Flyers happy with 'gutsy effort' vs. Red Wings

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Flyers happy with 'gutsy effort' vs. Red Wings

DETROIT -- They were behind 3-2 going into the third period.

Yet the Flyers had a good feeling about how things were going to turn out for them.

It did with a 6-3 comeback win over the Red Wings at The Joe (see story).

“It was a big, gutsy effort,” Scott Hartnell said. “In the dressing room there was a calm confidence that we knew we were going to go out there and do it. Get a couple of power plays if we kept moving our feet like we had.

“Our power play was the difference tonight and our penalty kill was great, too.”

Flyers coach Craig Berube said a few things between periods. He had to. The Flyers came into this game having just one victory at Joe Louis Arena since 1988.

“I wasn’t even born back then,” Sean Couturier quipped.

So what did Berube say?

“I told them to stay out of the penalty box,” Berube said. “I liked our game. We were playing a good game. You can’t go to the box four or five times in a period. And give them five-on-threes. You’re going to be in trouble.”

Incredibly, the Flyers won even though they gave Detroit -- which was without Henrik Zetterberg, Todd Bertuzzi, Pavel Datsyuk and Danny DeKeyser -- seven power plays.

“It’s tough. You’re putting yourself in a bad spot, but our guys did a great job killing penalties,” Berube said.

Back to the feeling in the room after two periods.

The Flyers felt Zac Rinaldo’s stick call was “unlucky” because a player fell over a stick but he was jabbing away trying to get a puck when it happened, too, and the official will always make that call.

Berube was angry because it gave the Wings a five-on-three and felt the call could have gone the other way. Detroit scored on that call to make it a 3-1 game in the second period.

“Some of the calls were unlucky like Rinaldo’s where [the player] stepped on the stick,” Claude Giroux said. “There are some penalties we have to watch out. We did a good job killing the penalties.”

This was the first time the Flyers won a game when they trailed going into the third period. They were 0-9-0.

“It’s good for our confidence,” Couturier said. “We finally believe in ourselves. That is what maybe made the difference tonight.”

A number of players said they felt they were going to win when they stepped onto the ice in the third period.

“When we scored that power-play goal [from Giroux] to tie it up, that was big,” Couturier said. “The power play hasn’t been our best asset this year but tonight it was a big part of our success.”

The Flyers' three power-play goals were a season-high.

Playoff picture
The Flyers and Rangers each have 28 points but the Rangers still hold the third spot (playoff position) in the Metropolitan Division because they have more wins (14) than the Flyers (13). Still, the fact remains the Flyers have climbed into a virtual tie for a playoff spot. No one thought that possible with their 1-7 start back in October when they were eighth in the division and dead last in the Eastern Conference.

Loose pucks
Team Canada GM Steve Yzerman scouted the game and said Claude Giroux would be evaluated on the merit of his career and not just this season. He also said Steven Stamkos intends to play in the Olympics and is progressing nicely. ... Weird seeing Chris Chelios and Ron Hextall chatting before the game in the press box. Guess Hexy wasn't in attack mode, eh? ... The Flyers are off today and practice Friday - if they can get to facility. Ice storms threaten Dallas over next two days

Best of NHL: Wild beat Blackhawks to grab 1st place in Western Conference

Best of NHL: Wild beat Blackhawks to grab 1st place in Western Conference

CHICAGO -- Jason Pominville scored in the third period, Devan Dubnyk made 33 saves and the Minnesota Wild beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 on Sunday night to grab sole possession of the top spot in the Western Conference.

Nino Niederreiter and Chris Stewart also scored as Minnesota earned its fourth straight win and improved to 17-1-1 since Dec. 4. The Wild also beat the Blackhawks for the eighth straight time.

Minnesota (28-9-5) jumped in front for good when Marco Scandella shot the puck behind the net and it caromed right to Pominville standing all alone on the right side of the crease. He knocked it into the open net for his sixth of the season at 5:08.

Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter was sent off for tripping with 22.4 seconds left, but Chicago was unable to get a good look with a 6-on-4 advantage.

Patrick Kane scored twice for the Blackhawks and Corey Crawford made 29 stops (see full recap).

Hall nets OT winner as Devils top Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Taylor Hall scored 1:28 into overtime to lift the New Jersey Devils to a 2=1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.

Skating on a 2-on-1 with Damon Severson, Hall chose to hold the puck and beat Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom through the legs.

Kyle Quincey scored the tying goal with 3:03 left in the second period and Cory Schneider stopped 21 shots to help the Devils win their second straight after losing four in a row.

Loui Eriksson scored for the Canucks and Markstrom finished with 20 saves for the Canucks, losers of four straight after winning six in a row coming out of the holiday break (see full recap).

