OTTAWA - Bodies were lying on the ice after a skirmish in front of the net and Matt Read was parked diligently against the post, ready for a rebound, when he felt a brisk breeze and saw a blur.
It was almost a case of fratricide, as Wayne Simmonds found the puck a few feet away and blindly blasted a bullet toward the top corner of the Senators' net.
The puck missed Read's face by about 3 inches.
"I was whacking at the puck and I didn't know where it went," Read said. "I just saw something whiz by my face and off the post. I was like, 'Oh man, that could've hurt.' I'm glad it was in the back of the net and got us off to a good start."
He's lucky it didn't hit him - and not just for his teeth's sake.
Because Read would have missed out on tying a Flyers franchise record for points in a period by a rookie, which he did when he picked up the primary assist on Max Talbot's goal exactly 11 minutes later.
Read, who finished with a goal and three assists, was the first Flyers rookie to post three points in a period since defenseman Alexandre Picard netted three helpers on Feb. 1, 2007.
Read kicked off the scoring last night, nabbing the first of eight total points by rookies, to help the Flyers roll in a 7-2 victory and end the team's losing streak in Ottawa. It was just the Flyers' second win in Ottawa since the 2004-05 lockout, and broke a streak of seven straight losses.
Read, who signed as a free agent out of Bemidji State, and the other rookies made it look effortless.
"I've been given the opportunity and I'm trying to make the best of it," Read said. "[But] I wouldn't say it has come easy. This is the NHL. Nothing comes easy."
For the Flyers, against an Ottawa team that will be lucky to finish in any position other than last in the Eastern Conference, the entire night looked easy on the backs of rookies Read, Sean Couturier and Harry Zolnierczyk - who combined for seven points.
It was a night of many firsts for the Flyers. In addition to their first win in ScotiaBank Place since 2008, Couturier and Zolnierczyk tallied the first goals of their NHL careers, Talbot scored his first since signing with the Flyers on July 1, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 21 saves in his season debut.
For Zolnierczyk, his first NHL goal came with just 45 seconds remaining in a game that had been decided more than two periods earlier. It didn't matter. You never forget your first.
Zolnierczyk was recalled from the Phantoms just yesterday.
"I really can't describe that kind of excitement there," Zolnierczyk said. "It was a good feeling. I really didn't know too much . I was told I was called up but I didn't find out until after the morning skate."
The end result for Zolnierczyk - an undrafted free agent out of the Ivy League's Brown University - was a picture next to Couturier, the No. 8 overall pick in last June's draft, each holding their game pucks.
"It feels good," Couturier said. "And to get it in a win, that's great. The monkey is off my back now. There was a little pressure to score that first one."
The Flyers' power play facilitated a strong start, as they scored two of their four goals in the first period with the advantage. They finished 3-for-6 overall on the power play, upping their total to 7-for-18 over the last three games.
Read has helped quarterback the Flyers' second power-play unit from the point. He has helped earn the trust of Peter Laviolette as the team's last line of defense on the power play, a rare position for forwards in general, but even more rare for a rookie, albeit a 25-year-old rookie.
"I have a lot of experience with it," Read said. "I think it's a great position, you can see the whole ice and try to make plays. I feel pretty confident with the puck on my stick. You just need to know that you can't screw up."
Defenseman Matt Walker saw his first action of the season, swapped out for healthy scratch Andreas Lilja. It was just Walker's fifth game with the Flyers since being acquired in the July 2010 trade involving Simon Gagne . . . Andreas Nodl sat out with a minor injury, replaced by Harry Zolnierczyk . . . The last time the Flyers scored four goals in any period in a road game was Oct. 10, 2007 in an 8-2 win at Vancouver . . . The Senators held a closed-door team meeting after the game, the second straight home game in which they have allowed seven goals.
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