For Philadelphia Flyers fans, it would have been an incredibly special treat and season highlight if they had been able to go into Anaheim and beat the Ducks on Thursday night. After all, the Ducks had the best record in hockey, and boasted an immaculate, league-best 21-2-2 home record heading into this game. The odds were stacked against the Flyers, and the odds won out. The Flyers fought hard for much of the game, but the Ducks were just too tough, skating to a 5-3 win over the orange and black. Steve Mason faced a tough task Thursday night, and allowed 4 goals on 27 shots.
The Ducks began the scoring about halfway through the first period, as Patrick Maroon beat Steve Mason on a deflection as the Ducks were pressuring deep in the Philadelphia zone. Although the Ducks took the early lead, the Flyers didn't waste much time tying the game up. On the power play, Vinny Lecavalier beat Anaheim goaltender Frederik Andersen through the five-hole on a well aimed shot. This was Lecavalier's 12th of the year, and the game would stay tied until nearly the end of the first period.
This is perhaps one point where the momentum changed in the Ducks' favor. With less than a minute to go in the opening period, Ryan Getzlaf buried his 26th of the year on a deflection off a Hampus Lindholm slapshot. This gave the Ducks the lead just seconds before the intermission. Anaheim would add their third goal halfway through the second period, as Corey Perry tallied his 29th goal of the season, receiving the puck on a beautiful pass from Getzlaf. Mason never had a chance on this play, and the Ducks built a 3-1 lead.
The Flyers were not done, and battled to cut the lead in half. Matt Read got credit for the goal that made it 3-2, as Mark Streit threw a shot on net that bounced off of Read and past Andersen. The Flyers were within striking distance, and even had a power play just past the halfway point of the third period. This is where things went wrong.
While setting up on the power play, Kimmo Timonen, a seasoned veteran, made an incredibly ill-advised pass that was tipped by his fellow countryman, Saku Koivu. Koivu made a quick play and pushed the puck up through the zone in a two on one. He found Daniel Winnik with a great pass, and Winnik beat Mason to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead. This was a major turning point in the game, and Anaheim would go on to win, adding an empty net goal in the final minute. Also of note, Michael Raffl added his fifth goal of the year with ten seconds remaining, although it was rather meaningless.
Given the situation, heading in to Anaheim to play the top team in the NHL, the Flyers did not perform all that terribly on Thursday night. Timonen's errant, lazy pass on the power play during a crucial time in the third period was one isolated play – to that point, the Flyers were hanging with the Ducks, and even had a chance to tie it up if it weren't for the aging defenseman's flub. But unfortunately, a loss is a loss, and perhaps it hurts more with two more incredibly tough road games looming.
Steve Mason had another tough night against the Ducks' high-flying offense. He stopped 23 of 27 shots, but did not have much of a chance on most of the Anaheim goals. The defense did not play particularly well, allowing Anaheim to score on multiple rushes. The Flyers were beaten badly in transition in Thursday night's game.
The team will stay in southern California to play the Los Angeles Kings tomorrow afternoon before heading north to face the San Jose Sharks, who boast a 19-3-3 home record of their own. A 1-2 record on this road trip would be an accomplishment given the magnitude of these teams and how they play at home.
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