Ten observations from the Flyers' 6-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers Thursday night, their seventh straight win and longest win streak since Dec. 2-15, 2011 (see Instant Replay).
1. And the Flyers (somehow) did it. They won their seventh straight game on a night Steve Mason wasn't his best — five goals allowed for the third time this season — and the team defense was largely atrocious. Michael Raffl scored a beautiful goal for the game-winner at 18:31 of the third period and the Flyers held on. This game had a 1980s feel to it. Lots of scoring. Highly entertaining. And the Flyers found a way to win it. This team is on a roll.
2. From the Flyers' perspective, the most entertaining moment of the opening 20 minutes came with 5:31 left in the first period, when Flyers defenseman Brandon Manning and Oilers center Connor McDavid exchanged words post-whistle in the Philadelphia zone.
Manning broke McDavid's collarbone last season, which forced McDavid to miss a chunk of his rookie season. Nothing more than a little pushing and shoving with some trash talk.
Still, the sequence brought the most excitement in the first period. Speaking of which …
3. For a team that entered on a six-game winning streak, the Flyers' first-period effort was disheartening. They needed more than nine minutes to get their first shot on goal, and had more shots in the final two minutes — five — than they did the first 18 minutes.
No real scoring chances, either, out of the nine first-period shots. Raffl had a nice chance, but Oilers goalie Jonas Gustavsson was able to make the stop.
That's two straight games the Flyers have had poor first periods. Tuesday, they were tied, 1-1, with the Panthers, but faced a 1-0 deficit Thursday. Better first periods are needed.
4. Boy, the Flyers woke up quick after the 10-minute mark of the second period.
Down 2-0, the Flyers scored three goals in one minute and 12 seconds in the second period — 12:31, 13:24 and 13:43 — to get the Wells Fargo Center jumping.
Mark Streit started it off with a power-play goal, followed by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and then Claude Giroux. Bellamare beat Gustavsson with a well-placed wrist shot, which may have been the fourth-liner's best shot of his NHL career, for his first of the year.
Giroux's diving slapper gave the Flyers a 3-2 lead 19 seconds later. The loudest the building may have been this season. It had a playoff atmosphere after Giroux's goal.
5. Let's talk about McDavid. We hear about how fast he is, how skilled he is, how special he is, and he is every bit as advertised. You see it more when you see him in person.
McDavid scored his first power-play goal of the season at 4:35 of the second period, his 12th goal of the campaign. He rocketed home a one-timer from Leon Draisaitl off a rebound.
The 19-year-old kid leads the NHL in scoring and just scored his first PPG. The kid is special. Very special. Side note, McDavid chirped Manning after his PPG.
6. And, of course, McDavid was a factor in another Oilers goal. After the Flyers took momentum with their three goals in just over a minute, McDavid took it right back.
While the Oilers were shorthanded, McDavid was double-teamed in the corner left of Mason by Andrew MacDonald and Bellamare, but he was able to shovel the puck to Mark Letestu, who then found Andrej Sekera for a blast by Mason to make it 3-3 at 16:15 of the second period.
The credit for that goal goes all to McDavid. Tremendous strength by a 19-year-old who was being pinned against the boards by a 30-year-old and 31-year-old, respectively.
Sekera's goal was the seventh shorthanded goal allowed by the Flyers — most in the NHL.
7. I was skeptical of using the Bellemare line against McDavid, but at 5-on-5, Bellemare, Chris VandeVelde and Roman Lyubimov did a decent job against McDavid. Still, the Oilers' captain finished with a goal and assist. The Flyers held McDavid without a breakaway.
The Bellemare line did a tremendous job at 5-on-5.
8. The fans grew restless with the referees in the third period. First, Brayden Schenn put a loose puck into the net, but Gustavsson had covered it and the whistle had blown quickly. And then, McDavid tackled Ivan Provorov on a break. Should have been a penalty.
9. We hear about McDavid all the time, but Edmonton has another young star in Draisaitl, who found himself off the McDavid line against the Flyers.
No problem for the 2014 No. 3 overall pick. Draisaitl had a goal and two assists and displayed an uncanny ability to find open players and get them the puck.
In a game featuring McDavid, it was Draisaitl who stole the show. Wow.
10. It was Goaltender Heritage Night at the Wells Fargo Center, but there were no special ceremonies. The honorees, voted by the fans, were Bernie Parent, Ron Hextall, Pelle Lindberg, Pete Peeters and Brian Boucher. Outside of some interviews during stoppages and a cool, little presentation during introductions, there was nothing to write home about. There was an uptick in goalie jerseys in the crowd.
Personal favorite? A Brian Boucher No. 1 Philadelphia Phantoms sweater.