Bill Meltzer: Pre-Thanksiving Turkey: Wings Feast on Flyers

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PRE-THANKSGIVING TURKEY: WINGS FEAST ON FLYERS, 5-2

There were no goaltending miracles on this night to mask other problems and steal a point for the Philadelphia Flyers. One night before U.S. Thanksgiving, the Flyers fell to 1-5-1 in their last seven games with an ugly 5-2 road loss to the Detroit Red Wings.

In his return to the Red Wings lineup, Pavel Datsyuk racked up two goals.

Stephen Weiss, who returned the previous game to score a pair of goal, chipped in a goal and an assist against the Flyers. Tomas Jurco and Henrik Zetterberg (empty net) also scored for Detroit.

After the game, Flyers head coach Craig Berube called out his team’s competitiveness level for the second time in a week, saying, We’ve got a couple of guys who aren’t competing hard enough, and the result was goals.”

Claude Giroux briefly tied the game at 1-1 early in the second period, collecting a Detroit turnover and scoring an unassisted goal from the top of the left circle. Jakub Voracek added a third-period power play assisted by Wayne Simmonds and Giroux.

Right now, the Flyers are not a difficult team to play against. Unless their top line or top power unit shoulders the entire burden, there is no scoring. The penalty killing — which yielded yet another goal in Wednesday’s game — is a mess. The five-on-five play remains a trouble spot as well. Under those circumstances, there is little the Flyers goaltenders can do.

Steve Mason stopped 11 of 14 shots in this game before being pulled in favor of Ray Emery at 11:47 of the second period when Jurco’s power play goal opened a 3-1 lead. The move was made in an attempt to spark the team, but had little effect.

Play was fairly even for the first 30 minutes of the game. The latter 30 minutes was owned by Detroit. Emery stopped nine of 10 shots.

Weiss’s first-period goal, which opened the scoring at 10:12, was a deflection of a side-angle shot by Darren Helm. After Giroux tied the game at 2:31 of the middle stanza, the Wings went ahead to stay at 10:18. Jurco scored a rebound goal through a very heavy screen in front of Mason. It appeared the goaltender may have brushed into in the crease by Luke Glendening but the goal stood.

Moments after Voracek went to the penalty box for holding Gustav Nyquist, the Red Wings cleanly won the ensuing left circle faceoff. Datsyuk weaved a shot home from the top of the left circle through a partial screen in front of Mason. Jakub Kindl earned the assist at 11:47. At that point, Berube pulled Mason and brought in Emery.

Datsyuk scored his second goal of the period at 18:39. This was a goal that no doubt aggravated Berube and the other Flyers’ coaches. The Flyers basically stood around as the puck rattled around in front and the Wings got to rebounds on either side of the net. Helm and Weiss got the assists as Datsyuk finally stashed the puck home.

For the record, the Flyers’ players on the ice at the time were Vincent Lecavalier, Matt Read, Michael Del Zotto and Nick Schultz.

By that point, the Flyers’ chances of victory were slim and none. Voracek briefly made things interesting at 12:25 of the third period. Giroux won the first right circle faceoff of a Flyers power play, and the team worked the puck around crisply. Simmonds, who got the puck from Giroux to left side of the goal post, feathered a cross-ice pass to Voracek in the right slot. The Czech forward chipped the puck upstairs for his eighth goal of the season.

That was as close as the Flyers got. Zetterberg scored an empty net goal at 18:38 to close out the scoring.

After the game, the Flyers said Mason was fine and the change in goal was strictly an attempt to find a spark for the team. The goalie was shaking his hand after a second period collision.

The Flyers will hold a Thanksgiving Day practice at the Skate Zone at 11 a.m. EST. The team plays a home-and-home set with the New York Rangers on Friday afternoon at the Wells Fargo Center and Saturday at Madison Square Garden.

*********** PHANTOMS COMEBACK BID FALLS SHORT IN 3-2 HOME LOSS

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms were not quite able to pull off a miraculous third-period comeback on Wednesday night at the PPL Center. Trailing 3-0 entering the third period, the Phantoms got two of the goals back and pressed hard at the end but were unable to find the equalizer in a 3-2 loss to the Springfield Falcons.

Starting Phantoms goaltender Rob Zepp sustained a lower-body injury in warmups and was unable to play. Rookie netminder Anthony Stolarz stepped in an stopped 31 of 34 shots in a losing cause. With the loss, the Phantoms fell to 8-7-2 on the season.

Steven Delisle and Taylor Leier netted third-period power play goals in the third period. Defenseman Brandon Manning extended his scoring streak to a season-high six consecutive games with an assist on the game’s final goal.

The Phantoms went 2-for-4 on the power play. Springfield was 1-for-3.

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