Everything came together for this 6-1 win in Minnesota. Sergei Bobrovsky stepped into goal after two games off and had a strong night, with some key saves keeping the Flyers alive. The offense took control when it had to, developing an early lead and putting it away in the third.
James van Riemsdyk kicked things off with a gritty goal following his first goal of the season on Monday. After a Coburn shot was blocked down by a Minnesota defender, the puck sat loose underneath him as goaltender Nicklas Backstrom raced JVR to find it. JVR got his stick on it first as he tapped the puck in for an early lead.
Van Riemsdyk teamed up with Jeff Carter later on as he pressed a defenseman behind the Wild net, forcing a turnover to the stick of Carter who danced in front, through the defenders, and beat Backstrom five hole.
With a couple minutes left in the third, Kimmo Timonen shot the puck into the Minnesota zone, only to shatter the glass on the side boards. After a lengthy wait to replace the pane, the two teams finished the period. Having just taken such a long break, they played through straight to the second period.
The Flyers were the dominant team throughout most of the second. They outshot the Wild 12-3, but went soft with a few minutes left, suffering a defensive breakdown as an open man threw the puck out front and bounced a puck off of Meszaros and past Bobrovsky.
Danny Briere’s line of Leino and Hartnell teamed up for a pretty goal with just a minute left. In some interesting role reversal, Leino drove the net while Hartnell took the title of playmaker, faking a slap shot after Briere dropped the puck back, instead tipping it right back to him for a one timer.
With a two goal lead going into the third, the Flyers had to just hold on. They got some help from Bobrovsky as he made a huge save in the first minute or so, stopping Martin Havlat at point blank range – shooting his pad out faster than any shot coming at him.
Later in the period, with penalty killing specialist Blair Betts in the penalty box for slashing, Andreas Nodl took his spot on the PK alongside Darroll Powe. Talk about being in the right place at the right time; Nodl blocked a point shot and kicked it up to himself for what he said was the first breakaway of his NHL career, ultimately beating Backstrom with a wicked wrister over the glove hand.
The rout was on at this point, as bounces started going the Flyers’ way. Ville Leino tried a spin-o-rama move to send a backhand pass to Briere on the rush, but the pass caught his skate and came straight back – staying flat on the ice and dodging Minnesota players along the way – before landing on Leino’s stick for an easy put in.
Heavyweight Jody Shelley finished off the scoring with the sixth of the evening as his line’s strong forecheck left him alone in front of the goalie for a panicked deke before sliding the puck past him with some characteristically hard hands.
With another win, the Flyers maintain their position tied alongside the Washington Capitals for first place in the NHL.
KEYS TO THE GAME
Andreas Nodl: In what was his first multi-point game in the NHL, Nodl had some strong shifts alongside linemates James van Riemsdyk and Mike Richards. He picked up an assist on the first goal of the night, sending the puck out front where he knew someone would be, and later notched one of his most memorable goals (as if there are many to choose from). Points beget points in a game like hockey, where players gain confidence and form rhythms and things just start “to click”. For Nodl, that time is now.
James van Riemsdyk: In a similar situation, JVR has struggled lately putting up points, but with goals in back-to-back games – both goals coming at key moments in the game – he may be on the cusp of catching that same fire and hitting stride the way he and his teammates know he can.
Sergei Bobrovsky: Bobrovsky faced only 16 shots, the least he’s seen in a complete game. But the Wild made their few shots count, with plenty of them becoming high-quality chances. Especially during the times when the game remained tight, his lightning quick pads and fast movement kept the score in the Flyers favor, biding them time to put Minnesota away when the offense finally broke it open in the third.