After their last loss, Flyers’ assistant captain Kimmo TImonen, knowing his team is on the verge of falling out of playoff contention, had this to say about their final four games: “I think we have to win ‘em all to make the playoffs”. He was spot on.
And the team took this sentiment seriously.
In an Easter Sunday afternoon contest that had all the tension of a game seven playoff matchup, the Flyers faced the hottest team in the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings. A 10-0-2 record in their last twelve games (13-2-2 since the Olympics) has rocketed them up the Western Conference standings on their quest to seal a pro sports record 19th straight playoff berth. Our boys in the orange and black weren’t intimidated one bit.
The Flyers came to play, bringing energy on the first shift as Ian Laperriere created a turnover to set up a Dan Carcillo shot past Chris Osgood for a 1-0 lead 17 seconds into the game.
Kimmo Timonen increased the lead off a feed by Laperriere on a four-on-two fast break. Detroit was not to be brushed aside so easily, however. Dan Cleary jammed home a bouncing rebound to come within one, and then, after hitting the post on a breakaway opportunity, found the puck to the point for a shot that set up a Darren Helm rebound goal.
Claude Giroux set the tone in the second period by retaking the lead less than a minute in off a turnover by James van Riemsdyk. Near the end of the second, Arron Asham put one in off the pass by Kimmo Timonen, who stepped up to play offense on the play.
The game got fiery through that second frame, with confrontations abound as the Carcillo, Betts, and Laperriere fourth line matched up against the Datsyuk line all afternoon.
They held them off through most of the third, keeping the Red Wings to only a goal as Pavel Datsyuk fired a shot over Boucher’s shoulder off the drop from Jason Williams. A tight defensive stand through the final five minutes painted the Flyers as potential playoff competitors.
This win ties the Flyers in points with the Bruins, who remain in control of the 8th seed with their game in hand. The most important part, however, is to stay two points in front of the New York Rangers chasing from the 9th spot with an extra game remaining in their schedule.
Two of the Flyers’ final three games come against the Rangers as part of a home and home series to close out the season.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Ian Laperriere: With assists on the first two goals of the day, and an afternoon spent battling Detroit star Pavel Datsyuk, Laperriere was busy throughout.
Kimmo Timonen: One of the Flyers’ defensive veterans, Timonen picked his spots to jump up in the offensive zone, putting in a fast break tip in and setting up Arron Asham for a goal and an assist to round out his plus 2 rating.
Dan Carcillo: Another Flyers’ fourth liner, Carcillo came back off his recent two game suspension and left his mark on the game early, scoring the first goal. He then went to work keeping the Red Wings busy with the occasional scuffle and shoving match.