Even Talbot surprised he returned after collision

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Even Talbot surprised he returned after collision

Max Talbot’s first thoughts were of his fiancée and the baby she’ll soon be having.

It was late in the second period of Thursday’s 2-1 win over the New York Rangers (see game recap). The Flyers’ gritty forward had just taken an awkward hit and toppled, face first, into in the boards. He struggled to get up, clutching at his nose and stumbling toward the tunnel to the team’s locker room.

Everything happened so fast, Talbot wasn’t sure how badly he was hurt. He knew Rangers winger Benoit Pouliot had been behind him. He knew he lost his balance as he headed toward the boards by the Rangers’ bench. And, of course, he saw the blood.

It was a very scary moment.

“It’s a weird feeling,” Talbot said. “Obviously, I don’t wish that to anybody.”

Talbot returned to the Flyers’ locker room, where he was evaluated by team doctors and passed all the necessary concussion tests. It was then that he decided he would return to the game -- it was a close one, worth a badly needed two points, after all.

As goalie Steve Mason put it: “That’s just the type of player he is.”

“You walk it off,” Talbot said. “You see it’s a tight game, as well. Took some time with the doctors, talked, we did all the tests. … Everything seemed OK. We patched up my nose a little bit.

“When you feel you’re fine to come back, you come back.”

Talbot is lucky. Hits from behind -- intentionally or not -- often lead to much more serious outcomes. And though he turned out to be all right, the play looked bad. Talbot’s attempts to hoist himself up after it looked even worse.

Because of how gruesome the collision appeared, Talbot’s teammates were shocked that he was able to return to the Flyers’ bench for the third period.

“I was right there on the ice [when Talbot got hit] and I didn’t know what to do,” Matt Read said. “I thought he was done. But it was good to see him come back. He’s a true warrior on this team. And he comes back and his nose is all bandaged up, and it just shows how much heart he has.”

It turns out, though, his teammates weren’t the only ones taken aback that he was well enough to rejoin them.

“I was surprised a little bit, too,” Talbot said. “I felt fine. I felt stunned, when you get hit like that, when you hit your face like that, but after that, I walked around and stuff, felt great, and came back.”

Pouliot’s hit will automatically be reviewed by the league, since he received a major penalty and game misconduct for it. But it’s unlikely he’ll receive any further punishment because Talbot wasn’t injured and returned to the game.

Even further, the Flyers are in agreement that the hit wasn’t at all malicious. It was a combination of Talbot’s misstep and Pouliot’s unfortunate timing.

“It was more of an accident than anything,” coach Craig Berube said. “I do believe that. I don’t think he intentionally tried to -- I think Max was a little bit awkward going in there, and he was at that distance from the boards where it’s always a dangerous, dangerous position. I don’t think Pouliot pushed him. Kind of a little bit of a bump, and he was just off balance.”

Talbot, in fact, admitted that he thinks he tripped before he was touched by Pouliot, anyway. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said he believed Pouliot was trying to go shoulder to shoulder with Talbot.

“I don’t think Pouliot is a dirty player either,” Talbot said.

After the game, Talbot was visibly swollen and had a sizable gash taped up on his nose. The Flyers’ doctors photographed the cut and will send it to a plastic surgeon, to determine whether Talbot will need any subsequent plastic surgery or skin grafts. To put it in plain terms, the gash isn’t pretty.

Talbot, however, handled questions about the severity of his condition with his typical charm.

“It’s just a little scratch,” he said, grinning.

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

Flyers' power play rediscovers swagger in win over Canucks

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Flyers got some swagger back Sunday night.

But especially so on the power play, which entered Sunday's clash just 2 for 19 over the last six games.

Two markers on the man advantage helped the Flyers edge the Canucks, 3-2, at Rogers Arena in Vanvoucer (see Instant Replay).

“It all comes back to finding a way to produce – and they did that tonight,” said Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, who had called for his power-play participants to rediscover that swagger.

Hakstol’s club won for the first time in its last nine games in Western Canada. More importantly, the Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference.

Thanks to the power-play success, the Flyers built a 3-0 lead in the game’s first 23 minutes and then hung on, atoning for a sub-par effort in a one-sided loss to the Oilers in Edmonton on Thursday night.

The Flyers converted two of three power plays while blanking the Canucks on all four of their man advantages. The loss prevented the Canucks (26-28-6) from getting closer to a Western Conference playoff berth.

“I thought we were playing some pretty good hockey of late, but the pucks weren't going in,” said Flyers center Brayden Schenn, who scored the winning goal on the power play at 2:38 of the second period. “Tonight, we tightened up defensively again from Edmonton's game and were able to score a few more goals. It's a huge two points going home."

Wayne Simmonds, also on the power play, and Jakub Voracek scored the Flyers’ other goals.

“We needed a win,” Simmonds said. “Especially after the game in Edmonton, this is good for the morale."

Shayne Gostisbehere assisted on all three goals, recording the first three-point night of his career.

