It wasn’t their best hockey, but it was consistent. There were turnovers, but they weren’t as numerous. The Flyers didn’t play a perfect game, but they played a good game and walked away with a 3-2 win over Florida.
The Flyers weren’t challenged too much, and so they likely didn’t have to showcase their best brand of hockey. But what matters is that they played nearly sixty minutes of hockey at a level strong enough for the win.
They didn’t light up the Panthers only to stop skating and throw their lead away. They played hard throughout the first 40 minutes to earn the lead, and then buckled down in the third and made it stick.
As has been the case through much of the season, the second period was the Flyers’ most dominant.
They fell behind in the first, but regained the lead in the second off a pair of Jeff Carter goals – one thanks to Thomas Vokoun’s glove hand mistake and the other a beautiful saucer pass by Danny Briere (a goal which came immediately after another well-timed Peter Laviolette timeout).
Even the Panthers’ first period goals – the only two scored against the Flyers – weren’t much to worry about.
Both pucks went off skates. The first caught a Panther skate in the neutral zone before bouncing to a streaking Stephen Weiss, who let rip a perfectly placed slapshot over the shoulder of Brian Boucher. The second was a deflection off the skate of Darroll Powe.
Neither are the kind of goals that leave one worrying about the Flyers’ play.
Good teams find ways to win close games, either by coming from behind or by holding on to a lead. Last night, the Flyers did both.
This past week, the Flyers have gone 3-0-1 – not a bed record considering how disastrous their play has been.
For the first time, though, they achieved that goal of playing a solid game from start to finish, getting better as the game goes on, and holding on to their lead when the game was on the line.
After a stretch of games that were supposed to be “easy” – Ottawa, Edmonton, Toronto, Florida – the Flyers are facing a few tougher match ups soon.
The red hot Washington Capitals – a point behind the Flyers in the East – come to Philly next Tuesday. After that, the next four games include two against the Penguins as well as a pair against Boston and the New York Islanders – a team with some offensive firepower and nothing to lose.
If the Flyers can take something from this game and keep this up going forward, they should have no problem maintaining their grip on first place. If they slip back into their recent slump, they’ll find it impossible.