Richards, Emery help shutout new look Flames

It was a complete effort for the first time in a long time. What do I mean? The Philadelphia Flyers shutout the Calgary Flames last night 3-0 with a full 60 minute effort. Captain Mike Richards finally came out of his goal drought with two goals, including his 100th career tally while Ray Emery stopped all 18 Flames shots.

“That’s a sign of a goalie getting confidence coming back from his injury,” Richards said. “The rebound control is sometimes not always there. Tonight, I thought he played the rebounds well. He cleared them to the corner when he had to and made the really big saves when we needed them.”

From start to finish the Flyers stifled the Flames, handling them in every facet of the hockey game. Emery was sharp, ‘razor’ sharp. Starting his eighth straight game, he controlled everything that came his way. Granted he only faced 18 shots, some of those were big saves.

“He did an excellent job controlling,” head coach Peter Laviolette said. “There wasn’t a lot [of shots], but there were some really big ones. Sometimes that’s hard when you are not getting a lot of work and then there’s a point-blank chance.”

It was the best Emery has looked since returning from his injury. He allowed no rebounds to flutter for second or third chances. He was simply, efficient.

“It wasn’t easy but the boys made it as easy as it can get,” Emery said. “I thought we played our best defensive game of the year.

“We did a good job of working in their end and kinda putting to rest their burst of forechecking. I thought we matched it, if not beat their work ethic.”

While Emery picked up his third shutout of the season, captain Richards picked up a milestone in his young career. Midway through the second period, Richards broke the scoreless game with an opportunistic goal after a beauty of a dish from Simon Gagne from the high slot that beat Miikka Kiprusoff. That was Richards’ 100th career tally.

“The goal was just a little bit of a scramble,” Richards said. “I got lucky and the puck popped to me.  I actually missed my shot and it went in.”

It was good to see the monkey get off the captain’s back. He had previously scored one goal in his last 10 games. It got so bad, that he went from beard-to mustache-to clean-shaven within a week.

His second goal of the night came late in the third on the power-play, his 22nd of the season. Claude Giroux gave the Flyers and their goaltender some breathing room when he slipped a pretty breakaway backhand past Kiprusoff, thew shot seemed to stun ‘Kipper’ a bit. That gave the Flyers a 2-0 lead.

All in all, the defense of the Flyers won the game, hands down. 18 shots was all that was given up by the defense, the energy and effectiveness of every shift showed. Jarome Iginla, and new Ranger center Olli Jokinen were shutdown offensively.

“That was probably our best 60-minute effort of the year,” Chris Pronger said. “We were moving our feet for 60 minutes. We played solid in our own end. [Emery] came up with a couple good stops when we needed them, too. For the most part, we played a pretty tight defensive game.”

The Flyers have scored the first goal in 17 of their last 19 games, which benefits the defense.

“Obviously it is important,” Richards said. “It is much easier playing with the lead then coming back. We have had great starts to games but have had a little bit of trouble in between.”

There was no trouble in between last night. The Flyers finally looked to have played a 60 minutes game where they looked as goods as they have all year. It was a perfect night in all intensive purposes.

The Flyers will hit the second leg of their three-game west coast trip tomorrow when they play the troubled Edmonton Oilers. Yet another 9:30 start.

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