Schenn’s winning goal came only a minute and 27 seconds after Voracek gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 1:11 of the second by sending Sean Couturier’s huge rebound into a gaping net behind Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. Voracek’s goal was his first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

How did long sought-after goal make him feel?

"Like I scored a goal,” deadpanned Voracek. “We won the game. That’s the way I looked at it. It doesn't matter who scored the goals. Special teams were huge tonight. I liked our power play. We were going all 60 minutes. This one kept us in the race."

The Flyers were a well-rested team thanks to a two-day break between games and a three-day break before the start of the road trip. The Canucks, on the other hand, were playing their second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip. But there was still considerable suspense over the final 30 minutes.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen tallied for the Canucks, who are known as comeback artists, at 3:43 and 12:42 of the second, respectively, before the Flyers shut Vancouver down the rest of the way. Voracek indicated the Flyers were not nervous in the final frame.

"I don't think we changed anything to be honest,” he said. We were pretty tight in the neutral zone. We didn't give them much. When we had a couple of breakdowns, [Michal Neuvirth] was on his act.”

Neuvirth stopped 18 of 20 shots as the Flyers outshot the Canucks, 28-20. He enjoyed a much better start Sunday, holding the Canucks scoreless in the opening period after allowing four goals on his first 12 shots on Thursday in Edmonton. One of his better saves came with just over a minute into the game as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close.

"I felt good,” said Neuvirth. “I have been practicing well and playing with confidence. The last game, it didn't work out. I put that one behind me and restarted my mind and got back to work tonight.”

“I thought he was excellent,” said Hakstol. “He was calm and settled in there. You can go back through that 60 minutes and you can pick out three or four pretty darned good saves.”

Neuvirth excelled while making his fourth consecutive start and sixth in the past seven games overall.

“It feels good,” he said of the heavy workload. “It feels better when we win.”

But he was not about to get too excited. The Flyers have a tough clash at home Wednesday against NHL-best Washington and a road game Saturday at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field against the rival Penguins as part of the NHL’s Stadium Series.

“We have a tough schedule coming and we have to be ready,” Neuvirth said.

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

Instant Replay: Flyers 3, Canucks 2

BOX SCORE

VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- The Flyers passed a freshness test Sunday night — barely.

After building a 3-0 lead in the first 23 minutes, the Flyers held on for a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena.

The Flyers were the more rested team. They had two days off here following Thursday’s loss in Edmonton — and a three-day break before the start of the trip.

But they almost allowed Vancouver to come back in the Canucks' second of back-to-back home games with only a day’s rest following a grueling six-game United States road trip.

The Flyers (28-24-7) moved within a point of the eighth and final playoff spot, currently shared by Florida and Boston, in the Eastern Conference. The Canucks (26-28-6) were denied a chance to gain ground on the final postseason berth in the Western Conference.

Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek and Brayden Schenn — who added the goal that proved to be the winner — scored for the Flyers. Two of the three goals came on the power play. Both teams failed to score in the third period.

Markus Granlund and Jannik Hansen replied for the Canucks.

With the win, the Flyers avoided going winless on a three-game tour through British Columbia and Alberta. They posted their first victory in Western Canada in the past nine attempts.

Goalie report
Coach Dave Hakstol showed loyalty in Michal Neuvirth after the Flyers' netminder allowed four goals on his first 12 shots in Thursday’s one-sided loss in Edmonton. Neuvirth started off much better Sunday, as he got his toe on Markus Granlund’s dangerous chance from in close early and stopped all eight shots that he faced in the first period.

Power play
Hakstol was looking for the Flyers to rediscover their “swagger” on the power play. He got his wish early as Simmonds jammed in a Shayne Gostisbehere rebound only 5:45 into the game. The puck barely crossed the line but was clearly in, as confirmed by a video review. Vancouver winger Alex Burrows was off for hooking at the time. In the second period, Schenn padded his NHL power-play goals lead as he gave the Flayers a 3-0 lead at 2:38. Schenn scored his 14th power-play goal of the season on a shot from the slot as Simmonds screened Canucks goaltender Ryan Miller. With his goal, Simmonds moved into a tie for second in NHL man-advantage markers with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin. Both players have 12.

Voracek busts his slump
The drought is over for Voracek. The winger busted his scoring slump as he gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead at 1:11 of the second period. The goal was Voracek’s first in 10 games. He had not scored since Jan. 25 against the New York Rangers.

Shayne the unfriendly ghost
Gostisbehere did not live up to his nickname. Ghost was quite visible as he assisted on all of the Flyers’ goals. It was Ghost's first career three-point game.

Did you notice?
Defenseman Michael Del Zotto had a chance for a rare breakaway with about five and a half minutes left in the first period, but missed a well-placed lead pass as he was coming out of the penalty box. Instead of a scoring opportunity, the missed pass led to an icing call and a face-off in the Flyers’ end.

Up next
The Flyers head back home to meet the NHL-best Washington Capitals on Wednesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Puck drop is set for 8 p.m.