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WILL TO VIN

Lecavalier snaps longest drought since teen years to get Flyers back on the winning side.

Tuesday, 01.14.2014 / 11:32 PM ET / News
By Anthony SanFilippo  - Philadelphia Flyers Inside Reporter
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WILL TO VIN
Vinny Lecavalier hasn\u2019t gone through this long of a drought without finding the back of the net since he was a 19-year old rookie \u2013 back when it was still the 20th Century.\r\nSo when he scored the game-winning goal of the Flyers dramatic 4-3 win over the Sabres Tuesday in the final seconds, it was as if the weight of his entire career to that point had been lifted off his shoulders.

BUFFALO – Vinny Lecavalier hasn’t gone through this long of a drought without finding the back of the net since he was a 19-year old rookie – back when it was still the 20th Century.

So when he scored the game-winning goal of the Flyers dramatic 4-3 win over the Sabres Tuesday in the final seconds, it was as if the weight of his entire career to that point had been lifted off his shoulders.

(Read the full game recap here)

It didn’t come easy, but then again, when you are trying to snap out of a prolonged slump, one you haven’t experienced since Prince was partying like it was 1999, it never does.

A shot by Kimmo Timonen was partially blocked. Lecavalier saw the loose puck and shot it himself, only to have it deflected by Jhonas Enroth, in one of a bevy of saves made by the Sabres backup goalie that left the Flyers perplexed.

However, with Enroth down and out, Sean Couturier had a chance to flip it home from a tough angle, but hit the side of the net.

Matt Read, playing in his first game of the New Year after missing six straight with concussion-like symptoms had the

Vinny Lecavalier was all smiles after snapping a 13-game goalless drought and helping the Flyers to a win in Buffalo.

presence of mind to dig out the loose puck and find Lecavalier locked and loaded for another shot from his sweet spot on the ice – top of the circle.

With Enroth slow to recover, Lecavalier ticketed this shot top corner and didn’t miss. As the clock froze with 14.8 seconds remaining and the scoreboard in the First Niagara Center was flipping over the score to 4-3, Lecavalier took a second to let out a celebratory yawp that has been building for weeks.

After all, his last goal came when he returned home to Tampa for the first time on the eve of Thanksgiving. He played the next two games before missing nine straight with a fracture in his lower back.

He returned earlier than expected, on December 21, but he wasn’t yet 100 percent, and really, didn’t start to feel himself again until the Flyers returned home from their post-Christmas trip on January 8.

And although he had three assists in the previous five games and started to look a little bit like himself again, scoring a goal was as elusive as it had ever been.

So to get this one, and have it be such a huge goal for the Flyers as well, was just that much more special.

“It felt good,” Lecavalier said. “Goals have been hard to come by. Sometimes a goal like that will give you more confidence and you keep going. It was huge for the team. It probably wasn’t our best game, but we came back again and we show a lot of will and confidence in our play in the third period.

“The last four games I’ve been feeling really good and had my legs. Hopefully this will get me going and I’ll get more opportunities with my line mates and we’ll start a better streak.”

It’s important for Lecavalier to get back in the swing of things, for when he does, the Flyers are three lines deep with offensive talent, which is why they never really seem to be out of a game.

“Skilled guys when they’re not scoring, they lose their confidence,” coach Craig Berube said. “They thrive on that stuff. Hopefully that’ll get him going. Nobody ever questioned his effort. He’s been working. Sometimes it doesn’t go in but you have to stick with it. He’s kept working and tonight he scored a big goal for us.”

At one time Lecavalier was the Flyers leading goal scorer, now, he’s seventh on the team in that category, but he’s also the seventh Flyer to reach double digits in goals this season, something only one other team has done – surprisingly it’s the Winnipeg Jets.

Thanks to Lecavalier’s last second heroics, the Flyers avoided losing three straight games for the first time since mid-October and also tied the Capitals for the second-most points in the Metropolitan Division (52) although the Caps technically still are ahead of them because of a game in hand. However, the Flyers did leapfrog the Rangers in a standings shuffle that is sure to have several permutations and combinations the rest of the season.

“Every point is important, but especially after two losses you want to get two points,” Lecavalier said. “You got to make sure you get those points no matter who you play or where they are in the standings. You can’t think the two points are automatic. It’s hard to get two points in this league against any team.”

To contact Anthony SanFilippo, email asanfilippo@comcast-spectacor.com or follow him on Twitter @InsideTheFlyers

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EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Voracek 82 22 59 1 81
C. Giroux 81 25 48 -3 73
M. Streit 81 9 43 -8 52
W. Simmonds 75 28 22 -5 50
B. Schenn 82 18 29 -5 47
S. Couturier 82 15 22 4 37
M. Del Zotto 64 10 22 -5 32
M. Read 80 8 22 -4 30
M. Raffl 67 21 7 6 28
V. Lecavalier 57 8 12 -7 20
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
S. Mason 18 18 11 .928 2.25
R. Emery 10 11 7 .894 3.06
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