Upon returning home from their tour of Florida, the Flyers were faced with the task of playing the Winnipeg Jets Nov. 29. Philadelphia was handed an overtime loss by the Jets just two weeks earlier. Fueled by the home crowd, the Flyers were quick to get on top of the Jets early. Scott Hartnell took advantage of a Winnipeg mistake in their defensive zone to put his team up 1-0 only 48 seconds into the game. Sean Couturier provided all the offense in the second period, as he netted a short-handed goal to give the Flyers a 2-0 lead. The Jets tallied one in the third period, but it was not enough for a comeback, as goalie Steve Mason shut the door once again to propel Philadelphia to a 2-1 victory.
“Getting the victory over Winnipeg at the Wells Fargo Center was huge for the Flyers,” third-year mechanical engineering major Jon Bry said. “The win gave the team some momentum heading into a tough six-game road trip.”
Following their victory over Winnipeg, the Flyers did not have much time to celebrate, as they headed to Nashville for a game against the Predators the very next day. Coming off the quick turnaround, the Flyers had a tough task in facing a hungry Predators squad. Philadelphia did catch a break, however, as star defenseman Shea Weber was out of Nashville’s lineup after taking a puck to the face in their previous game.
For the first time all season, head coach Craig Berube made the decision to start Steve Mason in consecutive games, and the move paid off. Nashville came out of the gate throwing pucks at net, consistently outshooting Philadelphia, and Mason stood tall. The Flyers tallied first, as Claude Giroux put home his fourth goal of the season. But the lead was short-lived, as Nashville’s Mike Fisher evened the score only a minute later.
The second period was highlighted by the goaltenders, as both sides put up zeros. Nashville jumped on the Flyers in the beginning of the third period, as Colin Wilson put his team ahead. The Flyers appeared to be slow through the neutral zone and looked to be feeling the effects from playing the night before. With seven minutes left in the final stanza, Couturier provided his team with the necessary offense, snapping home a shot to draw the game even.
The two teams remained tied through the conclusion of the third period and overtime, which left the game down to a shootout, a situation that the Flyers have had little success with over the years. Vincent Lecavalier put home the only goal the Flyers would need, as Mason was 3-3 in saves to secure the win.
In the second game of their road trip, the Flyers headed to Minnesota Dec. 2 for a date with the Wild. After starting back-to-back games, Mason received the night off and Ray Emery took the net.
While the Flyers were finding ways to win in their previous two games, their offense still had its struggles, and it showed against the Wild. Minnesota consistently disrupted Philadelphia in the neutral zone throughout the entire game, and the Flyers were unable to put sufficient pressure on net. Although Emery proved strong on his end, the Wild were still able to get two past him en route to their 2-0 victory.
The Flyers’ effort against Minnesota was a step back for a team still trying to find its way offensively. Philadelphia recorded a mediocre 21 shots on Wild goalie Josh Harding, who proved to be the difference in the game.
Following a disappointing showing in Minnesota, the Flyers had a travel day to head to Detroit for a matchup with the Red Wings Dec. 4 at Joe Louis Arena. Coming into the game, Philadelphia had only one win in the past 24 years in the Red Wings’ home arena, a stat that would change by the end of the night.
Unlike the Flyers’ previous three games, their game against Detroit was largely driven by offense, including a monstrous third period for Philadelphia. The Red Wings got an early jump on the Flyers as they tallied first, but a Steve Downie power-play goal knotted the two teams at the first intermission.
The second period was controlled largely by Detroit, as they tallied twice in the frame to grab a two-goal advantage, but that would be all they would get. Following the Red Wings’ third goal, the Flyers offense took over. Matt Read put home a wrister with just over three minutes left in the second period to bring the Flyers within one and give his team the momentum heading into the final frame.
The third period was all positive for the Flyers and their fans. Philadelphia jumped on Detroit early, as Giroux netted a power-play goal five minutes into the period, starting an onslaught. Couturier gave the Flyers their first lead of the night just three minutes later, tipping a pass from Downie off the post and past Jimmy Howard. Just over a minute later, Hartnell widened the gap with the Flyers’ third power-play goal of the night. Philadelphia cruised from there, as Couturier capped off the win with an empty-net goal to give the Flyers a 6-3 victory.
“I think that is the best offensive display I have seen from the Flyers all season,” fourth-year information technology student John Levin said. “Couturier has really stepped up his game of late and has proved to be a real difference maker for the team.”
In the Flyers’ three most recent wins, their third line proved to be the difference. The combination of Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Steve Downie has paid huge dividends for Philadelphia. The line has accounted for much of the team’s offense in recent games and has consistently created opportunities when on the ice. Couturier, in particular, proved to be a major factor against Detroit, as he tallied the first four-point game of his career.
In injury news, Lecavalier is day-to-day with back spasms. Other than that, the Flyers are mostly healthy, which is something new for a team that has experienced significant injuries in recent seasons.
The Flyers will be back on the ice Dec. 7, when they will travel to the American Airlines Center to take on the Dallas Stars.