After the Ottawa Senators staged yet another third period comeback to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-4 at Scotiabank Place Sunday night, goaltender Craig Anderson labelled it a “special team.”
Who’s to argue?
That makes it six third period rallies this season, normally two or three seasons’ worth, for a team that refuses to give up on any deficit and has cemented its hold on fifth spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Flyers appeared well on their way to a weekend sweep of the Senators – the Flyers won 3-2, in overtime, in Philadelphia Saturday – leading the Senators 4-2 after two periods.
Apparently, the Senators had the Flyers right where they wanted them.
Colin Greening started the rally, banking a shot off Flyers defenceman Matt Carle, past Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov.
Then 180-pound Senators defenceman Erik Karlsson knocked 240-pound Flyers winger Jaromir Jagr off the puck in the Senators zone. Karlsson led a 3-1 rush, beating Bryzgalov between the pads, one of the plays Flyers centre Daniel Briere was referring to when he said “physically, we got outplayed.”
With 1:11 remaining, Filip Kuba became the latest late-game scoring hero, floating a wrist shot from the blueline that cleared a crowd in front. Nick Foligno finished it off for the crowd of 20,028, scoring into an empty net with 45 seconds left.
“We’re a resilient bunch, we have a no quit attitude,” said Anderson, who made his share of fantastic stops in a game where the Senators outshot the Flyers 39-38. “We’ve got great skill, great talent, great work (ethic), great leadership. All the right qualities.”
It’s the same story so many nights, but it’s not supposed to be so easy to come from behind.
Karlsson, who now has six goals and 35 assists, was once again a star attraction, finishing with a plus minus of plus five. Playing partner Filip Kuba, who normally serves as the underrated steadying influence for Karlsson in the background, was a plus four.
Both played pivotal roles in the latest victory, but Karlsson’s game tying goal was yet another example of a player bursting with confidence.
“(Jagr) is such a great player, you’ve got to stay close to him,” said Karlsson. “I got the puck in a good position and there was nobody in front of me. So, that’s the green light to go.”
Anderson called Karlsson “gifted, one of the best in the National Hockey League.” Kuba says Karlsson is getting “better and better”. Senators coach Paul MacLean says Karlsson is definitely an “all star” because of his ability to create offence that other players can’t.
“Right now, he’s really taking his game to another level,” said MacLean. “He’s not complicating the game as much as he maybe did earlier and a lot of success has come his way.”
Daniel Alfredsson and Chris Neil also scored for the Senators. Andrei Meszaros, Marc-Andre Bourdon, Sean Couturier and Matt Read scored for the Flyers.
WHY THEY WON: They won’t give up. The Senators were down 4-2 after two periods, but apparently that’s exactly where they wanted to be. A four-goal third period was yet to come. Colin Greening, Erik Karlsson – stripping the puck from Jaromir Jagr inside the Senators blueline – Filip Kuba and Nick Foligno helped the Senators to their sixth third period comeback this season.
STUDS: Erik Karlsson and Filip Kuba: Usually, Kuba is the solid, unsung guy in the background, quietly covering up for whatever mistakes the dynamic Karlsson makes. Sunday, Kuba was the hero, scoring the game winning goal with only 1:11 remaining, a shot from the blueline that found the range past a crowd in front of Flyers goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. Karlsson was plus 5, Kuba plus 4.
DUD: Matt Carle, Flyers. Not only did Carle finish a minus 4, he was also responsible for the best deflection of the night – inadvertantly re-directing Greening’s attempted pass to Jason Spezza past Bryzgalov. The goal cued the Senators comeback from a 4-2 second period deficit.
NICE TO SEE YOU, AGAIN: A mere 16 seconds into the weekend rematch, Zenon Konopka and Zac Rinaldo dropped the gloves. We’ll give the edge to Konopka, who appears well on his way to winning the league’s penalty minutes crown again.