Power Play Awakens in Flyers 5-2 Win Over Blackhawks
Thursday, February 27, 2003
By David W. Unkle
He promised us so much more in the pre-season but this year’s version of the power play looked frighteningly similar to the one that contributed to another early demise for the Philadelphia Flyers.
However, that was before the Flyers played a home-home series with the Chicago Blackhawks.
The power play won the hockey game for us for sure, said Flyers’ Head Coach Ken Hitchcock. We scored on a whole bunch of different ways, five-on-three, off the rush…we didn’t have our usual energy to start the game today so we needed something to kick start us and it really did in the second period.
After spotting Chicago a 1-0 lead in the opening minutes of the game on the first of Mark Bell’s two goals, the Flyers came roaring back with second period power play goals by Kim Johnsson and Mark Recchi.
Bell’s first goal demonstrated that putting the puck on the net creates scoring opportunities. After getting Flyers goalie Roman Cechmanek down on the ice, Bell lifted the puck over the goalie’s pads from an almost impossible angle and the puck somehow ended up in the net.
The Flyers power play units did not give an advance screening of things to come with their play in the first period, failing to score on four-minute, five-on-four power play.
Aside from Kim Johnsson’s shot off the glove hand of Blackhawks goalie Jocelyn Thibault, the Flyers were held without a shot on net with the man advantage.
Johnsson, who scored the game-winner in Tuesday night’s game in Chicago, would makes amends for the special teams play in the first period.
Taking the feed from Jeremy Roenick, Johnsson’s shot from between the circles knotted the score at 1-1.
The Flyers power play ranked 26th in the league at the start of the night would soon connect on another score.
Three power play goals is a lot to ask for on many nights for any team let alone the Flyers but against the Chicago Blackhawks, with the league’s fourth best penalty-killing record on the road and fifth overall, it is ridiculous.
And ridiculousness is exactly what happened.
Back-to-back Chicago penalties just twelve seconds apart gave the Flyers a five-on-three man advantage and the Flyers came close to failure once again.
The Flyers spent most of the power play putting on a passing clinic for the First Union Center fans as they passed the puck around the Hawks defensive zone while throwing only four shots on net.
With Chicago’s Chris Simon ready to come back on the ice following a two minute minor for roughing, Mark Recchi banged one home for the 2-1 lead.
Following sustained pressure on Thibault for the first time in the game, Recchi sent a high-rising wrist shot over the goalie’s shoulder for his 19th goal of the season.
The Flyers went up 3-1 when Todd Warrriner found the missing puck following an Eric Desjardins blast from the point.
The rebound, out of Thibault’s sight during the scrum the puck somehow squirted behind the Chicago goalie and Warriner was in perfect position to knock it home for his 5th goal of the season and first as a Flyer.
Mark Bell narrowed the score to 3-2 with his second of the night with the Blackhawks playing a man down.
A costly turnover in their own end resulted in the seventh short-handed goal allowed by the Flyers this season and was one of the black marks on an otherwise stellar night for the special teams.
Warriner, whose earlier goal proved to be the game-winner, put Philadelphia up 4-2 midway through the third period, seconds after a penalty to Alex Zhamnov ended.
Michal Handzus put the game away with the Flyers third power play goal of the night with 3:07 left in regulation.
We’re getting there, said Recchi. …you have to outwork the penalty-kill and that is what we are doing right now.
We knew what we were up against playing Philly back-to back, said Mark Bell. We thought we were coming back (down 3-2) and then they come right back to score…it is a tough pill to swallow.
Two of the goals were my fault, that’s the way I think of it. The goals I scoredI think of the goals I allowed.
Fans can visit the Flyers web site for schedule and ticket information at: www.philadelphiaflyers.com.
SHOTS ON GOAL:
Officials: Referees Kerry Fraser and Marc Joannette; Linesmen Derek Amell and Brad Kovachik.
STARS OF THE GAME:
1. The Flyers lead the all-time series between these two teams with a 49-42-30 record, including a 34-16-11 record at home.
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