Skip to content
Our Archives
Link copied to clipboard

Flyers rout the Maple Leafs; Sens up next

HOWEVER the message was delivered and whether it was an overreaction to a bad loss, the Flyers adjusted their attitudes as ordered by general manager Paul Holmgren.

Mike Richards celebrates Simon Gagne's first-period goal against Maple Leafs. To read Ed Moran's game story, go to:
Mike Richards celebrates Simon Gagne's first-period goal against Maple Leafs. To read Ed Moran's game story, go to: moreAssociated Press

HOWEVER the message was delivered and whether it was an overreaction to a bad loss, the Flyers adjusted their attitudes as ordered by general manager Paul Holmgren.

With six games to lock up a playoff spot, the Flyers stormed onto the Wachovia Center ice and hammered the Toronto Maple Leafs with a five-goal, two-fight, first period that led to an 8-5 win last night.

Randy Jones, Claude Giroux and Simon Gagne burned Martin Gerber for goals on nine shots, and Scott Hartnell and Jeff Carter got Curtis Joseph after he was called in to replace Gerber 9 minutes into the opening period.

Carter scored two more in the game and notched his first career hat trick. Danny Briere converted a pass from Giroux in the third for the Flyers' eighth goal.

"We needed to make a statement right from the get-go," Briere said. "We came out really strong, but the last two periods were probably the coach's nightmare."

Marty Biron, who was pulled from the net Wednesday in Toronto, struggled in the second half of the game and gave up five goals in the last period-and-a-half.

The win puts the Flyers back in the Eastern Conference's fourth seed and gives them the home-ice advantage over Carolina, which had it after beating the Rangers on Thursday.

The Flyers have five games left and need four points to lock up a playoff spot. However, since Florida lost last night to Atlanta, a Flyers' win tonight at Ottawa would be enough to clinch the berth.

While both Mike Richards and Carter downplayed the fact that Holmgren called out his best players, Briere said he believed the team's first period was a direct response to that, and the fact that the Flyers were relaxed.

"We were sitting comfortably in fourth place for the longest time," he said. "Always six, eight points from Jersey, always four or six points from the bottom teams with games in hand.

"It's like we were going nowhere. You get casual, it's not a big deal if you win or lose. Sometimes you lose that intensity. I think that's what happened and that was a wakeup call. I like the way we responded."

The game started with an air of uncertainty after the Flyers were soundly beaten in Toronto. The following day, Holmgren made it clear that he was not happy with his star players and veterans, demanding a "change in attitude." He went so far as to take both Richards and Carter "for a ride."

Carter said last night that it did happen - but the ride was to visit a sick little girl.

Richards said Holmgren "said something to us. But I would hardly say that was a talking to."

Richards has said he felt there was an overreaction to the Toronto loss and the loss to Boston on Sunday, and promised everything would be all right if everyone stopped talking about it and calmed down. It was not attitude, Richards insisted, it was execution.

The Flyers were a different team last night. They dominated on the boards, in the middle, and in front of both nets. The result was a series of first-period goals that culminated with a breakaway from Carter and a 5-0 lead.

The juice ran out a bit in the second period when Toronto scored three goals in the last 4 minutes and two more in the third.

"It was a long game, I'll tell you that," coach John Stevens said. "I liked the way we started and liked the energy we played with, got pucks deep and did lot of good things up ice and then we . . . I don't know.

"We started to play loose and soft, and not getting pucks deep. It was a good lesson for me."

When Toronto came out for the second period, Gerber was back in the net, but it didn't stop the Flyers.

Carter scored his second goal just after a Flyers power play had expired. Briere walked the puck out of the corner and through the middle, and slid it back to Carter at the side of the net.

The game almost got away in the final 3 minutes, 55 seconds of the period when the Leafs scored three goals. With Mike Knuble off for holding, Toronto rookie defenseman Luke Schenn fired a long shot through a screen and broke Biron's shutout attempt. Boyd Devereaux scored Toronto's second goal at 17:42, a one-timer from Brad May. And Mikhail Grabovski got the third with another one-time blast, this one from Schenn at 19:48.

The hat-trick goal was a typical Carter wrist shot from the circle for the 7-3 lead.

"It was good," Carter said. "I've had plenty of two-goal games. I'm just happy to get one out of the way here."

Briere got the Flyers' eighth goal off of a pass from Giroux. The emerging star rookie took a pass from Arron Asham, skated into the corner and waited for Briere to get open in front. Briere also had three assists, his first four-point game of the season, tying a career-high.

Biron gave up the fifth Toronto goal when Jamal Mayers took a wrist shot that beat the by-then beleaguered goalie and made the score 8-5.

Richards was hit by a shot on the hand in the second period, but said, "It was just a stinger," and was not injured. But he was adamant that the whole "Holmgren challenges his stars" was a bit of a media event.

"I didn't really read what you guys had to say, or read what he said," Richards said. "We had confidence in our team that we would get our game on track. It's not the style of game that we wanted, but the two points was big for us."

Slap shots

Christian Hanson, the son of Dave Hanson from the movie "Slap Shot," played his first game for the Leafs after signing a 2-year deal on Tuesday. He was a minus-1 in 17 1/2 minutes. Dad was on hand for the debut. *