Revived Lecavalier helps Flyers stun Jets
WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Embarrassed and humiliated by being benched for nearly three weeks, veteran Flyers forward Vinny Lecavalier could have sulked, could have criticized his coach, could have complained about being used out of position earlier in the season.
Instead, he kept his mouth shut, showed the class of his role model, Jean Beliveau, and kept working hard in practices until coach Craig Berube had no choice but to re-insert him into the lineup last Thursday.
"I just want to play hockey," Lecavalier said the other day. "I love these guys here. I think we're a good bunch of guys….and I'm going to work really hard to help the team out."
In the three games he has played since returning to the lineup, Lecavalier has done just that.
Lecavalier has had more "jump" in his game, and he contributed mightily on Sunday night as the Flyers overcame a 3-1 third-period deficit and stunned Winnipeg, 4-3, in overtime. (See story).
The 34-year-old forward scored two goals, including a score with 3:14 left in regulation tie the game at 3-3, and had a game-high six shots. Lecavalier ended a 14-game goal-less streak, which was the second-longest of his superb career.
"It's always nice to get one for the confidence," said Lecavalier after Sunday's stirring comeback victory. "It seems like the next shift after that, you go out there and you feel better and your vision is better."
Lecavalier played right wing on the fourth along, alongside center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare land eft winger and Chris VandeVelde.
"That line was really good for us, and really gave us a lot of energy in the third period," Berube said.
VandeVelde, who replaced the injury Zac Rinaldo, nearly scored early in the third period, but his shot hit the crossbar and the post and managed to stay out of the net.
"I think the last three games, the line has been getting a lot of chances," said Lecavalier after the 49th multi-goal game (third with the Flyers) of his career.
The Flyers won their second straight game Sunday despite winning just 42 percent of the faceoffs and being outhit, 43-29.
A lot of the hitting was done by Dustin Byfuglien, a 6-foot-5, 260-pound Winnipeg defenseman who dished out lots of punishment on Flyers star Claude Giroux.
"I think every team tries to hit G and Jake (Voracek)," Lecavalier said. "They're great players and they're playing unbelievable right now, so I'm sure every coach says the same speech in the locker room before the game — to try to be physical on them. But they keep coming, and that's what makes them so good."
Voracek scored two goals, including the game-winner 10 seconds into overtime, and Giroux contributed an assist and helped set up the decisive tally with a tenacious forecheck on Byfuglien.
Voracek has six points in the first two games of the road trip. He leads the NHL with 44 points — two ahead of Dallas' Tyler Seguin. Giroux is third with 40 points.
Breakaways. Rob Zepp, 33, became the oldest player, goaltender or otherwise, to make his NHL debut with the Flyers. He surpassed Neil Little, who did so at the age of 30 on March 28, 2002 at Carolina…... Giroux and Voracek are tied for the league lead with 30 assists….The Flyers, who have points in eight of their last nine games, play in Minnesota on Tuesday.
Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.