Flyers turn it on in third period
Couturier scores twice in win over Red Wings
DETROIT - Steve Downie and Zac Rinaldo, two players who have never been accused of playing clean hockey, were keeping each other company in the visitors' penalty box.
Already trailing by a goal, the Flyers were forced to play for nearly 2 minutes against one of the NHL's top 10 power plays. Things were looking as dark as the bankrupt city of Detroit's future.
It didn't take a full minute for the Red Wings to tap a gimme behind Steve Mason. That was the third time the Flyers had allowed a 5-on-3 goal this season - 27th in the NHL.
Even after Matt Read added a goal in the waning minutes of that second period to make it 3-2, the outlook was bleak. Despite being within a goal, leading or tied heading into the third period in 22 of 25 games under Craig Berube, the Flyers had not won a game this season (0-9-0) when trailing heading into the final frame.
And they were supposed to overcome those odds at Joe Louis Arena, where the Flyers had won just once (1-16-0-2) since Nov. 4, 1988? The odds would have been astronomically stacked against them. Hope you didn't bet against them.
Thanks to a four-goal explosion in the third period - more goals than they had scored in any of their last six games - the Flyers won with ease. A perfect, 3-for-3 effort with a man advantage powered the Flyers to an impressive, 6-3, comeback win over the Wings.
"Two years ago, that was our main attribute, coming back in the third period," Matt Read said after chipping in with a goal and two assists. "Good teams find a way to win big games. This is a great feeling."
Their season-high offensive output marked the first time the Flyers had scored more than two goals in a game since Nov. 23. Last night also marked the first time the Flyers had scored three power-play goals in a game since Feb. 23, 2013.
"Goals have been hard to come by as of late, both for myself and our team," said Scott Hartnell, who also had a three-point game. "We got a big goal late there in the second period. I think we had a calm confidence in our locker room that we could go out there and do it. We knew we'd get a couple of power plays if we kept moving our feet the way we did in the second period. The power play was obviously the difference tonight."
The Flyers' power play hadn't scored in the previous three games (0-for-9) following an impressive run in which they had scored at least one power-play goal in eight straight. Jake Voracek wisely predicted at the morning skate that the Flyers' power play would get it together against the Wings.
The Flyers work on their power play nearly every single day in practice - which is a bit unusual in NHL circles. Yet, it has been a difference-maker, steadily climbing from 30th in the league (6-for-64, 9 percent) through their first 16 games to a 12-for-40 (30 percent) pace that would easily rank tops in the NHL.
"We worked hard most of the game," said Sean Couturier, who now has four goals in the last four games. "We wanted to be disciplined in the third period. Penalties slowed us down there in the second period."
With the win, the Flyers improved to 2-1-0 on their season-long 13-day road trip that doesn't wrap up until next Wednesday in Chicago. They were able to take advantage of a Red Wings roster without all three members of their top line - Pavel Datsyuk (concussion), Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disc), Todd Bertuzzi (shoulder) - and even stud defenseman Dan DeKeyser (shoulder).
For the first time this season, the Flyers (13-13-2) moved into a tie for a Stanley Cup playoff spot. They've rebounded from their 1-7-0 start to sit in a tie for third in the Metropolitan Division with the Rangers - who have two more wins in regulation.
"This was good for our confidence," Couturier said. "We finally believe in ourselves, I think that's what has made the difference."
Vladimir Konstantinov, who was severely injured in a car accident just 6 days after helping the Red Wings beat the Flyers in the 1997 Stanley Cup finals, attended the game with the assistance of a walker. Konstantinov still has a stall in the Red Wings' locker room after his career was prematurely ended and no Detroit player has worn his No. 16 since . . . Playing center in place of Vinny Lecavalier (back spasms), Brayden Schenn went 0-for-10 on faceoffs through the first two periods . . . Steve Mason kept his streak alive (28 games) of not allowing more than three goals in a game since joining the Flyers last April.