Simmonds' career game lifts Flyers past Hurricanes

Simmonds' career game lifts Flyers past Hurricanes

April 20, 2013, 11:00 pm
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RALEIGH, N.C. -- Wayne Simmonds picked out two hats he really liked.
 
“One was a cowboy hat with the Flyers' symbol on it,” he said. “The other is a bear hat with Flyers colors. It’s pretty cool.”
 
Simmonds notched his first NHL hat trick and four-point game Saturday as the Flyers defeated the Hurricanes, 5-3, at PNC Arena.
 
When you’re knocked out of playoff contention, the one thing left to play for is pride.
 
Of course, there is usually a couple of individual achievements laying around, as well.
 
Simmonds’ last hatter came in junior and he thought he’d never see another.
 
“I was playing for Saute Ste Marie and actually got four points in that game, too,” Simmonds recalled. “I was 19.”
 
Simmonds had 23 hats to choose from, an unusual sight for a visiting team.

“There [was] a lot of Flyer fans here today -- that was good to see,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “That’s good to see.”
 
Jakub Voracek also had an achievement, celebrating a first-time NHL milestone with his 20th goal.
 
“It’s always great to get 20, but like I said before, I would sure take less goals for the [eighth] spot in the East,” Voracek said.
 
“We are where we are now and there’s nothing you can do about it. There’s nothing you can do, but keep scoring and help the team to win.”
 
Simmonds' third goal came in the opening 48 seconds of the third period as he took a pass from Brayden Schenn into the zone and put a shot on goal at the goal line that somehow found a shortside hole on goalie Justin Peters.
 
That goal gave Flyers goalie Steve Mason some breathing room at 4-2, but Mason gave up a wild rebound two minutes later and Eric Staal made him pay with his 18th goal to close the gap.
 
The Flyers recaptured the two-goal advantage, however, soon after as Tuomo Ruutu clanged a shot off the post. Simmonds then blocked a shot off his skate and the carom kicked out directly to Matt Read for a breakaway goal.
 
Simmonds and Read each connected off each other for goals in this one. Read also scored a half-second before the final buzzer, but the goal was disallowed for kicking the puck.
 
“It was good for confidence,” Laviolette said of the game. “Guys went out and played hard. We threw a lot of pucks (38 shots) at the net. Good for Wayne to score some goals.
 
“It’s important the way we finish [the season]. It’s hard because you sit in a position where you want to make the playoffs and you’re [not]. We got to finish the season, make every game count, make it matter. I think the guys did that.”
 
The Flyers had nine shots in less than seven minutes to start against Carolina.
 
Peters was under tremendous pressure, especially from Simon Gagne, who had three quality chances himself. Gagne had 10 attempts -- 5 shots -- in the game.
 
Voracek’s 20th goal came off yet another stretch pass from Claude Giroux. He took it with speed, jockeyed the puck back and forth to get Peters to commit, then pocketed the goal inside the right post at 7:08.
 
“It was kinda a crazy game,” Voracek said. “A lot of odd-man rushes. I don’t think we played our best defensive hockey but we had a lot of scoring chances.”

Though the Flyers dominated the period -- 18 shots -- spending most of it in the Hurricanes’ end, Carolina tied it at 13:18 on a turnover.
 
Carolina has an aggressive forecheck. Under pressure trying to come around the left boards, Luke Schenn made a bad play by placing the puck into the middle where Danny Briere could not cleanly handle it given the traffic.
 
He turned it over to Jeff Skinner, who tossed a flutter-nutter that tied the game.
 
Far too often this season the Flyers have been victimized by bad line changes. For once, it happened to the opponent.
 
The Hurricanes began the second period with two long shifts that wore themselves out. They got caught in a line change which gave Read room to drive the left boards and backhand a pass to Simmonds in the slot for his first goal of the game, making it 2-1 at 1:54.
 
Justin Faulk tied it up again, however, at 7:19 with a shot from the point that clanged off the left post past Mason.
 
A little over a minute later, Simmonds came onto the ice for a late shift change while Sean Couturier did some yeoman’s work to feed Simmonds the puck for a 3-2 lead.
 
Simmonds had just two goals in his previous 10 games.
 
“I’ve been on a drought of late,” he said. “I’ve been trying to do other things to help the team and it’s nice to get some goals.”
 
Interestingly, Simmonds said the team never discussed being eliminated Friday night by the Rangers.
 
“We just want to play a strong 60 minutes,” he said. “We want to build. We have a great young corps in here. We got to play strong for each other down the stretch.”
 
They also need to play well for Laviolette’s sake, as well.
 
“It’s really important,” Simmonds said. “I’ve heard a lot of you (media) talking about Lavy and stuff.
 
“He’s the one that makes the game plan. Not the one who goes out on the ice and has to execute it.
 
“That’s us. It falls on our shoulders. We’re gonna play to the last second.”

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