Gagne Hits 500 points, Betts Leads Flyers Past Lightning 4-1

People always argue about who’s the best or worst in some category within the sports realm. Who is valuable and who’s not to a team’s success.

In the case of Blair Betts, stats do not lie.

The Philadelphia Flyers are 17-6-2 when Betts is in the lineup, and we can figure out the rest when he isn’t around. Betts scored two third period goals to push the Flyers past the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1 at the Wachovia Center.

“He does a lot of things really well,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “He’s a faceoff guy. He can play all positions. He can skate, hit, kill penalties and jump up on other lines. You can play him in the last minute of a game. When you have a player you start rambling on like that, it’s a valuable part of your team.”

The orange and black’s longest tenured player collected his 500th career point, all with the Flyers, when he assisted Claude Giroux’s first period goal. He became the 13th Flyer to ever reach 500 points.

“Yes, it is fun,” Gagne said.  “I had a chance to get this one done in Pittsburgh, but the [shorthanded] goal was not good [on video review]. It is a lot more fun to reach 500 here in Philly in front of our fans.”

The Flyers added to their winning ways, they are now 7-1-1 in their last nine games and have won three straight. While goalie Michael Leighton continues to carry this Flyers team up the standings, he is now 7-0-1 since joining Philadelphia. The goal that got past Leighton was a quick snapshot from Martin St. Louis late in the third.

“The first period we played pretty well, they didn’t get too many shots,” Leighton said. “The second period, I think I made one or two saves and that kind of set us up and we scored again.

“That took a little bit of pressure off. We played great defensively, again. I think lately, I’ve just been good and the team has been great.”

The goal by St. Louis made the Flyers faithful nervous until Betts knocked in a rebound after a  Ian Laperriere slapshot. Betts would shortly after add the dagger with an empty-netter. Betts has shown how valuable he is to this hockey club. Don;t worry, the players notice these things too.

 “He’s a selfless guy who throws his body in front of anything good on draws and that’s what you look for in a penalty killer – someone who sacrifices themselves,” Chris Pronger said. “Especially, a centerman who can win draws and kill 15-20 seconds there getting the puck down the ice.”

Early in the third period, Danny Briere sent a beauty of a pass across to the streaking Scott Hartnell who sent the puck past Antero Niittymaki to make it 2-0 Flyers. That goal was Hartnell’s first in 17 games.

“Things like that happen. You keep playing your game, going to the net. It’s either going to hit me. Something like that. I thought it was going to go in but it doesn’t matter. First goal scored or not, we’re winning the last seven, eight games so just everyone has a good feeling in here. We’ve got to keep this thing going.”

The Flyers now have 47 points and only trail Montreal Canadians by one point for the 8th seed in the East. Next up for the Flyers is a Western conference meeting with the Dallas Stars on Tuesday from the Wachovia Center.

Notes:

The Flyers’ penalty kill units have taken care of 30 of their last 32 penalties (98.3 percent) over the last nine games…Ray Emery allowed two goals on 27 shots in a 2-1 loss for the Adirondack Phantoms last night.

Quotes: CSNPhilly

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