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Claude Giroux Celebrates His Birthday By Scoring the Game-Winner in the Shootout

The Flyers entered Thursday night’s contest against the Vancouver Canucks a measly 2-6-3 in their last ten games. After an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the Buffalo Sabres [second to last in the Atlantic Division with 41 points in 40 games so far this season] on Tuesday night, where Brayden Schenn scored the Flyers’ lone tally in garbage time on the power play to ruin Anders Nilsson’s shutout bid, the Flyers were back at the Wells Fargo Center for Thursday’s tilt.

Tuesday’s game is something the Flyers really wanted to put behind them as quickly as possible. Dave Hakstol benched Radko Gudas for Nick Schultz and also went with Steve Mason between the pipes, who has failed to register a win since Michal Neuvirth returned from injury.

With Travis Konecny on the top line with Claude Giroux and Michael Raffl, Hakstol continued to attempt to shake things up on the offensive side of the puck and try to create some offense.

The two words that Flyers fans hate most are, “the shootout,” and that is where this high-scoring game took us. 65:00 minutes of hockey was not enough to settle the score. After a lackluster performance by Mason allowing four goals on 24 shots, Neuvirth came in from the third period on.

The Flyers took a total of 12:00 minutes of penalties in the first period, 6:00 by Brandon Manning and 6:00 by Michael Del Zotto, which led to only one power play goal by the Canucks. Daniel Sedin sniped one from the top of the circle past a screened Mason to open up the scoring 9:20 into the game. The Flyers were able to kill the remainder of the penalties in the first period but there was a carry over on a five on three power play.

The Flyers were able to capitalize on their lone power play in the first period on a tap in goal by Travis Konecny. While being promoted to the top line at even strength, he is still on the second unit for the power play. Perhaps the bump up to the top line gave him some confidence and he was able to light the lamp 14:30 into the first frame.

Going into the second period, the Flyers would have a tough test having to kill 33 seconds of 5-on-3 penalty time and the rest of the Del Zotto minor before getting back to even strength.

The Flyers scored two goals in the second period to continue their prowess in the second stanza of games. Pierre-Édouard Bellemare labeled a slap shot for the top corner of the net while Sean Couturier followed him up 18 seconds later with a tap in on a fantastic feed from Jakub Voracek to go up 3-2.

However, it wasn’t enough for the Flyers to take the lead into the third period, as the Canucks tallied three goals in the second frame. Markus Granlund scored just as their power play expired extending the Canucks lead to 2-1. After the Flyers scored their two quick goals, Granlund answered with another goal of his own 22 seconds later to tie the game, 3-3. Then Brandon Sutter scored an easy goal, chipping the puck over the shoulder of Mason to extend the lead to 4-3.

At the end of the period, Canucks player Michael Chaput took a slashing penalty to give the Flyers some momentum heading into the third period. They took 1:56 of power play time into the third to try to tie the game up and swing it back in their favor.

The Flyers saw a new look in the third period as Mason was taken out in favor of Neuvirth, who dazzled for the 25:00 minutes he played in relief of Mason. Neuvirth didn’t allow a single puck past him, and that included the shootout.

And just like that Brayden Schenn scored 51 seconds into the third period on the power play on a beautiful feed by Giroux to tie the game at 4-4. The Flyers were able to carry this momentum for the rest of the game as they, and the thunderous crowd, fired up the stadium.

There were some penalties taken in the third, one by Sean Couturier and one by Nikita Tryamkin but neither team could capitalize on their power plays.

The Flyers would take the 4-4 game into an overtime after getting at least one point.

After a back and forth overtime period, with multiple grade A scoring chances for both teams the game would head to a shootout as neither team could capitalize. Then it was time for the shootout hero and birthday boy Giroux to score the lone goal of the skills competition, sniping one past Ryan Miller for the game-winner.

Moving forward Mason has not looked the same since Neuvirth came back and the Flyers have been able to get Neuvirth two wins in the games he has played. At this point, it may not be a controversy anymore, it is probably Neuvirth’s net to lose.

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