It was certainly an eventful night at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.
Danny Briere scored twice and added an assist as he helped the Flyers defeat the Florida Panthers 5-1. Arron Asham, Simon Gagne, and James van Riemsdyk added the other goals for the Flyers, while David Booth tallied the lone goal for Florida.
With the win, the Flyers improve to 5-2-1.
Despite all of the good things the Flyers did on this night, the hit that Mike Richards laid on Booth is what people will be discussing.
With just under three minutes remaining in the second period, Booth gained the Flyers zone with the puck and dished it off to a linemate. Just as he did, Richards was coming in fast and gave him a devastating blow to the head. Booth lay motionless on the ice for several minutes before being taken away on a stretcher and rushed to the local hospital.
Richards received a five-minute interference call and a game misconduct. This will certainly be reviewed by the league to determine whether or not further disciplinary action is warranted.
Both teams traded scoring chances early on in the first period, but it was the Flyers who struck first. Left all alone in front by the Panthers defensemen, Briere scored his first of the night on a brilliant backhand feed from van Riemsdyk at 5:23.
At 14:59, Dennis Seidenberg fired a shot from the side wall towards the Flyers goal, and Booth redirected it just enough to see it squeeze through Ray Emery's pads. A few seconds before Seidenberg got the puck, Gagne turned over the puck on a poor cross-ice feed in his own zone, indirectly leading to the Panthers goal.
The Flyers had three breakaways in the first period alone, two of them shorthanded. But they weren't able to beat Tomas Vokoun who, along with Emery, was solid in goal.
The Flyers dominated the second period and were rewarded less than five minutes in. Richards gained the blue line and chipped a pass to Asham, who settled the puck and beat Vokoun on the left side for his third goal in as many games, giving the Flyers a 2-1 lead.
At 16:02 of the second frame, Gagne was finally able to breathe a sigh of relief. He was stationed to the left of Vokoun, and the rebound from a point shot landed near his feet. Gagne made a nifty little move to chip into the open net, and his tremendous smile said it all.
The Flyers outshot the Panthers, 15-2, in the second.
Briere scored his second of the night at the five-minute mark of the third on a nifty backhand pass from Scott Hartnell.
Van Riemsdyk sealed the victory with a beautiful breakaway, sliding the puck ever-so-smoothly between Vokoun's legs for his first career NHL goal.
The Flyers outshot the Panthers 38-18.
Philadelphia welcomes the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.
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