Giroux steals the show

Posted: December 20, 2013

C LAUDE GIROUX was falling down.

Blue Jackets defenseman David Savard was pushing him away from the net - and the weight was getting heavy, being that Giroux also had the rest of the Flyers on his back.

Facing the boards and moving away from the net, Giroux blindly blasted a perfectly placed backhand over Curtis McElhinney's shoulder as 19,852 fans exploded.

"I was right in front," Scott Hartnell said. "I thought he was just going to shoot it backdoor for a rebound or something. I saw it almost like slow motion going in the top corner. I was thinking, "Oh man!' I bet that will be tops on SportsCenter tonight."

Giroux's gravity-defying goal, an instant candidate for the top goal in the NHL this season, was his fourth point of the third period and the 100th of his career.

More importantly for the Flyers, his top-shelf snipe made the seemingly impossible, possible. With 1:38 to play, it was the exclamation point on a furious, five-goal third period in which they erased 3-0 and 4-2 disadvantages to somehow knock off the Blue Jackets, 5-4, in regulation. No extra-session necessary.

It was the Flyers' eighth consecutive win at the Wells Fargo Center.

Today, for the first time since the 2011-12 season, the Flyers will stroll into their practice facility and gawk at the giant standings board in their lounge area to find themselves over .500 (16-15-4) and in a Stanley Cup playoff position. They had failed on four previous attempts this season to climb over the even mark after a 1-7-0 start to the season.

"It didn't look like it was going to be tonight, either," Hartnell said. "[Giroux] put all 20 of us on his back and led us to victory."

The impressive comeback victory also delivered a win for Steve Mason in his first game against his former team. Mason fought the puck early. He also allowed a crippling goal to Blake Comeau in the third period to make it 4-2 after the Flyers had scored twice to cut Columbus' lead.

To say it was an emotional night for Mason was an understatement. It was also a night when he seemed to flashback, at least on the ice, to his rough performances that made the Blue Jackets give up on him last April.

So, once the final horn had sounded - with Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough" blaring in the locker room - Mason walked around the locker room and thanked each of his teammates.

"I tried not to think too much about it. And for the most part, my emotions were pretty mellow considering the circumstances," Mason said. "After the game was over and we got back in here, it was just a good feeling.

"I wasn't the main reason we won. So I just went around the room and told the boys how much I appreciated everything they did for me."

The Flyers remained unbeaten (5-0-1) in Philadelphia against the new Metropolitan Division rivals, who joined the league in 2000. Columbus entered the night 9-0-1 when leading after two periods, proof enough that it was a third period this Flyers team might not have won a month ago.

"For us to get that step over .500 and that little race for the playoffs, it's little motivation for the guys," Giroux said. "Hopefully we can build on it."

Flyers coach Craig Berube said his captain "came up big." Giroux's two goals and two assists in the third period gave him his sixth career four-point game. The five goals was the Flyers' largest outburst in one period since March 2, 2010.

Giroux and the Flyers said they were extra-motivated to play for the goaltender who has been their unquestioned MVP this season. Hartnell reminded that Jake Voracek also spent his formative years in Columbus - and the draft pick that became Sean Couturier was once tied to the Blue Jackets.

"I mean, so many times to start the year he bailed us out," Giroux said of Mason. "For us to come back and get that win for him, he was really happy to have a little help from us. Once in a while is kind of good."

When Mason went around thanking his teammates, it was Giroux who stopped him in his tracks.

"[Giroux] in particular said 'You don't have to be the one who is winning us games every single night, we're going to come through for you,' " Mason recalled. "They picked one heck of a night to do it for me."

The last time the Flyers won eight consecutive home games was Dec. 9, 2008 to Jan. 10, 2009. They have a chance to win nine straight at home against Minnesota on Monday before the holiday break, something they haven't done since 2005-06 . . . Jake Voracek extended his point streak to six games . . . The Blue Jackets' lead was their first in Philadelphia since Oct. 6, 2001, a game that ended in a 3-3 tie and is the Flyers' only blemish (5-0-1) in their series at Wells Fargo Center. The teams play in Columbus tomorrow. Ray Emery is expected to start that game.


On Twitter: @DNFlyers

Blog: ph.ly/FrequentFlyers

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