Senators, Flyers set to clash again in Ottawa
Saturday, 01.07.2012 / 7:40 PM
FLYERS (24-11-4) at SENATORS (21-15-6)
CSN-PH, SNET-E, TVA
Philadelphia 5-4-1; Ottawa 7-1-2.
This is the third of four meetings. Philadelphia won the first two, including a 3-2 overtime victory Saturday in the first half of a home-and-home weekend series.
Two teams separated by just four points in the standings will finish off a weekend series Sunday at Scotiabank Place. The fourth-ranked Flyers are looking to widen the points gap between themselves and fifth-place Ottawa on the heels of a 3-2 overtime thriller on Saturday. The Senators, meanwhile, will be eager to get back to winning ways; the loss snapped a four-game win streak.
In the week following the Winter Classic, Philadelphia has shown few signs of hangover. Before their win Saturday against the surging Sens, the Flyers edged out a win over another title contender in Chicago. Now Philadelphia kicks off a four-game road trip a day after they received some encouraging signs in the first leg of the series. Danny Briere
snapped a five-game scoreless streak in a big way, notching his first hat trick since Feb. 13, 2010. Most inspiring was the stingy goaltending of Ilya Bryzgalov
, who stopped 35 of 37 shots to finally get back on track after a five-game stretch in which he allowed 20 goals.
"He was excellent, from the start to the finish. Certainly that (Butler) save … gave us the opportunity to get the second point," coach Peter Laviolette said, referring to Bryzgalov's highlight-reel stop on Bobby Butler
's breakaway midway through OT. "Goaltending was a factor tonight. He was terrific. It was good both ways, lots of opportunities, lots of attempts, but our guy held us in there. There were some chances against. Ottawa has a high-scoring team; we knew going into it they would generate chances. We knew we'd need good goaltending and we got it."
Perhaps inspired by their bevy of NHL all-stars, Ottawa had won four consecutive tightly-contested affairs heading into Saturday's match with Philadelphia. After coming away with just a point, the Senators are now tasked with protecting the house that will host the 2012 All-Star Game later this month. The streak — which included three extra-period wins out of four — ended in a game many Senators thought they should have won.
"They're a real good team," Spezza said. "We felt like we could compete with them. We had some chances, the 2-on-1 at the end. The game could have been over before overtime. It was an unfortunate play at the end."
Ottawa will try to take advantage of a rare home game — the Senators are on the road in nine of their 11 remaining January games.
While Briere stole the headlines Saturday, it was his supporting cast that has shouldered much of the recent production for the Flyers. Jakub Voracek
added two assists to bring his totals to one goal and four assists in his last four games. Rookie Brayden Schenn
, who scored his first career goal (and point) in the Winter Classic, has assists in the two games since.
Bryzgalov played through an illness Saturday. Kimmo Timonen
skated — and assisted — despite an upper-body injury. Jaromi Jagr (strained left groin) will miss 1-2 weeks. Chris Pronger
(post-concussion syndrome), Blair Betts
(bone bruise) and Ian Laperriere
(post-concussion syndrome) are all on injured reserve … Ottawa defenceman Chris Phillips
played Saturday after recovering quickly from a mild concussion, while Peter Regin
(left shoulder) and Jesse Winchester
(concussion) are on IR.
Expect a hit parade Sunday. The Flyers are second in penalty minutes per game (16.3) in the league, and Ottawa follows closely behind in third (14.9). On Saturday, these teams racked up 36 penalty minutes, including a rare fighting major for Briere, who got into it with Kyle Turris
. Things also turned physical in the first encounter on Oct. 18, when referees handed out six fighting majors and 54 minutes.
"It was a great game. I don't like the way we started, but for 50 minutes of the game, we played well enough to have the lead and in overtime that stuff happens. I thought we have grown as a team every day and tonight showed we can play (since the first game with the Flyers) ... we had a real legit chance to win the game." — Senators head coach Paul MacLean, after Saturday's 3-2 OT loss to the Flyers