Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 59: PHI 3, DET 1 - Hart Day in America
No, no, it's Hart Day in America, not hockey, right?
Well either way, who cares. The Philadelphia Flyers WIN their 12th game in their last 14 tries, beating the Detroit Red Wings for the second straight day, this time by a more sensible 3-1 score.
Despite the low score, don't be fooled into thinking the Flyers played a great game on Sunday. Philadelphia was beaten soundily from a territorial standpoint, outshot 38-23 overall, including a whopping 12-4 thrashing in the 3rd. Yet as they have been so often during this month long hot streak, the Flyers were bailed out by their goalie, as Carter Hart rebounded from his worst NHL period to put on a show in front of a national audience.
Scott Gordon made an interesting tweak to the Flyers lineup, electing to give Phil Myers his NHL debut without scratching a defenseman. Justin Bailey found himself in the press box Sunday. In response to the end of yesterday's game, tonight's showdown started with a bang. 53 seconds in, Anthony Mantha was finally forced to answer for his questionable cross check on Giroux, getting into a scrap with Wayne Simmonds, setting the tone for the game.
Or at least attempting to. While their play overall the last month hasn't been great, it seems like the Flyers still have trouble starting games, an issue that dates back to the Hakstol era. Philadelphia was a bit sloppy with the puck early on, giving the Wings some early chances. Yet the Flyers put things together later in the frame, when a streaking Sean Couturier threaded a perfect pass to the net that Oskar Lindblom redirected in. That and Hart's stellar play were the only reasons the team led after 1.
The second period played itself out fairly similarly. Flyers a couple good plays masked by a few more sloppy plays in route to being slightly outshot. Only this time, they didn't get bailed out on the scoresheet. Carter Hart made a save on a Nicklas Kronwall slap shot, but Darren Helm outmusceled Robert Hagg to the rebound, stashing home his 5th goal of the season to tie the game.
With the game tied 1-1 going into the 3rd and the Penguins already winning today against the Rangers, the Flyers were facing another massive period. They started it off strong - just over 2 minutes in, Ivan Provorov blasted a point shot through a TK screen and in, restoring Philadelphia's one goal lead.
The only problem was the Flyers would manage just 3 more shots on goal the rest of the way. Philadelphia backed off, allowing Detroit to control the neutral zone and overall dominate play. The Red Wings came oh-so close to tying it - they hit two posts on the same power play, and created several great chances at the front of the net. Yet Detroit was unable to finish any of them off, as Starter Hart once again proved to be a brick wall between the pipes. After a bevy of big saves, Oskar Lindblom put the nail in the coffin with a empty-net goal from his knees, securing yet another undeserved Flyers win.
For the longest time, it seems like the ground has been ready to drop out on the Flyers. Yet despite being constantly outplayed, the Flyers have been able to take games for opponents of all quality thanks in large part to special teams and (especially) goaltending. Not only have the Flyers addressed their early season weaknesses, they've turned them into strengths. Momentum is on their side, and the team is within 6 points of a playoff spot, and have now caught up to Buffalo in the standings (with 1 more game played). All you can do is laugh, and hope this goes on long enough that they can pull off the miracle.
Phil Myers NHL debut today was a solid one. I would have liked to see him play more than 9:53, but baby steps. He had a good game overall and looked calm, much like his fellow rookie in net. In fact, it was a Myers pinch that helped keep the puck alive on the sequence that lead to Provy's game-winning goal.
Speaking of defenseman and time on ice, Shayne Gostisbehere received the 2nd lowest TOI of any Flyers blueliner (12:18). Ghost hasn't been great overall lately, but it was weird to see him underused after having a strong performance on Saturday. I've liked a lot of what Gordon has done, but giving the Ghost Bear 4 fewer minutes than Andrew MacDonald better be nothing more than a 1 game thing.
Jonathan Bernier started this game for Detroit after relieving Jimmy Howard yesterday, but the inverse wound up playing out Sunday. Howard played the final 40 minutes, as Bernier left with an upper-body injury, likely resulting from a 1st period collision with Dylan Larkin.
Jake Voracek's 9-game point streak came to an end today, probably because I mentioned in the Game Notes on Saturday.
Ivan Provorov's game winner was his 6th goal of the season. The weird thing? All 6 have come on the road.
The Red Wings may be a bad team, but you can't say they don't try their best to make things interesting. They have been in 32 one goal games this season, right near the top of the NHL.
The Flyers PK under Dave Hakstol operated at a 73.5% rate through the Flyers first 31 games, second worst in the NHL. Since hiring Scott Gordon, it at to 81.6%, 14th in that timespan. They were 2 for 2 tonight, another instance of their positive impact to the Flyers as of late.
Philadelphia completed their first sweep of a season series of 2 or more games over Detroit since the 1982-83 season.
Oskar Lindblom recorded his first career 2 goal game tonight, and earned the POG helmet as a result.
1st - C. Hart (PHI) - .974 SV% (37 Saves/38 Shots)
2nd - A. Mantha (DET) - 1 Less Dangerous Hit Than Yesterday, Fight
3rd - I. Provorov (PHI) - 1 G
PHI - 2/19 vs. TB (44-11-4)
DET - 2/20 vs. CHI (24-26-9)