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December 15, 2015

Flyers 4, Hurricanes 3: Ghost wins it in OT… again

Dave Hakstol wouldn’t sugarcoat it after the game: Shayne Gostisbehere didn’t submit his best effort Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Throughout the game, there were times that Ghost looked like very much like, well, a rookie. 

But when the game moved to the open-ice free-for-all that is 3-on-3 overtime, there Ghost was again, taking a nifty feed from Jake Voracek on a breakaway. The rook confidently lifted the puck over Eddie Lack, under the crossbar, and into the net for a 4-3 Flyers victory:

Three games against Carolina this season, three overtime wins, and two game-winners for Gostisbehere. He has three overtime goals total in only 15 games played, and on this one, a lot of credit should be given to the guy who set him up.

“He’s one of the best in the NHL for a reason,” Gostisbehere said. “I’m going to go back post every time Jake and I have a two-on-one.”

While Ghost had the capper, Voracek was the story of the night. Debuting in a new spot (left wing) on a new line (second, with Wayne Simmonds and Sean Couturier), he broke his goal drought with a nice deflection of a bouncing puck in the second period. Later on, Voracek added a couple of assists for a three-point night.

Hakstol was pleased with the way that the powerful trio was able to possess the puck. Those are three big dudes, after all. Voracek, who led the Flyers with a +9 Corsi differential at even strength, wasn’t pretending to be on cloud nine after the game. He even went out of his way to highlight a couple of good chances late in the third period that he didn’t take advantage of.

To Voracek, still with only two goals in 31 games, that weight isn’t getting lifted off his shoulders anytime soon.

“To be honest, unless I have ten goals, I don’t think you guys are going to stop [pointing out his lack of scoring],” Voracek said.

In front of a sparsely populated Wells Fargo Center, the Flyers came out and generally went through the motions in a first period that was about as interesting as one of Tony Soprano’s dreams. Both teams played fairly conservatively in the neutral zone, and outside of Jeff Skinner’s early goal, there weren’t any fireworks to speak of.

That changed in a big way. After a sleepy first 20 minutes, the second period felt like the game drank a couple of Red Bulls at intermission. Don’t you dare commit a reckless interference penalty in the general area of Simmonds, Brad Malone:

Simmonds, who got ten, five, and two-minute penalties (misconduct, fighting, and instigator) on the play, didn’t think he earned the instigator call. With Claude Giroux in the area after Malone’s hit on Michael Raffl, though, Simmonds didn’t want the captain to have any part of a fight.

“That’s my job, right?” he asked.

It wasn’t just fight night in the second, either. Voracek’s goal in the opening minute was just the first of three in the period for the Orange and Black, the other two coming on odd man rushes from Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier.

Since Coots’ goal bounced in off a skate (still counts!), here is Schenn picking out the top corner from the slot:

Of course, the game was tied at the end of regulation for a reason, and that reason is named Jeff Skinner. The Hurricanes’ 23-year-old winger is officially en fuego after notching his second hat trick in three games. On separate goals, he made Gostisbehere (covering for a poor Brandon Manning pinch) and Evgeny Medvedev look not so hot on the right side of the ice.

Skinner’s other goal was a greasy effort that came on the power play, an unfortunate result on a night where the Flyers penalty kill was again sharp.

Of course, Ghost had the last laugh after having a tough night.

“You have a positive outcome, and now you can go back to work tomorrow and address some of the holes,” Hakstol said.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann