After twenty road games in their last twenty-nine, the Flyers begin a stretch at home with an all-around win. The Flyers dominated the visiting Minnesota Wild, routing them 5-1 in a night that saw points received by twelve different Flyers in all situations.
It was an intense night loaded with offense from the Orange and Black that saw them out-shoot their opponents 34-26. Netminder Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 25-of-26 shots allowing the only goal off of a deflected shot that caught him over the shoulder by former Flyer Darroll Powe. But it wasn’t just the shot total that helped the Flyers win–it was the puck movement and speed that seemed to take the Wild by surprise.
Flyers’ coach Peter Laviolette, said, “I thought everybody was good.”
The Flyers 19-year-old rookie centerman Sean Couturier, extended his goal scoring streak to five games, on a short-handed bid that was set up by the play of fellow rookie, and All Star, Matt Read.
Both Read and Couturier have been selected to represent the rookies at the NHL All Star game in Ottawa on January 28-29.
When asked about the streak, Couturier said, “With goals, I don’t even know if I had that in Juniors. I mean, usually I like to think more about passing. But I guess lately, the bounces are going my way, so, get pucks on net.”
The 25-year-old Read intercepted a pass from a Minnesota defenseman, while Flyer defenseman Andrej Meszaros was in the penalty box for boarding, and streaked up the ice with the puck. He fed the puck to Couturier and the two played catch gliding towards Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding, before Couturier got just enough on the puck to deposit it in the open net.
Couturier now has 10 goals and 7 assists in 44 games, while spending most of his time killing penalties and centering the fourth line. He doesn’t receive much ice-time, and this game was no different, as he played only 12:21, the third lowest on the team, only to rookie winger Harry Zolnierczyk (11:26) and heavy-weight Jody Shelley (9:02).
It hasn’t hampered the young future-stars’ play, as he makes every minute count with good positional play and smart decisions with and without the puck.
“[Couturier] puts himself, never on the wrong side of the puck,” said Laviolette. “Some of those goals have, well a few of them anyway, have come from coming out of our end. He’s not above the play. He’s under the play. He is in position.”
Another highlight on the night was the power play, which went 2-for-6, with goals from All Star defenseman Kimmo Timonen and red-hot Scott Hartnell, who now has 20-goals in 44-games on the season, which is just five shy of his career high of 25-goals in 81-games.
The Timonen goal was assisted by 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr, and the struggling Claude Giroux, who received career point number 200 as a Flyer. Giroux has been snake-bitten of late, as he hasn’t scored a goal in his last seven games. The last time he scored was the Winter Classic loss to the NY Rangers.
The Flyers didn’t dominate every statistic, as the Wild out-hit the Flyers 34-23. The visitors also received six minor penalties, including a game high four going to big hitter Cal Clutterbuck who also had 4-hits on the night, that helped spring-board the Flyers’ power play.
Meszaros’ penalty was the Flyers only one of the night, and it resulted in Couturier’s short-handed goal.
All in all it was a great way to come off of a tough road trip, and the Flyers hope this win will get them closer to overcoming the first place Rangers in the standings, who hold the lead by four points. The Flyers are back at it his Thursday against division rival NY Islanders, who they’ve beaten in both of their previous meetings this season.