Motivated Giroux helps carry Flyers past Devils
motivation: noun | \ moh-tuh-vey-shun \ the general desire one has for behaving or acting in a certain way.
NEWARK, N.J. - For most players, an important divisional game less than 9 hours after your childhood dreams were shattered would require some sort of medication to keep the emotional roller coaster on the tracks.
But not for Claude Giroux. Minutes after he was notified by Steve Yzerman that he would not be a member of Team Canada, he said, "It's a good thing we have a game tonight."
His teammates, Jake Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, had a simple message for the Devils - and any team the Flyers play in the next few weeks: Watch out.
"He's not a guy to sit in the corner and cry," Voracek said. "He will go and work that much harder. That's why he is such a special player."
Giroux has been motivated all season - for the Flyers to climb in the standings attached to his back and to scrub off the dirt sullying his game after a seven-assist start in his first 15 games.
For Giroux, last night was beyond motivation. It was was a pure venting session, 5 months of pure torture taken out in the cold hell that is Newark's Prudential Center. He was on-point in a way that we haven't consistently seen since "The Shift" against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins in the opening seconds of Game 6 of the Flyers' first-round playoff series in 2012.
Nothing was going to keep Giroux and the Flyers down last night. Not goals against in the first and last minutes of regulation. Not New Jersey's near-perfect, 10-0-1 record when leading after two periods. And not even Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur.
"Any time somebody takes something away from you," Giroux said postgame, "you want to prove them wrong."
Giroux sent another message to Hockey Canada and woke up the rest of his teammates with a blast early in the third period. Scott Hartnell followed less than 5 minutes later and Brayden Schenn scored in overtime to lift the Flyers to a 3-2 win over the Devils.
"I thought Giroux played an outstanding game, the whole game, from start to finish," coach Craig Berube said. "I thought he was physical, competed, did everything possible out there. He left everything out on the ice for 60 minutes."
With the win, the Flyers finished their six-game road trip with a sparkling 5-1-0 record and climbed to a season-best fifth place in the Eastern Conference. They are ahead of both wild-card teams, Toronto and Detroit, for the first time. Last night gave the Flyers their best mark on their annual holiday road swing since the 2007-08 season.
They didn't make it easy on themselves, yet again, by squandering their 2-1 lead with 30 seconds left while on the power play. Yet, they redeemed themselves 1:50 into overtime when Nick Grossmann threaded a pass to Schenn for a tap-in.
It was Schenn's fourth goal in five games following a 16-game goal-less drought. Grossmann recorded his second multipoint game in 427 career games. Schenn sustained a skate cut to his abdomen during the second period but quickly returned to the game.
Hartnell also pushed his point streak (four goals, five assists) to a career high of eight games.
"They hung in there," Berube said. "We didn't have a great first period, but we regrouped I thought in the second. It was a good win."
It likely wouldn't have been possible without Giroux, who seemingly came to terms with a gut-wrenching day with the aid of another win.
"I've kind of accepted that I'm not going to be on the team," Giroux said. "That's fine. There's a lot of good players out there. It can't be an easy job for them to pick all those players. Right now, I'm just worried about the Flyers."
With Jaromir Jagr’s first-period assist, career point No. 1,723, he tied Mario Lemieux for seventh on the NHL’s all-time points list ... Brayden Schenn sustained a skate cut to his abdomen during the second period but quickly returned to the game ... The Flyers are now a season-high five games over .500 and have a winning record (11-10-4) on the road for the first time all year.
On Twitter: @DNFlyers