PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 07: Matt Read #24 of the Philadelphia Flyers takes the puck in front of goalie Craig Anderson #41 of the Ottawa Senators at Wells Fargo Center on January 7, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
The Ottawa Senators probably surprised the Philadelphia Flyers with their energy and resiliency on Saturday afternoon, but in the end the Flyers came out with the win thanks to two players in particular: Daniel Brière and Ilya Bryzgalov.
Brière put the Flyers up mid-way through the first period after Jakub Voracek (who also had a very strong game) brought the puck into the zone and sent it to Brière, who took a shot and then pounced on his own rebound and put it past Craig Anderson. Philly outshot the Sens 13-9 in the opening frame, but Ottawa was down by just the one.
The Sens started the second period strongly, with a couple of great scoring chances (including a great one for Zenon Konopka) that were stymied by Bryzgalov. It took a 5-on-3 advantage for the Sens' offence to put something on the board when Milan Michalek scored a rebound goal with Braydon Coburn and Matt Carle in the penalty box.
Ottawa went ahead early in the third period when Bobby Butler picked up an Erik Karlsson rebound, delayed... delayed... delayed... and tucked the puck in behind Bryzgalov. But after five consecutive Senators penalties, Brière sneaked out into the front of the net, beat Chris Phillips to the puck, and sent the game to overtime--when Brière, with just seconds left in extra time, cut in front of the net and hacked away at the puck until it got past Anderson.
Sens Killer: Daniel Brière
Whatever Brière did to prepare for Saturday's game should be something he does regularly. The Gatineau native scored a hat trick to provide all the offence Philadelphia needed, and even had a fight with Kyle Turris in the second period. He did Ottawa in on Saturday.
Sens Killer: Ilya Bryzgalov
Breezer's had struggles this season, but he stonewalled the Senators pretty cleanly on Saturday. He stopped 35 of 37 shots faced, and was especially important when the Sens brought the play to the Flyers to start the second period. Ottawa was down by one at the time, but could easily have erased that deficit had Bryzgalov not been playing so strongly.
Sens Heroes: Erik Karlsson and Filip Kuba
This pairing really seems to be working these days. Their success wasn't dependent upon one another, but these guys build off one another and are playing against the best players of the opposition. Karlsson had two assists in the game, both resulting from plays he set up. Kuba played 30:20 in the game (crazy), including 7:42 while short-handed (crazier), and wasn't on the ice for any of the Flyers goals but notched an assist on one of Ottawa's. For those who subscribe to advanced statistical analysis, Kuba's Fenwick score in the game was +9 overall, which is pretty outstanding.
Sens Hero: Bobby Butler
After reading the grade he received in my mid-term report card, Butler came out and delivered on Saturday afternoon. He played just 7:53 in the game, but demonstrated his terrific scoring touch with Ottawa's second goal (that delay made the goal happen), and had four shots on net. He played in overtime, too, and looks like he's earning a bit more of MacLean's trust. Expect to see Buttsy up on the top line at some point during the next couple of games.
Sens zero: Chris Phillips
Phillips didn't look great in his first game back from injury, despite playing only 14:45 in the game. His Fenwick was a brutal -6, he finished -1 in the game, and was on for both of Philly's final two goals--the game-tying goal and the eventual game winner. His slowness was really exposed in matchups against Brière, a dodgy forward who made Phillips look like he was standing still (especially on Brière's second goal).