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Improving Flyers respond to defeat Senators

by Dan Rosen

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers look nothing like the team that was blown out by the Washington Capitals 19 days ago. Instead they're looking like a team that should be in the thick of the Stanley Cup Playoff race for the rest of the season.

The Flyers extended their season-high point streak to five games Tuesday with a 5-2 win against the Ottawa Senators at Wells Fargo Center. The Flyers are 4-0-1 in their past five games and 5-1-2 since the Capitals left town with a 7-0 win Nov. 1.

Perhaps just as important is the fact the Flyers (8-10-2) have won two in a row on home ice after losing seven of their first nine games here. They went 2-0-1 on a recent road trip and have two games left on their homestand, with a chance to reach .500 if they beat the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders.

"We haven't been a good hockey club at home," said Flyers goalie Steve Mason, who made 32 saves for his sixth win. "We've had leads going into the third and let them go, lost a lot of valuable points. To continue our play that we had on the road and bring it home for the first of a three-game homestand is nice to see."

Flyers captain Claude Giroux scored his second goal of the season, Sean Couturier and Kimmo Timonen each scored his first, Wayne Simmonds netted his third, and Adam Hall added an empty-net goal to provide the offense.

For Couturier it was his first goal since April 15, snapping a drought of 25 games. Timonen's game-winning goal was his first since April 16. His drought lasted 21 games.

"I liked our energy right from the start of the game," Flyers coach Craig Berube said. "It felt good. I thought we were on the forecheck, getting involved physically, getting shots on net, all the little things we talk about."

The Senators (8-9-4) did some of that, but not enough over 60 minutes as they struggle to find consistency. They lost their second in a row and third in four games, a sour stretch that comes after a five-game point streak (3-0-2).

Clarke MacArthur and Kyle Turris scored power-play goals, but the Senators gave up 42 shots on goal. Robin Lehner made 37 saves.

"We had an opportunity with 10 minutes to go in the third and I thought we worked very hard to get the game tied up," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said, "and we let it slip away."

Turris, whose goal tied the game 2-2 with 16:48 to play, had a great chance to give the Senators the lead with 10:30 left when he had the puck on his stick at the top of the crease and what appeared to be an open net in front of him. However, Flyers defenseman Nicklas Grossmann got in the way and used his skates to block Turris' shot.

The puck deflected off of Grossmann's left skate then glanced off his right skate before going out clear of the left post. The referee standing behind the net immediately waved it off, ruling it no goal. A lengthy video review conducted at the next stoppage, 1:24 after the play happened, was inconclusive in determining whether the shot completely crossed the goal line, so the call on the ice stood.

"I should have scored on that," Turris said. "It shouldn't have even been close."

Timonen scored the winning goal on the first shift after the video review. He walked down the goal line on the left side and used his backhand to beat Lehner through the five-hole with 8:30 to play.

Berube credited the Flyers for having a strong response after waiting out the review process.

"I thought the whole third period, though, we played to win that game," Berube said. "It's encouraging, good to see."

MacLean obviously was not pleased with how the Senators played immediately after the video review.

"The next shift was a big shift coming out of it and we didn't respond to it very well," he said.

It got worse 23 seconds later, when Simmonds made it 4-2 with a shot from the high slot that went in over Lehner's left pad.

"With them scoring the tying goal and us going right back and getting two big ones, that's something we haven't done all season long, so for us to have that in the third period was nice to see," Mason said. "Guys worked hard for it."

Turris had a chance to make it 4-3 with 5:06 left, when he was awarded a penalty shot after being hauled down by Timonen on a shorthanded breakaway. Mason made a right-pad save to preserve the Flyers' two-goal lead.

"I have to find a way to put it in the net," Turris said. "Didn't do that [Tuesday night]."

He did 3:12 into the third period, swiping in a backhand from the slot to tie the game 2-2. His fifth goal of the season came 10 seconds after Zac Rinaldo went to the penalty box for hooking Zack Smith.

MacArthur cut into the Flyers' 2-0 lead with his power-play goal at the 8:13 of the second period.

The Flyers built the lead on goals by Giroux and Couturier. Giroux scored on the power play with 2:16 to go in the first period, and Couturier scored with an odd-angle shot from the corner in front of the Zamboni entrance 5:18 into the second.

"Early on in the season guys were really struggling to find their games, and you can see it now guys are starting to play with a lot more confidence, making real nice passes that they weren't making early on in the year," Mason said. "With them coming around with their game and the confidence building, you're going to see a much tighter hockey game.

"With us coming back with the two goals in the third period, that's what this team was known for in the past, coming back, having big goals at big opportunities. It's nice to see, and let's just hope it keeps continuing."


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