Special teams fuels Flyers in win over Wild

By Kevin Durso
January 19, 2012

Editor’s note: Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Durso obtained a press pass to the Philadelphia Flyers versus Minnesota Wild game on Tuesday, Jan. 17. This is his game recap. 

The Flyers cruised to a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in front of a sell-out crowd on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Wells Fargo Center.

Special teams played a key role in the win, as the Flyers capitalized on two of their six power plays and also netted a shorthanded goal, courtesy of rookie center Sean Couturier. For Couturier, this was his fifth straight game with a goal, bringing his season total to 10.

“With goals, I don’t even know if I had that in juniors,” Couturier said of his streak. “Lately the bounces are going my way, so I’m just trying to put the puck on net.”

The Flyers came out strong, scoring early in the first on a power play. A shot from the point by Kimmo Timonen beat Wild goaltender Josh Harding to give the Flyers an early lead. For Timonen, it was just his second goal of the season.

“It’s nice every time the D can do some scoring,” Timonen said. “We got two points; that’s what’s good for us.”

The Flyers’ defense was very active offensively in the game. Three shots from defensemen found their way past Harding for Flyers’ scores.

“It’s always good when you bring it from the back end as well,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “We were able to find some lanes from out high and get some traffic in front.”

“We’ve got to go to the net if we want to score goals,” center Claude Giroux said. “The D are working a lot in practice on getting the shot through and tonight was a great example of how working hard for something pays off.”

Second period goals came in short order. After Couturier extended the Flyers’ lead to two, the Wild cut into the lead with a goal by former Flyer Darroll Powe just past the midpoint of regulation.

Braydon Coburn brought the lead back to two just over a minute later with his second of the season and Scott Hartnell, an All-Star snub, deflected home his 20th goal of the season with four minutes left in the period.

“It’s nice to get that round number,” Hartnell said. “I’m happy with my season so far and I just have to keep it going.”

Hartnell’s goal was the Flyers’ second power play goal of the game. The Flyers finished the night with two power play goals as well as Couturier’s shorthanded goal on their only penalty kill of the night.

“Special teams made a difference in the game tonight,” Couturier said. “Overall our five-on-five play was pretty good, so overall it was a good team effort tonight.”

“The power play was good,” Laviolette said. “Specialty teams, if you can win that battle, on most nights you’re going to win the game.”

With the game all but sealed in the third, Jakub Voracek added his seventh goal of the season to cap the scoring.

The win also marked one of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov’s better games. Bryzgalov stopped 25 of 26 shots in getting his 17th win of the season.

After playing 20 of their last 29 games on the road, this marked the first game of a long stretch of home games. The Flyers will play 10 of their next 14 games at home.

“Our home record isn’t that good this year,” Giroux said. “We’ve got to be a pretty good home team if we want to play well in the playoffs.”

Laviolette said that after a long road stretch, the team was looking forward to spending more time at home, and improving their home record.

With their first multi-goal win in nearly a month complete, the Flyers were happy to take away a total team effort from their win.

Hartnell and Giroux both said that this game was the best for their line, and all four lines, in “a half-dozen games.” Laviolette called it their most complete win in the last few weeks.

“We got a couple wins on the road where we could have played better,” Laviolette said. “You come in, go through the steps, and play the game you want and you get the results to show for it.”

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Kevin Durso

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