Richards Leads Flyers Past Isles, Snap Losing Skid

PHILADELPHIA- For the past few weeks during the downfall of the Philadelphia Flyers, fans and media outlets kept saying the ‘franchise players’ have to step up and lead this team out of their funk. Well, last night at the Wachovia Center those ‘franchise players’ did just that and more.

Captain Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Claude Giroux each netted two goals to propel the Flyers past the Islanders 6-2. Peter Laviolette earned his first victory as Flyers new head coach.

Overall, from start to finish the men in orange and black stomped their way through the Islanders. In wake of the news that goaltender Ray Emery will 6-8 weeks with an abdominal tear, Brian Boucher had an impressive outing stopping 22 shots.

Last week, the focus of the franchise getting out of this rut came full circle when the captain stated he was ready to lead this team forward. Richards took those words to the ice and lead his team in the right direction. The 24-year-old led the way beginning with a power-play goal 9:47 into the first period. Richards redirected a wrist-shot from Kimmo Timonen.

Richards wasn’t finished. At 15:14 in the first period, he blocked a pass from Islander defensemen Mark Streit and was off to the races on a breakaway and lifted a shorthanded goal past Martin Biron. That was Richards’ and the Flyers first shorthanded tally of the season. They were his 12, and 13th goals of the year.

“I saw a guy take charge of a game tonight,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said after his first win with his new team. “On the ice he was pretty good — on the penalty kill, five-on-five, on the power play. He played a pretty solid game. When you get into these situations where you haven’t been having success you usually look to your leaders to get you out of it.”

Chris Pronger took notice to the leadership Richards showed.

“He’s the leader, he played like it,” Pronger said. “He got us off to a great start and he continued to play both ends of the ice very hard and backside pressure and kind of being a safety valve sometimes when it really wasn’t supposed to be his job. Just the effort and passion for the game. It’s something over the last four years he has been highly-regarded for.”

Jeff Carter scored a power-play goal at 4:21 in the second. That was Carter’s first goal in seven games. Carter’s second goal was a hard-fought tip in after Danny Briere took the initial shot. Carter and Richards are tied for the team lead in points with 25.

Over 10 minutes later, Claude Giroux feasted on the exposed Islanders scoring his first goal in nine games on the power-play. Giroux added his second at 2:35 in the third.

“It’s nice to score goals; it’s been a long time,” Giroux said. “I had some nice plays from my linemates. I was trying different stuff out there to help the team in another way. I felt like I could control the puck and do some plays and I haven’t done plays in a long time. I just felt good out there.”

After scoring six goals and finally putting together an impressive win, can the Flyers now relax and focus on building from here?

“I don’t think relax, but maybe not squeeze the stick as hard,” said Richards. “It’s something to build on. On the offensive part, it’s nice to get bounces. When you don’t get bounces, you’re squeezing the stick and trying to do too much with it.”

“I thought a lot of our game had a lot of that in it (Monday) night,” Laviolette said, “we just didn’t bring the rubber to the net. Tonight we did a much better job of that. Our (defense) was trying to get it there, our forwards did a great job. I thought our key players were pretty sharp tonight.”

John Tavares scored both Islander goals.

The Flyers will host the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night from the Wachovia Center. The pucks drops at 7pm.

Quotes: CSNPhilly and The Philadelphia Flyers

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