Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 57: PHI 5, MIN 4 - Where the Wild Wins Are
There you go, Flyers! You see what happens when you let the other team outshoot you to the moon? You win!
For some reason.
Just like they did a month ago, the Flyers look to start a 10-game point streak by WINNING over the Minnesota Wild, this time on the road by a 5-4 final tally. A matchup that saw the Flyers fail to score last year has now produced 20 goals in 2 contests. Go figure.
After setting a season-high 51 shots in a 4-1 loss at the hands of the Penguins Monday night, the Flyers were unable to sustain that level of pressure. They mustered just 26 shots on net, and were facing tough circumstances being in a different time zone and on the second half of a back-to-back.
In the latter half of a back-to-back, it's always critical to get off to a good start, hopefully building up a lead before the fatigue sets in. The Flyers appeared to be doing good on this - less than 3 minutes in, an Ivan Provorov wrist shot deflected off a body and past Devan Dubnyk for the game's first goal. Justin Bailey, who made his Flyers debut in this one, took away Dubnyk's eyes with a solid screen in front.
However, the Flyers got themselves in penalty trouble, and started to collapse. Zach Parise capitalized on a 5-on-3 power play, stashing a quick shot from the side of the net past Anthony Stolarz. From there, Luke Kunin fired two identical looking slot shots past Stollie for his 3rd and 4th goals in the last 2 games, and all of a sudden the Flyers found themselves in a big hole.
Just like Monday, the refs tried to deliver the knockout punch. Right before intermission, Robert Hagg was given a double minor for... watching Jason Zucker get high-sticked by a teammate. With Minnesota up 2 already, one more goal could've turned this thing ugly.
Thankfully, the Flyers killed it off, and then went to work. Given a power play of their own, the Flyers made good on a double-deflection that was last touched by JVR. Just a few minutes later, Travie Sanheim worked into the offensive zone, used his smooth skating to get to the net, and slid the puck over to elite 1st line center Sean Couturier, who banged home the game-tying goal.
With both teams in need of a win, the Wild somehow were able to break the tie early in the 3rd. An angle shot from Jared Spurgeon snuck past Stolarz and went under the net, as Stolarz knocked it off its morings as the puck went camera down. Video review officially gave Minnesota the lead. Again, a potential death blow.
But once again, the Flyers wouldn't go down quietly. A few minutes later, the Flyers took advance of an ill-timed Wild line change, and Captain Claude blasted the puck past Dubnyk to tie the score. Once again, when things mattered most, the captain came through with his 17th goal of the season.
With just under 6 minutes to play, the refs, probably feeling a little guilty, didn't miss a tripping penalty on Nick Seeler, sending Philly to a late power play. Shayne Gostisbehere was able to hit the net with a slap shot, and JVRn't you in love with those hands, James van Riemsdyk himself, snuck the puck past a sprawling Dubnyk to give the Flyers their first lead in over 45 minutes.
Any sort of comeback bid Minnesota had plan was stalled due to a holding the stick penalty on workhorse Ryan Suter. The Flyers survived the final few minutes, and were able to steal 2 points in the State of Hockey.
With where they are in the standings, losing back-to-back games in regulation is almost a death sentence for the Flyers. They can only afford to lose about 7 games in regulation if they want to make the playoffs. They might not have played great, but give credit where credit's due. With their backs against the wall, the Flyers fought back, and kept the perception that they are still in the hunt alive.
This game was dedicated to all the short-sighted Flyers fans thinking Anthony Stolarz was ready to be the Flyers permanent backup. I do like Stollie, but he wasn't great tonight. Both of Kunin's goals were stoppable, and the Spurgeon goal was very weak. But I don't fully trust that he's ready to play 20-25 games at the NHL just yet.
Other goalie news - Brian Elliott was sent down to the Phantoms on a conditioning stint. Mike McKenna was sent back to the Flyers, having completed a conditioning stint of his own. But he may be on waivers himself once Elliott returns.
Shayne Gostisbehere didn't have the greatest start to this game - an awful turnover in the slot led directly to Kunin's 1st goal. However, he made up for it on the power play, as both Philadelphia PPGs resulted from a Ghost point shot. He finally hit the net in this game, and was rewarded.
Devan Dubnyk's career against Philadelphia has been a mixed bag. He's got 3 shutouts, but his win % is under .500. Granted, he was a part of some bad Oilers and Coyotes teams, but still. Thankfully, the Flyers saw the bad version of Dubnyk down the stretch.
When are we going to see Phil Myers? I understand him sitting while the point streak was alive, but sitting him on the 2nd half of a back-to-back after a loss doesn't make any sense. If he doesn't play in at least part of the Flyers weekend home-and-home with Detroit, he might as well be sent down. Like Sanheim last year, I'd rather see him play in the AHL then sit in the NHL.
1st - C. Giroux (PHI) - 1 G, 1 A
2nd - J. Spurgeon (MIN) - 1 G, 2 A
3rd - L. Kunin (MIN) - 2 G
Next PHI - 2/16 vs. DET (22-28-7)
MIN - 2/15 vs. NJ (21-27-8)