The Philadelphia Flyers skated into the unfriendly confines up at Air Canada Centre looking to win their second in a row and to avenge last week’s home loss at the hands of the Maple Leafs. They would have to do so without defenseman Chris Pronger, who missed the game with a hand injury that was sustained in a game against the Islanders when he took a shot off it from the point back on February 24th.
Pronger, showed that great leadership by letting his team know about how unhappy he was with their sloppy play after their 4-1 win over the Oilers Tuesday night. That score however, did not indicate how close the game was to being 3-3 or even possibly 4-3 with the Flyers ending up on the wrong side of the scoreboard.
Even without the leadership of Pronger, the Flyers came out skating well tonight and ready to play. The first period was a very physical one, with big hits by both teams. Flyers’ defenseman Andrej Meszaros opened the scoring on the power play with a blast from the point off a good feed from Claude Giroux. The Flyers were awarded that power play when Mike Komisarek was given a five minute major and a game misconduct for sending Dan Carcillo into the boards awkwardly, hitting his head against the boards. Carcillo was dazed and went to the locker room for a bit before returning later on in that same period.
The Flyers came close at least several more times on that five-minute advantage, but were not able to dent the twine behind Leafs goalie James Reimer. Darroll Powe gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 9:36 of the second period when he fired a shot from an awkward angle, that found its way between the pads of Reimer and just squirted over the goal line.
The Leafs would cut the Flyer lead in half less than two minutes later on a fluke goal when a shot from the point by Dion Phaneuf smacked off the visor of fellow teammate Mikhail Grabovski and ricocheted into the net behind Flyers’ goalie Brian Boucher. The game was almost tied a few minutes later when
Colby Armstrong was left all alone point blank in the slot, but Boucher robbed him of tying the game with a fantastic glove save to keep his team up by one.
Moments later, Giroux answered with 5:20 left, when he beat Reimer with a quick snap shot from just outside the crease to put the Flyers ahead by two.
The Flyers had things seemingly under control until former Flyers’ playoff hero, Joffrey Lupul, took a feed from Mike Brown after Brown turned Flyers defenseman Sean O’Donnell inside out, and put it up top over a fallen Boucher to pull his team back to within one goal at 3-2.
After that goal, the Flyers started to resemble the team that Pronger had laid into after their sloppy play just two nights earlier. Boucher had to come up with some stellar stops the rest of the way to preserve the victory for his team.
After the game Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said , that this was his team’s most complete game in awhile, despite having some defensive breakdowns in that third period.
The Flyers won’t have much time to enjoy their second straight victory. They return home for a date with the Atlanta Thrashers, another team desperate for points hoping for a shot at a playoff spot on Saturday night.