Joe Lozito, honored by the Flyers on Thursday night, called it an "indescribable" moment.
The Northeast Philadelphia resident received a rousing ovation as he was introduced to the sellout crowd during the Flyers' 4-3 OT win over the Islanders at the Wells Fargo Center.
Lozito was attacked by a serial killer on a New York City subway Feb. 12 on his way to work, according to the Flyers. After being stabbed six times in the head and arm, Lozito was able to subdue the attacker until police arrived.
“I had no idea what to expect tonight," he said. "To have 19,000 plus fans cheering for me was incredible. It was really indescribable."
He said the Flyers were "an easy team to cheer for because they play the right way.”
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The Flyers became the first NHL team to hit 40 wins this season. They reached 40 victories in their 61st game, third-fastest in franchise history.
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A year ago, the Flyers didn't qualify for the playoffs until the last game of the regular season.
"There was a desperation that was built into every game,” coach Peter Laviolette said after the Flyers blew a late 3-1 lead before surviving. “I miss that a little bit. This year, we’re sitting in a place where it looks like we’re gonna make the playoffs and, hopefully, continue to win. So there’s no comparison between the two years.”
Asked how he plans to instill desperation in this year's team, which sits atop the East, Laviolette was blunt.
"I’m not sure how to do that,” he said. "It’s about a professionalism we have to have. Continue to work in practice and push in games. And strive to be the best we can be.”
It's also about trying to secure the home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Flyers are one-point behind Vancouver for the overall lead.
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Claude Giroux was the game's best player, collecting a pair of dazzling assists and creating scoring chances throughout the night.
“He makes it pretty easy out there,” said winger James van Riemsdyk, who scored after Giroux's backhand feed. “He has great vision, and all I have to do is fine the open areas out there.”
Giroux “is playing with a lot of confidence now. He’s competing shift after shift at a very high level,” said Laviolette, who in the second period reunited the Danny Briere line, with Scott Hartnell and Leino, and put van Riemsdyk with Giroux and Carter. “He seems to be getting stronger as we’re getting later in the year.”
JVR's goal, with 2:29 left in the second period, gave the Flyers a 2-1 lead. It was van Riemsdyk’s 15th goal, matching his total for his entire rookie season.
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The Flyers have won 12 straight over the Islanders in Philly _ and 19 of their last 20 overall against the Isles.....Andrej Meszaros scored his second OT goal of the season.
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For constant Flyers updates, follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter at www.twitter.com/BroadStBull.
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