(Philadelphia, PA) – Solid goaltending, a couple of fortunate bounces, and some skillful passes from defenseman Kimmo Timonen all contributed to the Philadelphia Flyers’ 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night at the Wachovia Center.
Trailing 1-0 in the second period, Timonen fired a pass from deep in the Flyers’ zone to Riley Cote at center ice. Cote made a nice backhanded feed to a charging Jim Dowd, and the veteran's slap shot sailed over the shoulder of Ray Emery at 13:32 for his first goal since January 13.
A lucky deflection early in the third gave Philadelphia its first lead of the game. Jason Smith took a slap shot on a rolling puck, and it floated in an arc towards the net. It bounced off of Mike Knuble’s shin pad and past Emery at the 41-second mark.
Knuble got credit for the third goal as well. After Jeff Carter won a faceoff, Timonen brilliantly chipped the puck ahead to Scottie Upshall. Upshall charged in on net and couldn’t quite get a shot off, but it hit Knuble and ended up over the line when a backchecking Wade Redden lost his edge and fell into the crease with 13:30 remaining in regulation.
“I think Kimmo is the one guy, with all the guys out [with injuries], has really taken ownership for our team,” said John Stevens of the All-Star defenseman. “I know it always doesn’t always show up on the scoresheet, but his presence, his calm demeanor and his quiet confidence has been very important for us. He’s just an all-around good player.”
The win was the Flyers’ first at home since a 3-0 victory over Anaheim on February 2. Philadelphia has now won two in a row since ending a 10-game winless streak.
“When you put two in a row together confidence starts to grow,” said Danny Briere. “If we are able to get a third one, it will just continue to grow and grow. We know we can do it because we had been on a really good stretch before we hit that winless streak.”
Martin Biron stopped 32 shots for his second straight win.
Vaclav Prospal played in his first game with the Flyers in over a decade, skating on a line with Briere and R.J. Umberger. The left wing came to Philadelphia in a trade with Tampa Bay earlier this week. Umberger almost put the Flyers ahead early in the game, but his wrist shot from the circle deflected off of the inside of the far post.
“I would like to keep them together and see how they develop and continue to play,” said Stevens. “I think they can give us a real solid line with some different ingredients. I thought they did some good things and I think that line will get better as we move along.”
Ottawa, which had been outscored 9-0 in its last two games combined, ended up striking first. A blast from Andrej Mezsaros deflected off of Jason Spezza standing in front of the net at 6:33.
Spezza was involved in a scrum right after the goal that ended up with him being tossed from the game. Biron shoved the Ottawa center from behind while he was celebrating, touching off the hostility. Biron was issued a roughing minor on the play but Spezza was given a major for butt-ending and a game misconduct, much to the chagrin of him and Senators coach Bryan Murray.
“Plain and simple, he is in our building and celebrating at the top of my crease,” said Biron of what ended up being a turning point in the game. “And celebrating for one-one thousand, two one thousand, three one thousand by himself, just showing me up in front of everybody. I did not like it, and I was not going to accept that.”
Philadelphia failed to convert on its three-minute power play, but tied the game minutes later on Dowd’s goal.
Late in the frame, Ottawa’s Dean McAmmond and Randy Jones pushed one another next to the Flyers’ net. Steve Downie, who was suspended for 20 games in the preseason for hitting McAmmond, also had words with the Sens’ forward. It was the first time that the two had been on the ice together since that incident.
Downie would later drop the gloves with Mike Fisher shortly before Knuble’s goal.
The game marked the return behind the bench for Ottawa’s Murray. Also the general manager of the club, Murray replaced John Paddock earlier this week. Last season as head coach, Murray led the Senators to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Flyers face the Islanders at Nassau Coliseum on Saturday afternoon (2:00 p.m., Comcast SportsNet) and play the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Sunday (12:30 p.m., NBC).
“We need to get a winning streak together,” said Jason Smith. “We are competing at a high level right now. That’s two [in a row], and we need to keep playing well.”
Philadelphia took three of the four meetings this season against Ottawa, losing only in a shootout on February 19 at Scotiabank Place. … The Flyers improved to 7-6-3 against Northeast Division teams. … Twelve of Philadelphia’s 18 remaining games are against the Atlantic Division. … The Flyers are 13-8-3 when outshooting their opponent.
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1 - 0 OTT
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHI
3 - 1 PHI
Interference on goalkeeper
Butt ending (maj)
Holding the stick