PHILADELPHIA – Let’s see a Hollywood script writer top that one.
With Flyers coach John Tortorella poised to win his 700th NHL game, all the elements for a motion picture drama were in place on Thursday night.
Fired-up home crowd, Central Division co-leader Minnesota on the other bench and the Flyers continuing to show signs of life on this homestand.
So when James van Riemsdyk scored in a shootout to send the Flyers to a 5-4 victory at the Wells Fargo Center, it offered a pretty emotional moment or two.
The Flyers ran their record to 3-1-1 on their seven-game homestand.
It looked like the Wild were going to win this one when Matt Boldy scored his second goal with 6:28 to play for a 4-3 Minnesota lead. But Tyson Foerster countered with 4:44 to play to create another deadlock.
Tortorella becomes the 12th coach in NHL history to reach the 700 milestone. Also, he’s just the second American-born coach (behind only Peter Laviolette) to achieve that total.
Obviously, Tortorella doesn’t make a big deal of these historic moments.
When asked if 700 means anything special to him, he simply replied, “No.”
Well, at least the players were willing to give some kudos to a coach who’s been pretty much successful wherever he goes since the start of the century.
Both Scott Laughton and Joel Farabee acknowledged that while Tortorella has been a bit of a drill sargeant at times, he’s started a change in the culture in these parts.
“I think when you’re in a losing season and things can go south, he’s held guys accountable,” Laughton said. “Seven hundred wins is a pretty special moment. That’s a lot of hockey games, a lot of time at the rink. I’m happy for him and it’s pretty cool.”
Farabee said: “I think the culture’s kind of changed around here. You realize how hard it is to get to the NHL and stay here. I think he’s done a really good job of keeping the group together. When guys are playing for each other, I feel like they’re going to have a lot of success.”
The Flyers had to rally from 3-2 and 4-3 deficits to pull this one out.
The shootout win put the Flyers’ record at 2-1 for the tiebreaker this season.
Rasmus Ristolainen’s goal with 22.5 seconds left in the second period pulled the Flyers even at 3-3. With Philadelphia on the power play, the defenseman used a van Riemsdyk screen to get the puck past goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Minnesota rallied from a 2-1 deficit to take a 3-2 lead toward the end of the period.
Boldy connected for his first goal at 15:41 for the tie. The Wild forced the action low off the rush and no one picked up the trailer on the play. Boldy sent a rising shot past Carter Hart’s glove.
Minnesota’s second goal came 18:16. Hart was a split-second late to slide over as Marcus Foligno’s shot from the right faceoff dot beat the goalie short side.
Farabee scored a goal for a fourth straight game to give the Flyers their 2-1 lead. Farabee tipped Cam York’s point shot into the net at 7:46.
This hot streak comes after a 26-game drought. Without question, Farabee is pressing harder to the net and succeeding from close range.
“I’m feeling good about my game,” he said. “Hopefully I can just keep this going. It’s a confidence league – when you’re playing with confidence, you start to feel good.”
Both teams scored in the first. The Flyers took a 1-0 lead at 12:58. Laughton connected off the rush via a pass from Travis Sanheim. It was the 100th career assist of Sanheim’s NHL career.
“The play starts below our net, I get the puck, I use my legs, which is something I want to do as often as I can,” Sanheim said. “I saw a little of ice, a chance to join. ‘Laughts’ buried it.”
Sanheim’s offense has picked up the secon half of the season.
“When you’re feeling it, you can tell in my game, it’s pretty easy when I have the confidence,” he said. “With me skating and joining, and making plays, it’s something that I try to put in my game as much as I can. Obviously it wasn’t there the full year. You want to try to be as consistent as you can.
The Wild countered at 16:35. Oskar Sundqvist tipped in a shot off the stick of Jake Middleton.
Even with the dismissal of the 700 achievement, Tortorella sounded satisfied with his team’s performance.
“Pucks are going in for us,” he said. “We had a couple good screens tonight. The kid (Foerster) buries one there to tie the game. Nothing special going on, we’re just finding a way to score some goals.”
Actually, a lot of goals. That’s 23 goals in the past five games.
At least enough to please a 700-win coach.
>Foerster stays hot
The numbers are pretty symmetrical: Seven games, seven points. Foerster’s goal was another clutch shot and he’s playing with a ton of confidence.
“I’m not surprised at all,” Farabee said. “You knew he had a good shot. I think his skating has come a really long way. He was one of our best players tonight. Really happy for him.”
Added Sanheim: “He’s off to a good start, that’s for sure. He’s got a great shot but it’s just his poise with the puck and making plays. For a young guy to come up and do that right away his pretty impressive.”
Nicolas Deslauriers was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. He will be re-evaluated on Friday. It was the first game Deslauriers has missed this season. The only remaining players to have dressed for all 71 games are Noah Cates, Ivan Provorov and Farabee. . .The Flyers return to action on Saturday at 1 p.m. against the Detroit Red Wings.