We had all seen this game before.
The Flyers, who have lost three straight games and in particular took a defeat in a game on Saturday night that they largely outplayed the New Jersey Devils, found themselves down 2-0 in a game in which they had largely outplayed the New York Islanders. It would be pretty easy to expect things to continue to snowball, the way that they have for the Flyers in games like this recently.
Turns out that sometimes, against all odds, you just have to get a couple of breaks.
Because the Flyers got just those, scoring two goals in the latter part of this game before picking up a game-winner in overtime off the stick of Claude Giroux. The 3-2 win was the Flyers’ first since January 12, and it (very temporarily) put them back in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
To be sure, this was a game where the Flyers came out firing. Thomas Greiss — who entered tonight’s game coming off of two straight shutouts — was tested frequently, as every Flyers line seemed like it was getting its cracks on net.
So, of course, after controlling much of the period and getting those good chances on Greiss, it was the Islanders who would score first on a comedy of errors. A neutral-zone turnover would allow John Tavares a chance alone on Mason, and while he would make the initial save and a desparation save on the rebound, he was still stuck on the ice as Nick Leddy would swoop in to fire the loose puck past him and into the net to open up the scoring.
A late-first period penalty gave the Flyers a power play heading into the second period, and a hook down low would give the Flyers another one (with a brief 5-on-3 overlap in the middle). Late in that power play, a netmouth scramble would ensue, one that certainly appeared to see a Flyer (I think it was Jakub Voracek?) poke the puck over the goal line. No goal was called on the ice, though, and that was confirmed after review — due to the officials deeming intent to blow the play dead, presumably because they believed Greiss had covered the puck even though he had not.
(That, for the record, is the worst rule in hockey.)
Anywho, because the Flyers would just miss an opportunity to tie the game up, what happened next should surprise no one, as Alan Quine would pick up the puck on a rebound right in front of Mason and pop-fly it over him and into the net as a bunch of people wearing orange and white jerseys watched him do it. That was cool.
It would have been reasonable at this point to assume that the Flyers — who, again, had controlled the vast majority of the game flow and almost certainly deserved a better fate than to be down 2-0 — would start to crumble and fall apart, as that is what’s happened to them in each of their last three games once they fell behind by two goals.
But something miraculous then happened: not that! In fact, the Flyers kept pushing, and ended up getting rewarded for it! After continuing their charge at Greiss and the Islanders’ end, Brayden Schenn corralled a loose puck that Radko Gudas tossed in front of the net and was able to just barely nudge it over to Wayne Simmonds, who wired a perfect shot past Greiss and cut that deficit in half.
It was the first goal allowed in three games for Greiss, who was fantastic tonight. He would need to be, because the Flyers’ surge would continue through the rest of the second period. Not to say that the orange and black played a perfect period — Mason was also forced to make some nice saves due to some Flyers breakdowns — but the Flyers had clearly outgunned the home team through two periods.
And after a couple of good chances by the Islanders to start the third that did not work out for them, the Flyers would finally get a lucky bounce and get a much-deserved game-tying goal. Schenn got the puck out from the boards to the blue line, where Ivan Provorov would swoop in and carry it in along the left side of the offensive zone. His centering pass, meant for Travis Konecny, would instead bounce off of Isles defenseman Adam Pelech’s skate and into the net, giving the Flyers their second tally of the night.
That was the only goal either team would score in the third period — though, again, that was not for a lack of chances by either team. Four near-consecutive minutes of power play time for the Islanders saw them nearly beat Steve Mason on some hectic sequences, but nothing would come of those. The Flyers themselves would get a power play with under three minutes left, but couldn’t take advantage of the couple of solid chances they had.
So we would head to overtime, where Greiss would rob Provorov on a one-time pass from Schenn and Mason would stone Tavares on a breakaway. But then it was Voracek who would pull the puck away from Tavares himself on the boards in the Islanders’ zone, carry it around to the other side of the ice, and pass it up to Gostisbehere. Ghost’s initial shot caromed right back to him, and as he wrapped around the net, Greiss lunged for the post to try and prevent the wrap-around goal. That gave Ghost a chance to pass to Giroux at the front of the crease, and he’d make no mistake by firing the shot over Greiss to score his first goal in 12 games and end tonight’s game in the process.
This was not the prettiest win the Flyers will ever pick up, but despite only scoring two goals in regulation, it was a game where they showed the type of firepower they can put on display. 47 shots on goal is the second-most the Flyers have had in a game this season, and when they’re getting that many opportunities and outgunning their opponents the way they did tonight (the Flyers had more shots, chances, and high-danger chances than Brooklyn did, both overall and at 5-on-5), they’re going to win some hockey games.
Back in New York on Wednesday night to take on the Rangers. Two more games on the schedule before another five-day break, because the NHL’s scheduling is actually good and makes a lot of sense. Go Flyers.