James van Riemsdyk scored his second goal of the game with 32.8 seconds remaining in regulation to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday night at the Wells Fargo Center. Filling in on the top line with in place of the injured Jaromir Jagr, the 22-year-old came through with a huge effort.
"I think when you play with two guys like that (Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell), we meshed out there and we really had instant chemistry," said van Riemsdyk, who now has 11 goals on the year. He became the eighth Flyer to hit the double-digit mark in goals scored.
With Patrick Kane sitting in the penalty box for high sticking, Hartnell hit van Riemsdyk with a perfect pass in the slot, and his one-timer beat Ray Emery for the game-winning goal. It was Philadelphia's first successful attempt with the man advantage, their fourth of the night, while Chicago did not receive a power play in the contest.
Struggling for a good portion of the season, van Riemsdyk had managed just one point (goal) in his previous eight games.
"Some bounces haven't necessarily gone my way most of the year, but it feels good to contribute and help the team win," he said.
After Andrew Shaw scored his first NHL goal in the second period to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead, the Flyers got goals from Hartnell, Harry Zolnierczyk, and van Riemsdyk to take a 5-3 lead into the third period.
As has been the case for the Flyers much of the year while playing at home, they would have to pull out the victory the hard way. Still holding the two-goal lead with less than six minutes left, Chicago got goals from Brent Seabrook and Kane within a 25 second span to tie the game, setting up van Riemsdyk's last minute heroics.
"We were up two goals in the third and that should never be a chance for them to get back in the game, but we let them back in," said van Riemsdyk. "Fortunately enough, we were able to win it."
In Monday's Winter Classic, the Flyers blew a game in which they led heading into the third period for the first time all season against the New York Rangers, dropping a 3-2 decision after leading 2-1 after two. After boasting an 18-0-1 record in that situation prior to this week, a second consecutive loss would have been devastating.
Peter Laviolette said it was one of his young leaders who wouldn't allow his team to fall again in such a terrible way.
"Actually the person I heard the most on the bench moving up and down outside was Giroux saying it's not going to happen again," the head coach pointed out. "It’s good when you hear your young players jumping in like that and taking charge."
Despite giving up five goals and taking the loss, Emery played well. He stopped 41 of 46 shots on goal, including 18 of 21 in the second frame alone.
Flyers' goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov, who sat out the last two games in favor of backup Sergei Bobrovsky because of poor play, stopped 30 of 34 Blackhawks offerings in snapping a personal four-game losing streak (0-3-1).
The elation of the win did not come with a price, however, as Philadelphia lost defenseman Kimmo Timonen early on with an upper body injury and did not return. The extent of Timonen's injury is not yet known, but any loss for an extended period would be catastrophic for a club that has already lost their captain and defensive anchor, Chris Pronger, from the blueline for the remainder of the season.