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: Nikita Kucherov hat trick lifts Lightning over Bruins

Best of NHL: Nikita Kucherov hat trick lifts Lightning over Bruins

BOSTON -- Nikita Kucherov had his third career hat trick to lead Tampa Bay to a 6-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night, snapping the Lightning's three-game losing streak.

Jonathan Drouin had a goal and two assists, Brayden Point had a goal and an assist and Anton Stralman also scored to help the Lightning pull three points behind the Bruins for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference.

Peter Budaj finished with 28 saves for the Lightning to earn his 29th win of the season. Ondrej Palat had three assists, and Jake Dotchin and Victor Hedman added two each.

Riley Nashy had a goal and an assist for Boston, and David Pastrnak and Zdeno Chara also scored. Tuukka Rask stopped 23 shots as Boston, which won seven of the first eight games under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, has now lost four straight and six of 11 (see full recap).

Oshie beats Bobrovsky to give Caps SO win
WASHINGTON -- T.J. Oshie scored the shootout winner as the Washington Capitals overcame a stellar performance from Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky to beat the Blue Jackets 2-1 Thursday night.

Despite 44 saves from Bobrovsky, the Capitals reached 104 points and extended their lead atop the Metropolitan Division and NHL standings. Oshie engendered memories of his Sochi Olympic shootout performance by again beating Bobrovsky, the goalie he scored on four times in six chances that day.

Dmitry Orlov finally cracked Bobrovsky early in the third period on Washington's 35th shot of the game. Orlov's goal tied the score after Seth Jones beat Braden Holtby on a wild scramble early in the third for his first goal since Feb. 7.

Holtby had 29 saves in regulation and overtime and three more in the shootout to pick up his 38th victory of the season, one shy of Bobrovsky for the league lead (see full recap).

Senators take down Penguins in shootout
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Kyle Turris and Bobby Ryan scored in the shootout to lift the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Mike Hoffman scored in regulation for the Senators and Mike Condon finished with 34 saves, including two incredible point-blank stops in overtime to keep the game going.

Nick Bonino had the goal in regulation for the Penguins and Matt Murray stopped 29 shots.

After being outplayed for much of the first two periods, the Senators were much better in the third and tied the score 1-1 on the power play at 9:43 as Hoffman beat Murray over the shoulder with a wrist shot just 14 seconds after Matt Cullen was penalized for holding (see full recap).

Flyers regroup behind Steve Mason for big win over Wild

Flyers regroup behind Steve Mason for big win over Wild

BOX SCORE

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- When Zach Parise scored for the Minnesota Wild just 2:07 into Thursday's game, the Flyers were in another difficult position on the road.

This time, they responded with the type of game they've needed on the road all season.

The Flyers scored three unanswered goals by Sean Couturier, Matt Read and Jakub Voracek to beat Minnesota, 3-1, and snap a four-game losing streak on the road (see Instant Replay).

"They're a tough team to handle in their transition," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Parise's goal. "It's quick and it's fast. The players on the bench were outstanding, talking, real calm. Just go out and push it the other way the next shift and I thought we were able to do that."

The Flyers responded with one of their best efforts on the road in nearly two months and pulled within six points of Boston for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference (see standings). The Bruins lost, 6-3, at home to Tampa Bay.

Steve Mason made 24 saves in goal for his 100th win with the Flyers as the team was rarely challenged thanks to an all-around performance that has been missing on the road. The Flyers entered the night tied for the second-fewest road wins in the conference this season.

"Certain things on the road, you've got to be a little more specific with your game and detailed, and I think we did a better job of that tonight," said Flyers defenseman Nick Schultz, who returned to the arena where he played 10 seasons with Minnesota. "Everybody throughout the lineup did that and that's why we got a big win."

The beginning looked all too familiar, though.

An innocent looking dump-in slid to Mason, who tried to cover the puck. The puck went off his stick and Parise quickly poked it past Mason. The Wild had four quality chances early before the Flyers took control.

"They came hard early on in the game and to be able to match that speed; that was a completely different pace of game compared to what we came from in Winnipeg," Mason said. "So, it almost took a second to get your bearings straight to get up to speed."

The Flyers weathered the early flurry by Minnesota, which is safely in playoff position in the West but is facing its own late-season issues. The Flyers killed off both Wild penalties, allowing just two shots on the penalty kill.

Couturier's 12th goal of the season was critical in tying the game with 2:01 left in the first (see feature highlight).

"Coming into the room after the period, I think it's important when you get a big goal like that," captain Claude Giroux said. "You feel like you have the momentum a little bit, so it definitely helped us a lot."

Read provided the lead in the second and the Flyers, who are now 15-2-2 when leading after two periods, pressured in the third. They outshot the Wild, 9-4, in the final period.

"We didn't sit back," Hakstol said. "I thought we were confident with the puck and made some plays and spent a good amount of time in the offensive zone. We played with real confidence in our game."

Mason had been critical after the Flyers lost in Winnipeg on Tuesday, saying the team needed to be more desperate. The Flyers responded Thursday in the difficult position of being on the road and allowing the first goal.

"We knew we had to be better," Schultz said of Mason's comments. "I think on the road, you've got to be at least a .500 team and take care of business at home, and we haven't done that this year. So, obviously, we've got to get better and I think we did respond tonight. Now we have to build on it."