Philadelphia, PA (AP) - James van Riemsdyk scores twice and defenseman Kimmo Timonen hands out three assists as the Flyers score their highest goal total of the season, easily defeating their western Pennsylvania rivals, Pittsburgh, 6-3.
Philadelphia has struggled to put the puck in the back of the net all season long, averaging just 2.44 goals scored per contest. That's good enough for 27th in the NHL. However, on this night, it was a much different story. The Flyers scored early and often to put this one out of reach quickly.
"We've had some troubles offensively, there's no doubt about that," said Flyers captain Chris Pronger, who chipped in with an assist. "So, tonight was definitely nice. But, we've still had a lot of success because we've played good defense. And, that's something that has to continue, no matter how many goals we score or don't score."
The orange and black would put five tallies on the board before Pittsburgh could finally put one home in the second period. For Philadelphia, the scoring started early.
VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: The Flyers never stopped working hard against the Penguins. Here, Wayne Simmonds reaps the benefits of extra effort with a first period goal.
It started innocently enough, as Maxime Talbot cleared the defensive zone with a pass to James van Riemsdyk. The winger took it through the neutral zone and into the Penguins defensive end on the left side. He was able to carry it deep through the left circle, before taking it towards the slot. With Jakub Voracek streaking on the right side towards the net, it drew enough attention from van Riemsdyk to blast a shot to the near upper left corner of the net, giving Philly a 1-0 lead just 3:42 into the game.
"Give credit to Jakub on that one," said van Riemsdyk. "His hustle helped free things up a little bit for me to get towards the middle of the ice. He didn't score or get an assist, but he played a big role in that first goal."
The Flyers had another great opportunity on the powerplay about halfway into the period. Meszaros fired a blistering shot from the point, but it kicked off the post and out. Philadelphia wouldn't miss about three minutes later.
The puck was dumped into Pittsburgh's defensive zone. Zherdev managed to get to it first for the orange and black. He got checked hard by Orpik along the boards behind the net. But, Zherdev managed to kick the puck free to Wayne Simmonds, who then carried out in front to the slot. He was able to bang it home off of Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury's pads for a two to nothing lead.
Bryzgalov didn't have his best night, but he made enough big saves to get the win.
James van Riemsdyk was able to get his second goal of the period with the benefit of a powerplay. Similar to his earlier goal, he got the puck on the left side, carried into the slot and again fired it past Fleury just before the powerplay expired.
"I'm really proud of the effort our guys put out tonight," said Philadelphia Head Coach Peter Laviolette. "We got in front pretty quickly, but we never stopped skating hard, we never stopped charging to the net, we didn't let off the gas. That's the kind of effort we need to continue putting out to accomplish the goals we have for this season."
It was hard work that once again paid off for the Flyers and led to another score. Just about one minute after JVR lit the lamp, Philly put another one home. Daniel Briere pushed a Penguins defender against the boards in the left corner. He then kicked it to Scott Hartnell, who carred the puck behind the net and then out in front for a shot from the slot. Fleury made the initial stop, but Briere came back to get the rebound and bury it.
Voracek made sure to end any hopes of a Pittsburgh comeback after blasting a one-timer past Fleury.
Dominating doesn't even begin to describe that first period. Philly scored four goals on ten shots. The Penguins could only muster 4 shots the entire period.
It wasn't much different the rest of the game. Philadelphia scored a fifth goal before Pittsburgh could finally get on the board.
"We got a little sloppy, I got a little careless," admitted Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov. "We got a big lead and I think we slowed down a little too much in the second period for a while. But, we picked it back up, and the game was never really in doubt."
The Flyers made a couple of bad turnovers that led to great scoring chances and a couple of goals in that second period. But, a one-timer from Voracek that found the back of the net with 3:59 left in the second really stole any momentum the Penguins were starting to gain. The third period was really more of a formality than anything else.
Philadelphia plays host to Tampa Bay on Saturday night. But after that, the team will spend a lot of time away from the friendly confines of the "Well," playing seven of the next eight contests on the road.
PITTSBURGH PENGUINS at PHILADELPHIA FLYERS - Dec 8, 2011
Scott Hartnell, PHI 1 Goal, 2 Assists, 6 Shots, +2
Kimmo Timonen, PHI 3 Assists, 2 Shots, +3
James van Riemsdyk, PHI 2 Goals, 1 Hit, 2 Shots
Shots on Goal
Power Plays Converted
Time on Attack
3:42 J. van Riemsdyk (11), (M. Talbot, K. Timonen)
11:29 W. Simmonds (3), (N. Zherdev, N. Boynton)
13:46 J. van Riemsdyk (12), (K. Timonen, C. Pronger)