PHILADELPHIA – Ottawa had a shootout to savour to make up for a second period it wanted to forget.
Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek scored shootout goals to bail out the Senators after they wasted a three-goal first-period lead in a 4-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.
Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, Chris Neil all scored in the opening period for the Senators in their first game since Monday. While the rest of the NHL played on without them, the Senators were reduced to helpless scoreboard watchers as they try and keep seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
For now, the spot is Ottawa’s.
But they nearly squandered a big chance to earn two points.
“Our team does a good job of being resilient and showing a little character and coming back,” Senators coach Paul MacLean said.
Senators goalie Craig Anderson was fantastic and flawless in overtime, stopping six shots over a thrilling five minutes during which the Flyers dominated in every way but on the scoreboard.
“We could have scored four or five goals there,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. “It just didn’t drop.”
Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier and Braydon Coburn evened it at 3 with goals in the second period for the Flyers. Matt Read scored in the shootout for the Flyers.
The Flyers know how to fall behind early and then rally with a vengeance. They did again in the second period with a three-goal effort sparked by a gnarly goal.
Brayden Schenn’s slapper nailed Simmonds near his right eye and the puck shot into the net for a goal. Simmonds crumbled to the ice and needed assistance to the locker room. Simmonds, who does not wear a visor, later returned. Interviewed on TV at intermission, a helmetless Simmonds had caked blood and some fresh red streaks above his right eye and on his nose. His face was still stained red after the game and he needed seven stitches.
“I saw it coming, but there’s not much I could really do,” Simmonds said. Just trying to take the shot and it got deflected off.”
Simmonds’ toughness has made him a huge fan favourite. He was busted open by an errant puck in warm-ups last month, needed 25 stitches in his lips, then scored two goals.
“He finds a way to get in the net, even with his face,” Flyers forward Claude Giroux said.
The Flyers caught a break when Couturier’s second effort to put the puck past Anderson was reviewed because Filip Kuba knocked the net from its base. After a lengthy review, the ref explained his decision—well, he did, but the mic was out and no one heard him. They all saw his signal the goal was good and it was 3-2.
Coburn played close to the net and pounded in his fourth goal of the season late in the period to even the score.
Anderson stopped all 15 shots in the first only to allow three goals on 14 shots in the second. He had 36 saves.
“We do some crazy stuff sometimes to put ourselves in tough positions,” Alfredsson said. “But more often than not we’ve been able to come up with some kind of solution and big play at the right time. We never stop believing. It’s a great group.”
Philadelphia’s Ilya Bryzgalov, the hottest goalie in the NHL with a 10-2-1 record in March, sat out his second straight game because of a chip fracture in his right foot. He’s listed as doubtful for Sunday’s game at Pittsburgh.
The Flyers sure wished he was in net after Sergei Bobrovsky’s wretched first period.
Alfredsson started the fun when he reversed the puck behind the net and dumped it to Spezza, who was waiting by the post and scored his 32nd.
Alfredsson, who scored two goals in each of the last two games, scored his 27th from the high slot. The Flyers tried to clear the puck, but Erik Karlsson intercepted the puck, and made the short side pass to Alfredsson who keep his scoring streak going.
Neil’s 13th goal of the season was a simple shot from the circle that bounced through Bobrovsky’s legs for a 3-0 lead. There was no doubt Bobrovsky should have stopped that puck and the Flyers fans erupted in boos.
Ottawa came inches from a 4-0 lead when a puck slipped behind Bobrovsky and trickled toward the goal line until a fast-moving Flyer poked it free.
This was the ninth time this season the Flyers trailed by two or more goals and came back to earn at least one point.
“I felt they were trying to hold on, they were looking to take us to overtime,” Flyers forward Danny Briere said.
The Flyers are three points behind the Penguins for fourth in the East, taking some of the shine off their matchup. The Flyers and Penguins are likely first-round opponents in the post-season.
“It’s kind of weird when you’ve got to play them (late) in the regular season and you know you’re going to play them in the playoffs,” Giroux said.
NOTES: Former Flyer Pelle Eklund was at the game. … The Senators are 3-6-1 in last 10 visits to Philadelphia. The Flyers are 5-10-3 this season in games that start before 7 p.m. local.