The Flyers can overcome any obstacle. That much is obvious.
Chicago charged out of the gate and scored two goals in four minutes to open this one up. The first was the product of a Brayden Schenn turnover in the offensive zone. When play moved quickly back into the Flyers zone, Schenn overcommitted. Veteran annoyance Andrew Shaw was left alone and put the puck past Emery relatively easily. Not even a full two minutes later, Duncan Keith fired a shot from the blue line that absolutely should have been a save for Ray Emery. Operative words: should have been. It skittered through Emery's five hole and suddenly, the Flyers were down 2-0 and the game hadn't barely started.
It looked like it would be another one of those nights, games where the Flyers just can't get their bearings and end up losing by a ridiculous margin. Thank God, that wasn't true.
A fluke of a pass from Scott Hartnell ended up bouncing off Kruger's skate and into the net. There was a marked difference in their skating afterwards, and you could see it in their possession time. They seriously challenged the Blackhawks for the rest of the period and were rewarded around the 16 minute mark. Claude Giroux was situated around the back of the net, got the puck on his stick, and dished a perfect pass to Scott Hartnell who put it home, going top shelf on Raanta.
The Flyers played a tight game in the second period and despite some late period power plays on both sides, the score stayed tied.
Play seemed massively tilted in the Flyers favor in the third period. Really, the Flyers pretty much have "excellent third period team" tattooed on their foreheads at this point. They outplayed the Blackhawks in nearly every facet possible. Sixty minutes wasn't enough, though, since neither team managed to break through with the go-ahead goal.
An extra five minutes seemed like it wasn't going to be enough either, but our wonderful Captain took matters into his own hands and in the dying seconds of overtime, he lasered a wrister past Raanta. It was amazing, beautiful, lovely. Pick your favorite synonym, it was all of those and more.
Happy bullet points:
- Ray Emery had a real rough start tonight. That second goal was absolutely brutal. Still, he did turn it around and came up with some great saves. Rust? You bet. He hadn't played for the better part of a month and spent a lot of that time injured. The first five minutes of this game definitely weren't what he was hoping for, but it was good that he bounced back from that and put together a good performance. After those two goals, he shut down the Hawks. Nice.
- Scott Hartnell posted another great performance. Honestly, if he keeps burying those Giroux feeds the way he's been doing as of late, the Flyers are unstoppable.
- I know we keep talking about Matt Read, but seriously, that guy is so good and he deserves so much credit for his play. His defensive work, his work along the boards, setting up Claude Giroux to make the beautiful feed that ended up tying the game...it's all coming up Matt. Love you, bud.
- Andrew MacDonald's play has been good since his arrival and he seems to be complementing Luke Schenn incredibly well. Tonight, he made a great stretch pass to Vinny Lecavalier who was nearly able to cash in. Weird how it almost exactly mirrored Luke's stretch pass to Vinny on Saturday afternoon against the Penguins.
- One of Steve Downie's better games. He drew a penalty on Marian Hossa, played a good physical game, and just generally looked like he was up on his skates.
- 19 penalties killed in a row including tonight's efforts. Great stuff.
- Oh, and after hitting about three or four posts, Claude Giroux finally scored against the Blackhawks. What a guy.
Tonight's game was totally feel-good. The Flyers played a very talented team, outplayed them after a messy start, and got the win in dramatic fashion. It seems like things are rolling for them, and it's exactly what they need during hashtag clutch time. Plus, they played very responsibly: tight defense with few high quality chances.
It was emotional, energetic, and meaningful. They're being tested against great teams, and they keep looking more and more impressive.
The Flyers are back at it on Thursday against the Dallas Stars at 7pm. Good night and good hockey.