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Finally healthy, Tollefsen ready to contribute

by Dan Rosen
PHILADELPHIA -- Two years. That's how long it's been since oft-injured Philadelphia defenseman Ole-Kristian Tollefsen felt like this after a game.

Happy. Smiling. Laughing. Joking.

Tollefsen, who sat out all but 19 games last season while with Columbus and four of the first six games this season with injuries, finished Thursday's 4-3 shootout win over Boston with the first multiple-point effort of his 149-game NHL career.

He tacked on a fight in the third period with Trent Whitfield just for good measure.

"It's been a long time, I don't even know," Tollefsen told after speaking with the hoard of Philly writers. "Last year was a struggle with Columbus. We played well, but I never felt a part of it because I was always hurt. I would say two years."

Tollefsen hasn't played close to a full season since 2006-07, when he suited up in 70 games for the Blue Jackets. He played 51 games during the 2007-08 season and missed time last season with a concussion before eventually requiring knee surgery.

He didn't play after Feb. 7.

The Flyers signed Tollefsen to a one-year contract over the summer to serve as either their sixth or seventh defenseman. With Ryan Parent injured, he was needed Thursday.

Tollefsen started the play that led to Darroll Powe's game-tying goal 8:41 in the second period. Less than five minutes later he sent the pass up to Arron Asham that led to his go-ahead goal.

Asham streaked down the right wing wall, got into the circle and fired a hard shot that beat Boston goalie Tuukka Rask over the far shoulder.

"He came low on the breakout, that's what we want the forwards to do, so it was a pretty easy pass to give over to him," Tollefsen said. "Great shot by him."

Tollefsen fell a goal shy of the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, but admitted to celebrating after his shot from the point, the one that led to Powe's goal, rang off the post. The puck eventually went behind the net, where Daniel Carcillo dug it out and slotted it to Powe.

"I thought that was my goal," Tollefsen cracked. "Two assists and a fight, it's a good game so I can't complain. It's not often for me."

Tollefsen, who was ailing from a hip injury earlier this season, said he feels "about 95 percent" healthy, or "as healthy as I have been for over a year and a half or two years." As a result, he says he's more comfortable on the ice.

It also helps that he got some ice time Thursday night.

In his first two games he played a combined 13:34, including just eight shifts totaling 3:28 on Oct. 10 against Anaheim. Against the Bruins he was on the ice for 14 shifts totaling 11:58.

"That's a big thing," Tollefsen said. "They really like to play the top-four big time so it was tough to get in there and feel a part of the game when you play seven minutes. You get cold and it's tough to play well. More ice time builds confidence. Simple as that."

With his effort Thursday he should have at least earned himself a place in the lineup for the Flyers' next game, Saturday at home against Florida. If he continues to play well, his ice time figures to rise as well and maybe this good feeling won't be fleeting.

"It seems like if you have a good game you can get an assist or two because that's what the coaches want me to do," Tollefsen said. "As soon as they pass it to me they want me to take a shot on net and you never know what is going to happen after that."

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