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Flyers make it three straight with win over Canucks

by Adam Kimelman
PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers started the last week beating the Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins, and started this week by beating the other team that played for the Cup last spring.

Andrej Meszaros snapped a tie game early in the third period to lead the Flyers to their third straight win to open the season, 5-4 against the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday at Wells Fargo Center.

Claude Giroux had a goal and 2 assists, Chris Pronger had a goal and an assist, and James van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek also had goals for the Flyers.

Most telling, however, was the fact that 10 different Flyers landed on the score sheet.

"I think it says we've got great depth," said forward Wayne Simmonds, who didn't score but provided the screen that allowed Pronger's first-period power play goal to get past Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. "We're a four-line team. Whatever line you put on the ice is going to create offense and be strong defensively as well. That's great going forward."

Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Mikael Samuelsson each had a goal and an assist for the Canucks, and Chris Higgins also had a goal for the Canucks, who play tomorrow in Detroit, the third stop on their current four-game road trip.

Daniel Sedin's power-play goal at 3:39 of the third had tied the game, but just 61 seconds later, Meszaros scored the game-winner. Danny Briere carried the puck into the Vancouver zone, and deked to create space for himself to find a trailing Meszaros, who was steaming into the offensive zone. Meszaros skated into the left circle and ripped a shot that beat Roberto Luongo over his glove at 4:40.

The Canucks had three power plays following Meszaros' goal, but couldn't beat Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who finished with 36 saves on 40 shots. The Canucks finished 2-for-7 with the man-advantage.

"Two goals is pretty good in a game, but still we got to step up when we need it the most and that's late in the game, so that's our responsibility and we didn't do that," said Daniel Sedin. "We had enough chances to score but we got to put it in."

The Flyers gave the Canucks five power plays in the third period, a disturbing number when playing against a team with the firepower Vancouver can throw on the ice.

"Five power plays in the third is going to give them a lot of momentum," said Pronger, who played a team-high 23:41, including 7:39 shorthanded. "They've got the players that can work it around. Bryz made some good stops, we had some blocks in front of him. … You look at their power play, it's scary-good out there. They've all been together, some of them since birth. That gives them pretty good knowledge."

That knowledge showed early in the third, when Daniel Sedin tied the game. Alexander Edler pinched in and drew the defense to him, which allowed him to zip a pass across to Sedin, who fired a shot over a lunging Bryzgalov at 3:39 of the third.

"I think there were some good tests in the game tonight," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "Penalty kill was one, our resiliency was another. Protecting the lead through the third. Bryz got a lot heavier workload tonight then he had the previous two games and he answered. There were some positives to take from that."

The game started all positive as the Flyers scored a pair of goals and drew four Vancouver penalties in the first 12:12 of the game.

Giroux opened the scoring with his third of the season, thanks to a fortuitous bounce off the boards behind the Vancouver net. With Philadelphia skating on their second power play of the first, Pronger fired a shot from center ice that took a crazy carom off the boards behind Luongo. Giroux grabbed the loose puck, took two strides all alone and beat the Canucks' goaltender high over his glove at 7:14 of the period.

"It hit the partition and came back right in the front and it caught me by surprise, obviously," said Luongo, who stopped 22 of 27 shots and is looking for his first win of the season after tying for the League lead with 38 last season. "I wasn't exactly sure what he was going to do with it and I was caught leaning."

Pronger made it 2-0 about five minutes later with another long shot on the power play, launching a one-timer from the center of the blue line that Luongo never saw zip past his glove thanks to Simmonds' screen.

Vancouver cut the lead in half on their only power play of the first period. The Canucks moved the puck smartly around the zone, with Henrik Sedin firing a shot from the NHL shield on NHL Face-Off logo. Bryzgalov made the save, but left a big rebound that Samuelsson backhanded into the net at 16:35.

Just 1:13 later, van Riemsdyk put the Flyers back on top by two. Alexandre Burrows fumbled a pass from Luongo under pressure, and it rolled along the wall to Giroux. He fired a shot that Luongo stopped with the top of his pads, but he couldn't corral the puck as he fell forward. Van Riemsdyk skated in from the side of the net, took the puck away from him and lifted it over the fallen netminder for his first of the season to make it 3-1.

Henrik Sedin made it a one-goal game when he converted off a Flyers defensive-zone turnover. Burrows kept the play alive in the Philadelphia end, and as Bryzgalov scrambled to stop him, the puck bounced to Sedin, who scored under the crossbar at 6:41 to make it 3-2.

It was the first even-strength goal allowed by the Flyers this season, who entered having allowed one goal in their first two games, and allowing the third-fewest shots on goal per game (21.5).

The 40 shots the Flyers allowed were almost as many as they let in through the first two games of the season (43).

"That's a really high skilled team, the Vancouver Canucks," said Bryzgalov. "They have very good, skilled players, and when they get in on the power plays, especially when there are a lot, they create some chances and they have some chances to score goals. … I think we're lucky that we were able to kill that many penalties in the third period."

Voracek made it 4-2 when he scored his second of the season off a pass from Sean Couturier. The assist was the first NHL point for the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft.

The Canucks again cut the Philadelphia lead to one when Higgins scored at 15:31 of the second. Burrows had the puck behind the Flyers' net and as he slid to the right, four Flyers went with him, leaving Higgins alone for a tap-in from the left post.

While the players might not have considered it the prettiest win, but adding two points against the Presidents' Trophy winners and Western Conference champions, following their opening-night defeat of the Stanley Cup champions, is a nice boost for the confidence.

"We played some good teams here," said van Riemsdyk, "but it's still early. … t's good to get off to this start. We want to be in this position, but we can't stay complacent. We have to keep getting better. … Just because we got off to a decent start so far we can't get complacent. We've got to push the envelope."

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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