PHILADELPHIA – A two goal lead… gone. Momentum… shifted. Another would-be goal against kept out through good fortune – or was it?
A long review - several minutes. Debates ensue, was it a goal? Was it not a goal?
Finally, it’s not. Enough time for a relived sigh, before refocusing back on the task at hand – winning the game.
What followed was as precise a response as one could hope for - Two goals 23 seconds apart that showed the Flyers still have that killer instinct.
It was as if they just needed their fix – an influx of good fortune that had so often eluded them earlier this season when times were much tougher.
You get that infusion and suddenly you feel refreshed, unbreakable, on top of the world.
And for some, it could feel like you found the fountain of youth – like Kimmo Timonen.
Often criticized this season for not being the same reliable warrior he’s been for the Flyers for years, Timonen put the team on his shoulders at this ever-critical portion of the game and made the difference.
He scored the game-winning goal and added a pair of assists for his first three-point game since March 31 (four points against Washington) as the Flyers found a way to defeat Ottawa 5-2 in a game that was far closer than the score would indicate.
Timonen scored by sneaking in along the wall, taking a designed pass from Matt Read and marching right in front of the net before slipping a backhander past Sens goalie Robin Lehner.
With the fans still cheering that goal, Wayne Simmonds followed with a turnaround snipe, and suddenly a game that the Flyers were millimeters away from trailing, was all but chalked up to the win column.
"It was a very good response by our team,” thought coach Craig Berube. “I thought the whole third period we played to win that game. It's encouraging and good to see. Maybe we got a break on that play? I don't know. I haven't looked at it yet."
The play in question was a would-be goal by Kyle Turris that was inadvertently, yet fortunately for the Flyers blocked from going into the net by not one, but both of Nick Grossmann’s skates.
Bobby Ryan, who played a sensational game for the Senators despite not getting on the score sheet, made an excellent move to get Steve Mason to come too far out of his net.
Ryan slid a pass into the slot to Turris who had an open net. Yet the shot hit Grossmann’s right skate before caroming off his left skate and out of harm’s way.
The replay showed the puck may have crossed the line on the second of Grossmann’s skates, but the replay was inconclusive, giving the Flyers the break they needed.
“Yeah, it was pretty lucky there because I didn’t see it right away,” Grossmann said. “I think it was more reflex than anything else.
“I was pretty sure it was out, but then when they start reviewing it that long you never know. But it looked like the puck wasn’t in, so I think they made the right call.”
And he Flyers had their in-game turning point.
“We are confident in ourselves,” said Simmonds. “We know what we have to do. In the room, we talk about it and today was great. Every guy did their job and the result went our way.”
It was going the Flyers way earlier too.
The power play, which was relatively anemic for so long, was sharp and precise in this one, and it became clear when Claude Giroux snapped a wrister past a sprawling Lehner off a beauty of a pass from Jake Voracek to give the Flyers their first goal.
Giroux played a heck of a game as well, skating like the devil on each of his 27 shifts. As such his line mates also looked good as Jake Voracek and Scott Hartnell both had a good bite in the game.
Sean Couturier ended a personal drought of 25 games without a goal in the second period, scoring from an impossible angle off of Lehner’s skate to make it 2-0 in favor of the Flyers.
“It felt good,” said Couturier, who whiffed on an open net earlier in the game and must have wondered if he was going to be snake bit for the entire season. “I feel 20 pounds lighter.”
But the Sens would fight back and get a pair of power player scores to draw even as the Flyers penalty kill remained in a bit of a funk, probably a result of too many penalties.
"Well, for me it was just too many penalties in general tonight,” Berube said. “I thought the Winnipeg game we took 4 penalties that we didn't need to take either, so we need to clean that up."
One thing that does not need to be cleaned up is the Flyers goaltending as Steve Mason again was superb making 32 stops and not allowing a goal 5-on-5. To that end, Mason has allowed just one 5-on-5 goal in his last four starts.
“Overall the way he played was unbelievable,” Timonen said of his goalie. “Not just this game, the whole year. When your goalies play like that, they give you the chance to win games every time. Sometimes you’re going to have a bad night, but when goalies play like that, they win games for you. You can only hope these guys stay healthy and they play the same way.”
Adam Hall added an empty-netter to round out the scoring. It was his first goal as a Flyer and snapped a personal 64-game drought that dated back to Feb., 2012 when he was with Tampa.
Hall also was amazingly good in the faceoff circle again, winning 11 of 13 draws and improving to 41-for-48 in his last six games and an overall winning percentage of 63.3 for the season.
The Flyers also posted a season best 42 shots on goal. Lehner made 37 saves in defeat for the Senators.
With the win the Flyers (8-10-2) moved to within two points of third place, and a playoff spot in the Metropolitan Division standings, something that was unthinkable three weeks ago.
Up next is a date with the Buffalo Sabres, who will come into the Wells Fargo Center sporting the worst record in hockey.
And although Buffalo is playing billiards from behind the eight ball, they can’t be taken for granted and the Flyers have to continue their push forward toward becoming a serious playoff contender.
“A couple weeks ago we were down and we weren’t getting bounces,” Simmonds said. “Times have turned, we are starting to get bounces and now we are getting more confident and we are getting better going late into games and it’s starting to show.”
To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers
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