FFR2 Gm 15: MTL 2, PHI 3 (OT) - Paid the Price
This sport is wild, huh?
It a game that felt oh so much like a typical Flyers heartbreaking loss, the Orange and Black WIN 3-2 in overtime over the Montreal Canadiens, extending their point streak to a season-high 4 games.
It's very rare that one player can both save and lose a game for his team, but that's pretty much what Carey Price did Thursday night. Price was sensational in the early going and never stopped showing off through regulation. A seeing eye wrister from Phil Myers beat Price through heavy traffic, and JVR scored off a fortuitous bounce on a rebound early in the 2nd. But Price was lights out, highlighted by a highway robbery save with his blocker on Coots late in the first.
He needed to be good, because Thursday's game reinforced the most common stereotype about Montreal - their team is nothing but Carey Price. Yep, that's it. Even though the Habs have overhauled their team recently - only 8 players from their Atlantic winning 2016-17 team remain in the organization, they live and die with Price's performance. Thursday, he was sensational, allowing Montreal to stay in the game despite being outshot 43-24.
Thankfully, the Flyers have a heck of a goalie in the other end. Going against his boyhood idol for the second time in his career, Hart played pretty well and was definitely a reason the Flyers won, rather than a reason they needed overtime to get there. That doesn't mean he was flawless. Hart gave up a juicy rebound on an innocent shot from Nick Cousins (remember him?) that turned into Montreal's 1st goal from Ben Chiarot. He and Provorov combined to turn the puck over in the corner early in the 3rd, leading to a quick centering pass and a snapshot goal from Shea Weber that tied the game.
Despite those errors, Hart was great when it counted down the stretch. You know what wasn't? The Flyers power play. Philly received 6 power play opportunities, including a 12 second 5-on-3, and looked awful. Not just didn't score - they could barely get the puck across the blueline. The PP has been so good this year that we probably shouldn't worry about it, but it was frustrating to see so many chances to take control of the game slip away.
Hart's two "mistakes" (I'd pin the second one more on Provorov, for what it's worth) and the power play's struggles left a very uneasy feeling in Flyers fans as the game progressed. We've seen too many games like this turn into defeat. Just about everyone was expecting the Flyers to lose this game 3-2, either on a weak goal on a late Montreal power play, or in the shootout, because the Flyers always lose in the shootout.
The former scenario pretty much went out the window when the horn sounded to end the 3rd. 3-on-3 got off to a bit of a bumpy start, but eventually the Flyers gained control in their own zone. TK and Coots led a rush up-ice as Provy changed for Ghost. Konecny cut to his right, then passed back to the middle to Coots. Despite math, coaching, and (maybe) common sense going against him, Couturier just decided to rip an innocent wrist shot on net from the slot. Never a bad idea to get the puck on net I suppose, but what is really gonna come out of - I'm sorry, what?
THAT's the straw that breaks the camels back, huh? Sean Couturier's simple play turned into the game-winning goal, a shot that handcuffed Price, trickling between his glove and chest and just barely squeaking over the goal line. It's a goal Price will certainly want back, but it's a game that the Flyers should be more than happy with. They did just about everything right in this game, and if a rare instance for them (at least it feels like it's rare), actually came away with the win.
The Habs 6 penalties were especially glaring because the Flyers weren't whistled for any. The refs did miss a clear Ivan Provorov high-stick on Jonathan Drouin, but the refs also let several clear Habs infractions go as the penalties became more one-sided. Thursday was just the 7th time in Flyers history the Flyers haven't taken a penalty.
Montreal's penalty trouble is especially weird seeing as how disciplined they've been this season - the Canadiens entered the night averaging six and a half penalty minutes a game, the second fewest in the NHL.
Even though they've only taken a lead into 1st intermission in four of fifteen games this season, the Flyers are now 7-2-0 when scoring first.
We all know Shea Weber for his incredibly hard shot, but we don't give him enough credit for how much of an offensive force he is at his position. Weber is one of 23 defenseman in NHL history to score 200 goals, and one of just 3 active blueliners over that mark (Zdeno Chara and Brent Burns are the others).
Another thing the Flyers might've gotten away with was a little bump by Carsen Twarynski on Carey Price, who was in the blue paint, about a second before Phil Myers' tally.
The second period was really weird - the Flyers absolutely dominated the first half of the frame, outshooting Montreal 11-1 and scoring (JVR) in the first minute. Then, the tide completely turned, and the Flyers went 9:00 without a shot on goal.
Both Claude Giroux and JVR are really heating up - both have 8 points in their last 8 games.
Despite losing the season series against Montreal last year, the Flyers are now 6-2-0 in their last 8 games against the Canadiens.
Per Adam Kimelman, tonight was the first time the Flyers did not score a power-play goal in 6 plus tries since December 2nd, 2017 against Boston, the final game of the 10-game losing streak. Here's to not having to go through one of those to make the playoffs this year.
Coots, Nisky, Lindy, JVR, Ells, Raff, Starter, and TK - 1
1st - Carey Price (MTL) - .930 SV% (40 Saves/43 Shots)
2nd - Sean Couturier (PHI) - OT Winner
3rd - Phil Myers (PHI) - 1 Goal
MTL - 11/9 vs. LAK (5-10-1, OTL1)
PHI - 11/9 @ TOR (9-5-3, W3)