FFR2 Gm 12: PHI 4, NJ 3 (SO) - Farabeauties
Whether it's a goal, a shootout victory, or even a competent penalty kill (I'll give them the benefit of the doubt tonight), you'll always remember your first!
The Philadelphia Flyers WIN 4-3, shootout style (weird stuff happens around Halloween) over the New Jersey Devils, their second win is as many meetings so far this season. This was a game the Flyers needed to win in the worst way. Following up consecutive blowout losses to Metro opponents in the Islanders and Penguins, falling to a team in the bottom of the standings in any fashion would have been devastating.
Thankfully, these new age Flyers decided to avoid the graveyard that past clubs usually fall into. Though New Jersey has won just 2 of their first 11 games, the Devils did play a very solid game against the Flyers Friday night. The game got off to a "same old Flyers" start with the Wayne Train beating Phil Myers to the middle down low and then beating Hart in close for first goal as a Devil.
Here we go again-NOPE. Not tonight. Appalled of their lack of effort on Tuesday, the Flyers were able to take advantage of New Jersey's biggest weakness - play in their own zone, from forwards to defenseman and especially between the pipes. Fittingly, the Flyers best line of the season (it's not even close), what from here on out will be know as the TLC line, responded in kind just a few minutes later. Oskar Lindblom capped off a beautiful passing play with TK and Coots by chipping the puck over Mackenzie Blackwood's shoulder at the side of the net, tying the score.
It wouldn't be the last time they made an impact on the game, either. The score remained tied at the end of the first period, the Flyers once again dominated play in the second to the tune whopping of 64.71% Corsi and 74.23% xG rates. It did a take a bit of luck to break through. A fairly innocent looking wrist shot caromed off Matt Tennyson, who was battling with TK in front, plopped in the crease and spun into the net, crossing the line just before Lindblom could reach it. That means elite 1st line center Sean Couturier, noted TLC line member is credited for his 3rd goal of the year, earning Philadelphia their first lead of the game.
Yet despite the territorial domination, the Flyers were unable to pull away. A Sami Vatanen snipe from the high-slot gave the Devils their second power play goal of the night, enough to send the game into the final 20 minutes deadlocked at deuces.
About halfway into the period, Taylor Hall broke the tie with either a really sick or really stupid goal, depending on how you look at it. Hall tipped an outlet pass past Justin Braun at the blueline, creating a 2-on-1. Ghost went down to block the pass, causing Hall to deke to the middle, ready to shoot. To his credit, Braun hustled back and knocked Hall down, but the puck moved forward off Hall's stick, and found it's way through Hart's 5-hole, appearing to be tipped in by Braun.
We'd all be going hard on both Braun and Hart had that goal stood up as the game-winner. But the Flyers weren't going to leave their teammates out to dry. Just 91 ticks later, the Flyers third line (which posted a stellar 64.29% Corsi) picked up the offense. Michael Raffl tried a cross crease pass after a great entry into the offensive zone. The puck tipped off Ivan Provorov's stick into the slot, finding the soft spot in the Devils d-zone coverage, and was lasered to the back of the net by... no. It can't be. Could it be?
JOEL FARABEE with his FIRST NHL goal and this one counts a thousand times over! After all of the tough luck around the net and at the blueline, all of the subtle good plays he's made, finally rewarded with a game-tying snipe and a half. Carter Hart, who made a couple of big saves early, made a few more late, enough to send the game into overtime.
OT was actually kind of boring, at least compared to the ceiling of 3-on-3. There was only one odd-man rush, a 2-on-1 where TK skied a wrist shot. The Flyers actually did put the puck in the net, but it was correctly called back for a kick. The player who would've scored that goal? Joel Farabee. Yeah, that snakebitten thing isn't going away easy.
With pessimism swirling amidst the visiting fans, the game progressed to a shootout. Jake Voracek was stopped, then Kyle Palmieri and Claude Giroux traded post shots, the latter of which was just inches away from making highlight reels. Hart poke-checked Jack Hughes, effectively putting the game into sudden death. With the game on the line, Sean Couturier went all L1-R1 right stick left on Blackwood, the EA Code for the Forsberg, putting the Flyers on top. Starter stopped a 5-hole bid from Hall and cellied hard, as the Flyers were able to celebrate a much-needed win.
Couturier's regulation goal and Forsberg winner are even more impressive when you realize he's probably playing hurt. The biggest evidence of that is how few face-offs he's taken lately - five on Tuesday, and just three tonight (he lost all of them). Judging by that stat and the move, he's probably got something bugging his left arm or hand. But that's just speculation.
Speaking of face-offs, it seemed like the Flyers were getting kicked out of the face-off circle a ton Friday, especially Claude Giroux.
One major reason for the Devils failure is they get worse as the game goes on. New Jersey has been outscored 19-7 in the 3rd period this year and are 0-4 in games decided after regulation (0-1 in OT, 0-3 in shootouts).
If there's one area I'll criticize the Flyers on, it's the struggles of the first power play unit. They were hardly able to control the puck in the offensive zone, let alone create chances, and this isn't just a one game problem. Whether it's personnel or formation or strategy, something needs to be changed here.
Even with the victory in tonight's exhibition, the Flyers are now just 2-8 in shootouts against the Devils all-time. Stupid Martin Brodeur.
Speaking of goalies playing great in shootouts, Carter Hart has stopped 9 of 11 shots (.818 save percentage) in his NHL shootout career (including that one time John Tavares was just paralyzed at the thought of facing him).
POG Helmet Standings
Hart - 1
Elliott - 1
Raffl - 1
Hayes - 1
Konecny - 1
Me as a placeholder b/c the Flyers didn't Tweet out who won - 1
(It's probably Coots tho)
1st - Sean Couturier (PHI) - 1 Goal, 1 Assist, SO Winner
2nd - Taylor Hall (NJ) - 1 Goal, 1 Assist
3rd - Sami Vatanen (NJ) - 1 Goal
PHI - 11/2 vs. TOR (6-5-3, back-to-back 3 out of 17!)
NJ - 11/2 @ CAR (9-3-1)