-- Flyers coach John Stevens said picking the shooters for the shootout is pretty much a guessing game. That's how he opted to use Claude Giroux
as his third shooter in the game-deciding breakaway competition against the Boston Bruins
on Thursday night.
The first four shooters -- Danny Briere and Mike Richards for Philadelphia and Blake Wheeler and Patrice Bergeron for Boston -- couldn't score. Giroux then showcased the hands that made him a first-round NHL draft pick and rewrote the Quebec League's playoff scoring record book by beating Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask for the lone shootout goal to give the Flyers a 4-3 victory.
Chris Pronger, Darroll Powe and Arron Asham scored in regulation for the Flyers (4-2-1), Ole-Kristian Tollefsen had a pair of assists for his first multi-pointNHL game, and Ray Emery made 23 saves. After Giroux's goal, Michael Ryder rang a shot off the post on the final shootout attempt, giving the Flyers a victory after a six-day layoff.
Derek Morris, Matt Hunwick and Steve Begin scored for the Bruins (4-4-1), who earned three of four points in their back-to-back games. They won 3-2 at home against Nashville on Wednesday, but have gone through nine games in a lose-one, win-one pattern.
"Maybe the last four minutes they really put a lot of pressure on us," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "They were getting pucks behind us, behind the net, where we did a pretty good job all night of taking that part of the game away from them. They got a little bit of momentum, but we hung in there and hopefully we can look at this as a big point.
Giroux had been 0-for-3 in the shootout in his NHL career, but the Flyers as a team haven't been much better -- they were just 12-25 since the inception of the shootout in 2005.
"We had a little shootout in practice the other day and he made a similar move," Stevens said of Giroux. "We've been talking about him for a while. We've used him a few times; he's made good moves and not scored. We decided to give him a shot tonight. Glad I did."
That Stevens used a player with just 51 games of NHL experience ahead of All-Stars Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne also spoke volumes about his trust in Giroux.
"I think the kid flourishes in that spotlight there," Stevens said.
"That's what big players do, they come up big in big situations," added Powe. "He's a young guy but nothing seems to bother him. He's confident, he works hard. He's been big for us."
The Flyers' fourth line also came up big, as Powe, Daniel Carcillo and Mika Pyorala combined for 2 points and a plus-3 rating. Also, the third defense pair of Tollefsen and Danny Syvret played well, combining for a plus-2.
"All those guys did a great job," Stevens said. "I really liked our fourth line. Every time they got on the ice they swung momentum our way. Every time they were on the ice they spent the entre shift in the offensive zone and clearly out-worked whoever was on the ice against them. You love that in those guys. When we got late in the game we moved some of those guys up because they had so much energy. They were tremendous -- that whole line (Powe, Daniel Carcillo and Mika Pyorala) was tremendous. And Ash comes in and scored a big goal for us. I think it's important that Tolley and Danny get more involved like they did tonight and give us significant minutes. Especially Tolley, I thought he had his best game since he's been here."
The Flyers took the lead in the first period when Pronger one-timed a Matt Carle pass from the blue line past Rask at 12:03.
The Bruins answered at 17:26 when the Flyers failed to clear the zone during a Boston power play. Zdeno Chara got the puck, spun and passed across the zone to Morris. With Michael Ryder providing a screen, the point shot eluded Emery.
The Bruins went ahead when Hunwick's shot hit Pronger and bounced past Emery at 7:36 of the second period. The Flyers pulled even just over a minute later when Powe scored from right in front. Carcillo retrieved Tollefsen's shot off the left post and fed it to Powe in front. From one knee, Powe shoved the puck past Rask at 8:41 to make it 2-2.
Asham put the Flyers ahead when he rushed down right wing and fired a shot from the faceoff dot that went into the far top corner, over Rask's blocker. Boston came right back when Begin pounced on the rebound of Byron Bitz's shot and popped it past Emery at 16:26.
The Flyers had a chance in the final minute of regulation when Jeff Carter broke in on a shorthanded breakaway, but Rask made a great save to preserve the tie.
Stevens said he liked the effort from his team coming off a break that saw them play just one game since Oct. 10.
"We needed to win a game like that where it wasn't easy," he said. "You had to work hard to score. I thought the third period we got back to working where we had waves coming at them, there wasn't the ebbs and flow, there was more sustained pressure, which we wanted to see."
-- Adam Kimelman, NHL.com