Raleigh, NC — The Canes defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 3-2 on Tuesday, February 23, 2016 at the PNC Arena.
Ward Steals Win Over Flyers
Cam Ward has been the subject of trade rumors due to his contract situation.
His performance in Tuesday’s win over the Philadelphia Flyers either increased his trade value or took him off the market altogether. After giving up a soft goal that his on-ice body language shouted he wanted another shot at, Ward played lights out with some highlight reel saves that lead the Canes to steal a 3-2 win.
Oh No, Five-Hole
From the onset, the Flyers came out with the extra step, as they are also in the Wild Card race. Being just a point behind the Canes puts that much pressure on both teams for the win. For a change, the Canes were, by all means, out of the game on the stat sheet, with Philly having twice as many shots and twice as many hits.
After only winning about 1/3 of the face-offs in the first period, he stormed back to win 20 of the next 32. The Canes have lost all three previous games against the Flyers in overtime, so getting the win in regulation had to be reassuring.
Late in the first period, Scott Laughton took a shot from inside the face-off circle to the right of Ward. If Ward was fooled by the shot, it had to be that it was either like an off speed pitch or that he was expecting the shot to be top shelf. Instead, the puck was sent at ¾ speed along the ice, and going five-hole was more frustrating than skill.
Nordstrom & JStaal Come Up Big
The Canes were still chasing the Flyers in the second, as the Flyers kept up the pressure on forechecking and shots both on goal and wide. The line of Jordan Staal, Joakim Nordstrom and Andrej Nestrasil continued to be the Canes’ best line with grit and purpose on every shift. Just over midway in the period, the Canes dumped the puck deep behind the Flyers’ net.
Goalie Michal Neuvirth went behind the net to gain possession and pass to a defender. With pressure from JStaal coming from the right, Neuvirth decided to pass up the ice on the left side. Instead of a clear, it was a perfect pass to Nordstrom, who intercepted the puck and sent a wrister in far side to even the score and give Nords his second goal in as many games.
With the JStaal line on the ice late in the period, Brett Pesce sent the puck into the Flyers’ zone along the near boards. The puck took a crazy bounce off a glass support, ricocheting to the middle slot area. Crazy, in this instance, is defined as a good bounce, as the puck landed near Staal who got possession and pin-wheeled around, sending a hard shot on the ice into the net to give the Canes their first lead.
Eric Staal Nets His 10th
The game should have had a playoff intensity, but, instead, had one of two teams trading jabs in between the blue line.
The Flyers were doing more of the jabbing, but the Canes hunkered down in the third with better forechecking while foregoing a strong offense. Around the 14-minute mark, Jay McClement, on a makeshift line with Eric Staal, had the puck inside the right face-off circle. Staal was in the dirty area where he needed to be, but, instead of passing, McClement kept his speed, went behind the net and then whipped a shot towards the net. Neuvirth made the initial save but sent the rebound up high.
Staal took a swipe at the airborne puck, connecting and putting in the game sealer. Getting his first goal in what seemed like forever had to help his trade stock value, but as much as there are rumors that he’s gone, with his salary and performance this year, I doubt he’s leaving. When you go to a game this week, be prepared to have an opinion of who stays, who goes and what direction Ron Francis will be leading this team. While the refs did a better job than the crew on Sunday, they were consistent in issuing a penalty to each team in each period, but, according to the home crowd, missed a few down the stretch both ways. This was a good win that was badly needed, as are the next two games this week.
Next Home Game
The next home game is Friday, February 26, 2016 against Boston. Be there!