Coming into Sunday evening’s affair with the Red Wings, the Philadelphia Flyers hadn’t won a game in Detroit since 1988—two years before I was born. A 16-game losing (0-14-2) streak at the Joe Louis Arena was intact.
Second-period goals by James van Riemsdyk, Dan Carcillo and Scott Hartnell propelled the Flyers to a 3-2 victory to jump atop the Eastern Conference standings with 53 points.
Philly is tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Red Wings for the most points in the league; however, since the Flyers have played one fewer game than the Pens, they’re above them in the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference standings.
Brian Boucher got the start in net for the orange and black, trying to get the team back to their winning ways after dropping two of their first three games on a five-game road trip. Boucher earned the game’s first star with a 25-save performance, getting his eighth win of the season.
The game was scoreless in the second period until the red-hot van Riemsdyk put the Flyers up 1-0 just 51 seconds into the period. Shooting at a bad angle, JVR fired a shot that went off two Red Wing players and past goalie Jimmy Howard.
Van Riemsdyk has nine goals in his last 18 contests after not scoring a goal in his first 17 games.
About five minutes later, Carcillo finished off a great shift by deflecting an Andrej Meszaros bomb from the point past Howard to give the Flyers a two-goal lead. Carcillo just missed scoring seconds before Meszaros took the slapper. It was his second of the year.
Meszaros finished the game with a plus-one rating in 22 minutes of ice time. He leads the NHL in plus/minus with 25.
With a little over five minutes left in the period, Hartnell potted his 10th of the year after gathering a rebound and roofing it past the struggling Howard. The play was created by a great keep-in from 39-year-old defenseman Sean O’Donnell.
For the Flyers, the second period against the Wings was the team’s best effort all season in one 20-minute period. Detroit’s a puck-possession team, and the Fly guys did a wonderful job breaking up passes and keeping the puck themselves. Philadelphia outshot the Wings 19-11 after two, and had a 3-0 lead heading into the third.
Detroit’s coach Mike Babcock decided he had enough of Howard, who allowed three goals on 27 shots. Chris Osgood replaced Howard to start the third period and held the Flyers scoreless. Osgood had five saves.
In the first minute of the third period, Valtteri Filppula scored a dandy of a goal to get Detroit within two goals when he undressed Meszaros and sniped Boucher for his 10th of the year.
With 8:22 left in regulation, Henrik Zetterberg got his Wings within one goal when he backhanded home a rebound on a power play with former teammate Ville Leino in the sin bin for a very questionable goaltender interference call.
A couple minutes prior to Zetterberg’s tally, Boucher had the play of the game when he performed some left-handed larceny on Swedish winger Johan Franzen from the slot with a phenomenal glove stop. It happened with 12:43 left in the game and a 3-1 Flyers lead.
The Flyers will finish off their road trip in New Jersey on Thursday night as they play the away portion of a home-and-home with the Devils.
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