Flyers overcome penalties; cancer-video controversy

 For the Flyers, their home opener Wednesday was a game of survival.

They held off a furious Vancouver rally and scored a draining 5-4 win at the sold-out Wells Fargo Center.

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov and defenseman Andrej Meszaros celebrate the Flyers' win in the team's home opener on Wednesday night. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)

The new-look Flyers are 3-0 for just the 11th time in franchise history.

Though happy to knock off the talented Canucks, coach Peter Laviolette knows his team needs to be more disciplined. The Flyers gave Vancouver five third-period power plays.

The Flyers stopped the last four, with Max Talbot and rookie Sean Couturier keying the penalty kill.

“It’s always easier when you win a game to go back and look at it and make corrections,” Laviolette said. “There’s still things we can do better, but certainly we don’t want to go _ or need to go _ to the box that much.”

Coutuirer played 7:28 of his 17:45 on the penalty kill, while Talbot played 9:02 of his 16:12 on the PK.

The Flyers have beaten the Stanley Cup finalists _ Boston and Vancouver _ and New Jersey.

“It’s a good start, but because we’re a young team, we’re going to have moments where we get a little lax and get away from what works,” said defenseman Chris Pronger, who had a goal and an assist. “We need to continue to work on the consistency part of our game _ and make sure night in and night out it’s wave after wave.  Get on the forecheck and skate, use the young bodies we’ve got up front to skate teams into the ground.

"We did a great job of that in New Jersey,” said Pronger, referring to Saturday’s defensive-minded 3-0 win, “and tonight we let off the gas a little bit.”

The Flyers blew leads of 3-1 and 4-2, but regrouped and won it on Andrej Meszaros’ goal with 15:20 left, which snapped a 4-4 tie.

One of the Flyers’ five third-period penalties was called against James van Riemsdyk for apparently arguing with the official. He was given two minutes for unsportsmanlike conduct.

"There was a little bit of a misunderstanding. I shouldn’t have put myself in that kind of situation,” van Riemsdyk said. “It was stupid. I am glad we were able to win the game because that was a dumb, dumb penalty and that will come back to haunt you later in the year. I am going to keep my mouth shut from here on out.”

Van Riemsdyk said his comments to the referee were “misinterpreted. He thought I was talking to him and that wasn’t what I was doing.”

While JVR was in the penalty box, Vancouver’s Daniel Sedin scored to briefly tie the score at 4-4.

Sixty-one seconds later, Meszaros scored what proved to be the game-winner. It was the third time the Flyers had scored less than two minutes after a Vancouver goal.

The Flyers blocked 27 shots, including seven by Kimmo Timonen, five by Talbot and four by Claude Giroux (three points).

“Well, at the end of the day we won the game, but one of the biggest things we can take out of it is we learned a lot from it,” Pronger said. “We kind of gave them some momentum in the second period, when we should have been putting the foot on their throat.”

Breakaways. Rookie Matt Read was used on the PP and PK, and contributed an assist, four hits and two blocked shots….Vancouver outshot the Flyers, 40-27, and held a 31-13 advantage in the last two periods….Pronger on Vancouver’s potent power play:  “It’s scary good. They’ve all been together, some of them since birth.” He was referring, of course, to the Sedin twins, Daniel and Henrik…..Danny Briere, Braydon Coburn and Jakub Voracek were each plus-2.

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During an intermision, a cancer-fighting video was shown and many fans booed when Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, Chicago's Jonathan Toews and Buffalo's Ryan Miller were on the scoreboard in the Hockey Fights Cancer campaign. Most of the boos were directed at Crosby.

Some tweeters called it disgraceful.

"Booing an anti-cancer video should replace booing Santa Claus as the go-to explanation of Philadelphia fans," tweeted @jessespector, who covers hockey for the Sporting News.

News flash: The booing wasn't directed at the cancer video. Duh.

It'll be sad if the national media tries to give Philadelphia fans a black eye because some tweeters/writers misinterpreted the events.


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Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.


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