It wasn't the prettiest game. It wasn't the best game. In fact, for the Flyers, it was really a 40 minute performance tonight, but thanks to some timely goaltending from Michal Neuvirth, an improved penalty kill and two goals from defensemen, the season will continue for at least another game after a 2-1 win in Game 4.
It's hard not to think that hey, if only Game 1 started the way this one did, this whole series could be different. But the Flyers will have to take the 3-1 series deficit and try to duplicate this one on Friday in Washington for Game 5.
The Flyers worked their way into an early power play about five minutes into the first period, and it was the same formula that was so successful for the last 60 games of the regular season on the man advantage -- Claude Giroux, Shayne Gostisbehere, Jake Voracek, Giroux, Gostisbehere, one-timer, goal. 1-0 Flyers.
Washington settled in a bit after the goal, pushing back and generating some offensive zone time. Their first line of T.J. Oshie, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin was inexplicably getting matchups against the Flyers' fourth line, and naturally they were winning those matchups.
Towards the end of the first, Scott Laughton left the game on a stretcher after a scary collision with the boards. He was hit -- not maliciously -- Capitals defenseman John Carlson, and his head and upper back collided violently with the end boards. He was taken to Jefferson Hospital as a precaution, and as of now we are unsure of his prognosis.
For the remainder of the first, Caps could not seem to generate many high-danger scoring chances against Neuvirth, while at the other end, Braden Holtby had to be thankful for a few opportune bounces that went his way on some dangerous pucks to escape the frame with a 1-0 lead.
And speaking of dangerous pucks, how about the one Andrew MacDonald threw on net five minutes into the second period? Yes, that Andrew MacDonald. A laser from the point -- honestly, one that was even more impressive than Ghost's shot 20 minutes earlier. It gave the Flyers a two-goal lead, and doubled their goal total for the entire series in the process.
The real test for the Flyers came with about 6:30 left in the second, however, when Sam Gagner was whistled for interference just seconds after a similar call against the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom was ignored behind the play. Washington's power play -- much like their effort at evens for much of the night -- didn't generate much, and the Flyers penalty kill seemed much more aggressive in its execution, particularly against Ovechkin. The result was a good one, and the Flyers killed off a Caps power play, something that seemed borderline impossible two nights ago.
But it didn't take long into the third for Washington to make the crowd nervous. Matt Niskanen threw a puck on net that Neuvirth was able to seek out, but with a ton of traffic in front the Flyers couldn't corral the rebound and T.J. Oshie put home a pretty finish to make it 2-1.
And the Capitals kept bringing it. The third saw a ton of Washington zone time and a lot of Flyers breakouts that were broken up in the neutral zone. Neuvirth had to be incredible to keep the Flyers in the lead, although some credit is definitely due to the defense for blocking off a lot of pucks from the slot area. The goaltending was really what won this game for the Flyers, however, and in the end, Neuvy ended up with 31 saves.
The Flyers live on to fight another day. See you Friday night in Washington.
Comment of the Night:
Need 10 more shutout periods from neuvy