And with the sellout crowd rocking for the Flyers and screaming derogatory chants at the Detroit Red Wings, and goals scored at a rapid rate, it all felt like old times in Philadelphia. Forsberg scored the go-ahead goal in the third period and sparked the last-place Flyers to a 6-1 win Monday night.
“We know where we are in the standings, we’re not feeling good about the season, but lately we’ve been playing better and with more confidence,” Forsberg said. “It feels great winning games.”
The Flyers scored two short-handed goals and one on the power play to win their second straight at home after losing a team-record 13 straight here.
This time they had some inspiration from their retired captain, Primeau. He was honoured in a teary pre-game ceremony, showing a different kind of sentiment from the days of his rah-rah pep talks.
“I took great pride in putting on my Flyers jersey because I felt as though every time I did, I had your support,” said a teary-eyed Primeau. “I will always give credit to the fans in Philadelphia for creating my identity as a player and as a person and for that I humbly thank you.”
Michael Leighton stopped 31 shots in his second straight start for the Flyers. Before Saturday’s win against St. Louis, Leighton hadn’t made an NHL start since March 23, 2004, when he was with Chicago.
R.J. Umberger scored twice, and Mike Richards, Simon Gagne and Todd Fedoruk also scored for the Flyers.
“This is kind of what we’ve been pushing for,” coach John Stevens said. “It’s something we’re trying to get in place here.”
Tomas Holmstrom scored the only goal for Detroit. The Red Wings haven’t won in Philadelphia since Jan. 25, 1997, losing five straight over 10 years. They blew a chance to tie Buffalo for the league points lead.
“It wasn’t that we didn’t play the whole game. We were right in the game,” Detroit coach Mike Babcock said. “The wheels came off badly.”
Forsberg snapped a tie early in the third period with his 11th goal before the Flyers turned this one into a rout. Umberger scored twice, and Gagne and Fedoruk added goals after that to give the sellout crowd something to cheer for one of the few times this season.
“There is something to play for. There’s pride,” Umberger said.
Those fans hope they get to cheer Forsberg for at least the rest of the year. Forsberg, a free agent at the end of the season, met with team chairman Ed Snider on Sunday to discuss the former MVP’s future. Both sides declined to discuss the specifics of the meeting.
All Forsberg has to do is tell the Flyers that he wants to re-sign with them or ask to be dealt to a contender before the Feb. 27 trade deadline. So far, at least publicly, Forsberg has kept that decision to himself.
But eight teams sent scouts, all but one of them from teams heavily rumoured to be interested in Forsberg.
The Flyers appeared to score a power-play late in the third, but it was called off when officials ruled the whistle had already blown. That hardly mattered about a minute later once Forsberg won the battle in a scrum for the puck in front of the net and scored for a 2-1 lead.
The only goals until the third came late in the first period. With Forsberg in the penalty box for hooking, Holmstrom scored his 20th goal of the season on the power play for a 1-0 lead.
The Flyers tied it on a short-handed goal, thanks to some nifty stick work from Richards. First he swiped the puck, then shuffled it to Sami Kapanen near the net. Kapanen had a strong look, but his shot bounced off Joey MacDonald’s pads and a hard-charging Richards knocked in the rebound for his fourth goal.
Then the Flyers got going in the third. Umberger slid one in for his 10th goal, and Gagne made it 4-1 with his 29th goal. Umberger scored his second of the game, then Fedoruk added one on a breakaway.
“They’re an aggressive team and they were showing it,” MacDonald said. “They had a lot of body checks and I think it wore on us in the third period.”
Notes: Primeau, forced to retire before the season because of the lingering effects from concussions, was drafted by Detroit in 1990 and received a watch from the Red Wings and assorted gifts from the Flyers. Primeau choked on his words on his first sentence and needed to stop and compose himself several times during his speech.