Tied 2-2 after three periods, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Calgary Flames headed into overtime. Flames defenseman Mark Giordano was whistled for holding onto Ville Leino’s stick, putting the Flyers on the powerplay. Chris Pronger planted himself just outside Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff’s crease as the team cycled the puck back and forth. Finally, captain Mike Richards roofed one past Kiprusoff, still screened by Pronger. The Flyers won 3-2.
Then the goal was waived off for “unsportmanslike conduct.”
For a second, maybe two, Pronger held up his left hand. It’s hard to say if he was trying to further screen Kiprusoff or direct the powerplay, but regardless, there was nothing illegal with his gesture (hence the generic call). Seconds later, Kiprusoff slashed Pronger in an attempt to get him out of the way, at which point Richards struck. It was very reminiscent of the lone goal the Flyers scored in the Winter Classic, when Scott Hartnell screened goaltender Tim Thomas, who then shoved him out of the way and allowed for defenseman Danny Syvret to notch his first goal of his career.
It was easily one of the worst calls in the NHL this season, perhaps only second to the non-call on Colton Orr’s goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs, where Orr bum-rushed Florida Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen into the net, winning the game. That blown non-call angered Panthers general manager Dale Tallon enough to propose a “Coach’s Challenge” to the other general managers. The proposal was defeated fairly unanimously, but you have to wonder how things would have ended if it were implemented.
Earlier in the game, Nikolay Zherdev started the scoring with a highlight reel goal, dipsy-dooing past Flame forward Niklas Hagman and launching one past Kiprusoff. Flames winger Curtis Glencross tied the game while shorthanded, corralling a bouncing puck past Richards at the point and beating Bobrovsky on the breakway.
Minutes later, Andreas Nodl got the puck to Richards while on the forecheck. Richards fed the puck to James Van Riemsdyk who wristed it home, netting his third goal in as many games. The Flames tied it up in the third period with a bang-bang-bang play from Steve Saios, Alex Tanguay, and Jarome Iginla that would be tough for any team to break up.
Claude Giroux scored in the shootout for Philadelphia, but that was it. The Flyers gained a point in an overtime loss that should have been a win.
As easy as it is to blame the loss on the referees, the Flyers were given ample opportunities on the powerplay to turn the ship around. As much as the penalty kill has been a success story, the powerplay has once again disappeared, going 0 for 6 on the night and 1 for 32 in the last six games. Not only that, but Richards’ flub at the blue-line resulted in one of the two Flames goals.
Laviolette needs to shake this unit up for the second time this season. I’m not sure what the answer is, but what they have simply isn’t working. The Flyers have three days off after their contest against New Jersey tomorrow, and I expect this to be a high-priority item to address in practice.