FFR2 Gm 52: COL 3, PHI 6 - Hollywin
Make a stop, score a lot, celly hard, get a lead and stay on guard!
The Philadelphia Flyers WIN, 6-3, doubling up the second best team in the Western Conference, the Colorado Avalanche. Despite facing an avalanche of difficult circumstances, and an avalanche of shots against in the first period, the Flyers impressed as the game progressed, pulling away late to earn an exhilarating victory.
If you had told someone that one of these two teams hadn't played in eleven games at the end of the first period, they definitely would have thought you were talking about the Flyers. Apparently the Avs didn't get the memo that you're supposed to look terrible coming out of your bye week, because they were jumping around the rink for the first fifteen minutes. Matt Calvert had a two-on-one shot just 34 seconds in, setting the tone. Colorado held a dominant 69.23% Corsi and 75.14% at 5-on-5 in the first period.
So naturally, the score was... 2-0 Flyers, that's right! Alex Lyon held down the fort with a bevy of impressive stops in the early going (a trend that would continue throughout the contest). A pair of re-directs in front, one off Samuel Girard from a Matt Niskanen point shot, and another from Kevin Hayes on the power play with less than six seconds to play in the period, both lit the lamp, and the Flyers went into the locker room with an undeserved lead.
That lead went from one to two and back to one faster than you can say scorefest. Colorado took a page out of the Flyers book with a deflection goal of their own. The Flyers responded in kind with a goal from their second line, as Sean Couturier threaded the needle to lead Joel Farabee to a tap-in back post. Moments later, the Flyers caught a bad break when Nicolas Aube-Kubel hooked Girard right as another Flyer (Pitlick?) was blatantly tripped, but only the former was called. Mikko Rantanen buried a slam-dunk one-timer from inside the right circle, setting the Flyers lead back to one.
The Flyers started the third period on the PP thanks to a late slashing penalty drawn by Phil Myers, but failed to capitalize. However, the Avalanche presented the Flyers with an even greater gift five minutes later, as Ryan Graves' pass right through the slot was flagged down by Sean Couturier. Coots felt pressure from Cale Makar, and instead of risking a shot that probably would've been blocked, spun back and found Joel Farabee darting to the slot, catching Grubauer leaning right and watching Joel snap the puck back to the left for his second goal of the night, doubling up the Flyers lead!
Unfortunately, the Flyers were not able to activate their lockdown defense against the speed and skill of the Avs. Andre Burakovsky buried a goal 97 seconds later on a delayed penalty to cut the lead in half. JT Compher had a golden chance to tie the score moments later, but was stopped on a breakaway by the left pad of Lyon, who was on another level all night long. Colorado earned an abbreviated power play with 5:00 remaining, but instead of scoring the tying goal, conceded the dagger. The long arm of the law, aka Kevin Hayes' stick, sent him and Giroux on a short-handed goal. No special effects were needed for Hollywood Hayes to beat Grubauer 5-hole for goal number five on the night, putting the Flyers in the driver's seat.
The empty net goal was the entire game in a microcosm. Lyon robbed Matt Calvert and Joonas Donskoi on consecutive chances in the slot, immediately preceding Scott Laughton's blind fling down the ice which snuck inside the right post. Only after that sixth blast of the goal horn was the Avs potent attack shut down for good, as the Flyers tied a season high for goals in a game en route to a perfect start to February.
This is the type of game Flyers fans (myself included) talk about when we say this team has a different feeling to them. Last year, Lyon probably doesn't survive the first period and the Flyers probably lose this game 6-1. But there's something about this team that never lets you think they're out of a game, that even when they're down, they're one small step away from turning their play around. Hats off to the Flyers tonight for turning it around after their slow start, and extra applause for Alex Lyon, who was downright stellar and the main reason the Flyers took the win.
Ideally, this week will allow the Flyers to breathe a little bit. Shayne Gostisbehere should be back soon, and Carter Hart may be back between the pipes by the ending of the week. The Flyers take on two of the worst teams in the NHL in Detroit (the very worst, in fact) and New Jersey (who the Flyers are 2-0-0 against this year). Of course, the Flyers have taken easy situations and let them slip away (looking at you, California road trip), and they must fix that if they're going to be a playoff team. Last year, believing in such a change felt like a pipe dream. Now? Maybe a dream like that can become reality after all.
After stagnating for a while, Joel Farabee appears to be turning a corner in the offensive zone. The smart winger is riding a career-high 5-game point streak, tallying his first career multi-goal game in the NHL.
Speaking of multi-goal games, Hayes had his second as a Flyer (12/23 vs. the Rangers was the other).
With Matt Niskanen's tally tonight, the Flyers defensemen have scored 34 goals; only the New York Rangers blueliners (38) have more.
The Flyers goalies have made some incredible saves this year (most of them from Carter Hart), but I think Alex Lyon might have made the best of the bunch. Two and a half minutes into the third, Erik Johnson had a great chance in front of the backhand. Lyon, down and out, dove back to his right, and made a miraculous stick save - I think. The NHL officially said the shot was blocked by Provorov, but I'm not so sure about that looking at the replay (if it wasn't Lyon, I'm pretty sure Pitlick actually blocked it).
Speaking of Alex, we have a new horse in the POG Standings race!
Moose - 4
Raff, Da Snake, Gobs - 3
Steady Eddie, Teeks, Coots - 2
Starter, #OskarStrong, Phil, Snowman, Pitsy, Laughts, Timon, Hollywood (Hayes), Lyon King - 1
Power rankings may be late again this month - they'll either be up Monday, Tuesday, or next Sunday. I'll update after the Detroit game (if they're not up already).
1st - Kevin Hayes (PHI) - 2 Goals (15, 16), Assist (15)
2nd - Joel Farabee (PHI) - 2 Goals (6, 7)
3rd - Sean Couturier (PHI) - 3 Assists (31, 32, 33)
COL - 2/4 @ BUF (23-22-7, W1)
PHI - 2/3 @ DET (12-37-4, L5)
*Advanced Stats from Naturalstattrick.com