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Flyers 2, Avalanche 1: Not sure how they did it, but they did!

So, how many heart attacks did you have in the third period?

Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

1st Period

The Flyers started this game about as well as a team can — forcing Andrew Hammond, who made his first start since early last season, to make some tricky saves early on. Michal Neuvirth was welcomed to the game via an Andrew MacDonald turnover (surprising, I know), that lead to a mini breakaway being the only major defensive breakdown in the early going.

Matt Read had one of the game’s best early chances, as he dangled around the Colorado defense and got a point blank backhand shot on goal, that was stopped by Hammond. The new look fourth line of Dale Weise - Jori Lehtera - Matt Read and the second line looked exceptionally strong early on, especially the former. The Patrick line was able to generate many high quality chances, primarily by winning board battles as they tend to do.

The game’s first goal was quite the sight. Ivan Provorov found Shayne Gostisbehere at the near faceoff circle, Ghost deked out the forechecking forward and whipped a pass across the ice to captain Claude Giroux who made no mistake, clapping a one time rocket by Hammond. 1-0 Flyers.

The second line was at it yet again, hemming the Avs in their own zone and as part of the third line jumped on the ice in Jordan Weal, Weal did fantastic work to keep the puck away from the Avs as Provorov got on the ice and unleashed a wicked slap shot from the point that found its way by Hammond. 2-0 Flyers. This goal was a prime example of what the Flyers did well in the first, a solid cycle game and getting traffic in front of point shots.

The period would end with that same score and overall the Flyers played a very eventful first period. They generated 28 corsi for and allowed 23, very unlike the usually medium to low event Flyers. The only Flyers to be below 50% corsi for were all of the members of the third line (Wayne Simmonds, Scott Laughton, Weal) and MacDonald. The second line and fourth lines lead the way with the first not too far behind. While their shot selection could have been a little better, the Flyers did a solid job of at least getting traffic in front, when taking point shots.

1st period gameflow/heatmap

2nd Period

The Flyers began the period on the penalty kill after a late penalty by Sean Couturier in the first, however they would be able to kill it off. Shortly after with just a little under 3 minutes gone by in the period, Lehtera took... I mean this guy is out there for veteran presence and he took probably the definition of a “rookie penalty”. He knew he was going to get beat so he just... stuck his leg out? I wonder if Travis Konecny did that what would happen?

Luckily for Lehtera and the Flyers, the penalty kill absolutely dominated the Avalanche. Just seconds after the kill though, the Avs got a quick point shot off and with only Travis Sanheim back on defense, Matt Nieto buried a rebound in front, cutting the Flyers lead in half. While at first glance I thought how is MacDonald not back there, on second glance, I’m not sure there’s anything Mac could have really done differently there. He didn’t play it perfectly, but Voracek probably should have been quicker to get back.

Neuvirth then decided to make a save of the year candidate worthy stop on Miko Rantanen, and. in Michal Neuvirth fashion, got hurt most likely due to this save. I feel bad for this guy with all of his injuries but dude, at some point you just need to stay healthy.

All of the good work done by the fourth line in the first period quickly was wiped away with their performance in the second. From the Lehtera penalty to just an all around poor performance the Flyers quickly were left to really only rely on three lines.

At the end of two the Flyers still held on to a 2-1 lead, but the second was definitely a set back. The Flyers were only able to generate 16 corsi for and while they only gave up 17 compared to the first period’s 23, they still lost the battle in the second. On the bright side, they did hold the advantage in scoring chances 13-7 and high danger chances 4-3. Shot selection also improved as the heatmap below suggests.

2nd period gameflow/heatmap

3rd Period

The third period began with minimal chances early on, with arguably the best chance of the period early on coming just before the halfway mark when Petr Mrazek made a point blank save on Rantanen.

With just about five minutes remaining in the period, Provorov made possibly the biggest play of the game. Nathan Mackinnon had the legs moving, looking like he was going to easily get around the Flyers defenseman. Then Provorov made the kind of play that he’s made all year, sealing his man off by being aggressive at the blue line, stopping Mackinnon in his tracks.

With just under four minutes to go, Mrazek made another great save on Erik Johnson. The defenseman was in deep and fired a bad angle shot that Mrazek calmly handled. After that, however, the Flyers struggled with something that’s been way too apparent of late, clearing the puck. The players on the ice are dead tired and at least two failed clears, then an icing. This is something that they simply cannot get away with if they make the playoffs.

So there could be an attempt to describe how the final minute went, but I think all it would end up being is a bunch of gibberish and screaming, so let’s just say things got wild, folks! The Flyers somehow, by some kind of freaking miracle hung on to win this hockey game and record their 92nd point, as they hope to make it back to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’re off until Sunday now, where they face the Bruins in Philadelphia.

Final gameflow/heatmap

All stats courtesy of Natural Stat Trick