Facing an abrupt end to their playoff hopes down 3-1 to the Toronto Maple Leafs with twenty minutes remaining, a late push by the Philadelphia Flyers somehow pushed the game to overtime. Unfortunately, their heroics would not carry over past the final buzzer of regulation.
Andrew MacDonald's mid-third period goal helped spark the Flyers' comeback, but his tripping penalty in overtime gave the Leafs a golden opportunity to end the contest, and they took full advantage. Jake Gardiner blasted a shot past Steve Mason to give his team a 4-3 victory and prevent Philadelphia from earning an all-important second point. As a result of the loss, the Flyers dropped out of a playoff spot, as Boston's 5-2 win over Detroit gave them 93 points with the Flyers now at 92. Philadelphia still controls its own destiny, but most likely will need to beat Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders this weekend barring a Boston or Detroit loss on Saturday afternoon.
The first few shifts for the Flyers were actually pretty successful, as they jumped out to an early 4-0 shots on goal advantage. But Toronto turned the tide quickly, starting with William Nylander's sixth NHL goal just 5:28 into the first period. Nylander was left alone down low, and Martin Marincin's pass gave him a wide-open look at an open net.
From that moment on, it was the Leafs winning races to loose pucks, getting shots through traffic, and generating dangerous chances. They would extend their lead to 2-0 on one of those opportunities, as Colin Greening took advantage of a Brandon Manning pinch and Radko Gudas slip-up in the Toronto zone to go back the other way on a breakaway. The Maple Leafs forward would not miss, beating Mason high glove side and putting the Flyers in a major early hole.
But just a minute into the second period, Philadelphia showed signs of life. Sean Couturier found Brayden Schenn with a no-look pass into the slot that Schenn deposited past Bernier, cutting Toronto's lead to only one goal. And after Tobias Lindberg was sent off for a four-minute high-sticking double minor, it appeared the Flyers were on the verge of a comeback. Unfortunately, the ensuing power play would come up empty. Jakub Voracek set off the red light once, but the goal was waved off due to incidental contact between Claude Giroux and Bernier. There was a good case to be made that Giroux was tripped on his way to the net, but the officials deemed otherwise, as the Flyers received neither a favorable penalty or goal call on the play.
Philadelphia kept pressing, but their fruitless cycle game ended up giftwrapping a third goal right to the Maple Leafs. Wayne Simmonds tried to force an ill-advised pass across the ice in the offensive zone and Michael Grabner pounced, deflecting the pass and chasing the puck down before wristing it past Mason for his team's second breakaway goal of the night. The Flyers may have outshot Toronto 15-5 in the second period in a furious attempt at a comeback, but they found themselves down by the same two-goal deficit that they faced twenty minutes earlier.
With their playoff lives now truly on the line, Philadelphia delivered. First, it was Andrew MacDonald who beat Bernier with a wrist shot from the point following punishing pressure from the Bellemare unit. The Flyers stepped up their attack even more after the MacDonald goal, outshooting the Leafs 18-8 overall in the final stanza. But it took until the final minutes of play, with Steve Mason pulled for the extra attacker, before Philadelphia could finally tie the game. It was Wayne Simmonds who came through, deflecting a Mark Streit shot and earning the Flyers a key point.
Questions to Answer:
- OK, seriously, the Flyers: last night you got kicked around by a team right in competition with you for a playoff spot. Tonight you're at home, facing the worst team in the NHL, who has lost four games in a row, whose best forward is suspended, and whose fans are actively rooting for you to win this game. Your playoff hopes are still currently 100 percent in your own hands. You're not really going to piss that away tonight, are you? They did steal a point with a late third period comeback, but not finding a way to beat one of the worst teams in the NHL with the playoffs on the line is pretty inexcusable.
Comment of the Night:
4th line the only line doing damage right now and MacDonald has a goal. What is going on in Flyerland tonight?