Flyers Fan Reaction (FFR1) Gm 62: PIT 3, PHI 4 (OT) - The G Train
Sometimes the last stop on the ride is the best.
For the first time outdoors, the Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 4-3, in dramatic fashion, sudden death OT, over the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2019 Stadium Series at Lincoln Financial Field. The better Pennsylvanian team prevails!
This wasn't a game the Flyers should've won. They were outshot 30-17 after 2 periods. They had to start Brian Elliott first because Carter Hart was struggling, and then because Carter Hart was injured. They were down 3-1 with 4 minutes left. They were down 3-2 with 30 seconds left.
And like they have so many times this year, the Flyers came out of nowhere and prevailed in the craziest of ways.
I was among the 69,000 faithful that braved the cold rain to watch the Flyers play at the Linc. Unfortunately, I didn't get to my seat in time to see the first goal of the game (side note - the intros were awesome, especially Gritty). Which belonged to Pittsburgh. Which was scored by Sidney Crosby. Of course it was.
Despite the sloppy conditions and sloppier play of the Flyers, Philly was able to get creative. Scott Gordon made quite a few changes up front, but kept the Lindblom-Couturier-Voracek line together. That paid major dividends, as that trio executed a perfect passing play that our elite first line center Coots finished off with a top-corner one-timer, tying the game. Several big hits and scrums later, the first period came to a close with the game still knotted at 1.
Unfortunately, the Flyers failed to pick up their play in the 2nd. While some of their struggles may have been induced by the weather, it seemed like the Pens were handling it just fine. And sure enough, one second past the halfway mark, Justin Schultz picked up his own rebound and buried the puck top corner. Elliott had no chance, his eyes completely taken away by a Hornqvist screen, and the Pens took a 2-1 lead into 2nd intermission.
Whoever got the first goal of the 3rd seemed like a good pick to take the game. Thankfully, Brian Elliott was playing very strong. He made a big rebound save here, and a nice glove save on Malk-no, no, no, look up, Brian!
6 and a half minutes into the 3rd, a Malkin one-timer hit off the glove of Elliott, popped high into the air, deflected off a rain drop and then the back of his right pad and into the Flyers net. If you wanted to draw up a goal to deflate a team and a fanbase, you couldn't do much better than that. Thousands paraded to the exits, viewing Malkin's goal as the nail in the coffin.
But the Flyers weren't dead yet. Anyone who has watched this team semi-consistently over the last 2 years knows that. And despite the clock winding down and the deficit still at two, there was always that "why not us?" feeling inside the guts of those who remained in their seats.
That optimism was rewarded when, with play already at 4-on-4, Matt Cullen took a slashing minor, putting Philly on a rare 4-on-3 power play. Just seconds after Robert Hagg and Evgeni Malkin exited the box, with Brian Elliott at the bench, the Flyers finally found an answer for Murray. The Pens netminder made a great save on Jake Voracek, but James van Reboundsdyk buried the loose puck. JVRn't you glad that man's a Flyer?
The problem was the Flyers were still down one, and it looked like that fluke Malkin goal would stand the test of time. Pittsburgh still had the lead as the clock wound down. After a couple decent chances went for naught, the Flyers won an offensive zone faceoff from the left circle. Jake Voracek stepped in from the boards and threw the easiest shot in on net-
What the OH-MY-GOSH-JAKE-JAKE-THANK-YOU-JAKE!!!!!!!!
Jake the SNIPING Snake took a page out of Patrick Kane's book, throwing a bad angle shot through the legs of Jack Johnson and Matt Murray for the most improbable, impossible, game-tying goal, with 19.7 seconds left!
What else would you expect from this team?
All of a sudden, the Linc erupted again. The Flyers had new life. They had Pittsburgh on the run. And for just the second time in NHL history, an outdoor game was about to be ended in 3-on-3.
The extra session was a microcosm of the game itself. The Penguins dominated early, with Phil Kessel letting his lethal wrister go from point blank range not once, but twice. And yet Brian Elliott stood in his head, giving the Flyers their chance to end it. Nolan Patrick dropped the puck back to the captain.
