FFR2 Gm 47: PHI 4, STL 3 (OT) - No Guts, No Gloria
We won't be singing the Blues tonight!
The Philadelphia Flyers WIN against the best team in the NHL for the third time in the last week, defeating the St. Louis Blues 4-3, in overtime, for their first road victory of 2020. The Flyers last three victories have come against Washington, Boston, and St. Louis, all of whom either began or ended the game first place in the ENTIRE NHL. And all three could not defeat the Orange and the Black.
Once again, the Flyers were outplayed in the first period, with the Blues outshooting them 14-8 and scoring the only goal on a power-play slam dunk by Justin Faulk. However, after a slow start to the second, the Flyers got their legs under them. Sean Couturier and Matt Niskanen both hit iron early in the second, before Tyler Pitlick called bank off Scott Laughton's skate to sneak home the Flyers first goal of the evening.
Philadelphia's depth came through again just moments later. Jordan Binnington couldn't handle a point shot from Robert Hagg, leaving the rebound right in the slot. The recently promoted Michael Raffl took full advantage, burying the loose puck for his sixth goal of the season, giving the Flyers the lead.
The Flyers would continue to control play for most of the second period. After the final buzzer, a frustrated David Perron laid a cheap shot on Travis Konecny, catching him with a cross-check up high. Perron would be penalized to start the third, and Konecny would get the best possible revenge - tapping in a beautiful one-touch pass from JVR to give the Flyers a commanding lead.
Unfortunately, commanding doesn't always mean secure. The Flyers, even ahead two goals, did a decent job of controlling the pace. St. Louis appeared to miss their chance when a long 5-on-3 power-play netted just one shot on goal - a shot that didn't go in. But the St. Louis Blues are the best team in the West and defending Cup champions for a reason, and they showed it just past the midway mark of the period. Ryan O'Reilly swatted home a rebound to cut the lead in half, and 3:04 later, Alex Steen beat Elliott with a beautiful backhand finish to tie the score once again.
Both teams had opportunities to win the game in regulation - the Blues failed to score on another power-play, and Kevin Hayes was unable to finish a beautiful toe-drag on a 2-on-1. So the contest moved to overtime, where the Flyers would find iron for the fourth time in the game halfway through, as Scott Laughton doinked a 2-on-1 shot off the crossbar.
It would have been a pity for such an exciting, riveting, back-and-forth game to end in the shootout. Thankfully, it wouldn't, and this wouldn't even be an example of being careful what you wish for. The Flyers broke into the Blues zone with 90 seconds remaining, Jake Voracek with the puck. St. Louis appeared to be in a good position structurally. But one filthy toe drag later, and suddenly Voracek was all alone in front of the net. After walking Pietrangelo, Jake the Snake went top shelf on Binnington, giving the Flyers the last laugh in dramatic, highlight-reel fashion.
The Flyers should be very proud of themselves for how they have played the last four games. They have skated with arguably the top four teams in the entire NHL (1, 2, 3, and 6 in the overall standings), coming out with a 3-1-0 record. Philadelphia's 49.40% Corsi at 5-on-5 (per Natural Stat Trick) over those four games shows they aren't being dramatically outplayed either.
Now, the Flyers need to sustain their winning ways, as two struggling teams come into the Wells Fargo Center next (Montreal and Los Angeles), followed by the rival Penguins in what is always an exciting showdown. The Flyers aren't a perfect team, and likely never will be, but at top gear, they are undeniably better than they were at almost any point the last few years.
With the L tonight, the Blues failed to extend their home winning streak to 10 games, which would have been a new franchise record. Here's a comparison of key stats from their winning streak compared to tonight:
Goals Per Game: 4.00 over the streak, 3 tonight
Goals Against Per Game: 1.67 over the streak, 4 tonight
Power Play: 28.6% over the streak, 16.7% tonight
Penalty Kill: 91.3% over the streak, 50% tonight
To capture just how dominant the Flyers were in the second period, try this one or for size - Philadelphia had eleven straight scoring chances at one point during the second stanza.
The Flyers penalty kill was absolutely clutch tonight. They allowed just 6 shots on goal in over 9 minutes, including killing a 1:45 long 5-on-3. Scott Laughton even nearly won the game late in regulation with a partial break down a man.
It's no surprise the PK was dynamite tonight - after a blip on the radar on the holiday road trip, they are now 20 for their last 24 (83.3%).
POG Helmet Standings Update!
Moose, Raff, Da Snake - 3
Steady Eddie, TK, JVR, Coots - 2
Starter, #OskarStrong, Phil, Snowman, Pitsy, Laughts, Kase, Hayeser - 1
1st - Jakub Voracek (PHI) - OT Winning Goal (9), 2 SOG
2nd - Alex Steen (STL) - Goal (4), Assist (10), 3 SOG
3rd - Michael Raffl (PHI) - Goal (6), 3 SOG
PHI - 1/16 vs. MTL (20-21-7, L1)
STL - 1/18 @ COL (25-14-6, OTL2)