Mad Hatter: Briere Does the Dirty Work in Flyers' Overtime Win

Mad Hatter: Briere Does the Dirty Work in Flyers' Overtime Win

Danny Briere was a busy guy on Saturday. Not only did he score all three Flyers goals to earn his fifth career hat trick, but he even mixed it up in his third career fight. Thanks to Briere's toughness and outstanding all-around effort, the Flyers were able to outlast the Ottawa Senators, picking up their two points in the final seconds of overtime.

It wasn't pretty either. Briere had to get his hands dirty in this one.

Midway into the first period, Jakub Voracek started a rush out of the Flyers zone, avoiding a huge would-be collision in the neutral zone, and carried the puck across the blue line. He dished off to Briere, who was looking to unload on Craig Anderson. Briere fanned on the shot however, sending a slow roller in on Ottawa's netminder.

The flub actually worked to Danny's advantage. A seemingly stunned Anderson blocked the shot, but wasn't decisive about covering it, laying out on the ice while the rebound kicked right back to Briere with the whole net to shoot at. 1-0.

The Sens pulled ahead 2-1 with goals in the second and third, but that meant it was Danny Briere time.

After failing to capitalize on their previous five power plays, the sixth time was the charm. Peter Laviolette called a timeout prior to an earlier PP, and as we've become accustomed, Lavy's usage of the pause proved to be brilliant. The Flyers started to have sustained pressure on the advantage, which led to the eventual score.

During the attack, the Flyers were able to move the disc out of the corner to Kimmo Timonen, who had plenty of room to operate at the point. Briere deflected the blast, which took a second bounce off the stick of Ottawa D-man Chris Phillips, and bounced into the net to knot the score.

It appeared Briere's deflection might have skittered wide were it not for the inadvertent intervention by Phillips, but those are the breaks.

Intense back-and-forth action during the overtime, but it appeared the game was headed for shootout. Then Danny Briere happened.

It was Voracek again on the set up, this time sending the puck along the back boards behind the net to Briere, who just chillin' in his office. He swung it out and shot the backhand, which was stopped but not controlled. Briere kept working, jamming the puck past Anderson on the second try with 5.3 second remaining, sending hats to ice amidst chants of "Danny."

Briere said of the hats and the ovation, "That was the best feeling. A hat trick in overtime, the game winning goal, winning the game I mean that's all at once, all at the same time. That was a really good feeling."

And don't forget the fight. Briere must've taken exception to a cheap shot by Kyle Turris earlier on, when Turris delivered an unnecessary blow while Briere lay prone on the ice. Be sure to check out the video of Briere's fisticuffs. It was a doozy.

The goals bumped Briere's total up to 12 for the season. Also of note, he now has six goals in the three games when he's fought.

Much of the talk will be about Briere's fantastic individual effort, but this was also a very nice performance from Voracek, his second strong outing in a row.

Bryzgalov also played one of his best games in awhile, stopping 35 shots on 37 attempts. The goals he allowed both came on rebounds, one of those during a five-on-three advantage for Ottawa. Otherwise Bryz was stellar, and made some genuinely outstanding saves to keep overtime and the two points on the table.

Fun, memorable win for the Flyers over a team that coming in had won four straight, three of those after regulation. They'll complete the home and home tomorrow in Ottawa at 5 p.m.

Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

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Penn State uses dominant second half to top No. 6 Wisconsin for Big Ten title

INDIANAPOLIS — Penn State’s offense rewrote the Big Ten Championship’s offensive record book Saturday night but its 38-31 victory over Wisconsin wasn’t secure until the final minute.

And Linebacker U. got the game-saving play from the secondary.

Wisconsin, armed with a pair of timeouts and lining up for a fourth-and-1 play from the Nittany Lions’ 24, called on Corey Clement. Clement, who’d already racked up 166 yards and a touchdown on 20 carries, got the ball but never got close to the marker.

Grant Haley made sure of it.

The junior cornerback wrapped up Clement’s legs and safety Marcus Allen kept Clement from leaning forward and the game was over. Penn State (11-2) has the 2016 Big Ten title and, at worst, will play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2009.

“They ran [a counter] early in the game and split it for a touchdown,” Haley said of the final play. “I saw them set the edge, so I got triggered really well and Marcus finished off the play.”

Haley and company watched the Badgers run wild in the first half; 164 yards and three touchdowns, including Clement’s 67-yard scamper. Wisconsin, one of the conference’s best rushing teams this season, managed less than half that total (77) in the second half.

“They really weren’t running that many plays,” Haley added. “We just came out in the second half and had a jolt. 

“We just had the energy going into the second half.”

Wisconsin got the ball twice in the fourth quarter but managed only 65 yards - 51 of which came on its final drive.

“Give credit to Penn State for coming out in the second half and making those adjustments and allowing those big plays to happen,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said. 

Give plenty of credit, too, to the Nittany Lions’ offense. 

Quarterback Trace McSorley was named the game’s most valuable player after completing 17 of his 25 passes for 319 yards and four touchdowns - both championship game records. He helped Penn State complete the biggest comeback in the game’s six year history after his team fell behind 28-7 in the first half and also finished the regular season with 3,360 yards and 25 touchdown passes, both school records.

Saeed Blacknall had six catches for a Big Ten Championship-record 155 yards and two touchdowns and DaeShean Hamilton finished with 118 yards on eight grabs.

Tailback Saquon Barkley, injured in last weekend’s victory over Michigan State, returned with 88 yards and a touchdown on the ground and caught an 18-yard scoring pass from McSorley early in the fourth quarter to put the Nittany Lions ahead for good.

Penn State, in its first-ever trip to this game, is coming home from it with just its second outright Big Ten title. It’s on a nine-game winning streak that has seen it average 40 points per contest.

It also could present the College Football Playoff selection committee with a bit of quandary. The Nittany Lions, who were ranked seventh by the committee last week, topped the No. 6 Badgers and claimed a conference championship, something likely playoff teams Alabama, Clemson and Washington all boast.

On the flip side, Penn State’s last defeat was a lopsided 49-10 loss at Michigan, which sits at No. 5 in the rankings and likely won’t move into the top four after losing last week to No. 2 Ohio State.

Penn State coach James Franklin stated his team’s case after Saturday night’s win, but also made it clear he and his team won’t be moping their way to Pasadena, Calif., where the conference champion is slotted if it is not chosen for the playoff.

“We’ve got great options in front of us,” he said. “I hear people on TV talking about they feel like maybe the playoff has taken away from the bowls. 

“Are you kidding me? The Rose Bowl? It doesn’t get a whole lot better than that.”

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Report: Jordan Matthews (ankle) not expected to play vs. Bengals

Jordan Matthews will not play Sunday against the Bengals after missing practice all week with an ankle sprain, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Matthews is the Eagles' leading receiver with 57 catches for 686 yards and three touchdowns. The team has called him a game-time decision.

Second-year receiver Nelson Agholor will reportedly be inserted back into the lineup. If Matthews doesn't play the Eagles will have only four healthy receivers active on Sunday: Agholor, Dorial Green-Beckham and undrafted rookies Bryce Treggs and Paul Turner.