Sunday, February 14, 2016

Giroux leading Flyers' charge

Late in Thursday’s back-from-the-dead third period, Flyers center Claude Giroux was just trying to throw the puck on the net, hoping Scott Hartnell would be able to gobble up the rebound.

Giroux leading Flyers' charge

Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Paul Sancya/AP)
Flyers captain Claude Giroux. (Paul Sancya/AP)

Late in Thursday’s back-from-the-dead third period, Flyers center Claude Giroux was just trying to throw the puck on the net, hoping Scott Hartnell would be able to gobble up the rebound.

Instead, his backward shot _ fired on a backhander as he was falling down from deep inside the right circle _ went high into the net with 1 minute, 38 seconds remaining, giving the Flyers an improbable 5-4 comeback victory over dazed Columbus.

“Certain guys can do stuff like that,” Flyers coach Craig Berube said after Friday’s practice in Voorhees.

He paused.

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“I’m not one of them.”

It was Giroux’s fourth point in the period, and it came a little over two minutes after he had tied the score at 4-4 on a goal with 3:46 left.

“I was pretty tired and was just trying to get it on net,” said Giroux, whose final goal was the 100th of his career. “I knew Hartsy was in front , so I was just trying to get it on net for him.”

The Flyers faced a 3-0 deficit entering the third period. It was the first time since 1998 that they had scored five or more third-period goals and overcome a third-period deficit, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. And it was just the third time in franchise history they had won a game after trailing by three or more goals in the third period.

As for Giroux, he has overcome any lingering effects from off-season finger surgery. After not scoring a goal in his first 15 games, he is in a zone, scoring 10 points over his last five games. All told, he has 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) in 35 games.

In the last few weeks, Giroux is playing “more of a North game” and being more physical, “separating people from the puck, being hard on the puck,” Berube said. “He’s always worked hard….Sometimes you just don’t get involved enough and you’re a little bit on the outside. Right now he’s not. He’s shooting the puck. Both him and Jake (Voracek) are shooting the puck a lot. To me, that’s the key. When you shoot the puck, good things happen.”

Voracek, the right wing on Giroux’s line, has six goals over his last six games. Left winger Michael Raffl (seven points in his last six games) has also thrived since being placed on that line.

The Flyers (16-15-4) will conclude their home-and-home series with the Blue Jackets by playing in Columbus on Saturday night.

“We kind of got over that little hump and to finally get over .500, it takes some pressure off the guys and we have to try to keep going from here,” Giroux said.

Columbus (14-17-4) will be ready for the rematch.

"We blew it here tonight,” Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson said after his team coughed up the late lead.  “We’re looking forward to redeeming ourselves at home.”

Breakaways. Vinny Lecavalier (back) skated again and continued to make progress; there is a possibility he returns to the lineup Dec. 28 in Edmonton…. Goalie Ray Emery is expected to get the start Saturday; Steve Mason has started the last four games, and he has allowed four goals in four of his last six starts…..Raffl had a maintenance day and did not practice…Brandon Burwell, 24, a former Marine who says he was fired by a Center City Wawa because he didn’t adhere to the company’s policy and attacked a would-be robber, met with several Flyers in the locker room, including his favorite player, Wayne Simmonds.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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