PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers gave their fans a reason to go wild at the start and finish of their home opener.
Jeff Carter scored his second goal of the game with 2:38 left in the third period to lift the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday night.
Carter broke open a tie when his shot bounced through the legs of goalie Craig Anderson. Darroll Powe added an empty-netter only moments later for some insurance on the night the Flyers raised their Eastern Conference champions banner.
Claude Giroux scored a short-handed goal for the Flyers, while rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky had another solid game with 25 saves.
Coach Peter Laviolette had experienced one of those thrilling pre-game ceremonies before. He led Carolina to a Stanley Cup title in 2006 and knew this would be a moment for his Flyers to remember—even if they fell two wins short of winning it all.
“I like emotion,” he said. “I’m a believer that you grab it and harness it. Use it to your advantage, don’t use it recklessly.”
Chris Pronger returned to Philadelphia’s lineup after missing the first two games as he recovered from off-season knee surgery. Pronger, one of the NHL’s top defenceman, said during the second intermission his timing was off and that he needed about a week to “get back on track.”
“I’m obviously not quite there yet but you have to get in a few to get that (timing) back,” Pronger said.
Carter got the Flyers back on track late in the game after they blew an early 2-0 lead. Mike Richards set up the winner with a nice pass and Carter knocked the puck off the inside of Anderson’s leg and through them for a 3-2 lead.
“He came across and it hit my leg,” Anderson said. “There was not much else I could do.”
That helped make the Flyers and their fans as happy at the end of the game as they were at the start.
Brandon Yip and Milan Hejduk scored for the Avalanche to help them rally from a 2-0 hole and tie the game.
The Flyers held a lengthy pre-game tribute to their stunning run to the Stanley Cup finals. All the big goals and the historic 3-0 comeback against Boston were highlighted before the opening faceoff.
Pronger, Richards and Laviolette all heard rousing ovations, but the loudest one was saved for injured forward Ian Laperriere. His career is likely over as he suffers from the lingering effects of post-concussion syndrome. Laperriere was hit by a puck blocking a shot late last season and fought his way back to the lineup. His valiant effort was certainly not forgotten by Flyers fans.
The crowd went wild when the Flyers unfurled their Eastern Conference champions banner.
It’s nice addition to the rafters—it’s just not the championship banner the Flyers wanted.
The fans kept roaring well into the first period after Giroux and Carter put them up 2-0.
Giroux struck first on his second short-handed goal already this season, this one a backhand against Anderson with 7:31 left in the first. Carter made it 2-0 when he beat Anderson on almost the identical type of backhand goal.
Giroux scored off Richards’ first assist of the game.
“He was able to tip the puck to me on the breakaway and I made a little move and it worked,” Giroux said. “Any time you can score goals, you obviously gain more confidence. You feel great about yourself.”
The lead didn’t stick. Yip added a goal in the second period and Hejduk tied it only 32 seconds into the third. His soft shot trickled through Bobrovsky’s legs for the easy score.
“We fought back hard and competed until the final whistle, but we made a few mistakes and on the power play, you’re not supposed to lose momentum,” Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said.
Notes: Flyers G Michael Leighton had back surgery on Monday. He will begin his rehabilitation this week and is expected to make a full recovery. The Flyers had already said Leighton would miss six to eight weeks. … The Flyers are 25-12-6 in 43 home openers.