PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Flyers honoured cancer-stricken teammate Oskar Lindblom and beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 Tuesday night behind goals by Claude Giroux, David Kase and Jake Voracek.
The Flyers played their first home game since Lindblom was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancerous tumour that grows in the bones or in the tissue around bones. The 23-year-old from Sweden, who is out for the season, stopped by the locker room during morning skate and visited his teammates.
“It was great to see him again,” Giroux said.
The Flyers warmed up in purple “Hockey Fights Cancer” jerseys and will auction them off with proceeds going to Ewing’s sarcoma research. They left “I Fight For Oskar” signs on every seat, and fans held them during a tribute video for Lindblom. Ducks and Flyers players tapped their sticks and fans stood and applauded the promising forward who had 11 goals and 18 points in 30 games this season. Philadelphia sold #OskarStrong purple shirts, and proceeds from the 50/50 raffle were donated toward Ewing’s sarcoma research.
“I can just tell you it was great to see him today,” Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher said. “His teammates care deeply about him and as an organization we’ll do whatever we can to help him. There’s some pretty good energy in the room today, and I think that’s in large part to seeing Oskar.”
The Flyers went 0-3 on a road trip where they were rocked by Lindblom’s health issues. Back home and inspired by their teammate, they got two quick goals from Giroux and Kase early in the second period to hold off the mediocre Ducks.
Carter Hart had 40 saves for the Flyers.
Rickard Rakell made it 2-1 in the second with his 10th goal. Voracek added his seventh in the third and Sean Couturier knocked in an empty-netter in the final seconds.
Philly lived up to its City of Brotherly Love civic nickname with Kase and Ducks F Ondrej Kase both playing in the game. Their parents made the trip from the Czech Republic and split their fashion ties: Kamila Kase wore a Ducks jersey and Robert Kase went with the Flyers.
Score one for dad, who repped the right jersey when David scored his first NHL goal.
But mom and pop Kase were two of the few who came out on a rainy Tuesday to watch the Flyers. Once one of the fiercest environments in the NHL, the Flyers have struggled this season to fill the arena, and there were scores of empty seats for this one.
The ones who did show up waved their signs of support for Lindblom and signed get well soon cards on the concourse.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault said it was important for Lindblom to reunite with his teammates.
“He’s got a tremendous amount of support obviously from his family but from his extended family, the Flyers players, their wives and the coaches and their wives, the great fans we have here in Philly and across the States that are gonna support him,” he said. “Hockey’s a real strong and real good community and Oskar is a real good and real strong person. He is gonna be around. He’s gonna be back as soon as he possibly can.”
Lindblom’s former Swedish Hockey League team, Brynas IF, has played with the slogan “Vi kämpar med dig” on their helmets, which means “we fight with you.” … Flyers C Travis Konecny returned to the lineup for the first time since he suffered a concussion Dec. 7 against Ottawa. … Ducks C Troy Terry left the game in the third after he took a hard hit on his right leg.
Ducks: Play Wednesday at New Jersey.
Flyers: Host Buffalo on Thursday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Dan Gelston, The Associated Press