It would have been understandable had Flyers center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare left the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night embarrassed, feeling he had let his teammates down.
Bellemare drew his toughest matchup yet, facing the Oilers' Connor McDavid, a 19-year-old superstar who is already pushing Sidney Crosby as the best player in the world.
Instead, the fourth-liner departed with a smile on his face and a job well done.
"I didn't make a big fool out of myself," Bellemare said.
The Flyers' winning streak reached seven games Thursday with a 6-5 thriller over Edmonton, and while McDavid did damage, Bellemare more than held his own against the star center.
McDavid tallied his first power-play goal of the season — yes, the NHL's leading scorer needed 29 games to score on the PP — and a shorthanded assist against the Flyers Thursday.
But McDavid was held pointless at 5-on-5 play, a huge testament to Bellemare and his linemates, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov, and Ivan Provorov and Andrew MacDonald.
In his last 11 games, only twice has McDavid went pointless. He has 19 points in the other nine games and Thursday was the first during that span he was pointless at even strength.
So, yeah, Bellemare "did his job," as head coach Dave Hakstol put it afterward.
"We won the game, so that's why it was fun," Bellemare said. "Win or lose … maybe it would have changed my mind but it was a heck of a game from our team. I got to play against him.
"Everyone knows what kind of player he is, what kind of speed he brings to the table. I just tried to be as close as possible to him and be annoying and cut off his speed."
Of course, McDavid did add to his NHL-leading point total with two more Thursday. He now has 39 points in 29 games, nine more points than Crosby, Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Seguin.
And, yes, McDavid did get the best of Bellemare and MacDonald shorthanded. Sandwiched along the sideboards to the left of Steve Mason, McDavid won the battle, shoveled the puck to Mark Letestu, who then found Andrej Sekera to tie the game, 3-3, in the second period.
The key, however, was even strength. In a game that featured 11 goals, the Flyers handled Edmonton at even strength scoring. The Oilers had two goals 5-on-5, to the Flyers' five.
In years' past, the Flyers haven't been great at 5-on-5. This season, however, they appear to have turned a corner at even strength. Last season, they finished 22nd in the league with 133 goals at 5-on-5, but thus far, they're a top-5 scoring team 5-on-5 this year.
Eliminating McDavid at 5-on-5 was a major factor there and credit goes to Bellemare.
"He did a great job," Hakstol said. "He and his linemates played a good hockey game. They checked well, but they were out there working and doing good things with the puck as well. But I thought, overall, they played a real good 200-foot hockey game, shift after shift."
With Sean Couturier sidelined with a left knee injury, Hakstol has entrusted Bellemare as the Flyers' checking-line center deployed against opposing teams' top lines.
When did Bellemare find out he was going up against McDavid? The 31-year-old said Hakstol came to him Tuesday night after the Florida game and told him he should rest Wednesday.
"Before the game, I knew I was going to be on the ice every time he was on the ice," Bellemare said. "Obviously, it's a big boost of confidence when you know the coach is going to trust you against one of the best players in the world.
"I really try not to think about it that much. I try to take every game at a time, but I'm happy he trusted me on that assignment."
Had Couturier been healthy for Thursday's game, the game plan would have been called for Bellemare to play his usual fourth-line minutes and Couturier assigned to McDavid.
Bellemare has been asked to play in different roles during his time with the Flyers. Coming over from Europe last season, the Le Blanc-Mesnil, France, native has proved to be an effective NHL role player for the orange and black, which he embraces.
"You've got to have all of the little roles," he said, "and some nights, he's going to ask me to play this kind of role and I'm going to take it.
"Some nights, he's going to ask me to maybe play against another line and try to feed my winger. Whatever coach needs me to do. At the end of the day, I'm going to do it."
In a game in which he'll be praised for slowing down one of the game's elite, Bellemare also snapped a 30-game goalless drought with his first of the season in the second period.
During a three-goal outburst in one minute and 12 seconds, Bellemare tied the game, 2-2, at 13:24 — 53 seconds after Mark Streit's goal and 19 seconds before Giroux's go-ahead marker. Bellemare sniped Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson with a well-placed wrister over the netminder's right shoulder from the left circle, a highly skilled shot.
"I don't have to score the goal to be happy about the game if we win the game,” Bellemare said. “It's been this way. Maybe in the beginning of the season, I was thinking a little bit about it. I'm getting the shots to the net and sometimes the bounces don't go your way, but coach keeps telling me to play the right way and it's going to come.
"That's pretty much what I've been doing the last 15 games. I'm just trying to focus on playing the right way. When you think about it the least, that's when it comes.
"And tonight, that was the last thing I was thinking about — scoring goals. And it came."