Flyers Weekly Observations: Everything coming apart at the seams

Flyers Weekly Observations: Everything coming apart at the seams

That week was… not pretty.

Not by a long shot.

The Flyers’ busy week saw them play five games in an eight-day stretch and come out on the winning side of things just once. Overall, the Flyers went 1-3-1 last week with a 2-1 overtime loss in Columbus, a disheartening 4-1 defeat in Buffalo, a wild 5-4 shootout win over visiting Vancouver, an ugly 6-3 loss in Boston and an even uglier 5-0 loss in Washington.

There’s a lot to digest in this week’s Flyers Weekly Observations, and, needless to say, not much of it is good.

Where to even begin?

• Let’s start with Shayne Gostisbehere’s benching on Saturday afternoon in Boston, the second healthy scratch of the season for last season’s runner up to the Calder Trophy. Let’s face it, the 23-year-old defenseman has not played great this season. He’s struggled mightily defensively and he’s had a miserable time hitting the net in the offensive zone, among other warts in his game. He’s obviously not alone. After all, this 3-8-3 skid is rooted in shoddy defensive play in all zones. But he has not played well. We all know offense is Gostisbehere’s strength, but he’s got just four goals and 15 assists in 46 games. And he’s sporting a minus-17 after Sunday's loss. Dave Hakstol is obviously not happy with his young defenseman’s game and figured the best course of action would be to let Gostisbehere sit down, observe and clear his head. And I get that thought process. Sometimes that’s a good thing. But I’m of the belief it’s best to let a young player play through his struggles. Gostisbehere’s going to have to get used to doing that because this will not be the only time in his career he will struggle. It happens to every player, even the best ones. And it’s even tougher to defend Ghost’s benching with as poorly as Michael Del Zotto and Brandon Manning played in the previous game against Vancouver.

• Speaking of which, those stick penalties Del Zotto and Manning took over and over again in the first period against the Canucks were just careless and put the Flyers into a hole that could have been a lot deeper if not for the play of the penalty kill and Steve Mason. That’s the stuff that can just kill a team, and that’s the stuff that’s also very avoidable.

• One play really stuck out to me during Saturday’s loss to the Bruins in Beantown. The Flyers were down 5-3 early in the third period and attacking in the Bruins' zone when Jake Voracek hit Sean Couturier with a slick cross-ice pass. Couturier had net to shoot at and a chance to cut it to a one-goal game, but instead skated to the side of the net and backhanded the puck into the crowded slot and turned it over. When you’re down two in the third period, you need to shoot there. Even if Tuukka Rask stops it, you never know if there’s going to be a rebound. It was an example of how Couturier needs to be more aggressive offensively on a consistent basis. Especially after he was aggressive against Vancouver with a goal and a post hit after a beautiful offensive rush.

• What was that effort in Buffalo on Tuesday night? Credit the improving Sabres for playing well and earning the win, but the Flyers were just lifeless out there on the ice.

• Let’s chat some about those goalie interference calls that didn’t go the Flyers’ way in Columbus last weekend. Michael Raffl was squeezed into Sergei Bobrovsky and barely made contact with the Jackets’ goalie on the first one. Raffl is entitled to that space just as much as anyone else on the ice. It’s a hockey play, plain and simple. No idea how that one was overturned. Contact was made with Mason’s skate on the second one, but I believe that call was eventually correct as the goal stood. The problem is this: They were two similar plays with limited contact made with the goaltender. The league can’t have one count there and one not. The league is creating itself a very unnecessary grey area with those calls.

• On the NBC national telecast of Sunday’s debacle in Washington, analyst Brian Boucher said something to the effect of the Flyers were in the process of quitting the game after the Caps’ fourth goal, which was scored early in the third period. And it was hard to disagree him with what we all saw. Things can become fragile over these kinds of skids and it just seems recently when one thing goes wrong with for the Flyers, everything comes apart at the seams.

• Brayden Schenn’s stat line so far this season is uneven, literally. He’s got 14 goals on the season, but a league-leading 11 have come on the power play. So that’s 79 percent of Schenn’s goal-scoring coming on the man advantage. That’s obviously great for when the Flyers are on the power play, but with how they’re averaging 1.79 goals per game over this recent 3-8-3 stretch, that could really use it at even strength. That goes for everybody.

• I’m not sure how I feel about the bye week. On one hand, it comes at the right time as the Flyers can rest, recharge and get their heads straight after this awful stretch. On the other hand, it’s no secret this team could REALLY use the practice time right now just to get back to the basics and for the players just to get their footing back underneath themselves. They’ll next be able to practice Friday afternoon.

Coming up this week: Saturday vs. New Jersey (7 p.m./TCN), Sunday at New York Islanders (6 p.m./CSN)