Carcillo's return lifts Flyers past Red Wings, 4-3

Flyers4.jpgAfter being suspended two games for an “unintentional” high stick, it was decided that perhaps Dan Carcillo would be a snappy choice to start the game. It paid off instantly, and set the tone for the rest of a very, very big win for the Philadelphia Flyers.

Carcillo scored just 17 seconds into the first period when his wrist shot from the left circle found it’s way through Chris Osgood’s glove. It was a fitting start for Carcillo, who has become the emotional leader of a team on the brink of falling out of the playoffs and the atmosphere at Wachovia after he scored was electric.

“I wouldn’t say I gave anything extra today,” Carcillo said after the game. “We just went out and I played my game.”

Be careful to lay this win solely on Carcillo’s emotional spark. He played just 8:24 and finished with one shot, one goal and one hit, well below what we’re used to seeing from him this season. Yet despite the workmanlike team win, there’s no doubt that Carcillo’s presence boosted a team that needed some sort of spark.

And is there no greater fit for Carcillo than here in Philadelphia? He’s become an instant fan favorite with his physical style and his emotional approach to the game, and the Flyers fans have embraced a player that embodies the Philadelphia way of playing.

The Flyers live to fight another day, as they stave off a late-season collapse for one more game. They were able to take advantage of a tired, sluggish Red Wings team that was starting Chris Osgood in net — who challenged Boucher in a contest for “who can allow the most soft goals in a game”.

The Flyers will head to Toronto before taking on the New York Rangers in back to back games to close out the regular season, in a series that will decide the fate of both teams. Philadelphia was able to get two points out of a Detroit team that entered the weekend as the hottest in the NHL.

The Flyers locker room was far from celebratory after the win. The players were solemn as they talked about the victory, as they know their fate was delayed until the next game, when they’ll have to win the next Biggest Game Of The Season.

For now, Carcillo’s toothless grin while talking about a third period scrum with Tomas Holmstrom will be as much cheering as the team can afford.

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    Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

    Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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    DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

    Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

    Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

    Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

    Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

    Fleury had 21 saves.

    The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

    Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

    The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

    Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

    The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

    Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

    NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

    Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

    Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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    ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

    Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

    McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

    Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

    Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

    Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

    Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

    NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.