The Philadelphia Flyers faced many question marks as they skated into Dallas last night to play the Stars. Questions like: how would the team cope with losing one of their team leaders in Chris Pronger, when would they be able to put together a full 60 minutes and more if needed into a game and which goalie would step up and take hold of the number one spot as the team heads down the stretch into April and the grueling Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Flyers took major strides in answering a lot of those questions.
Defenseman Braydon Coburn stepped up last night into Pronger’s role. Coburn threw his body around making some big checks and also displayed some good puck moving ability.
Jeff Carter and team captain Mike Richards helped jumpstart the team giving the Flyers a 2-0 lead. The Flyers never trailed in the game, but things would become “scary” again (quoting Danny Briere after a collapse at home against the Thrashers) when the Stars fought back to tie the game at 2-2 late in the third period.
The Flyers, who had come into this game with at least one point in five straight, had found themselves struggling at times in those games. The recent being a 4-3 shootout loss against the Thrashers Thursday night in Atlanta.
The Flyers can thank their young acrobatic goalie Sergei Bobrovsky for not ending up on the wrong side of this game too when all was said and done.
His biggest save coming in overtime off a quick low shot from the slot, in which the rookie net minder did a full split, kicking his right pad and skate out at the same time to save the game for his team and help send things into the shootout round.
Bobrovsky was huge in the shootout round as well allowing only one goal by Mike Ribeiro and stoning the other five shooters.
The Flyers jumped ahead in the shootout before Ribeiro would tie it on a goal in round two by Claude Giroux. It stayed that way until round six as both, Bobrovsky and Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen, who has never beaten the Flyers in his career, came up with some big saves himself. However, Flyers forward Ville Leino finished things when Lehtonen dove out and missed on a poke check allowing Leino to maneuver around him and hit a gapping net.
The Flyers’ victory could not have come at a better time. It earned the team a spot in the playoffs and also vaulted them back ahead of the Washington Capitals for top spot in the Eastern Conference.
”We’ve never talked about clinching a playoff berth; we’ve always talked about home ice, all rounds. Game 7 if it comes to that in our building,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said during the postgame press conference. “That’s why we continue to push.”
The Flyers return home to the Wells Fargo Center in Philly for a couple of huge contests against the Capitals and Penguins this week.