Thursday, February 24, 2011
Posted: 9:32 p.m. Updated: 10:45 p.m.
By Tim Panaccio
Sometimes, things can get too comfortable for a hockey club when its winning and even though sloppiness is creeping in.
Lately, the Flyers penchant for blowing third-period leads has surfaced.
We dont make it easy on ourselves, thats for sure, Chris Pronger said.
Yep, the Flyers did it again Thursday night. This time they coughed up a two-goal lead against the feisty New York Islanders before having to wring out a 4-3 overtime victory on Andrej Meszaros howitzer from the high slot.
Among these tense finishes, coach Peter Laviolette wishes that sense of desperation that propelled his club from 14thin the Eastern Conference to a playoff berth last season would re-emerge.
Last year there was a desperation that was built into every game, Laviolette said. I miss that a little bit, that desperation. This year, were sitting in a place where it looks like were gonna make the playoffs and hopefully, continue to win. So theres no comparison between the two years.
How do you instill desperation on a club that has been winning on autopilot at times?
Im not sure how to do that, Laviolette replied. Its about a professionalism we have to have. Continue to work in practice and push in games. And strive to be the best we can be.
The Flyers werent at their best against the Isles, but they were good enough to win thanks to Meszaros shot.
First period we didnt play that bad, Meszaros said. We didnt fight for pucks around their net and second period we didnt play that good. We tried to come out hard in the third and it was a tough game. We got two points.
They took a 2-1 lead into the third period and got some gritty work along the boards from Claude Giroux to keep a puck alive with the G-man shooting through a maze of players off Jeff Carter to give goalie Sergei Bobrovsky a two-goal cushion at 5:05.
A little more than a minute later, however, Islander center Michael Haley, blasted a puck into the slot from the back boards where Matt Martin was completely unmarked. Martin literally measured Bob, shooting off the goalies right hip into the net, to make it 3-2.
Martin then tied the game with his second goal in the final 27.1 seconds with a floater as the Isles had the Flyers penned into their own end.
I tried to knock it down, Meszaros said. He spunoff and blasted there. I dont think he knew how he scored. It was a tough bounce.
That sent it to overtime.
You gotta make it yourself and understand that instead of fighting for a playoff spot, were fighting for home ice through theplayoffs. You got to find something to push your buttons. And make sure youre coming to play hard every night and prepare like youre getting ready for the playoffs.
Though Bobrovsky won his 24thgame, heseems unsettled lately. Two goals went off him. And yet he made the really hard saves.
Once again, the Flyers were all over the opposition with chances at the net in the opening period, outshooting them 6-2 early, only to give up a bad goal on the Isles third shot.
Frans Nielsen danced around defenseman Matt Carle, came through the right circle and fired a shot that hit the top of Bobrovskys right pad, hopping over the rookie into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Bob made up for that later while the Flyers scored twice in the middle frame to take a 2-1 lead.
Mike Richards hammered one past Al Montoya early in the second period to tie the game and with just three minutes left in the period, Giroux threw a behind the back pass into the crease for James van Riemsdyk.
Though JVR initially lost control of the puck, he stayed with it to notch his 15thof the season.
He Giroux saw me, JVR said. I knew he was going to try and make a pass to me, so I got my stick down.
That set up the uneasy third period even though Laviolette changed lines in the second.
Three goals in a game are a lot for me and the team, Bobrovsky said. So,I have to work at playing better and making sure it doesnt happen.
Though Laviolette credited his team for coming back to win, hes still stung by a rash of losing leads.
Anytime you give up leads, it concerns you, Laviolette said.Offensively, we fired a lot of shots and defensively a lot of times we were just too loose and too casual.
It is something we will look at, but losing the lead is definitely a concern ...
The Flyers avoided losing consecutive games again. They havent done that since Dec. 20 and 28.They have had seven opportunities yet came up with a win in all seven games. ... Flyers were above 50 percent on faceoffs (51) for the ninth time in the last 10 games. Flyers had 43 shots. They are 7-5-2 where theyve had 38 or more shots on net. On Martins 2ndgoal that tied it 3-3 Chris Pronger had gotten injured moments before and was not on the ice as his partner Matt Carle was with Andrej Meszaros. ... Although the Flyers go into Mondays 3 p.m. trade deadline looking to upgrade on defense with a veteran who will be unrestricted this summer hence, no cap hit carryover -- they also had some interest in Floridas Cory Stillman, a veteran with a couple of Stanley Cup rings. Carolina re-acquired him for Ryan Carter and a 5th-round pick. Because Nikolay Zherdev remains on the roster, the Flyers only have about 1.7 million in cap space. If they move Zherdev to the Phantoms on Monday before the deadline, they can pick up another 2 million in cap space. Zherdev, Blair Betts (lacerated left finger) and Oskars Bartulis (left shoulder) were scratched. Holmgren said Zherdev will remain with the team through the weekend and go to Ottawa. ... Betts is making progress holding a stick but hes not expected in Ottawa. ... Among the line changes in the second period, Danny Briere and Ville Leino were reunited with Scott Hartnell.
E-mail Tim Panaccio at firstname.lastname@example.org
Related: Source: Zherdev to remain on Flyers' roster for now Buy Flyers gear