If the Flyers were going to snap their three game losing streak, there’s no better way to do it than this. Led by captain Mike Richards, they stepped onto the ice in front of a packed Wells Fargo Center crowd and set to dismantling the Toronto Maples Leafs.
Dan Carcillo – reinserted into the lineup after being a healthy scratch in the past two games – made his presence known with a fight to get the team rolling as the first period started to drag. His cause was taken up by Richards only a few shifts later as he picked off a pass through the neutral zone and let rip a shot that left goalie J.S. Giguere stunned and gave Richards his first goal of the season.
Minutes later, after drawing a hooking penalty to put the Flyers on the man advantage, Ville Leino found himself in the right place at the right time to put in a loose puck while Mike Richards kept Giguere distracted and unable to react.
The very things the Flyers had been practicing during their four day layoff before Thursday’s game against Anaheim – moving the puck on the power play, getting banging shots from the point, and creating traffic in front for screens and rebounds – all came together on that very play. It may have taken a game for the lesson to set in, but it seems the Flyers are back on track.
The Leafs netted goals of their own in the second period off the sticks of Phil Kessel and Clarke MacArthur. Keeping the lead alive, the penalty kill tandem of Blair Betts and Darroll Powe – fresh off a shorthanded situation – teamed up for a Betts blast past J.S. Giguere.
To start the third, Mike Richards wanted more. Just a minute in, he made a perfect pass to a streaking Scott Hartnell for the one timer and a 4-2 lead.
The Flyers didn’t let up as they continued their domination and kept Toronto to a measly 3 shots in the final period.
Danny Briere topped it off with his fifth goal of the season for a final score of 5-2.
The Flyers will look to continue this new, winning style as they make the trip across Pennsylvania and into Ohio for a match up against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Monday.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Mike Richards: For the first time this season, the Flyers captain got the job done himself as he led his team by example and set the tone for the evening. His solo effort on the opening goal was typical of his style – tenacious defense leading to chance topped off with a cannon of a shot. His physicality came through on Ville Leino’s power play goal, which he assisted on. And his playmaking ability shone through on the pretty pass he made to Scott Hartnell for the fourth goal of the night. Richards is an all-around package, and when he’s on, this team wins games.
Blocked Shots: More Toronto shots were blocked by Flyers defenders than by Brian Boucher. They got in the way of a total of 18 on the evening, including 12 in the first – three times the number of shots the Leafs had on net that period. The team was led in this department by Kimmo Timonen, who accounted for 8 of the stops on his way to a third star selection, most notably a sprawling attempt on Leaf’s leading scorer Phil Kessel as he tried to put home a backdoor power play shot.
Down to Earth: The Leafs started this season as if shot out of a cannon, winning their first four and taking the top spot in the conference. They’ve since gone 0-2-1 as reality starts to set in and the rest of the league gets back in the habit of beating this Leafs team.