Staff writer Rob Riches obtained a press pass to the Flyers-Blue Jackets game on Saturday, Nov. 5. This is his game recap.
It was a date that many in Flyers Nation had circled on their calendars, as it was supposed to mark Jeff Carter’s return to the City of Brotherly Love since being traded to Columbus on June 23 of this year in exchange for Jakub Voracek and Columbus’ pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, which turned out to be Sean Couturier. However, Carter did not play, as he was sidelined with a foot injury suffered in an Oct. 15 loss to the Dallas Stars.
“We’re a talented team from line one to line four,” forward Wayne Simmonds said after the game. “We got off to a strong start and it carried from the first or second goal.”
Columbus walked into the Wells Fargo Center looking to improve their 0-3-1 record in the Flyers’ home but was unable to do so.
The old Election Day adage says to “vote early, and vote often.” The Flyers took that to heart, scoring early and scoring often.
Forward James van Riemsdyk started the scoring just one minute and 38 seconds in the game, for his sixth goal of the season. Defenseman Erik Gustafsson and forward Danny Briere registered assists on the goal, and the goal was the first of five in the first period.
Forward Jaromir Jagr scored his sixth of the season shortly thereafter and 10 minutes after Jagr’s goal, forward Maxime Talbot scored his fifth. Talbot’s goal caused Blue Jackets coach Scott Arniel to pull his goaltender Steve Mason from the game in favor of Allen York.
York let in two more goals, including forward Claude Giroux’s ninth of the season and forward Jakub Voracek’s third of the season. Voracek added a nice fist-pumping celebration after the goal, as he scored against the team that had traded him for Carter.
Steve Mason resumed goaltending duties at the start of the second period for the Blue Jackets, which marked the end of York’s night. York finished with three saves on five shots and Mason finsished his night with the loss while making 21 saves on 28 shots.
The Flyers added three more goals in the second period, off of the sticks of forward Sean Couturier, Simmonds and defenseman Matt Carle. The goals came at the 7:08, 15:50, and 16:10 marks of the period, respectively.
Columbus came out to play the third period with much more intensity than the first two periods. They registered 21 shots in the period, greater than their shot total from the first two periods, at 14 shots. Forward Derek Dorsett scored his second goal of the season and defenseman Grant Clitsome scored his first of the season to ruin the shutout for Flyer goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who finished with 33 saves on 35 shots.
Couturier added a second goal at the 16:27 mark of the third period for his first career two-goal game in the NHL, with Voracek and Harry Zolnierczyk recording assists.
“It feels good,” Couturier said when asked about his first two-goal game. “I work hard and try to get better every day and am getting more comfortable with [Peter Laviolette’s] system.”
Another bright spot for the Flyers showed in young defenseman Erik Gustafsson. The Swedish blueliner recorded his first career point with his assist on van Riemsdyk’s goal in the first period. He also finished with a plus/minus rating of +6, meaning that he was on the ice for 6 more Flyer even strength or shorthanded goals than Blue Jacket even strength or shorthanded goals.
“It’s a great feeling,” Gustafsson said when asked about his first NHL point. “I’ve worked as hard as possible to get here.”
“He looks strong on the ice and is solid on both ends,” head coach Peter Laviolette said regarding Gustafsson’s play.
Saturday’s game marked the second time in just over a week that the Flyers scored at least eight goals in a game, with the first one coming from the 9-8 barn burner against the Winnipeg Jets.
For the Flyers, this win put them at 8-4-2, good enough for second place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, for the Blue Jackets, the loss worsened their record to 2-11-1 and last place in the NHL.
“We were skating good, we were making good decisions with the puck. The guys really answered tonight,” Laviolette said in his postgame press conference.