Giroux, Flyers erupt late for comeback victory

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Giroux, Flyers erupt late for comeback victory

BOX SCORE

Five goals in the third period.

Five goals that turned a 3-0 loss into an improbable 5-4 victory (see Instant Replay).

Five goals that saw the Flyers go above .500 for the first time since the last game of the lockout shortened season.

Five goals that finally put Craig Berube’s team in a playoff spot -- third in the Metropolitan Division with 36 points -- for the first time this season.

“It’s a big win for our club,” understated Flyers captain Claude Giroux.

The G-man looked and played like the Giroux we’ve known for past couple seasons with two dramatic goals back to back to win the game.

“We stuck with it,” he said.

Berube was impressed with his centerman.

“He’s really skating and working and going the right way -- north,” Berube said. “His whole line is all working together well. Jake [Voracek] is skating well. He’s attacking with speed. [Michael] Raff is a real good compliment right now.”

Giroux’s game-winner with 1:38 of play was simply unconscious.

Falling down, back to the net, puck on the stick, and a blind, backhanded shot past goalie Curtis McElhinney.

Wells Fargo Center erupted like it was a playoff game. We haven’t seen that kind of emotion in a while here.

“To be honest, I haven’t seen the replay to know what happened,” Giroux said of that goal, which coincidentally was his 100th career NHL goal, as well. “Just trying to get it on net.”

Scott Hartnell got a good view.

"I was right in front and I thought he was just going to shoot it backdoor for a rebound, but I saw it in slow motion go into the top corner," Hartnell said. "I was like, 'Oh, my gosh.' That should be top on SportsCenter tonight." 

When someone described his goal as “impossible” and how it happened, Giroux smiled.

“Going negative again, eh? No, I was just so tired, I was trying to get it on net,” he said. “Most of our goals, just shoot it on net. Go for rebounds.”

That’s why the Flyers were able to pull it out. They charged the net like a herd of buffaloes in the final period seeking out rebounds.

Eric Gustafsson rebounding Wayne Simmonds’ shot to bring the Flyers to within 4-3.
Giroux lunging his stick on a Raffl shot in the paint to make it 4-4 with his first goal of the evening at 16:14.

Now the Flyers are over .500. Over the hump.

You don’t think this was huge? Hey, Columbus coach Todd Richards was 36-0-1 when leading going into a third period.

“In the last two years, first time we’re over .500 or something like that,” Giroux said. “For us to get that step in earlier, to be over .500 and in the playoff race, it’s a little motivation for the guys. Hopefully, we can build on it.”

And to think, it was 3-0 after two periods.

A second period that was nothing short of simply embarrassing followed up by a final period that was nothing short of spectacular.

It’s hard to overcome a one-goal deficit in the NHL let alone three in the final period. In fact, the Flyers were 1-11-0 when trailing after two periods.

Berube called his team out between periods.

“Yeah, basically,” he laughed. “Just went and told this is what happened and why. They know. There’s a lot of character in that room. They understand fully. Sometimes they have to be told.

“We talked before the game about a playoff spot and being above .500 … We got outworked [in the second], but they responded in the third period with effort from everybody. It’s a great win. Our captain came up big.”

For himself, too.

“In practice you work on your stuff and just try to improve every game,” Giroux said.

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

Best of NHL: Rickard Rakell, Ducks snap Bruins' win streak at 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Rickard Rakell broke a tie with his second goal with 2:34 to play, and the Anaheim Ducks snapped Boston's four-game winning streak under new coach Bruce Cassidy with a 5-3 victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.

Rakell also scored in the second period for the Ducks and has 24 goals in his outstanding season. Ondrej Kase, Josh Manson and Andrew Cogliano also scored for Anaheim, and Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves in his first victory since Jan. 23.

Frank Vatrano scored the tying goal in the third period for the Bruins, who hadn't lost since Cassidy replaced Claude Julien on Feb. 7. Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Zdeno Chara scored early goals, and Tuukka Rask stopped 20 shots.

Anaheim beat Boston for the seventh straight time (see full recap).

Rare goal from Russell lifts Oilers over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Kris Russell's goal with 7:58 left was his first in more than a year and lifted the Edmonton Oilers over Florida 4-3 on Wednesday night to snap the Panthers' five-game winning streak.

Russell's goal was his first since Feb. 11, 2016, when he played for Calgary. He went goalless in his first 48 games with the Oilers.

Fellow defenseman Oscar Klefbom also scored for Edmonton, as did forwards Zack Kassian and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Connor McDavid, who came into the night leading the NHL scoring race, had an assist on Russell's goal.

