Thursday, November 25, 2010

Flyers blitz Wild, keep pace atop NHL

by Bob Herpen
Phanatic Hockey Editor

Danny Briere, Andreas Nodl and Ville Leino posted a goal and assist each as Philadelphia used a late burst of offense to dispatch Minnesota, 6-1, at Xcel Energy Center.

Jeff Carter and Jody Shelley also lit the lamp for the Flyers, who have taken three in a row and six of their last eight.

Sergei Bobrovsky needed to make just 15 saves for his 12th win of the season for Philadelphia, which kept pace with Washington atop the NHL standings after the Capitals won at Carolina. Both clubs sport identical 15-6-2 records.

Patrick O'Sullivan scored for the Wild, who have dropped two in a row -- both at home to Atlantic Division foes. Minnesota took a 5-2 loss to the Rangers on Saturday. Niklas Backstrom was torched for a season-high six goals on 28 shots.

A three-goal burst in the final period gave Philadelphia control of the contest for good.

Bobrovsky got the rush started when he stoned Martin Havlat from in front on a Wild power play roughly 7 1/2 minutes in, and Nodl's breakaway goal gave the Flyers a 4-1 advantage at the 7:47 mark.

Seconds after that Minnesota advantage ended, the Flyers broke into the Minnesota zone. Leino's spin-a-rama pass to Briere deflected off his skate, but right back to Leino for an easy tap-in. It was 5-1 for Philadelphia just 1:05 later.

Shelley then made a beautiful backhand-to-forehand move in front and tallied his first as a Flyer to make it 6-1 with 8:48 remaining.

The Flyers got on the board 3:16 into the contest, when Braydon Coburn's right-point shot was blocked in the crease. James van Riemsdyk kept shoveling away, though, and Wild defenseman Greg Zanon appeared to have smothered the disc, but it somehow trickled over the goal line.

Carter upped the mark to 2-0 at 5:32 when he beat Backstrom through a screen on the backhand in a 4-on-4.

O'Sullivan halved the Wild's deficit at 14:49 of the second when his wide shot caromed in off the stick of Flyers defenseman Andrej Meszaros, but Briere restored Philly's two-goal edge when he redirected a Scott Hartnell feed with 59.3 seconds left in the frame.

Notes: This was the most decisive Flyers victory over Minnesota since the Wild entered the NHL in 2000...The previous best was four goals in a 5-1 win at Philadelphia on December 8, 2001...Shelley's goal was his first since the final game of the regular season in Philadelphia on April 11 when he played for the
Rangers...The first period was halted and the ice resurfaced after a shot from Flyers forward Claude Giroux shattered a pane of glass along the right-wing boards with 1:57 remaining...This is the 10th time in franchise history, but only the second time in the last 24 years, that the Flyers have had 15 wins or more in their first 23 games (73-74, 75-76, 77-78, 79-80, 80-81, 84-85, 85-86, 86-87, 05-06, 10-11)...The Orange and Black increased their NHL-best goal differential to plus-28 (84 GF, 56 GA). The next closest is Boston at a plus-19. The 84 GF are most in the lead, seven better than Washington’s 77.
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