Since 1990, the Philadelphia Flyers had won just one game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, the home of the Red Wings. This includes two forgettable losses in the 1997 Stanley Cup Final in which they were swept by the Red Wings. But tonight, the Flyers bucked the trend and pulled out a rare win in Detroit, made possible by complete domination of the third period. When all was said and done, Sean Couturier had a four-point night, Scott Hartnell and Matt Read each tallied a goal and two assists, and Steve Mason picked up another win, stopping 32 out of 35 shots, as the Flyers move to the .500 mark with a hard-fought win.
Things were even at the end of the first period, as Steve Downie scored for the Flyers on the power play, while Tomas Tatar tallied one for the Red Wings. The shots were dead even at 10 apiece, but the Flyers doubled up the Red Wings in hits. Detroit seemed to own the game by the middle of the second period, with a goal from Johan Franzen and another tally from Tatar, this time on the power play. Detroit held a 3-1 lead until there was just over 3 minutes remaining in the second period, where Matt Read wristed one past Jimmy Howard. This turned out to be an important goal, cutting the Detroit lead in half, and allowing the Flyers to take back some momentum at the end of the second period.
That shift in momentum may have played a major role in the Flyers' third period explosion. A power play opportunity four minutes into the period didn't hurt either, as Claude Giroux picked up his fifth tally of the year to tie the game. From this point on, it was all Flyers, who completed their comeback and went on to stun the Red Wings with two more goals. Couturier put the Flyers in front with his first of the night, and then Hartnell struck on the power play to blow the game open a bit with half the period remaining. The Flyers would shut the door and play furious defense to keep the Red Wings from getting on the board, and Steve Mason made a few big saves. Couturier added his second of the night on an empty netter with one minute remaining to cap off an impressive Philadelphia comeback.
If anyone doubted the Flyers as a potential powerhouse before, that doubt should have been alleviated quite a bit tonight. While their record stands at 13-13-2, this team is a completely different squad than the last time these two teams met. Craig Berube has these guys playing furious hockey, and they just did not give up tonight when they were in the hole, on the road. What are the odds that the Flyers go down 3-1 with half the game to play in Detroit, where they have won just once in almost 25 years, and then come back and score five unanswered goals for the win? Something special has been awakened in this team, being able to beat a powerhouse like the Red Wings in their own building in such a convincing fashion.
All of this was also done without Vinny Lecavalier, who sat out with back spasms for the second time in two games. To the Red Wings' credit, they were missing two of their stars in Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. But the Flyers battled back and absolutely took over the game in the third period, scoring four goals en route to a convincing win, in front of a national audience to boot. Detroit is one of the top teams in the East, and the Flyers completely caught them off guard in the third period, a period in which the Flyers have had their share of trouble with this season.
Steve Mason was not quite his best tonight, but still stopped 32 out of 35 shots, and got the win. Coming into tonight's game, the Flyers were 0-10 when giving up three or more goals.
It's a very promising win, but a tough chunk of this six-game road trip lies ahead. They're halfway through, however, and are 2-1 so far. They'll end up in Dallas for the first time in a couple seasons on Saturday afternoon to take on the Stars, who hold a 13-9-4 record, which is only good enough for 10th in the competitive Western Conference. The Flyers move to 13-13-2, good enough for 9th in the Eastern Conference, and are now tied for 3rd in the Metropolitan Division. The Flyers have won 6 out of their last 10, and 3 of their last 4.
Detroit – 8:24: Johan Franzen (8), Assisted by Stephen Weiss (2) and Gustav Nyquist (2)
Detroit - 10:13 – PPG: Tomas Tatar (5), Assisted by Mikael Samuelsson (2) and Daniel Alfredsson (15)
Philadelphia - 16:38: Matt Read (9), Assisted by Sean Couturier (9) and Scott Hartnell (4)
Philadelphia - 5:15 – PPG: Claude Giroux (5), Assisted by Kimmo Timonen (5) and Scott Hartnell (5)
Philadelphia - 8:28: Sean Couturier (4), Assisted by Steve Downie (14) and Matt Read (5)
Philadelphia - 9:58 – PPG: Scott Hartnell (6), Assisted by Claude Giroux (15) and Mark Streit (9)
Philadelphia - 19:01 – EN: Sean Couturier (5), Assisted by Michael Raffl (2)
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