UNIONDALE, N.Y. – Consider the first test passed by Claude Giroux as captain of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Some 40 hours after calling himself and his teammates on the carpet for a lackluster effort in Montreal, Giroux had one of those memorable first shifts of a game.
The stakes weren’t as high as when he leveled Sidney Crosby in Game 6 of the playoffs last year and then scored the opening goal of a series-clinching game, but considering the desperate spot the team found itself in as it started the second third of it’s season, it was a pretty big shift.
So, Giroux went right after New York Islanders star John Tavares, delivered a clean hit, then crashed the net and popped a rebound past goalie Evgeni Nabokov to give the Flyers a lead in the opening seconds.
From there, the Flyers performance was clinical. It was precise. It was perfect.
“Everybody took [what Claude said] personally – and that was the goal,” Briere said. “Once again though, he took care of it himself at the start of the game and we had no choice but to follow suit. That’s huge leadership on his part.”
While it’s easy for fans to shrug the effort aside thinking that it’s not a big deal because it came against the Islanders, that opinion is a bit flawed any more.
These Islanders have been decent this season and came into play Monday just two points out of a playoff spot.
Which is why, for the first time all season coach Peter Laviolette actually used the words, “complete 60-minute game” to describe how the Flyers played.
And he’s right, but as well as the players played, the coach also deserves some credit.
As he is known to do, Laviolette juggled his forward lines looking to light a spark. He got an entire bonfire.
Moving Voracek onto a line with Read and Giroux was a stroke of genius as the trio potted 10 points before the second period ever ended.
Giroux had two goals and an assist. Read had a goal and two assists, and Voracek assisted on all four goals up to that point.
“Jake brings some speed and brings a threat off the wing with that,” Laviolette said. “That line was really sharp tonight.”
They scored on the first shift of the game, when Giroux got his fourth 26 seconds in, and then stretched the lead to 2-0 on the first shift of the second period when Read scored 15 seconds into the frame.
Brayden Schenn made it 3-0, finishing off a nice tic-tac-toe passing play from Briere and Voracek then Giroux dug in at the side of the net to jam the puck past a bewildered Nabokov to make it 4-0.
Meanwhile, the Flyers played great defense in front of Ilya Bryzgalov who only had to make 19 saves to record his first shutout of the season.
It was Bryzgalov’s 30th career shutout and it came in his 400th career game.
Got to love round numbers.
Briere got the last two goals, the first on the power play off a gem of a cross-ice pass from Sean Couturier and the second on a snipe from the right wing.
Briere had his best game of the season for the Flyers with the two goals and the assist. Not coincidentally, it came in the game that he was reunited by Laviolette with Schenn and Wayne Simmonds, a trio that had a lot of success last season. They combined for six points, which wasn’t too shabby.
It snapped a two-game losing streak for the Flyers (7-9-1, 15 points) and set them up for a heck of a showdown with the red-hot Pittsburgh Penguins in the Steel City Wednesday.
"We know now it’s do or die and we can’t sit back and wait for something to happen,” Read said. “We have to make things happen ourselves.”
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