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Flyers at Red Wings recap: Maybe shootouts are actually good ... ?

A crazy affair that saw several penalties and two goals reviewed ultimately went the Flyers' way, as they wrapped up three points on the weekend by conquering their old nemesis: the shootout.

Leon Halip-USA TODAY Sports

What if we got it all wrong and shootouts, instead of being bad, are actually good?

We're not prepared to go that far after this evening. But one of the more wild 2-1 hockey contests you'll ever see ended up falling the Flyers' way, as a great performance when it mattered by the team's two top forwards and another fantastic performance by Michal Neuvirth gave the Flyers a win in a place where they haven't won much in recent years.

Things started out pretty grimly for the Flyers, who were almost instantly put on their heels due to a bad hit by Ryan White. The hit -- which very well may lead to a suspension for the fourth-line winger -- hurt the Flyers in two ways, as it not only put the team right onto a five-minute penalty kill but also forced them to spend an entire game using only 11 forwards, all on the second half of a back-to-back on the road.

Fortunately, the Flyers' penalty killers and Michal Neuvirth were up to the task, as they handled the aforementioned five-minute penalty and managed to get through it unscathed. A power play for the orange and black came a bit later in the period, and while both the first and second PP groups sustained some solid pressure, nothing would come of it, and both teams would head to the locker room scoreless after the first period ended.

Play would open up a bit in the second period, in a number of ways. Neuvirth again answered the call on almost every shot he'd face in the frame, including a number of very tough ones. Radko Gudas was sent to the penalty box for a holding penalty eight minutes in, and some four-on-four play that ensued after a scrum right in front of Neuvirth's net saw both teams get some quality chances.

Unfortunately, after a period that was mostly controlled by the home team, Detroit would draw first blood with 1:35 left in the frame. After Pavel Datsyuk won a faceoff with Sean Couturier thanks to an incredible individual effort, the puck got out to Nicklas Kronwall, whose shot from the top of the circle appeared to bounce off of  Radko Gudas in front of the net and over Neuvirth into the net.

Dave Hakstol would call his first second coach's challenge of the year on this goal, contending that screening Red Wings forward Darren Helm interfered with Neuvirth's ability to make a save on the play. Though replays did indeed show Helm running into Neuvirth's glove before the shot got there, the goal ultimately did stand. Whether the goal should have counted or not (Neuvirth himself said after the game he thought it should), it came at the tail end of a very lackluster period for the Flyers, making the 1-0 deficit after two periods somewhat deserved.

The Flyers' two best players, however, would make things right quickly as the third frame began, as Jakub Voracek carried the puck all the way from the neutral zone down below the Detroit red line before putting the puck right on Claude Giroux's stick in front. Giroux finished the job with a pretty shot that rang in off the far-side post, knotting the game up at one.

That's where, in a third period that went without a TV timeout for the final 12:47 of the frame, this game really started to get entertaining.

Both teams would trade minors shortly after the Flyers' goal, with neither cashing in on a few nice chances on the power play. Then, a Mike Green puck-over-glass penalty shortly followed by a foolish Niklas Kronwall trip on Voracek gave the Flyers an extended 5-on-3, and with it a golden chance to grab the game. But they were denied on a few excellent saves by Mrazek, and Detroit weathered those two penalties without giving the visitors the lead.

From there, there was only one more stoppage -- on a Flyers icing call -- up until the final seconds of the third period, as the two teams traded chances up and down the ice with some near-misses and some more great goaltending mixed in there. With just five seconds left, it was Couturier who cut in front of the net and drew a hook from Detroit's Brendan Smith, at least looking like he would give the Flyers an overtime 4-on-3 session.

But that would have been too easy, of course. A faceoff win went to Shayne Gostisbehere, who at first glance rifled a shot past Mrazek to give the Flyers what looked like a last-second victory, but almost instantly the goal was not only waived off but a penalty was called on Wayne Simmonds for interfering with Mrazek on the play. Amidst a livid Dave Hakstol's complaints -- the coach had to be wondering how both goalie interference decisions on the night would go against his team -- the call on the ice was reviewed and would ultimately stand, putting the teams back at even footing as the game went to overtime.

And while that overtime had some chances, things slowed down a bit as both skaters got a player back from the penalty box to make the 3-on-3 overtime become a 4-on-4. With not a single whistle from start to finish, the teams would go to a shootout, at which point surely every Flyers fan braced themselves for the inevitable loss.

Except ... it didn't come! There was no inevitable shootout loss, because the Flyers actually won a shootout. After both sides missed their first round, Pavel Datsyuk and Claude Giroux traded off dazzling moves to beat their respective goaltenders. And when Brad Richards was denied by Neuvirth -- capping off a superb night from him -- Jakub Voracek would end matters as he beat Mrazek five-hole to give the Flyers the win.

With the win, the Flyers sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division and 11th in the Eastern Conference, but just two points behind Montreal for the final playoff spot in the East and with between one and three games in hand on every team ahead of them. Buckle up.

Additional observations to follow.

Comment of the Night:

Man I wish I picked up the refs for Fantasy, I’d have 3 more goals tonight

-- armmyman16