Ville Leino proved yet again why he deserves a contract extension with his first two-goal game of his NHL career leading the Philadelphia Flyers past the Nashville Predators 3-2 Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center.
Leino scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period with a whirling 360 shot in front of the net that sent the fans and his teammates into a frenzy.
Jeff Carter added his seventh three point game of the season and the Flyers (34-13-5) held off Nashville adding to their Eastern Conference leading 73 points, tied for the third best record in franchise history through 52 games.
Goalie Sergie Bobrovsky recorded his 22nd win of the season with 26 saves holding off the Predators late attack just long enough for Leino to pull off a move few ever see live.
Carter gave the Flyers an early lead with his 24th goal of the season in the first but the Flyers league leading 173 goals meant nothing as Nashville shut them down tying the game 1-1 heading into the third period. Leino scored quickly on the power play to start the third to giving the Flyers the 2-1 lead before the Predators struck again.
With time running out and the Flyers looking like they were heading to yet another over time game at the Wells Fargo Center Leino ended Flyer Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke night in style with his nifty backhand over goalie Anders Lindback on the high glove side for the winner to seal the game.
“I definitely think that when you’re set one way and spin and throw a backhand, it’s hard to read, much harder than just a shot that comes off the stick” said Flyers Head Coach Peter Laviolette. “But he’s good at that. He’s really good at protecting the puck and circling in small areas and strong on it. He was like that most of the game.”
Leino is in final year of his 2-year contract with Philadelphia and with Carter and All-Star Claude Giroux already receiving contract extensions, Leino is making a bid for his pay day by scoring a career high 38 points so far this season including lucky goal 13 on Thursday.
“That was, well, instinct. I felt that he was on my right side so I turned right away. I knew there was empty space there and as soon as I turned I knew I had to get it up,” said a calm and cool Leino after the game. “That was pretty much the only spot I thought would work. I put it right on the bat and it worked out well today.”