It was over right there.
Playing in his 800th game, the 3rd player to do so as a Flyer, once the captain had the puck on his stick, time seemed to slow down. There was no stopping Claude Giroux. All anyone and everyone could do was watch the captain cut to the middle, step around Justin Schultz, and... well, you already know the rest.
CAPTAIN CLAUDE says "GOOD NIGHT, GOOD HOCKEY, GOODBYE, PENGUINS!" In one sweeping motion, one of the greatest outdoor comebacks ever was complete, keeping whatever faint playoff hopes the Flyers have alive.
While I know I keep saying how poorly the Flyers are playing and that they're due for regression, the truth is, who knows anymore? The Flyers have always been a team that defies logic. When you think they'll be good, they're bad, and when they look bad, they're suddenly good. At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if they made the playoffs or won the lottery.
So what to do now? The trade deadline should shed some light on that, but the only thing to do is hope. The Flyers are so far in deep that their only hope of making this a "successful" season is pulling off the miracle playoff run. And yes, I know I just said I wouldn't be surprised if they won the lottery, but I meant more of turning another 3% chance into gold then them being in that position come seasons end. But regardless of what happens, the Flyers are officially fun again.
Let that sink in.
Claude Giroux scored his 11th OT winner Saturday night, the most of any Flyer ever.
With the win, Philadelphia ends their string of outdoor futility, improving to 1-2-1 in outdoor games. The Penguins fall to 2-3-0 outside.
In fairness to the Pens, they had to play the final 2 periods and OT with only four defenseman. Brian Dumoulin was concussed on a thunderous but legal check from the Wayne Train (DOPS has already announced he will not have a hearing), and Kris Letang was tackled by Shayne Gostisbehere and injured on the ensuing scrum. Kind of incredible they were able to hold the Flyers down for so long.
The Flyers are far from the only team to pull off a comeback outdoors. In fact, 13 of the 27 outdoor games played have featured a come from behind victor. 5 teams (including the Flyers) have come back from multiple goals down.
But no one has comeback quite like Philly did. The Flyers were the first team ever to stage a multi-goal comeback in the 3rd period of play.
Corban Knight was recalled prior to Saturday's game, so if someone *cough cough Wayne Simmonds* is traded, it seems he's the most likely option to jump into the lineup Tuesday.
While both goalies were solid for most of the game, it was Brian Elliott's play down the stretch that put the Flyers over the edge. On the other hand, Matt Murray must be kicking himself for the last two Flyers goals, both squeakers through his 5-hole. The Voracek goal was particularly ugly.
The official update on Carter Hart is that he is out 10 days minimum. Apparently he was hiding the injury, which occurred before the Montreal game, and it wasn't known until a team doctor discovered it Saturday. The good news is Elliott and Cam Talbot should be able to hold down the fort until he returns. What happens then is anybody's guess.
By the way, Hart is going to be sent down on Monday. Don't freak out. You hear me? It's just a paper transaction necessary to make Hart eligible for the Calder Cup playoffs. So get your popcorn ready for all the idiot responses on the Flyers twitter page.
The only thing uglier than the weather might have been when Gritty went streaking in the 2nd period.
There was only one man who could be tonight's POG.
Thanks for everything, Wayne. Assuming Simmer's traded by the deadline Monday at 3PM, we'll have a special tribute for all the wonderful moments in Wayne's illustrious Flyers career.
Speaking of the trade deadline, the plan is to recap all the big moves (going all the way back to the Muzzin trade) on Monday or Tuesday. If (and probably when) the Flyers make any moves, that will have its own piece.
1st - J. Voracek (PHI) - 1 G, 2 A
2nd - J. Schultz (PIT) - 1 G
3rd - S. Couturier (PHI) - 1 G, 1 A
PIT - 2/26 @ CBJ (35-23-3)
PHI - 2/26 vs. BUF (29-24-8)