Michael Jackson’s “Don’t stop ‘Til You Get Enough” blared so loud inside the Philadelphia Flyers locker room that the song could be easily heard up and down the tunnel outside.
The players like to blast MJ’s upbeat tune after each win, but it seemed like the volume was turned up a notch following Tuesday’s emotional victory over the Senators.
Although it ended a five-game losing streak and kick-started a vital stretch of home games in January that could very well define the rest of their season, the 2-1 win was extra special because it came during a shootout. It snapped a 10-game losing streak in the shootout, including five this season.
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Wayne Simmonds, taking his first attempt this year, ended 13 months of heartache with a goal in the fifth round that clinched the two points.
“Yeah, it feels good,” said Simmonds, whose teammates last enjoyed a shootout win on Dec. 30, 2013, in Vancouver. “Anytime you can start off at home with a win it’s unbelievable. I think to break our losses in the shootout it feels really good as well.”
The shootout has practically become a fait accompli for the Flyers.
“I almost forgot how it feels,” said Jakub Voracek, who had the only other shootout goal.
The shooters, aside from Claude Giroux and Voracek, have appeared to lack confidence and even creativity. Meanwhile goalies Steve Mason and Ray Emery struggled to prevent goals. It has been a disastrous recipe and somewhat predictable outcome.
Even the fans figured what was probably in store after overtime ended still tied and simply let out a collective frustrating moan rather than creating an air of excitement.
However, this time it was different. Mika Zibanejad led off with a goal for Ottawa but Voracek answered. Mason then stopped the next four shooters to set up Simmonds for the game-winner.
“It’s been a while,” said Mason, who finished with 41 saves. “It’s nice to come out on top now that we’ve been working on it a little bit at practice.”
For the shooters, it all comes down to confidence.
“Some players don’t think they’re very good at it, but I think Voracek this year is really the only time he started scoring in shootouts,” coach Craig Berube said. “He wasn’t really a shootout guy before this (but) has the skill to do it. Obviously Giroux has been one and we got some young guys we’re trying to improve and get better at it for sure.”