The Philadelphia Flyers lost their season finale to the Carolina Hurricanes in a shootout by a final score of 6-5. The game had no playoff implications for either team. The Flyers goals were scored by Matt Read, Kimmo Timonen, Wayne Simmonds (x2), and Sean Couturier.
Cal Heeter has been an outstanding goaltender for the Adirondack Phantoms this season. On a bad Phantoms team, Heeter was 16-25-2 with 4 shut outs, a .912 SV%, and a 2.65 GAA.
His first NHL start did not go as planned. He was beat by a Jeff Skinner laser (that would have been a tall order for any goalie to stop) on the first shot he saw only 2:07 into the game. Six minutes and twenty four seconds later Heeter allowed a soft goal to Eric Staal. Before the period ended Heeter had allowed another relatively soft goal, this time to Manny Malhotra.
In between the second and third Carolina goals, Matt Read struck off the rush. Mark Streit found Jason Akeson who used his impressive offensive instincts to find Read. Heeter made a beautiful save on a point blank Eric Staal towards the end of the period to salvage a 3-1 score going into the first intermission.
The Flyers owned the second period. After allowing an Eric Staal goal only 17 seconds into the period, Heeter settled in as his team would score three straight to send the game into the second intermission tied.
Kimmo Timonen scored with a beautiful slap shot during a Flyers power play. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek used their superb passing ability to open up a shooting lane for Kimmo. Only 10 seconds later Tye McGinn forced a turnover that led to Wayne Simmonds’ first goal of the game. With 4:28 left in the period Sean Couturier scored one of the prettiest goals of his career. Take a look.
In the third period the game went back and forth until the 13:09 mark when Scott Hartnell started a scrum in front of Carolina goalie Anton Khudobin. Hartnell received a five minute major and a game misconduct. The Flyers actually received a two minute power play out of the ordeal followed by a three minute penalty kill.
During the penalty kill the Hurricanes dumped the puck into the zone and it took a strange bounce off of the boards. Cal Heeter dove to make the ensuing save, but Jeff Skinner was there to clean up the garbage.
It looked like the Flyers would be content to skate off with 5-4 loss and no injuries. Not this fighting bunch. With under a minute to play the Flyers pulled Heeter and were pressing. In the final 10 seconds, this happened.
The overtime period went back and forth with a lot of action. Jason Akeson had one of the best chances to put the game away, but Khudobin robbed him. Ultimately, the game went into a shootout. Jason Akeson, Claude Giroux, and Sean Couturier were all stopped by Khudobin while Eric Staal capitalized for the Hurricanes to give them the victory.
-Wayne Simmonds set a career high in goals this season thanks to his two goal performance. Simmonds scored 29 goals, had 31 assists, and earned 60 points. All three numbers are career highs. What a season the Wayne Train put together.
-Sean Couturier tied his career high in goals with his 13th of the year. He set career highs in assists (26) and points (39) this season.
-Claude Giroux’s lone assist today gave him 86 points. Barring a Herculean effort from Tyler Seguin tonight, Giroux will finish 3rd in the NHL scoring race. Not bad for a guy who entered the season with a broken hand and did not score until November 9th.
-Cal Heeter is still a quality goaltending prospect, but he had a rough game. I’m not defending his play today because it was not good, but let’s not throw the towel in on him just yet.
-Jason Akeson looked good to me. In two NHL games to date he has one goal and one assist. His supposedly suspect skating has looked good in the 6-8 times that I have seen him play and his offensive instincts are fantastic. Is he ready to become a full time NHLer next year? Who knows. But I’d be willing to give him a good long look at training camp. I’ll be unpacking my thoughts on Akeson further in an upcoming blog.
-The Flyers playoff series against the Rangers will begin Thursday night at 7:00pm in Madison Square Garden.