You're not crazy: The Flyers won a second straight game in a shootout

You're not crazy: The Flyers won a second straight game in a shootout

The Philadelphia Flyers have won back-to-back games via shootouts. I repeat, the Philadelphia Flyers have won back-to-back games via shootouts. This is not a drill.

You can stop rubbing your eyes and pinching yourselves, because it’s as true as can be.

The Flyers rallied late to tie thanks to a Brayden Schenn goal with less than a minute left and the goaltender pulled and then snuck past the Vancouver Canucks for a 4-3, shootout win last night – earlier this morning, technically - at Rogers Arena.

It’s the first time the Flyers have won back-to-back games via shootouts since March of 2006 when they topped the Montreal Canadiens and eventual Stanley Cup Champion Carolina Hurricanes.

The Flyers took a first-period lead when Mark Streit found a Michael Raffl rebound and put it past Canucks’ netminder Eddie Lack. Lack started in place of Roberto Luongo, who missed the game with what he called the #EmeryFlu.

The Flyers gave up two second-period tallies, including one by former Flyers’ tough guy Tom Sestito to fall behind, 2-1. That was before Claude Giroux took a seam pass from Raffl and, with two Canucks’ defenders all over him, somehow muscled the puck through Lack to tie the game with a spectacular goal.

It was an Olympic effort from Giroux. Were you watching, Mr. Yzerman?

The game stayed tied in the third until Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin scored an odd goal to give his team the lead. Sedin threw a long wrist shot on net that Steve Mason batted away. But the puck then hit off Luke Schenn and bounced over Mason and into the net.

Never fear because little brother Brayden came to the rescue and tied the contest with 47 seconds left when he found a loose puck off a faceoff and slid it past Lack. It was Schenn’s first goal in 16 games. Talk about a timely way to end a slump.

Vinny Lecavalier netted the shootout winner as Mason stoned all three Vancouver attempts.

Speaking of Mason, wow, what a performance.

After a bit of a shaky start in Edmonton in the Orange and Black’s previous game, Mason was spectacular against the Canucks as he stopped 41 shots.

They weren’t easy saves either. There were some acrobatic saves that most goalies would have hid no shot at. His first-period save on Vancouver’s Chris Higgins may have been his best save all season. The third-period, pad save he made on David Booth on a two-on-one was phenomenal.

Yes, the Flyers scored three goals in regulation and came back from a deficit to win, but Mason was the real story in the game. He kept the Flyers in the game as they were outshot 44-27 and allowed the Canucks to run circles around them when the Canucks had the puck in the offensive zone.

While most of you will be out drinking – responsibly, of course – and celebrating the new year, the Flyers will be in Calgary to take on the Flames at 9 p.m.

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

Report: Nerlens Noel upset with Sixers' situation at center

After being in the middle of trade rumors over the last few months, Nerlens Noel appears to frustrated with his situation with the Sixers, according to the Inquirer's Keith Pompey.

The Sixers have three starting-caliber centers — Noel, Jahlil Okafor and Joel Embiid, who's now healthy — heading into this season.

"I think it's just silly," Noel told Pompey. "With the departure of [former general manager and president] Sam Hinkie, I would have figured that management would be able to set something done this summer.

"Don't get me wrong. We all get along great on the court and off the court. But at the end of the day, it's like having three starting quarterbacks. It doesn't make any sense.

"And it's just not going to work to anybody's advantage having that on the same team. That's how I'm looking at it. I'm not opposed to anything, but things need to be situated."

The Sixers flirted with having two big men on the court at the same time last season, with Noel and Okafor but with no real success. 

He has a point, and the team knows it.

During the summer, reports swirled saying the Sixers were looking to trade either Noel or Okafor for backcourt help.

Noel, who's in the final year of his rookie contract, doesn't appear to believe the current situation will work.

"I think something needs to happen," he said.

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

Darren Sproles 'amazing' 73-yard TD set tone for fun 2nd half vs. Steelers

When Darren Sproles caught the nifty touch pass from Carson Wentz around midfield, there was little doubt about what would happen next.

"Touchdown," running back Kenjon Barner said after the Eagles' stunning 34-3 shellacking of the Steelers (see Instant Replay)
 
Really? With that many yards to go?

"Touchdown," he said. "As soon as he caught the ball. There was nobody there. That guy in the open field — you're not going to bring him down by yourself. With that much space — touchdown."

Barner wasn't the only one.

"Man, it's Sproles! Did you think he was going to get tackled?" receiver Nelson Agholor said incredulously. 

Uhh …

"Man, listen, it's Darren Sproles, and if you second-guessed him, then I don't know what you're thinking," he said. "I'm surprised if he gets tackled."

So is center Jason Kelce. 

"I was actually celebrating before he scored the touchdown, because I watched the whole thing unfold," Kelce said. "It was just a great play. [Wentz] scrambles out and then has the common sense to when the defender comes to him to dump it over top to Sproles, and that dude, once he gets the ball in space, it's incredibly special."

It sure was. 

First, Wentz stepped away from charging defensive end Stephon Tuitt, who had gotten away from Allen Barbre. 

“I came out and saw Sproles and he just turned up the field,” Wentz said. “Anytime that you can put it in [his hands], something special can happen on any play, and he did the rest of it.” 

Wentz did a little more than that (see story). After escaping the sack, he rushed to his right and made a right turn. Then he parallelled the line of scrimmage, drawing linebacker Ryan Shazier toward him — and allowing Sproles to get wide open.

Whoops.

"I thought he crossed the line of scrimmage, so I ran up," Shazier said. "It was my fault."

Sproles caught the pass, snaked his way the remaining 50 yards, spinning Steelers rookie safety Sean Davis around a couple times and watching rookie corner Artie Burns flail at him helplessly right before crossing the goal line.

"When they do that, it kind of gets everyone off their job when he extends the play like that," Davis said. "Me being a deep player, I just tried to buy us some time once I saw that we got broken down and let the defense rally up, and it's just a good play [by] him."

An amazing play. It was a 73-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the third quarter, a 3rd-and-8, and put the Eagles up 20-3 (see 10 observations). It was the second-longest catch of Sproles' career and longest since 2009 while with the Chargers (an 81-yarder vs. Baltimore). It was easily the longest TD of Wentz’s career and a main reason he was able to become only the second rookie in team history to reach 300 passing yards in a game (Nick Foles is the other).

“It was so much fun,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “Those are the kinds of plays you can’t design. It’s players making plays. … Sproles did his thing and wiggled down there, and it was fun to watch.”

That’s what Agholor should have done. Just watch.

"I was trying to chase him down and almost pulled my hamstring," Agholor said. 

"You see those moves he put on them? Pffft. And DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham) ran downfield — that downfield block. Think about that. We were having a lot of fun tonight man, and I'm very happy about that."

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