Richards leads Flyers rout Lightning 7-2

There was a lot of worried Philadelphia Flyers fans going into last night’s game in Tampa Bay. The stress was centered around if captain Mike Richards and Chris Pronger would be ready and able to help the Flyers make their final push for the playoffs. Richards hushed the doubters compiling four points in his team’s 7-2 win over the Lightning.

Michael Leighton once again shined between the pipes stopping 36 shots and was in the right position most of the time to make the important stop. Leighton had a lot of help once the third period came along. The Flyers scored five goals to close the door on Tampa Bay en route to their fifth consecutive victory.

Simon Gagne, who told CSNPhilly last week that he was lacking confidence and wanted to have a strong finish to the season heading into the playoffs, scored two power-play goals and added an assist. Gagne looked strong on the puck and definitely looked confident on the ice. Gagne snapped a 2-2 tie in his opening shift in the frame when he backhanded a streaking pass from Richards that had Antero Niittymaki completely off-guard 17 second in.

“Obviously, not the way we wanted to play in the first couple [periods], a lot of chance [for them] from the slot but after that we calmed down a little,” Richards said.

Gagne made it 4-2 when he snapped a one-timer pass from, surprise, Richards just outside the slot through Niittymaki’s five-hole. The goal was credited to Claude Giroux, however, it was correctly changed back to Gagne later in the third.James van Riemsdyk would attack just under five minutes later when roofed a sweet pass from Arron Asham to make 5-2. The Flyers at that point had scored three straight goals on as many shots.

Giroux would later add another power-play tally, and Jeff Carter scored short-handed to make 7-2. That was Carter’s fifth straight game with a goal. The Flyers scored five goals in the third and they played as if a two-week vacation never existed.

Back to Richards.

The 2010 Gold medal winner with Team Canada came back and picked up right where he left off. The captain was dominant on both ends of the ice. His puck-handling was smooth and that showed with all three assists.

Fans hoped that Richards wouldn’t be too tired or jet-lagged that his performance last night would be a detriment to the team. Not even close.

“I felt good out there,” Richards. “I didn’t know how I was going to adapt to the time change and long flight yesterday. “I think car-bomb [Carcillo] just wanted to shoot the puck at the net and it hit my skate and went in.”

“He’s an amazing player,”  said linemate Carcillo of Richards. “He’s a superstar in the league.”

Specifically, Richards and Carcillo played part on a great looking goal to tie the game at 2-2. Richards shot the puck directly off the faceoff from his knees and it bounced off a Tampa defender and ended up on Carcillo’s stick and all he had to do was backhand past a sprawling Niittymaki.

“[The team was] actually joking around working on some face-off plays this weekend,” Carcillo said. “We were going to do one and then Richie said ‘no,’ let’s just go normal. He whacked it and it bounced to me. It was a lucky bounce.”

Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos scored both Tampa goals setting a franchise record with 14 straight games with a point.

The Flyers are 33-25-3 with 69 points. They trail the Buffalo Sabres by only six points for the fifth seed in the Eastern Conf. Buffalo lost to Pittsburgh last night 3-2, without Ryan Miller. The Flyers will remain in the state of Florida for tonight when they faceoff against the Panthers. The Panthers could be on the verge of trading their stud netminder Tomas Vokoun before Wednesday’s 3pm trade deadline.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: