The Flyers came into this first game in a home-and-home series looking to solidify their own playoff position while at the same time shutting the door on the Thrashers. Atlanta sat three points out of a playoff spot, and eight points behind Philadelphia.
As has been the new norm (since coming back from the Olympic break), our Flyers showed up late, starting slow and falling behind 2-0. Goals were scored by Niclas Bergfors, acquired in the trade of Ilya Kovalchuk to the New Jersey Devils, and Colby Armstrong.
After Ian Laperriere dropped the gloves for the fourth consecutive game and the 200th fight of his career, the Flyers showed signs of life and picked up a goal as Dan Carcillo tipped a Chris Pronger shot in past goalie Johan Hedberg to pull within one.
In a second period that saw the Flyers outshot 11-3, Nik Antropov found the back of the net for the fourth consecutive game in a row. Before too long, off a feed by Daroll Powe, Blair Betts got a shot through to once again pull within a goal.
The third period, which has been the Flyers’ best twenty minutes as of late, was not a friend to them last night. About half way through, after Brian Boucher made a quality stop on a breakaway, Neil Little buried the rebound to increase the lead to two.
Down 4-2 with half a period to go, it would take more effort than the Flyers could muster to break through the wall that Johan Hedberg put up in net. In the final ten minutes, they continually crashed the net and created quality chances, but nothing was getting through.
With two minutes remaining, Tobias Enstrom was poised to rip a shot from the slot, and Boucher came out to the top of the crease to face it. Enstrom dished the puck behind him to Colby Armstrong for his second consecutive two goal game and a 5-2 win.
It seems like now, having wrapped up a four game road trip, would be a good time for Laviolette to mix things up with his team. They’ve had to chase the other team from behind in far too many of their games. While they were able to make it back in most of them, it’s not a habit to get into, and that showed last night.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Nik Antropov: Antropov has been on fire as of late, and carried it through this game against the Flyers. He picked up a goal and an assist for a total of eight points in his last four games.
Johan Hedberg: Many of the Flyers’ best chances didn’t even make it on net, including hit posts and bouncing pucks in front, but Hedberg still managed to keep control of those and stop another 26 of 28 shots.
Braydon Coburn: A minus three on the night, it was his man, whom he failed to properly tie up, that put a rebound past Boucher for three of Atlanta’s five goals. A fourth had his man get a clean pass out front for an easy goal. With a goalie in Boucher’s situation, he needs as much support from his defense as possible, which was part of what made Leighton so good. Coburn failed to provide that last night.