BITTER BIRDS
The Flyers Extend Winning Streak to 7
By Adele Tippett The Flyers hoped to extend their six-game winning streak to seven, playing against the No. 1 standing team in the Pacific Division, the Edmonton Oilers. Back from a bad case of the flu, Radko Gudas made his appearance in the line-up in favor of Michael Del Zotto, a now healthy scratch. The first period was dominated by the Oilers; suffocating the Flyers in the offensive zone and shutting down plays in the defensive one. Steve Mason, coming off a 42-save performance against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night, made a huge save against a one-on-one with Jordan Eberle, keeping the Flyers in the game. Sloppy puck handling in the neutral zone by the Flyers, allowed Leon Draisaitl to effortlessly slip through Brayden Schenn and Mark Streit and score, putting the Oilers up one with about 15 minutes left to go in the first. A hooking penalty against Jesse Puljujarvi sent the Flyers to their first power play of the game. A laid back approach to the second ranked power play, proved to be successful as the Oilers killed off the penalty. Jonas Gustavsson, the Oilers goaltender, made some impactful saves, keeping the Flyers scoreless. Puljujarvi, now with a holding penalty, sent the Flyers to their second power play of the game with a little over two minutes to go in the first. Strong saves by Gustavsson and a few off the post shots brought the first period to a close with the Oilers still up by one. A slashing penalty against Andrew MacDonald gave the Oilers their first power play of the game early on in the second period. Connor McDavid fired one by Mason, putting the Oilers up by two. The Flyers continued a sloppy second period with another offside call, adding to the strong defensive powerhouse by the Oilers. Wayne Simmonds nailed one, but Gustavsson came up big yet again. A stroke of luck for the Flyers, a penalty called against Matt Hendricks for holding sent them to their third power play of the game. The first unit, unable to find their footing, is lax with the puck and allowed the Oilers to send it out of the zone. The second unit, not much better, is held off until the end of the power play. Still in formation, a smart pass from Ivan Provorov to Streit, who sunk a top corner goal, brought the score within one. A newfound fire beneath them, Pierre Edouard Bellemare scored a similar goal to Streit a few seconds after. Oilers gained control, but a messy turnover led to a great pass from Jake Voracek to Captain Claude Giroux and within 1:12, Giroux pushed the Flyers to a 3-2 lead. A fight between the two teams broke out and Simmonds received a roughing penalty. With the Flyers on the penalty kill, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins received a slashing penalty against Brandon Manning, making it a 4-on-4 hockey game. The Simmonds penalty timed out, but Andrej Sekera snuck past the defense and scored a shorthanded goal, tying the game 3-3. The Flyers cooling off after their quick catch-up, Provorov is called for hooking, and the Oilers are back on the power play. The game clock runs out and the game is tied with 18 shots on goal and a score of 3-3. Beginning the 3rd period on the power play, the Oilers push but were unsuccessful in gaining the lead. Mason is tested early with a solid save against Nugent-Hopkins. Good stick handling and a nice pass from Draisaitl to Benoit Pouliot who nailed it past Mason. Cousins with a slashing penalty gets the Oilers yet another power play. With a screen in front of Mason, the puck tips off of his glove and the Oilers are up by two. Giroux was on the receiving end of a nasty cross check that went unnoticed by the refs but a makeup call against Kris Russell sent the Flyers on their fifth power play of the game. The power play percentage at this point in the game is at 20 percent for the Flyers and 50 for the Oilers. Sloppy stick handling sent the puck back and forth between zones. Provorov, proving time and time again that he is a force to be reckoned with, gains momentum on McDavid but is taken down in what turned out to be a correct no-call. Keeping up the pressure, the Flyers send the puck to Giroux who whistled it past Gustavsson and the Flyers tie it 5-5 with under 8 minutes left in the period. The Oilers aggressively push through the zone but a clear from Vandevelde allows the Flyers a much needed change. Lucky for the Flyers, mishandled pucks in front of Mason allow for easy saves and a good chance to gain possession leading to Gustavsson seeing a lot of action. With 1:29 left in the third period, Michael Raffl comes up big with a stutter step move and the Flyers are in the lead 6-5. Raffl, despite being quiet at times, is definitely a presence felt in front of the net. With a minute remaining and an empty net for the Oilers, Mason made it difficult to get past and Bellemare sent the puck down the ice where the game clock ran out. Coming from behind, the Flyers pushed for a seven-game win streak. Mason seeing 31 shots is a huge part of that success despite a shaky start to the game. The Flyers face the Dallas Stars on Saturday and hope to continue this level of impressive play.