Aleksander Barkov, Colton Sceviour and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Florida. Keith Yandle had two assists for the Panthers, giving him 400 points for his career.

Cam Talbot stopped 31 shots for the Oilers, who have won their last eight games at Florida -- last losing on the Panthers' ice in 2002. James Reimer made 31 saves for the Panthers, who just completed a 5-0-0 road trip (see full recap).

Another solid effort for Flyers not enough in loss to NHL-best Capitals

Another solid effort for Flyers not enough in loss to NHL-best Capitals

BOX SCORE

You see it in their faces. Feel it in their voices.
 
And you wonder how it affects them night after night.
 
The Flyers played another pretty solid loss, as they say, Wednesday night against the Washington Capitals at Wells Fargo Center.
 
A lot closer than 4-1 makes it appear (see Instant Replay). It was a lot like that solid loss last week in Calgary, too.
 
“Maybe a little bit similar,” coach Dave Hakstol said. “Our effort was good start to finish. There’s always a couple mistakes you make you want to clean up and do better. I thought tonight we had more opportunities than we did in the Calgary game.”
 
They had more goals, too. Except two got taken away.
 
One for goalie interference. The other hit the crossbar and even after a long celebration and delay, was ruled no good.
 
That’s been the Flyers’ no-luck this season. It’s all gone wrong for them as their wild-card aspirations slip further away.
 
“It’s very frustrating,” team captain Claude Giroux said. “Same story. We need to find a way here. We say the same thing after each game. I like the way we’re playing.
 
“We played a good hockey game, not good enough. We have a challenge in front of us. In the past, we’ve been a team that doesn’t back down. We have to keep our heads high and battling.”
 
The Flyers had the right approach, coming out fast and aggressive on the Caps. In fact, Jakub Voracek scored 23 seconds into the game during a net scrum.
 
Thing was, Caps coach Barry Trotz correctly saw goalie interference as Dale Weise actually pushed Braden Holtby aside. It was an easy coach’s challenge to overturn the goal and that’s what happened.
 
Weise was beside himself after the game.
 
“What I was trying to do was brace myself so I didn’t bowl him over and it comes back the other way,” Weise said.
 
“I don’t know what else to do there. I’m trying to poke the puck with one hand and brace myself so I don’t hit him.”
 
Naturally, six minutes later, Brandon Manning turned a puck over along the boards with T.J. Oshie and Alex Ovechkin and it resulted in Nick Backstrom getting a great setup in the high slot for a 1-0 Caps’ lead.
 
“Even after that, we came back and played well and had good chances,” Weise said. “It’s the same story every night. We don’t capitalize on it and give up a few chances and they score on their opportunities.”
 
That’s when frustration seeped in on the Flyers and the penalties began to mount. Sean Couturier tried to get away with an elbow. Didn’t work.
 
The Caps dazzled the Flyers with brilliant puck movement, culminating with Evgeny Kuznetsov’s goal to make it 2-0 at 16:28. He had two goals in the game.
 
While that could have ruined them, the Flyers came out hard in the second as Ivan Provorov appeared to score in the opening minute. However, replay confirmed his shot hit the crossbar. Two near-goals for the Flyers.
 
“I shot it and saw that [the puck] went up and I didn’t hear a sound,” Provorov said. “I thought it went in.”
 
No matter. Manning atoned for his first-period miscue by saving a puck from leaving the zone and then firing on net where Brayden Schenn scored a rare five-on-five goal by batting the puck out of the air to cut the Flyers’ deficit in half.
 
Of Schenn’s 19 goals, 14 have come on the power play.
 
Giroux’s line with Schenn and Wayne Simmonds consisted of the Flyers’ only players on the right side of the plus-minus category. And to show how deceiving that can be, Voracek worked his tail off, too, but was minus-3.
 
That’s how it goes these days for this group.
 
“It’s been a lot of games where it’s been one- or two-goal hockey games and it’s tough to do,” Schenn said. “We’re generating shots, but I don’t know if we’re generating enough chances.
 
“At the end of the day, you feel you play hard and a pretty good hockey game and end up scoring one goal again. Whether it’s 3-1, 4-1, you score one goal, you won’t win many hockey games.”
 
The Flyers are 3-6-1 since coming out of the All-Star break. Of those seven total losses, including overtime, they have scored more than one goal just once.
 
“We’ve got to rise above it, each and every one of us,” Hakstol said. “Get back at it. And that is what this group has continually done. We have to do that one more time here.”