It was an ugly, ugly night Saturday at the Wells Fargo Center for the New York Islanders, who had the appearance of a borderline playoff team coming in, but left looking like a group that simply doesn’t belong in the same league as the Flyers.
The Orange and Black humiliated the Isles in every sense of the word in front of a sellout Wells Fargo Center crowd, Saturday night, winning 6-1 in what will go down as one of the strangest, most physical, and best efforts of the Flyers’ young season.
A team still searching for its identity sent a message to the division rival Islanders, embarrassing them Saturday night. The contest featured 120 total penalty minutes, three game misconducts and three additional ten-minute misconducts, but when focus could have so easily been lost, the Flyers kept their goal in sight, continuing to outplay, out hustle, and out heart New York.
Kimmo Timonen drew first blood, scoring off the blocker of goalie Rick DiPietro, just 2:36 into the game, giving the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Later in the period, Jeff Carter put Giroux’s rebound past a screen from the left circle and through the five hole of DiPietro to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead.
In the second, Carter was at it again, scoring on some fancy stick work, tapping a backhander through the five hole of DiPietro, lodging his stick in the goaltender’s pads, giving him his second of the night and putting the Flyers on top 3-0. Minutes later, Pronger, who, despite not being 100%, lead the team in ice time, scored from the point, after taking a pass back from Kimmo Timonen, really getting the Wells Fargo Center rocking.
Pronger’s efforts led the Flyers defense to a season-high six total points in the showing. Before Timonen’s first period goal, the Flyers defense corps had not scored in the regular season.
“I think being young helps. He let’s the game come to him a little bit.“
Off the faceoff, Dan Carcillo squared up with Zenon Konopka in a good, long fight generating a standing ovation from the already electric crowd.
As intensity continued to reach its boiling point, Trent Hunter glided toward Andrej Meszaros along the boards right in front of the Flyers penalty box, lifting his bicep to the head of Meszaros, leading to a scrap involving everyone on the ice except Bobrovsky, who didn’t appear to know what to do in that situation, nearing the blue-line but never engaging in the shoving. When asked through a translator if he wanted to fight, the young goalie laughed and shook his head no.
Hunter earned a game misconduct for his nasty boarding penalty and DiPietro was booked with a two minute minor for leaving the crease to join the scrap.
24 seconds into the penalties, Chris Pronger got tangled up with Frans Nielsen, crossing Nielsen with his stick, and eventually allowing Nielsen to get a shot off before the two tumbled to the ice, prompting a questionable penalty shot. Nielsen put the shot past Bobrovsky, giving the Isles their first point of the game.
Less than a minute later, the Flyers set up in the offensive zone, where Pronger netted his second on a slapshot from the top of the right circle, really putting the skate to the throat of the Islanders, who perhaps saw a little life after their penalty shot put them within three.
The Islanders looked lifeless as the second continued. DiPietro played a puck right back to Blair Betts, with no one in the area, who nearly scored on a quick shot. Less than a minute later, Anreas Nodel scored from James van Riemsdyk and Carter who was having the type of night Flyers fans are hoping to see from him a lot this year.
Entering the third, DiPietro was left out to dry by coach Scott Gordon, despite looking mindless and simply not on his game through two periods.
“He’s got to fight through it, you know [goalie Dwayne Roloson] played last night and we’ve got some time off,” Gordon explained. “You know, I don’t think with five on three, anything is going to change by putting Rolly in the game, I mean we were shorthanded for awhile there, and if it was just one single power play , but at that point it wasn’t a question of all being Ricky’s fault.”
In the third, Carcillo took on a second bout, fighting Konopka again, along the Flyers bench, in a much shorter, but equally physical bout.
With 3:37 left in the game, a scrum formed in front of the Flyers net, around Trevor Gillies, who was on his way to the box when he reached out and flattened Danny Briere, who was alone as an apparent innocent bystander. The action led to a incredibly rare triple-minor for roughing and another ten-minute game misconduct, totaling 16 penalty minutes for post-whistle activity.
As the 1:00 mark approached, Briere, who had been getting into it verbally with Frans Nielsen, hit Nielson off the faceoff before Dan Carcillo knocked him to the ice.
“[Nielsen] was talking to Danny and I don’t know what they were saying but I knew something was going to happen so I just went in there and hit him,” Carcillo said.
With the clock stopped at 1:00, DiPietro, who appeared to be looking for a fight all night went after Briere and Carcillo, when Chris Pronger stepped in and gave him what he wanted, getting into it with the Islanders goalie.
“Yeah, [Pronger] didn’t want me going after Briere. I was just looking for somebody except him, to be honest,” DiPietro recalled.
It was a strange sight, seeing a goalie so physical and active in the skirmishes that were omnipresent Saturday night. For Carcillo, seeing a goalie so active was something new. “Never [has a goalie come after me]. It would have been nice to fight him though,” the winger said.
After a few minutes of attempting to sort everything out, DiPietro earned his second leaving the crease penalty, Nielsen was booked with a 10:00 misconduct and his counterpart in the scrum, Danny Briere received a game misconduct and a five minute cross-checking major. Dan Carcillo was also booked with a 10:00 misconduct.
“When you get embarrassed like that, obviously there’s lot of frustration. They obviously didn’t like that, they had to respond some way, somehow, Danny Briere said. “That was one way to do it, with their fists, finishing their checks, and that’s what happened. I thought the refs did a pretty good job of controlling the game. It’s going to happen, games like that when one team goes up quite a bit on the other one.”
Lost in all of this was Flyers rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s stellar performance. The rookie allowed just one goal, on a penalty shot, and maintained incredible focus through a game that got out of hand quickly and stayed that way.
“It’s hard to stay focused in such a long game and it’s hard to maintain your concentration in a game that lasts so long. But, in the end, you just play,” Bob said through a translator.
KEYS TO THE GAME:
Sergei Bobrovsky: Bob’s tremendous play cannot be forgotten or buried behind stories of what turned into a circus on ice Saturday night. With one questionable call going the other way, Bobrovsky could have earned his first shutout of the season. Instead, he allowed just one goal on a penalty shot.
It was an easy night to get distracted given all that happened. But Bob hung in there and made save after save, turning away 30 total shots. Bobrovsky, playing in his third-straight start and for the first time on back-to-back nights was simply brilliant.
“I’m very happy that we continue to win,” Bobrovsky said. “It’s great and we have to keep it up.”
Chris Pronger: Pronger lead a great night for the Flyers defense, which coming into Saturday’s game, had not scored in the regular season. Timonnen ended that streak, scoring in the opening period, but Pronger made it a statement game, netting two goals of his own.
“We were skating good tonight. We were getting to the net and pucks were getting to the net. As we all know, most goalies don’t like traffic and don’t like guys driving to the net,” Pronger said. “We had traffic in front, I think, on both of my goals. That’s a great part of our game, is getting that traffic in front and battling for those loose pucks.”
Pronger, as usual, established himself physically, leading to an all around excellent night for the defenseman.
Jeff Carter: Carter started the game looking like a clear-cut standout star. He disappeared a little bit in the third period, as the game continued to be out of hand, and regulars saw fewer minutes.
His two goals and assist were huge factors in the Flyers message-sending route of the Islanders.