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Goal, fight vs. Pens caps Simmonds' wild weekend

Monday, 04.02.2012 / 5:25 PM / NHL Insider

By Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Goal, fight vs. Pens caps Simmonds' wild weekend
Wayne Simmonds scored a crucial goal in Philadelphia's win against Pittsburgh Sunday -- a nice cap to a wild weekend for the Flyer.

Monday was just another interesting day for Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

Named NHL First Star of the Week, it capped three-day period that saw him make headlines for all sorts of different reasons.

On Sunday, he scored the go-ahead goal early in the third that put the Flyers ahead to stay in their 6-4 win in Pittsburgh, and then was in the middle of the late-game melee against the Penguins that featured 52 penalty minutes assessed and two coaches ejected from the game.

And that came after he scored a goal Saturday -- off his face.

Wayne Simmonds
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 27 | ASST: 21 | PTS: 48
SOG: 190 | +/-: -1
"Obviously I think that's the most painful goal that I'll ever score in my NHL career," said Simmonds. "I don't hope to do that again, but it was worth it."

It's the second time this season Simmonds has been bonked in the face by a puck, and the shot he took Saturday left him with a cut that needed, in his words "six or seven" stitches to close a swollen right eye.

Simmonds returned not long after getting hit wearing a visor. It's something he wore in his first three NHL seasons, but took off when he joined the Flyers as part of the summer blockbuster that saw Mike Richards head to the Kings.

"This year is my first year without a visor and I've taken a few shots to the face but … obviously it's something I'll keep mulling over, but I don't know. I like it without the visor, but then again, I want to have my eyes after I'm done playing hockey.

"I just took it off in the summer and it felt good so I continued that into the regular season … exhibition and stuff like that and I was playing pretty well so I didn't want to put it back on."

Simmonds said he would keep the visor on until his face heals from the latest incident, but after that, he wasn't sure. Although one opinion was offered by a very important person -- his mother.

"I don't think she's too happy right now," he said, "but obviously, that's my mother, she's not going to be happy with anything I do. She told me I should put on a full cage, but it's not college hockey, you can't play like that."

Simmonds' eye was still swollen Sunday, but he said there never was a doubt he'd play.

"It's not too bad," he said. "[Sunday] I had a little bit of trouble seeing but I don't think it made much of a difference; I still went out there and played as hard as I possibly could."

Playing hard has been a hallmark of Simmonds' season, and a major reason he has five goals in his last four games and a career-best 27 goals and 48 points in 2011-12. It's a far cry from the 14 goals he had last season with the Los Angeles Kings.

"I don't think she's too happy right now."
-- Wayne Simmonds on his mother's opinion of him not wearing a visor

"I came in and wanted to be a lot better offensively than last year," said Simmonds. "I think my second year in the League I had 40 points and I think that was the main number I wanted to get to. I wanted to get back to the production than I had in my second year. I think last year was a bit of a down year for me and I knew I was a lot better player than that so anything after 40 would be awesome for me and it's been great. Like I said, I've been in most situations, I never really played power play before this year and I think that's helped out a lot."

He's helped in other ways than scoring. He didn't hesitate to get into the action late Sunday after linemate Danny Briere was hit hard by the Pens' Joe Vitale. Simmonds ended up paired off with Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland, with both players dropping the gloves and exchanging punches before officials broke them up.

"Obviously it wasn't ideal for me to fight in that situation, but Danny took a solid hit there and obviously I'm going to go to my player's defense," said Simmonds. "That's the type of player I am. It doesn't matter if I have stitches in my eyes, I have to go in there and stand up for my teammate."

This is Simmonds' first taste of the bitter intrastate rivalry between the Penguins and Flyers, one that will resume Saturday in Pittsburgh (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN), and likely in the first round of the playoffs.

And that's fine by Simmonds.

"It's fun hockey," he said. "It's like old-school hockey. You come to the rink, you battle every day, you know there's going to be fights, you know you're going to get hit and you know you're going to have to hit back and that's the type of hockey that we like to play. So I think that suits our team well."

Before that, though, there's another rival waiting -- the New York Rangers on Tuesday. The Flyers have lost all five games to New York this season, but Simmonds believes he knows why his team has struggled against the Rangers.

"They've beaten us all five games and that's not a good thing," he said. "We need to come out hard, we have to play our game and I think in the games that we've played them we only played about 40 minutes of the game and they played the full 60, and you're never going to win playing that way against that team."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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