By Sarah Caldwell
So Flyers coach Alain Vigneault called out his stars before last night’s game 5 against the Isles.
And it paid off.
Vigneault challenged a couple of his veterans, captain Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk.
“I think I used the term that they need to wear their big-boy pants,” Vigneault said. “And without a doubt, they came to play. The whole group came to play. That team on the other side is an experienced team, a real sound fundamental hockey team and you have to earn every inch out there.
“They have heard ‘big-boy pants’ before. It’s something they are aware of. They don’t need me to motivate them.”
Giroux and van Riemsdyk, who each went into Game 5 against the New York Islanders with a zero beside his name in the post-season goal column, scored in the second period, helping lead the Orange and Black to a 4-3 overtime win.
At 12:20 of the extra period, a shot by Ivan Provorov from the point was deflected by Scott Laughton and eluded Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov. Giroux also had an assist on the winner.In overtime, the Islanders’ Brock Nelson broke in alone on Flyers goalie Carter Hart but was stopped by a pad save.Giroux hadn’t scored in his previous 13 post-season games in the Toronto bubble, registering just five assists; Van Riemsdyk, who has struggled and has been a healthy scratch for some games in the post-season, recorded his first point in 10 games.
“You want to produce and you want to be able to help the team,” Giroux said. “When (his goal) went in, it felt pretty good.”
The Flyers trail in the best-of-seven 3-2 with Game 6 on Thursday night. The winner of the series will play the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference final.
Late in the third, the Islanders’ Mathew Barzal departed after taking a high stick in the face from Giroux, while the Flyers’ Sean Couturier didn’t play after the second period after appearing to suffer a leg injury.
Islanders Vigneault had no update on Couturier; Isles coach Barry Trotz had no update on Barzal.
The Islanders scored goals less than two minutes apart in the final four minutes of regulation to tie the game 3-3.
At 17:19, Derick Brassard, sitting at the back door, deposited the puck past Hart after taking a pass from Cal Clutterbuck. The goal doesn’t happen without the poise of Clutterbuck, who hung on to the puck down low until he was able to make a play.
The Isles got to within one goal at 15:46 when Nelson fooled Hart with a high shot from the slot.
Until the Nelson goal, the Flyers were on track for a victory at the final buzzer.
Defenseman Matt Niskanen scored on a slapshot early in the third, giving Philly a 3-1 lead when he blasted the puck past Varlamov.