Coming-of-age? Sean Couturier dominates in Flyers’ 6-3 win over Detroit

Coming-of-age? Sean Couturier dominates in Flyers’ 6-3 win over Detroit

Sean Couturier turns 21-years-old this Saturday, but he’s already well into his third full season in the NHL, and really starting to come into his own as an all-around player. He may have made a name for himself in the Philadelphia Flyers’ nationally televised 6-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night.

Couturier reached new career highs with four points (2 G, 2 A) and a plus-three rating, as he helped the Flyers erase a two-goal deficit and ultimately run the Red Wings out of their own building with five unanswered scores. He also won 11-of-21 faceoffs taken, and led all forwards in shifts with 30.

From a pure statistical standpoint, it was the best regular season game of Couturier’s career. He also registered four points once in the postseason as a rookie, potting three goals and a helper in Game 2 of Philadelphia’s first-round series over the Penguins.

His brilliant power-play feed to free up Steve Downie in the slot got the Flyers on the scoreboard in the first period. In the second, it was an instinctive dish from below the goal line to Matt Read all alone in front of the net, a critical play that cut Detroit’s lead to one before the teams went into the dressing room.

Both passes required tremendous vision, precision and impeccable execution. Couturier obliged, and his linemates were there to finish. How great has his pairing with Downie and Read been of late?

Fittingly, Couturier would punch home the decisive marker. He had positioned himself aside of Red Wings netminder Jimmy Howard, which just happened to be where the puck was heading after Downie’s shot took a left turn off of a defender’s skate. Coots effortlessly redirected the biscuit into the basket to put the Flyers on top.

Good things happen when you crash the net.

Even the empty-netter was a heady play. Couturier patiently held on to the disc until he got the look he wanted, then fired it from the neutral zone to put the exclamation point on his night.

Claude Giroux also snapped a goal by Howard from outside the faceoff circle to tie the score on a nicely executed power play that pressured Detroit throughout. Giroux looked like he was setting up for it again on the next power play some minutes later, but once the captain attracted attention he passed to Scott Hartnell who had wheeled into the slot. Excellent play design.

Steve Mason stopped 32 of 35 shot attempts for Philadelphia.

It’s worth noting the Red Wings were without Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Todd Bertuzzi, all scratched due to various injuries.

Couturier’s goals give him four in the Flyers’ last four games, and 10 points over the last nine. He’s up to 14 points (5 G, 9 A) and is plus-10 through 28 games this season.

Of course, the great thing about the 2011 eighth-overall pick is you always get more than what you see on the stat sheet. He plays great defense, rarely makes mistakes with the puck, and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas when necessary.

The way he’s playing right now, and the fact that we’re talking this highly about a still-20-year-old kid should mean big things are in store for the Flyers in the future. Just imagine, Couturier could be wearing orange and black for another decade... or two.

>> Box Score [Yahoo!]

Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya's 1st MLS goal not enough in draw with Toronto FC

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Union midfielder Alejandro Bedoya's 1st MLS goal not enough in draw with Toronto FC

TORONTO -- Justin Morrow scored in the 70th minute and Toronto FC salvaged a point with a 1-1 draw with the Union on Saturday night.

Morrow made a run from his left back position, and midfielder Jonathan Osorio laid the ball off to Morrow for a tight-angle shot. Toronto (13-8-9) had its second straight home tie,

Alejandro Bedoya scored for Philadelphia (11-11-9) in the 25th minute. Bedoya took a pass from Fabian Herbers with his back to the Toronto goal, quickly spun past the Toronto back line and chipped a shot that looped over goalkeeper Clint Irwin.

Penn State routed by No. 4 Michigan at The Big House

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Penn State routed by No. 4 Michigan at The Big House

BOX SCORE

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- De'Veon Smith led an overwhelming ground game with 107 yards rushing and a touchdown and Karan Higdon ran for two scores and No. 4 Michigan routed Penn State 49-10 on Saturday in both teams' Big Ten opener.

The Wolverines scored six touchdowns on the ground as they finished with 326 yards rushing. Wilton Speight threw one touchdown pass.

Michigan (4-0) dominated both sides of the ball. Penn State (2-2) has lost three straight to the Wolverines.

Jabrill Peppers gave the fans an early thrill by returning Penn State's first punt to the 9, although a bench-interference penalty moved the ball to the Nittany Lions 24. Seven plays later, Khalid Hill dove in on 4th-and-goal from the 1.

The Wolverines also scored touchdowns on their next two drives. Penn State finally got a couple stops, but the Wolverines took a 28-0 halftime lead on Higdon's 2-yard run.

The Nittany Lions got on the board with a field goal early in the third, but Chris Evans made it 35-3 with a 3-yard run and the Wolverines cruised to the win.

The takeaway
Penn State: The Nittany Lions came into the Big House without any of their starting linebackers then lost Brandon Smith to a second-quarter targeting penalty. That left the Penn State defense helpless against Michigan's running game and short passes. The offense was even worse, putting up 50 yards in the first half. Saquon Barkley had 19 yards rushing and caught two passes for 47 yards, but the rest of the team combined for minus-16.

Michigan: The Wolverines dominated in the trenches, with their defensive line continuously overrunning Penn State's offensive line. They registered five sacks while building their first-half lead and Speight had all the time he needed.

Poll implications
Michigan: The Wolverines came in at No. 4 and there seems little chance that will change much with No. 1 Alabama winning earlier in the day in a blowout and No. 2 Ohio State on a bye.

Up next
Penn State: Returns to Happy Valley for the first of three straight home games. The Nittany Lions face Minnesota next Saturday in the Golden Gophers' first trip to Penn State since 2009.

Michigan: Plays its fifth-straight game at the Big House to open the season, but will have a tougher test against Wisconsin. The 11th-ranked Badgers routed No. 8 Michigan State 30-6 in East Lansing.