Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 46: MIN 4, PHI 7 - Triple Double
And a 1, 2, 3 (goals for JVR), let the hats go flying, for a Flyers victory!
And a 4 (goals on), 5, 6 (shots in a 26 minute span), our bold battalion, may they take us all the way (to Jack Hughes)!
For the second time in 3 games, the Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 7-4, over the Minny Wild, proving once and for all that Pennsylvania is the true state of hockey.
This was a weird game in a lot of ways. For staters, Scott Gordon made a bold change to the Flyers struggling PP, putting FIVE forwards on the top unit, something I can't ever remember seeing before. G, Coots, JVR, Jake, and Simmer all found themselves on the top unit, with Nolan, Oskar, Provy, and the Travii on unit #2. First-line cocaine smuggler (allegedly) Jori Lehtera drew back in for the first time since December 15th, replacing Dale Weise. Andrew MacDonald also drew back in after missing 6 games with a lower-body injury, coming in for the struggling Christian Folin.
Things didn't look very good early, though. With the Wild jamming away for a loose puck in front on the man advantage, just as Hart thought he had the puck covered Jason Zucker slammed it past him to give Minny the early lead. To make matters worse, Joel Eriksson Ek's shot hit off Phil Varone's stick and deflected past Hart just 52 seconds later as the game threatened to spiral out of control.
But then Scott Gordon did a wonderful thing. A thing Dave Hakstol never would have done. He called his timeout, talked things over with his team, and got them going for the rest of the game. What a concept!
The timeout paid immediate dividens, as did the 5-man top PP unit. Jake Voracek, who is now at the point, snapped a shot that JVR expertly tipped home, quietly beginning what would turn out to be a banner night for the red hot van Riemsdyk. Suddenly, the Flyers had their mojo back. Despite failing to connect on 2 power plays later in the first (one for a failed offsides challenge by Boudreau on that goal), Philadelphia seemed to have a new pep in their step. That pep paid off late in the frame, as a Claude Giroux shot through traffic hit JVR, who got G the puck off a beautiful zone entry, and beat Devin Dubnyk, knotting the game at 2 going into 1st intermission.
However, that momentum didn't carry over into the 2nd. Just 2:23 into the frame, Marcus Foligno banged home his 3rd goal of the season, another one from in-tight, restoring the Minnesota lead. But just a few minutes later, Scott Laughton was able to break into the zone and throw the puck in front for a streaking Flyer...
No. It can't be.
NOLAN PATRICK BABY! That rosy-cheeked sniper mercifully snapped a 24-game goalless drought dating back to November 10th against Chicago (an ENG - he hadn't scored on a goalie since 11/3 in San Jose), chopping the bouncing puck underneath the pad of Dubnyk, tying the game 3-3. It may not have been the prettiest of goals, but for a guy who hadn't scored in that long, you'll take what you can get.
The magnitude of that goal for Nolan's confidence showed literally 10 and a half minutes later when Travis Sanheim's shot went wide and OH MY GOSH DID HE ACTUALLY JUST DO THAT.
Nolan Patrick, through-the-legs edition, 4-3 Philadelphia. Imagine that through-the-legs drop pass to Weise last year combined with William Karlsson's through-the-legs shortie against San Jose combined, and that's about what happened. That's the skill level that comes with drafting a player 2nd overall, and that doesn't disappear forever no matter how many games he goes without scoring. Nolan Patrick is still Nolan Patrick folks, he just needs to find a way to get consistent.
The only thing was that Patrick's goals were scored more than 10 minutes apart, yet the Flyers didn't get a single shot between them. And over the final 5 minutes of the 2nd, the Flyers managed just two more. One from Travis Konecny that was stopped, and one from Wayne Simmonds that was, well, not. Simmer scored with just 6 seconds left in the frame, outwaiting Dubnyk after a beautiful cross-ice feed from Scott Laughton, extending the lead to 2 goals.
The Flyers offensive woes continued in the 3rd period. It took them 6:29 to get their first shot on the period, and another 4:14 to get a second. In between the two, the Wild appeared to score a goal out of a (no pun intended) wild scramble in front of Hart, but it was waved off due to goalie interference by Eric Staal. Somehow, the Wild were still able to challenge this play (apparently you don't forfeit your timeout on an offsides challenge), and the call was overturned as Toronto determined that Robert Hagg pushed Staal into Hart, legalizing the contact.
It's a good thing for the Flyers that second shot on the period went in. No, seriously - it was a post-and-in breakaway wrister by the Wayne Train, who recorded his first multi-goal game since October 16th against Florida with the Flyers fourth goal in a 6 shot span. I'm not sure if it's better or worse they came against two goalies (Dubnyk was pulled at the end of the 2nd), but it came, and it was much needed relief for the Orange and the Black.
The Wild pulled Stalock late in the game and had a solid minute straight of zone time, but couldn't do anything with it. Eventually, G was able to send the perfect saucer pass/defensive zone clear to spring... James van Hat Trick!
Van Three-sdyk with the ENG, completing his 4th career hat-trick and second as a Flyer (he had one back in 2011 against the Islanders) for the icing on the cake. After not scoring in 2 games against the Wild last year, the Flyers put up a 7-spot on the slumping Wild to fuel their most dominant victory in God-knows how long. Good night, good hockey, good triple-double.
Before this game, Jake Voracek called this, "the toughest season I’ve been through in 11 years." He did say he also still hoped the Flyers might be able to battle back into a playoff spot, or at least close to it. I know he's paid to say it, but I'm not under any disillusions. Still, I'll take the win. This was fun.
Came away from tonight really impressed with Scott Laughton's game. Tenacious as always, but he was a setup machine, recording his first 3-career three point game.
Tonight wasn't without some traditional slump-busters coming against the Flyers - Eriksson Ek scored for the first time since November 11th, and Foligno's tally broke a 15-game drought.
This was also the first time the Flyers have recorded a hockey triple-double (3 players with 2+ goals) since the home opener last year against Washington, when G, Laughts, and Coots all put up 2 goals in a 8-2 victory over the Caps.
What made tonight even more impressive was the fact that the Flyers had scored 14 goals in their last 8 games. They got half that number this evening.
The win also pushes the Flyers out of the NHL's basement, all the way up to 29th. Going into today they were dead last, the latest they had been there in a season since the end of the 06-07 campaign. Let's just hope the Blackhawks don't jump us in the draft lottery again and steal another transcendant talent.
After a rough start, Carter Hart really buckled down today. While the Flyers were failing to generate any shots from the beginning of the 2nd to the middle of the 3rd, Hart held down the fort, stopping 34 of 38 in the victory.
Hart also hilariously admitted he thought about skating down to challenge Devin Dubnyk when the Wild goalie was messing with Scott Laughton during a scrum, but didn't because he was afraid he "would get his a** kicked." God, I love that kid.
Finally, a bit of an upset in the helmet department - Nolan takes it over JVR's hat-trick after snapping his long drought with his first career 4-point night.
1st - N. Patrick (PHI) - 2 G, 2 A
2nd - J. van Riemsdyk (PHI) - 3 G
3rd - W. Simmonds (PHI) - 2 G
MIN - 1/15 vs. LA (18-25-3)
PHI - 1/16 vs. BOS (26-15-5)