Gustafsson Ready If Flyers Need Him

6 Jan

CITIZENS BANK PARK — If the Flyers so need him, he’s ready. Erik Gustafsson played his fourth game after rehabbing a left wrist injury of his own and Kimmo Timonen’s left wrist injury might give the Flyers good reason to call him up.

But so far, they haven’t told him anything.

“I’ve played four games now,” said Gustafsson. “The first two games were a little rusty to be honest with you. Last game I thought I played pretty well and then [Friday night] I felt pretty good out there with such an exciting event. You get a lot of energy from that and all the boys were playing well. I don’t know if I played well, but it feels good to win.”

The Phantoms won 4-3 in overtime over the Hershey bears in dramatic fashion. They tied the game with 20.8 seconds left when Gustafsson fed Eric Wellwood for a shot from the right wing that eventually found its way to Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom in the slot. He deposited the puck behind Braden Holtby for his 10th goal of the year.

Then, less than a minute into overtime, Shane Harper scored on a breakaway.

“It’s unbelievable. The crowd was unbelievable,” said Gustafsson. “The atmosphere was great. To be honest with you, this was probably the best win of my life and it felt great. To be part of that, not only the last minute and the way we won it, just with these guys it was a great feeling. I’ll remember this for the rest of my life.”

And in all the excitement, the wrist is only an afterthought. It feels fine and Gustafsson is ready to get back to NHL action. That could happen as soon as Saturday if Timonen can’t go.

“To be honest with you I try to not think about it as much,” said Gustafsson. “If it happens, it happens and I’m ready to go for sure. The wrist holds up really good so if it happens, I’ll be really happy.”

It was a huge disappointment for Gustafsson to miss time. When he went down injured, he was clearly playing his best hockey at the NHL level. On Nov. 5, his last game with the Flyers, he was a plus-6, played a career-high 23 minutes and got his first NHL point on an assist.

“It was really frustrating at the start there,” said Gustafsson. “I tried to put that aside and then when I had to have the surgery I was trying to stay positive. It was for sure really frustrating, but I’m just gonna keep working hard right now. It feels pretty good right now and I hope I get another crack at it.”

He was a plus-2 with two shots on net in the Outdoor Classic against Hershey and wants to get back to his old form. While he says the conditioning might not completely be there, he’s ready for the call. Whenever that may be.

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