensively to his usually stellar defense-first posture. He was strong in both ends of the ice.
"Just like most nights," coach Craig Berube said. "He's very good and did a good job for us, killing penalties, checking. He scored a big shorthanded goal and he skated really well."
Two weeks ago, the Flyers had a 2-1 third-period lead in Winnipeg and blew it, only able to escape with one point after falling in the shootout. Yesterday, with the same lead against the same team, they didn't sit back. Berube dubbed it a good "comeback game" to break the Flyers' two-game skid.
The Flyers kept pushing for possession in the offensive zone. Hartnell, of course, had his nose in the middle of it all, creating a scoring chance in the waning minutes with a deft pass to Giroux.
"He's a guy who has been around here for a while, been around the league for a while," Nick Grossmann said. "You know when he's in the room. He is calm, funny; he usually talks to all the guys. When he plays with a chip on his shoulder, everyone follows."
The Flyers are now 2-3-1 against the Western Conference this season. Four of their six opponents on this impending six-game swing - the Flyers' longest trip of the season - reside in the West. Overall, the West entered last night's action an astounding 99-41-17 against the East this season . . . The Flyers failed to capitalize on a power play for the first time in nine games, since Nov. 9 against Edmonton . . . The last time the Flyers held an opponent to two shots in a period was April 3, 2013, against Montreal.
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