Evgeny Medvedev's career with the Philadelphia Flyers got off to a tumultuous start. A solid start could not prevent the defenseman from losing the faith of coach Dave Hakstol, and the 33-year old Russian found himself scratched for the majority of November.
Those days are far behind him now.
Medvedev was the hero tonight, breaking a 3-3 tie with three minutes remaining to give the Flyers a 4-3 victory at the Wells Fargo Center in the team's final game before their holiday break. Ryan White provided a perfect pass to Medvedev in the slot, and the defenseman did not miss, beating Blues goalie Jake Allen to score the game-winner. The Flyers overcame a three-goal deficit, with Jakub Voracek, Chris VandeVelde and Wayne Simmonds provided the rest of the offense. Steve Mason made 26 saves and earned the victory.
For the third straight game, the Flyers got off to a poor start in the first period. Not even an early power play opportunity for Philadelphia could keep St. Louis from taking control of the game at even strength. The Blues were rewarded eight minutes in, when a Claude Giroux defensive zone turnover led to an extended St. Louis cycle, culminating with a Robby Fabbri goal from the slot. Dmitrij Jaskin earned the assist, and St. Louis took the early 1-0 lead.
Play continued in the Blues favor throughout the period, but it was a questionable penalty that allowed the Blues to extend their advantage to two goals. Following a scrum in front of the Blues bench, Jakub Voracek somehow was the only player to be penalized, despite Giroux taking a fair amount of abuse and R.J. Umberger being the recipient of a high hit on the same shift that went uncalled. The Blues capitalized, as Kevin Shattenkirk took a pass from Vladimir Tarasenko and one-timed it past Steve Mason to give his a team a 2-0 lead.
The Flyers turned the tide in the second, even though St. Louis got on the board first. Magnus Paajarvi scored on a breakaway nine minutes in, after Pierre-Edouard Bellemare fell to the ice while trying to enter the offensive zone. Despite the fact that Philadelphia had improved their play in the second, the game looked to be sliding out of reach, especially after Claude Giroux took a hooking penalty only five seconds after Paajarvi's goal.
But Bellemare redeemed himself, spearheading a shorthanded rush that would eventually end in a Chris VandeVelde tally. Bellemare was stopped by Jake Allen, but VandeVelde alertly trailed the play and hammered home the rebound, cutting the deficit back to two goals. The Flyers killed off the remainder of Giroux's penalty, and from that moment on, the game was truly all Philadelphia. St. Louis flatlined in terms of shots on goal, as the Flyers peppered Allen with chance after chance.
Wayne Simmonds was the one to break through and cut the lead to one goal. Shayne Gostisbehere broke up a scoring opportunity for the Blues, sending Simmonds and Jakub Voracek the other way on a two-on-one rush. They executed a quick give-and-go, with Simmonds doing the honors, sniping a wrist shot past Allen. The Flyers kept up the pressure, and nearly tied the contest with seconds remaining, as Jakub Voracek barely missed on open net after Philadelphia earned a late power play.
Given a second opportunity early in the third period, however, Voracek would not miss. With the remainder of the power play carrying over, Voracek found himself open in the right faceoff circle with room to shoot. He was able to connect with Simmonds, who deflected Voracek's shot past Allen to tie the game at 3-3.
Following Simmonds' goal, the contest reverted back to the back-and-forth tempo that filled the first matchup between the two squads this season. Each team came in waves, as both took turns controlling play for stretches. But just as the Blues appeared ready to break the tie after a dominant four-minute stretch late in the period, Medvedev struck, providing the goal necessary to clinch an impressive comeback victory.
Comment of the Night:
Somebody call SEPTA. The Wayne Train just blew through the WFC.