The Flyers played their last game of 2008 on Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators. After two days off for the Christmas holiday, they began their six-game road trip with visits to Chicago and Columbus.
Marty Biron got another night of rest recovering from the flu, which gave Antero Niittymaki another start against the Senators. The high-scoring affair started early when Ottawa grabbed a 1-0 lead five minutes in. The lead lasted all of 93 seconds as Matt Carle scored his second goal as a Flyer. Randy Jones picked up his first point recording an assist on Joffrey Lupul’s 13th goal late in the first period.
Ottawa tied the game with another early goal in the second period. But they were not to be outdone by Jeff Carter, who scored his league-leading 26th on the power play. After being sent down to the Phantoms on Christmas Eve, Andres Nodl was back in the lineup and finally recorded his first NHL goal on a tip-in from a Kimmo Timonen shot.
The Flyers looked to be in control with a 4-2 lead heading into the third period, but the Senators had something to say about that. They were able to tie the game with two goals midway through the final period in a span of about three minutes.
Somehow with all the momentum on Ottawa’s side, Simon Gagne was able to score the eventual game-winner late in the third for his 18th of the season. Mike Richards sealed the win with an empty-netter for the 6-4 win.
The Flyers began their season long six-game road trip Friday in Chicago and it was the first of two lackluster efforts. Without much practice, Biron was back between the pipes and it showed. The team had to travel the day of, thanks to a league rule that does not allow teams to travel on Christmas.
Chicago was looking for their eighth straight win and wasted no time scoring two goals in the first three minutes of the game. Former Flyer Patrick Sharp scored one of them. Richards was able to put home a rebound later in the period that helped the Flyers stay in the game.
The Flyers were able to stay with the Blackhawks as the two teams played to a scoreless second period. Some early power plays propelled Chicago to a 5-1 win as they scored three goals in about the first five minutes of the third period. The offense was non-existent all night as the Flyers were only able to get 18 shots on net including just one in the second period.
Bad weather forced the team to stay in Chicago on Friday night and travel on Saturday to Columbus for a game that day. Traveling on the day of the game matched with no morning skate hurt the Flyers again.
The Flyers fell into a familiar trap as they gave up another early goal in the first period. Former Flyer RJ Umberger assisted on a late first period goal that gave the Blue Jackets a 2-0 lead. Columbus scored their final goal in the third for a 3-0 victory over Biron.
Timonen and Carle both missed the game after suffering injuries in Chicago. Scott Hartnell played despite breaking his big toe in Chicago. Rookie Claude Giroux played both games after getting called up from the Phantoms. He is near the top of the AHL in scoring, and has a taste of NHL experience after playing in two games last season as an emergency call-up. Nodl was sent back down to the Phantoms.
The Flyers will continue their trip with visits to Vancouver, Anaheim and Los Angeles this week.
You can contact Colin Fry at email@example.com.