Scoring chances were few and far between over the past five games for Philadelphia Flyers' Jeff Carter. The same could be said for the team as a whole throughout the first two periods of their matchup with the Sabres.
In the third period, the floodgates quickly opened for both parties.
Carter scored just 27 seconds into the period on a beautiful redirection shot off a pass from Joffrey Lupul along the left side. Carter simply went to the net and used his size to gain position. He did an outstanding job of chipping his blade under the puck to angle it perfect over Sabres' goaltender Patrick Lalime.
The Flyers were struggling of late on the power play, partially due to losing Kimmo Timmonen for four games because of the flu.
Timmonen is their anchor on the advantage and he showed it tonight. A few minutes after Carter's goal, the Flyers went to work on the power play, and took a low hard wrist shot from the point.
It just glanced slightly off of Mike Richard's stick into the net, quickly making it 3-1.
Lupul and Carter went right back to work with a very similiar goal.
On a two-on-one, Lupul again took the puck up the left side and fed Carter for a one time redirection into the net. It was Carter's 38th of the year, which ranks him at third in the league.
Scott Hartnell had a phenomenal game, notching two goals and two assists. His assists were really responsible for Carter's goals by winning pucks in the defensive zone along the walls.
Hartnell won both battles cleanly and sprung Lupul into open ice. They are the plays that tend to go unnoticed, but are the catalysts for odd man rushes and puck control.
Hartnell's first goal came on the power play off of a great pass from Claude Giroux into the crease. Giroux, 21-years-old, continues to play phenomenal hockey. His vision and instincts have lead to some passes that have drawn reactions from the Wachovia center faithful.
It is a shame Giroux cannot be worked into the top two lines right now. Flyers fans can only hope Briere will be back in time for the playoffs to share a line with Giroux. He was held out of the lineup tonight from head coach John Stevens, but is optimistic he will return on Thursday.
Obviously, it has been a frustrating year for Briere and for fans that want him to live up to his end of his contract, which has him making over six million dollars this year. I am just as frustrated as the next person, but just remember he did come back with vengeance around this time last year and played very well in the playoffs.
A line of Giroux, centering Briere, and Carcillo could be deadly as a third line in the playoffs, especially considering the balanced production of the top two lines.