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December 21, 2015

Flyers 4, Blues 3: Three-goal comeback is best win of season

What a way to head into the holiday break.

Evgeny Medvedev corralled a beautiful backhand pass from Ryan White and beat Jake Allen at 16:43 in the third period, giving the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish against the St. Louis Blues. After the Orange and Black fought all the way back from a 3-0 hole in the second period, you bet the Russian defenseman’s goal had the Wells Fargo Center Flyer’d up. 

“It was extremely emotional,” Medvedev said through a translator after the game. “I was extremely happy. I made a lot of mistakes before but I’m more happy for a win and for the team in general.”

The Flyers faced a 2-0 deficit after 20 minutes, and it was apparent that neither the team nor home crowd was particularly pleased with the officiating. Brayden Schenn was arguably held on the first goal and Jake Voracek later surprisingly took the only penalty after an eventful scrum between the two teams. The Blues scored on the ensuing power play.

Even if they were receiving an unfavorable whistle, the truth was that the Flyers didn’t react very well. A Claude Giroux turnover and poor defensive zone play set up the Blues’ first goal and the penalty kill didn’t do its job on the second.

During the first intermission, the players stressed trying to stay calm in the locker room. The coach had a word on the subject, as well.

“I think we didn’t [keep our composure] in the first, that’s why we were all over the place,” Jake Voracek said. “Sometimes it happens. We came to the locker room and had a talk about it. We got to focus on ourselves and we can’t change what happened in the first.”

Even after things were straightened out in the dressing room, it looked like it was just going to be one of those nights for the Orange and Black. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s stumble in the second allowed Magnus Paajarvi to skate in all alone on Steve Mason and give the Blues a 3-0 lead.

As Dave Hakstol said after the game, those types of goals can be the nail in the coffin. But on this night, that clearly wasn’t the case. After Claude Giroux took a quick penalty right after the Blues’ third goal, Bellemare made the key steal in the neutral zone and did most of the heavy lifting on Chris VandeVelde’s shorthanded goal.

“From there we never looked back and outplayed them,” VandeVelde said.

That they did. The next two goals appear the exact same in the box score: Shayne Gostisbehere to Voracek to Wayne Simmonds for the goal. One came on a beautiful 2-on-1 breakaway, the other after solid work on the power play. The Flyers had completely turned the tables on a good Blues team, and the game was deservedly all tied up less than a minute into the third period. 

Simmonds got both goals, but the more important story from here continues to be Voracek. He still missed a couple of golden chances, but Voracek now has seven points in four games since joining forces with Simmonds and Sean Couturier on the second line.

“Yeah, we are playing well,” Voracek said. “Again, we played against [Vladimir] Tarasenko most of the night and it’s a dangerous line. I think he got a couple of scoring chances but I think we played him pretty well.”

Not only is the second line playing well, but so is the whole team. 8-2-2 in their last 12 games, they now move into a tie with New Jersey for fourth place in the Metropolitan Division.

Off until the Ice Capades trip kicks off Sunday in Anaheim, the Flyers can feel pretty good about what they have done over the last month. They especially can feel pretty good about what they did against one of the Western Conference’s better teams on Monday night.

“It just goes to show that when you put the effort in, guys are competing hard,” Mason said. “That’s what type of team we can be. That’s not an easy team do what we just did against them.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann