Just like they did in Game 2, the Flyers blew a huge lead (this time, two goals) in a matter of minutes (technically just over 90 seconds) on Tuesday night.
History repeated, as an overtime thriller ended with Philly on top, by the skin of their teeth, in a gargantuan Game 5 win, 4-3.
During what was one of the most exhilarating overtime periods you will ever see, the Flyers clanked it off the post multiple times as Carter Hart showed some incredible poise, making highlight save after highlight save.
The Flyers got a huge power play opportunity (the biggest of the entire season) about halfway through the extra 20 minutes, but came up empty without a shot on goal.
Minutes later, as Philly kept pressure on New York, they got some luck on a shot fired from the point — for the second time in one week. It saved the Flyers’ season. For now…
The Flyers have a ton of work left to do, but pretty clearly played some of their best hockey of the series facing elimination, from Hart to Claude Giroux on down. The defense was everywhere, the offense controlled the puck, the pace and created scoring chances. Now, the team will enter another win-or-go-home game with confidence later this week.
But first, a look at why Flyers fans are feeling good after a less than-terrific Tuesday performance. Here’s why the Flyers won:
The first period was great for the Flyers in every way except the scoreboard. The team spent a lot of time with the puck and in their offensive zone in the first period, hit the post and pieced together an impressive penalty kill and power play, while giving Carter Hart, playing in his first elimination game, some time to collect himself in an oft-empty defensive zone.
Philly was credited with nine of the game’s first 11 shots through 16 minutes of playing time and out-shot the Isles 11-5.
However, the momentum was squashed with a penalty at the tail end that lingered into the second. At the 1:20 mark, with the power play ticking down Josh Bailey, entrenched in the crease was able to get a pick past Hart to put New York ahead, 1-0.
During the goal, which was challenged, a scrum of bodies at the net kept Hart from being able to play his position. However, the goalie interference claim was not confirmed.
The Flyers kept up the pressure, overcoming the hiccup to score two of their own second period goals. By the time 40 minutes had elapsed, Philly was ahead in shots on goal, 22-13. And on the scoreboard, 2-1 (more on that in just a second).
The Flyers finally had some momentum heading into the third period, but had to overcome another bad penalty and kill an early Islanders man advantage.
A few minutes into the final frame, Flyers fans were fearing the worst, and with good reason.
.@NHLFlyers have a gritty 2-1 lead after two. Warning: Isles have an 8-1 third-period domination in this series.
— Sam Carchidi (@BroadStBull) September 2, 2020
But the Flyers recollected themselves and kept the puck in their own end with some fantastic forecheck following the PK. And it led to a two-goal lead thanks to a shot fired by Matt Niskanen:
Hart saved some of his best work for the end of the game, standing tall against the Islanders, making clutch save after clutch save.
But he didn’t make enough stops, as Brock Nelson was able to slap a shot from medium range past Hart into the top shelf, giving the Islanders a chance to replicate their Game 2 comeback with four minutes to play.
Less than two minutes later New York found an equalizer from Derick Brassard, blowing yet another sizable third-period lead for the Flyers to force an overtime period
Hart made up for his missteps in the extra frame and then some (more on that later too).
Big boy pants
It took 14 games, but Claude Giroux finally got on the board in Toronto, and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time.
Trailing 1-0 and seeing their hard work go unrewarded, a shot from the point by Phil Meyers glanced off the stick of the Flyers’ captain and flew past Semyon Varlamov to tie things.
Minutes later the floodgates opened, with James Van Remsdyk scoring off a stellar pass from Scott Laughton to give Philly its first lead in quite some time.
The Flyers needed production from their forwards to compete in this series and they got it in Game 5. It’s something head coach Alain Vigneault elegantly explained pre-game Tuesday.
“When I look at this group and think of G and JvR, they were both there back, I think it was 2010 when the Flyers were down 3-0 and came back,” Vigneault said earlier Tuesday, showing off his hockey knowledge. “At that time, they were the Joel Farabee’s, the TK’s, the Provy, Myers, the kids that we have. They definitely found a way to contribute. Now it’s their turn to put the big boy pants on and to get out there.”
The coach continued:
“You got Hayesy that has done 3-1. You got Brauner that did last year. They were down 3-1. He was a veteran player, so he knows about wearing the big boy pants. You’ve got Nate Thompson, I think back in 2010 or 2012, with Tampa Bay. He was down 3-1 against Pitt and he came back. He was a veteran player and established. I need him. He’s been wearing his big boy pants and I need him to continue to wear his big boy pants. We’ve got some experience.”
First, some credit to Hart, who without a doubt kept the overtime period going longer than it could have — and perhaps should have — gone several times. Like this one:
And now, what you came here to see, Scott Laughton’s epic redirect on a Ivan Provorov shot from the point to win it in the extra frame: