The struggling Ottawa Senators came into the Well Fargo Center Thursday night for some “Old Time Hockey.” After being routed 6-2 by the Flyers, the game turned into a street fight.
Chris Pronger, back for his first game since receiving foot surgery, had a few remarks on the game.
“There was an awful lot of them [fights] out there,” Pronger said.“They wanted to run around and we answered the bell.”
The Flyers currently sit atop the NHL standings with 67 points, one point above the Western Conference leading Vancouver Canucks. They’re firing on all cylinders, but their success has placed a target on their backs.
The Sens have struggled with injuries to stars, Jason Spezza and Alexei Kovalev. They’ve now lost four straight, and have only won one of their last 11 games. With a sluggish offense that’s only scored 105 goals all season, and sitting at the bottom of the Northeast Division, they wanted a strong showing in Philadelphia.
Less than five minutes into the game, and only three shots on Ottawa goaltender, Brian Elliot, the Flyers were leading, 2-0. Over the course of 1:18 in the second period, the Sens closed the gap to one goal, but the Flyers snuffed out their comeback with a three goal third period.
“We knew what was going here, we came out pretty hot and had a good first period and then for some reason we got into their game,” said Flyers forward Jeff Carter. “It was kind of a sleeper out there. We slowed down, stopped skating and started turning pucks over. We gave them a chance to get back into the game. We’re a resilient team. We regrouped and came out hard in the third and got the points.”
A clean hit by Claude Giroux that took down Jesse Winchester started a scuffle that saw Carter receive only his second career NHL fighting major. Well known for his offensive skills, Carter’s probably never heard as loud an ovation as when his major penalty was announced. Minutes later, Giroux went after Nick Foligno for his second career NHL fight.
“I don’t really fight. Only when I get pissed off or something,” Giroux said about his fight. “I find the smallest guy and try to fight him.”
At the next face-off, there was a dust-up involving three different pairs, one of which included a heavy weight bout between Jody Shelley and Chris Neil.
Mike Richards was also asked about the many fighting majors, and he responded comically, “I don’t like fighting. I was on the bench,” he said.
The wild night saw a total of 126 penalty minutes handed out and had shades of a game back in 1994 between these two teams that saw 419 penalty minutes handed out. That game still holds the record for most penalty minutes in a game.
This game marked Pronger’s return from a broken foot. He missed 13 games due to the injury and has missed a total of 15 games this season. The big defenseman looked sluggish to start the game, receiving a hooking minor for holding up Ottawa’s, Zack Smith, who got behind him on the play.
Peter Laviolette didn’t seem to think Pronger needed to be eased back in, as he gave him 20:24 of ice time, about two minutes less than his season average. He had two assists, was a plus-1, had three hits, and two blocked shots—a good first game back for the future hall of famer.
The Flyers standing atop the leader board have placed themselves directly in the sights of opposing teams. They’re dominating games and playing like the first place team in the league, but opponents certainly circle them on the schedule to be ready for a battle.
Probably not intentionally, but the Ottawa game sends a message to the rest of the league that not only will opposing teams need hard work to beat the orange and black, but also bring plenty of ice packs.