Dropping the Gloves: Is power play or penalty kill more important?
Sean Couturier's goal vs. Ottawa was his first since last April 15. (USA Today Images)
When he missed the open net, well, it was just another night of frustration for Sean Couturier against a different club. In this case, Ottawa.
And his teammates weren’t going to let it go unnoticed, either, when Coots returned to the bench.
“He’s had a couple of those empty netters this year that he’s missed,” Matt Read said. “I gave him a hard time, a little bit.
“Going into the second period, I said, ‘Coots your due and you’re going to get one tonight. Keep going.’ And it happened.”
That’s when the 25-game goal drought ended for Couturier with an impossible angle shot from the left goal line that went short side against Sens’ goalie Robin Lehner.
“I feel 20 pounds lighter just getting that in,” Couturier admitted on Wednesday at Skate Zone. “Sometimes you think too much when things aren’t going your way. In the first period, maybe you think too much about that chance I had.”
Then he got a bad goal that Lehner should not have allowed.
“That shot, I just put it on net and I didn’t think, and you never know what could happen,” Couturier said. “That’s the kind of bounce I needed just to get going.”
Three players scored their first goals of the season, snapping long droughts during the Flyers' 5-2 win over the Senators.
Kimmo Timonen ended his 21-game goal slide while Adam Hall scored his first goal, albeit an empty netter, since Feb. 23, 2012 for Tampa. Hall’s drought lasted a whopping 64 games.
“It feels good for them and for everybody,” coach Craig Berube said of the trio breaking the schneid.
“Nobody wants to not score. Everyone wants to score. It takes a little pressure off. You feel better about yourself. Get that goal, get that monkey off your back.”
Of course, Couturier, whose plus-2 rating is the highest among Flyer forwards who have been here all season, is a different case. He’s expected to score some goals while Hall is not.
“Finally I get a bounce,” Couturier said. “I’ve had some pretty good chances and haven’t put it in. It feels good to finally get one in.”
When you get down to it, Couturier’s shot was a low percentage kind that shouldn’t have had a chance. His reaction when it went in was more or less, 'Are you kidding me?'
“I didn’t have a chance,” Couturier admitted. “I was just putting the puck on net. When you put a puck on net you never know what’s gonna happen. For me, I got that bounce. I’ll take it.”
You can see the difference in Claude Giroux since scoring his first goal on Nov. 9 against Edmonton. Giroux is playing better, attacking and shooting with more confidence, and he picked up his second goal on Tuesday, as well.
Berube is hoping the same thing happens to Couturier.
“It’s huge for [Couturier] to get a goal,” Berube said. “He goes out and does a great job checking for us and playing a good role against teams' top lines and penalty kill, faceoffs and little things.
“To get rewarded with a goal here and there, and he’s had opportunities to score a goal and it hasn’t gone in. I think he’ll start putting it in a little bit now. Sometimes you get that first goal and feel better and more confident.”