It wasn’t pretty, but it also could have been worse.
After being dominated for a full two periods, the visiting Flyers scrapped together a third-period goal from Danny Briere, before falling in overtime to Carlo Colaiacovo and the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, at the Scottrade Center on Saturday night.
The overtime loss, which came two days after the Flyers upset the Pittsburgh Penguins in their home opener, gives Philadelphia three out of a possible four points heading into its home opener on Monday at the Wells Fargo Center. And it all came without shut-down defenseman Chris Pronger.
Brian Boucher made the start in goal for the Flyers against former Montreal Canadiens’ netminder Jarsoslav Halak. Boucher made 23 saves and Halak finished with 29.
Forward Brad Boyes gave the Blues the 1-0 advantage in the first period on a power play deflection goal from Alex Steen. St. Louis went 1-for-9 on the man advantage.
Nik Zherdev — Despite still being scoreless after a productive preseason, Zherdev, who played 13:28, supported the defensive zone well and didn’t try to do too much — two things Zherdev needed to work on coming into this season. The Ukrainian looks to be still be finding his rhythm. But once he does, he could be a very dangerous player without being a liability.
Matt Carle — The third-year Flyer has progressed leaps-and-bounds since arriving in the 2008-09 season. Previously thought to be a product of the partnership with Chris Pronger, Carle proved himself a steady asset for Philadelphia late last season and into this year. Without Pronger, Carle played 23:20, had an assist and led the team with five blocked shots.
Danny Briere — In what appears to be a complete 180-degree turn from last season, this year, Danny Briere has looked comfortable at the center position and it’s shown on the scoreboard. A fantastic post-season has transferred into a good start to the 2010-11 campaign for the 33-year old, who has paced the Flyers with two goals in as many games.
St. Louis Crowd — A crowd of 19,150 showed up to the Scottrade Center for the Blues’ home opener and they played it like a playoff game. Loud, vicious and into the contest, it was refreshing to see and hear such a competitive and active bunch during a non-conference match up.
Referees — One of the worst parts of the otherwise glorious beginning to the hockey season is the righteous and overzealous officiating. And Saturday’s contest was a testament to that. St. Louis finished the game with NINE power plays and Philadelphia ended with four. Each team had a 5-on-3. In a contest in which both squads are high-flying, end-to-end rushing teams, the penalties slowed the game and actually limited the offense. There was very little flow and it was hard to watch.
Oskars Bartulis and Sean O’Donnell — The Flyers acquired O’Donnell as someone the team could rely out onside of Chris Pronger and Kimmo Timonen. But after a solid game against Pittsburgh, O’Donnell was a mess in St. Louis. Turning the puck over on almost every shift (only charged with two giveaways), the Blues hunted the Bartulis-O’Donnell pairing, going in hard on the forecheck and forcing the blue liners to scramble. O’Donnell played just 15 minutes, while Bartulis made it a shade over 10.
James van Riemsdyk — Flyers coach Peter Laviolette really likes JVR. The second-year forward logged more time-on-ice than any other forward on either team with 21:13. Regardless, he still didn’t register a point on four shots.
Cam Janssen Knockout — Cam Janssen proved the theory that sometimes you’re the hammer and sometimes you’re the nail. The Blues’ tough guy is usually the one making the big hits, but as he charged Flyers’ blue-liner Oskars Bartulis in the second period, he collided with linemate Brad Winchester (who was also in the process of charging Bartulis). Winchester’s elbow smashed Janssen’s face and knocked him out cold on the ice. Janssen was helped off by teammates and didn’t return. Winchester and Janssen both received charging minors … on each other.