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As they have so many times this season, the Philadelphia Flyers came from behind to beat the Buffalo Sabres 2-1 at Wells Fargo Center. Tonight’s win ties this Flyers squad for the most wins in a season since 1985. With the Penguins win in New York tonight, the Flyers are now locked in as a #5 seed in the NHL playoffs and will face those Penguins in round one.
Back to tonight’s game… Buffalo struck first when former Flyer Ville Leino scored just his 8th goal of the season to make 1-0. They would hold that lead until the third period when Marc-Andre Bourdon would net his 4th of the season to even the score at 1. Claude Giroux added his 65th assist of the season -- second only to Vancouver Canucks setup specialist Henrik Sedin -- with a secondary helper on that goal.
With under five minutes left the game winner would come from rookie Matt Read, who beat Ryan Miller on his second breakaway attempt of the game. The first time around, Read tried to deke around Miller, but the Sabres goalie poke checked the puck away. The last time, Read clearly had that in mind as he opted to skate across goal and shoot, beating Miller low. It was Read’s 24th goal of the season, which leads all NHL rookies.
Ilya Bryzgalov also appears to be back to form as he made 25 saves on 26 shots.
The Flyers wrap up their regular season Saturday against Pittsburgh in a game that will mean absolutely nothing in the standings, but could get interesting given the events of their last meeting and the fact that they’ll be playing each other in the first round. It should be interesting to see how much the stars on each team actually play in that one.
(Via the club's official press announcement) The Philadelphia Flyers presented their 2011-12 season awards tonight prior to the start of their final regular season home game against the Buffalo Sabres at the Wells Fargo Center.
Bobby Clarke Trophy (Most Valuable Player) - Claude Giroux was selected by a panel of sportswriters and sportscasters as the Flyers team MVP for the second consecutive year. Giroux will wrap up the season with some of the best offensive numbers for a Flyers player in a dozen years. Heading into tonight's game, Giroux had 28 goals and 64 assists for 92 points on the season. Not only is it a career high for Giroux in all three categories, but the 92 points are the most by a Flyer since Eric Lindros had 93 points in the 1998-99 season. The 64 assists are the most by a Flyer since Lindros posted 68 in the 1995-96 season, and it's currently the ninth-highest regular season total in Flyers history. Giroux is just the fourth Flyer ever to record 50 or more assists in consecutive seasons, joining Bobby Clarke (8 seasons, 1972-1980), Brian Propp (3 seasons, 1983-86) and Mark Recchi (2 seasons twice). Giroux currently ranks third in the NHL in scoring and leads the league in power play points. He has had 10 games of three or more points this season. Giroux becomes the sixth player to win the award in consecutive years since its establishment in 1984-85, and becomes the eighth player to win the award multiple times. PResenting the award was Flyers' GM Paul Holmgren.
Barry Ashbee Trophy (Outstanding Defenseman) - Kimmo Timonen earned his third Barry Ashbee Trophy as voted by a panel of sportswriters and sportscasters. Timonen previously won the award in the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons. Timonen entered tonight's game with four goals (all on the power play) and 39 assists for 43 points, which leads Flyers defensemen in scoring, and has appeared in 74 of the team's 80 games so far. Timonen's 43 points and 39 assists are each short of his personal best in the category as a Flyer - he had 44 points in 2007-08 and 40 assists in 2008-09. Timonen becomes the third Flyer to win the award three or more times since its inception in 1974-75, joining Eric Desjardins (7) and Mark Howe (4).
Pelle Lindbergh Memorial Trophy (Most Improved Player) - Scott Hartnell was named the Flyers' most improved player from the previous season, as voted by his teammates. Hartnell has enjoyed a career year, having set new personal highs in goals (37) and points (67) while coming into tonight's game tied with his career high in assists (30). Heading into tonight's action, Hartnell has seen an increase of 18 points (13 goals, five assists) from last year's final statistics. Hartnell has been one of the most dangerous power play threats in the NHL this season with 16 power play goals, which ranks second in the league heading into tonight's games.
Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award - Jaromir Jagr The Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association (PHWA) selected Jaromir Jagr as this year's recipient of the Yanick Dupre Class Guy Memorial Award. This award is presented annually to the Flyer who best illustrates character, dignity and respect for the sport both on and off the ice. Jagr returned to the NHL this season after a three-year absence, signing with the Flyers as a free agent on July 1, 2011. He enters tonight's game ranked third on the Flyers in scoring with 18 goals and 35 assists for 53 points in 71 games. The award honors the memory of Yanick Dupre, who died on August 16, 1997 at the age of 24 after a 16-month battle with leukemia. Dupre played parts of three seasons with the Flyers (1991-92, 1994-95 and 1995-96), recording two goals and 16 penalty minutes in 35 games. He was originally drafted by the Flyers in the third round (50th overall) of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft.
Gene Hart Memorial Award - Wayne Simmonds The Philadelphia Flyers Fan Club selected Wayne Simmonds as the winner of the Gene Hart Memorial Award. This award is given to the player who demonstrated the most "Heart" during the season as voted on by members of the Fan Club at their monthly meetings. The award honors the memory of longtime Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart. For 28 years, Flyers broadcaster Gene Hart called the organization's most thrilling moments, and in the process, helped spawn generations of devoted fans. Hart's contributions to the sport were recognized with his induction into the Flyers Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. Presenting the award to Simmonds was Flyers Fan Club president Joe Fisher and Fan Club member Josh Ash, along with Sarah and Lauren Hart. The Flyers Fan Club will also donate $2,000 to the charity of Simmonds's choice.
Toyota Cup - Claude Giroux Claude Giroux has won this season's Toyota Cup as the Flyer who accumulated the most points associated with being selected as a "Star of the Game." Entering tonight's game, Giroux has been named First Star 11 times, Second Star seven times and Third Star four times for a total of 80 points. Five points were awarded for being selected First Star, three points were awarded for a Second Star performance and one point was awarded for a Third Star selection. Presenting Giroux with the award was Paul Muller, representing the Tri-State Toyota Dealers. Giroux has chosen the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as the recipient of a $5,000 donation from the Tri-State Toyota Dealers on his behalf. "The Tri-State Toyota Dealers are so proud to once again support the Philadelphia Flyers through the Toyota Cup," Muller said. "This is such a special award really because it symbolizes what the Philadelphia Flyers are all about; a team that while being successful on the ice, has never forgotten the good of the community. We are happy to have Claude Giroux, one of the bright young talents of the game, carry on this tradition and to make a $5000 donation on his behalf to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia from the Tri-State Toyota Dealers." In addition to the Flyers team awards, goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov received a Tiffany crystal from the National Hockey League during the ceremony to commemorate his 25th career shutout, recorded on Feb. 7 vs. the New York Islanders. Presenting the award was Jim Gregory, SVP of Hockey Operations for the NHL.
The Flyers will host the Sabres on Thursday night, needing a win to keep hope for the fourth spot in the Eastern Conference standings alive.