CALL IT A COMEBACK
Giroux has four points as Flyers score five times in third period to conquer Columbus
PHILADELPHIA – Jake Voracek has played just one game against the Columbus Blue Jackets – the team that drafted him – since being traded to the Flyers.
In that one game, Voracek had one goal and two assists.
When he was reminded of that prior to Thursday’s game against Columbus, Voracek said, “If I do that again, we win.”
Thursday night came, and for two periods it looked like there was no chance of that taking place. But in the third, a glorious period if there ever was one for the Flyers – and maybe the seminal period of the season – Voracek was able to score once and assist on two goals by Claude Giroux, the latter of which is sure to remain on highlight reels for the remainder of the season.
And sure enough, Voracek proved to be a sage: One goal, two assists, a Flyers win.
But it sure wasn’t easy.
The Flyers needed a five goal barrage in the third period, capped off by a no-look, falling down away from the goal, backhand snipe by Giroux to pull off an improbable 5-4 win over the Jackets.
“They responded in the third period with a great effort from everybody, and the goals went in and we ended up winning so it’s a great win, it really is,” coach Craig Berube said. “Our captain came up big.”
The team scored three goals in 3:01. Giroux, who finished the game with four points, scored both of his goals 2:08 apart.
|Claude Giroux registered four points in a game for the sixth time in his career, and the game-winning goal was his 100th tally of his career.
He has finally made it onto the NHL scoring leaderboard with 30 points, which is tied for 25th, however, since November 9th, when he scored his first goal, Giroux has 23 points (9G, 14-A). That is tied for fourth most in the league since that date (Patrick Kane 32, Sidney Crosby 28, Evgeni Malkin 27, Patrick Sharp 23).
The game-winning goal was the 100th of his career. He now has a five game scoring streak and has 10 points in those five games (4G, 6A).
But it wasn’t just Giroux. His line is has been really clicking of late.
In the four games Giroux has been together with Voracek and Michael Raffl, the trio has combined for nine goals and 13 assists and 22 points.
It’s no surprise then that the team is 3-0-1 in those games.
“[Giroux] is really skating and working and going the right way: north,” Berube said. “His whole line is, they’re all working together well. Jake is skating really well, he is attacking with speed, and Raffl is a real good compliment right now.”
Trailing 3-0 after two periods and facing a daunting task of coming back on a Blue Jackets team that doesn’t cough up third period leads (they were 9-0-1 this season and 36-0-1 overall under coach Todd Richards when leading after two periods), Voracek made a great individual effort to get the Flyers on the scoreboard, swooping all the way around the net and coming out in front with a wrister he snapped past goalie Curtis McElhinney.
A little over a minute later, Braydon Coburn floated a shot from the point that glanced off of Mark Letestu, bounced off the ice and like a bad hop on a shortstop, ate up McElhinney and suddenly it was 3-2.
“You know what,” Coburn said. “I had a lot of great chances in this game. Some really good looks, and that’s the one that goes in? It’s crazy. But, I’ll take it.”
The Flyers suddenly had momentum, but then a bad break went against them and could have done them in.
A dump in by the Jackets hit the netting above the glass, and the Flyers stopped skating. However, the officials never blew the play dead, Scott Hartnell lost the puck and Artem Anisimov fed Blake Comeau in front and he slid it past Steve Mason for 4-2.
It could have ended there. The Flyers could have gave it the old, ‘Well, we tried but a bad break went against us, so chalk it up as a loss’ route.
But they didn’t. They only pressed harder.
Giroux hopped on the ice during a delayed penalty and carried the puck into the Columbus zone before feeding Wayne Simmonds for a shot.
Since it was a delayed penalty, Erik Gustafsson smartly crashed the net, and it was a good thing too, because the rebound of Simmonds shot came right to him, and suddenly it was 4-3 with 4:39 to play.
“You know, we just had a brutal second period,” Gustafsson said. “We dominated the first period and were still losing. After that second, we knew we could play the way we needed to in order to come back, and we did in the third. It was a great period. We kept going to the net and kept getting goals.”
Less than a minute later, Voracek led the rush up ice and threw a shot on net that was deftly redirected by a crashing
|Jake Voracek's goal at 4:20 of the third period opened the flood gates for the Flyers, who would score five times on 16 third period shots.|
Raffl. The puck wouldn’t go in, clanging off the post, but Giroux was there to jam it home.
With the crowd in a frenzy, Giroux took the puck off the end wall following a shot by Mark Streit and scored the goal of the year as of now.
With David Savard shoving him to the ice, Giroux, with his back to the net, lifted a backhander over McElhinney’s glove without even looking as he was falling away from the goalie.
“I was right in front and I thought he was just going to shoot it back door for a rebound but I saw it in slow motion go into the top corner,” said Scott Hartnell. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. That should be the top play on Sports Center tonight.’”
It was a furious comeback. It was a character win. It was a make good too by the team for their goalie Steve Mason, who didn’t have his best game against his former team.
“I went around the room and thanked the guys for doing what they did to help me get this win,” Mason said. “[Giroux] looked at me and said, you don’t have to be the guys who wins us games all the time. We can help you out too. It was pretty incredible.”
And it got the Flyers (16-15-4, 36 points) into sole possession of third place in the Metropolitan Division, which is a playoff spot, for the first time all season.
“We talked before the game about moving up, being in a playoff spot, being above .500…,” Berube said. “It’s always nice when you can look at it and see your team is in the playoffs but you’re right, there is a lot of work. We have a big game Saturday and they are going to be better. Trust me, they will be better there.”
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