Wrapup: Another 'Flyerstyle' Comeback in 3-2 SO Win in Brooklyn
The Philadelphia Flyers continue to live dangerously. The club has led or been tied within the third period of all 12 games they've played to date, yet have only played a single game this season (opening night in Los Angeles) in which they have not trailed at any point of the game.
After Wednesday night's late comeback 4-3 overtime win over Detroit at the Wells Fargo Center, Flyers rookie import Roman Lyubimov declared with a smile and a shrug that "maybe it's our style" to win via playing with urgency once trailing.
On Thursday night, Flyerstyle stayed in fashion. A game-tying power play goal in the final minute of the third period and a shootout bonus point put the Flyers (6-5-1) back in the win column again with a 3-2 road win over the New York Islanders.
In truth, the Flyers played a much stronger game for 60-plus minutes in Thursday night's tilt in Brooklyn than they did in their four previous comeback wins. The latest comeback made for good drama (and, in this game at least, a deserved victory) but it really wasn't like most of the others. This game was actually a potential step in the direction of breaking out of this cycle of needing to rely on comebacks to win.
Philadelphia was the better team early in the game but was not able to put a puck past Jaroslav Halak on 14 shots. To their credit, they stayed with it to eventually lead 1-0 for most of a seesaw second period until a late power play goal tied the game heading into the third period. Philly trailed for the first time with 7:05 left in regulation until pulling even with 58 seconds left. After dominating overtime with an edge of six shots to one, Philly won the skills competition, 1-0.
Travis Konecny and Matt Read (power play) scored in regulation for Philly, while Claude Giroux's round-two goal in the shootout proved to be the game-winner. Starting for the third consecutive game, Michal Neuvirth turned back 25 of 27 shots in regulation and overtime and then stopped Cal Clutterbuck, Josh Bailey and John Taveres in the shootout.
Tavares (power play goal) scored late in the second period for the Isles and former Flyers defenseman Dennis Seidenberg put the Isles ahead for the first time in the middle stages of the third period. Halak, who stopped 40 of 42 shots in regulation and overtime, deserved a better fate on this night but was still the player most responsible for New York even salvaging one point on a night where they got outplayed overall.
The Flyers, who were playing for the eighth time in 13 nights and in the second half of back-to-back nights, did not play a flawless game but nevertheless showed good energy and perseverance on a night where it looked like they might skate away with a puck possession "victory" but a loss the only place where it counts -- on the scoreboard.
It's not often that an opposing team blocks 18 shot attempts and a club misses the net on another 19 shot attempts yet still finishes the night with an edge of 15 shots (42-27) in a game that was either tied or within one goal either way the entire 65 minutes. The Flyers were credited with eight takeaways and New York was tagged for 11 giveaways of their own. Plain and simple, that's a dominant night in terms of the Flyers' desired attacking and forechecking process. Philly also controlled the faceoff circle, winning 57 percent of the draws.
On most nights, that combination would be good enough for a regulation win. In this tilt, it was enough for a comeback point with a shootout bonus; the first time since the skills competition was foisted on the league in 2005 that Philadelphia has won its first two shootouts of a given season.
Another heartening sign was Neuvirth's best start of the season, including opening night in LA. Although he's gotten a run of consecutive starts over this week, his performances had been uneven before settling in over the latter portion of the games. On Thursday, Neuvirth was strong throughout the night until -- and then after -- allowing a leaky goal that put New York ahead.
At 11:11 of the second period, Radko Gudas sprung Konecny on a breakaway with a pass through the neutral zone. Halak partially gloved Konecny's first shot but the 19-year-old rookie quickly followed up his own rebound to give Philly a 1-0 lead.
The 1-0 edge held until 19:31 of the middle stanza. After the Flyers killed off the front end of a 5-on-3 disadvantage with Nick Schultz (interference) and Sean Couturier (hooking) in the penalty box, New York remained on a 5-on-4 advantage and scored before the Flyers could get Schultz or a replacement into the play. The puck was worked D-to-D and then over to Casey Cizikas, who threaded the needle for Tavares near the left post for his fifth goal of the season. Neuvirth had no reasonable chance of stopping that one. Thomas Hickey earned the secondary assist.
The 1-1 deadlock continued until 12:55 of the third period when Seidenberg wrist a shot from the top of the right circle that slipped through the five-hole and went into the net. Josh Bailey and Calvin de Haan collected the apples. This was a strictly routine shot -- Neuvirth saw it and it wasn't deflected in front -- that the Flyers goalie absolutely needed to make.
Fortunately, Neuvirth would get a reprieve that provided a second chance to be a hero. Philly struck at the 19:02. mark with Cizikas in the penalty box for high sticking, Neuvirth pulled for an extra skater and most of the Flyers' second power unit on the ice --Couturier, Nick Cousins, Read and Mark Streit plus Shayne Gostisbehere and extra forward Jakub Voracek. A Streit shot bounced off the end wall to Cousins near the left post. Cousins put the puck across the crease where Read knocked it into the net for his sixth goal of the season. Voracek was close by as well.
The Flyers had their chances in OT to win the game and pick up what could eventually be a meaningful notch on the ROW (regulation/overtime win) tiebreaking column. Halak prevented it with a half-dozen saves in the five-minute session, which saw the Flyers on a 4-on-3 power play for most of the latter portion. The biggest thing, however, was coming away with a second point from the game.
Neuvirth did his part, going 2-for-2 in the first two rounds. After Cousins was unable convert his attempt for the Flyers in the bottom of the first round, it was Giroux's turn. The Flyers' captain, who twice now has been successful at moving in deliberately on shootout attempts rather than attacking with speed, accelerated suddenly as he skated above the hash marks, made multiple dekes to successfully get Halak moving the wrong way and then tucked the puck home on the forehand inside the right side of the net.
Still needing one more save, Neuvirth had to go one-on-one with Tavares in the final round. The Philadelphia goaltender, and his team, prevailed.
The Flyers return to action on Saturday in Montreal. The Canadiens (9-0-1) remain the only NHL team who has yet to lose in regulation this season. The Flyers played the Habs tough on October 24 but lost 3-1 on a game that was up for grabs in the third period. The final Montreal goal was an empty netter.