Rebound from disastrous road trip with 4-1 win over Ducks
By Eric Goldstein
Oskar Lindblom was not at the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night when the Flyers hosted the Anaheim Ducks.
However, he was on everyone’s mind and inside everyone’s hearts.
The young forward, who entered the night tied for the team lead in goals, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, last week and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
In the Flyers first home game since the illness was announced, the organization let Lindblom know it is behind him and his recovery.
The team tapped signs that read “I Fight For Oskar,” “Oskar Strong” and “Hockey Fights Cancer” to the back of each seat in the arena. In the Flyers locker room, the sign was attached to the back of each players’ stall.
Then, early in the first period, the team showed a moving video tribute to Lindblom on the arena vision as fans held up their Oskar signs to show he is not alone in his fight against the disease.
“It was a touching tribute they did for him,” Travis Konecny said following the team’s 4-1 victory that also snapped a three-game losing streak. “There was definitely a lot of energy in here tonight for him. It’s tough. He’s a great kid and no one deserves it.
“It is tough when you know him pretty closely. We just have to support him.”
While Lindblom was not on the Flyers bench, he did surprise his teammates by attending their morning skate on Tuesday. It was the first time the players had seen him since he abruptly left the team in Colorado to return home from the road trip.
It was an emotional reunion but also boosted the spirits of the entire organization, from the general manager to the coach and players.
“It was awesome to see Oskar this morning,” said goalie Carter Hart, who stopped 40 shots. “We missed him on the road trip. It was good to see him and the positive attitude he had. It kind of uplifted our group. He is something to play for, someone to play for and we are alongside him in this fight and every step of the way.”
The team dedicated the game to Lindblom, and came through with a big win.
In addition receiving the awful news about Lindblom, the Flyers endured a dreadful trip to the Midwest. They were outscored 14-5, and lost a handful of key players to injury and rookie Joel Farabee to a three-game suspension for an illegal hit.
They jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period behind goals by Claude Giroux and David Kase, who netted his first career NHL marker. After the Ducks sliced the lead in half late in the second period, Jake Voracek gave the team a two-goal cushion again on an unassisted tally four minutes into the third.
Sean Couturier iced the game with an empty-net goal in the final seconds of the contest.
“The only thing we talked about before the game was this was a must-win for us and we needed to do whatever it took to find a way to win this game,” coach Alain Vigneault said. “That’s what I think we did as a group.”
Sure, it was a huge victory, but this night will always be remembered as when the fans and organization publicly joined Linblom on his journey to beat cancer.
“I have been here for 11-12 years now and kind of know how the fans are,” Giroux said. “When something happens, they are great fans. They support their players. What they did there was pretty great for him.
“It is not only us in the locker room and the coaches who are behind him. It is the whole city.”