Flyers 5: Takeaways from Game 5 of Flyers-Canadiens
After back-to-back shutout wins, it’s fair to be feeling good about yourself and to maybe get ahead of yourself that you have a team buried. But the Montreal Canadiens are not dead yet.
They certainly proved it in Game 5.
A wild game that featured back-and-forth scoring, tons of momentum swings and more goals than had been scored in the entire series - at least it felt that way - helped to extend the series another game, and force the Flyers to take the ice again against the Canadiens if they want their first series win since 2012.
Here are 5 Takeaways from Game 5 of Flyers-Canadiens.
1. An Early Special Teams Deficit
In the first two minutes of the game, Montreal showed just how desperate they were going to play. They were going to get in Carter Hart’s kitchen. They were going to do the dirty work. They were going to be faster and harder than they have been in the series.
And then they took a penalty going hard to the net. Ben Chiarot was whistled for goalie interference and the Flyers power play went to work, trying to snap a 1-for-28 drought. Not only did the power play get to 1-for-29, they allowed a shorthanded goal.
It was a set play for Montreal, a dump-in off the end boards that left everyone flat-footed. Joel Armia took off and got to it first, burying the chance to give Montreal the lead.
That early goal set the tone. From there, Montreal felt like they could play their game. And even though there were moments that were going to change the way this game looked, Montreal had their early goal to announce their presence.
2. Momentum-Changing Penalties
The momentum of this game shifted constantly. The Flyers took it with a five-minute major to Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
This was the Flyers moment to get the power play working, and they did, scoring two goals to take the lead.
In that moment, the Flyers looked like they had the momentum and the game where they wanted it. They could go back to playing that lock-down style with the lead and look to finish the series.
Montreal got the game tied up quickly, scoring an improbable goal - more on that later - and going to the power play when Phil Myers took a four-minute high-sticking penalty trying to clear the crease. Montreal capitalized on that to take the lead.
They held the lead for the rest of the second and most of the third. A tripping penalty on Jeff Petry gave the Flyers their seventh power play of the game. Finally, the Flyers got the look they had been searching for, and Joel Farabee got the payoff to tie the game at three.
It ended up being short-lived, but multiple times, penalty calls changed the course of the game, and it could be an indication of things to come as the series gets tighter with Game 6 coming up.
3. Hart-Stopping Moments
So, about that second goal for Montreal. To that point in the series, Carter Hart had delivered three really solid games in wins and one rough start that wasn’t really his fault as much as the team’s in Game 2.
Joel Armia scored the first truly soft goal Hart allowed. It was an angle shot that somehow found daylight and went in. At the time, the Flyers had finally turned the game in their favor. They had just struck for two power-play goals to take the lead. And Hart essentially gave it right back.
Moments later, now down 3-2, Hart allowed another soft goal to Nick Suzuki and it looked like Hart’s night was over. But the goal was disallowed for an offside call and Hart stayed in.
While he was helpless on the only other goal he allowed, Hart looked shaky in the moments after Montreal scored the tying goal. For a change, this wasn’t a game your goalie was going to carry you through. The Flyers nearly found a way to survive it, but ultimately needed more from everyone.
4. Montreal’s Quick Response
The eventual game-winning goal was a taste of the Flyers own medicine.
Back in Game 1, Shea Weber had scored to tie the game only to have Farabee answer back 16 seconds later. In a role reversal, Farabee scored the tying goal, and had it erased by Suzuki’s goal 22 seconds later.
There are a few things about this goal. For one, at that stage of the game, Alain Vigneault chose to put the fourth line and third defensive pairing on the ice against a group of talented scorers for Montreal. It cost the Flyers, who got caught in a defensive breakdown and turned the puck over. Suzuki was waiting for it in front with a lot of space and put a move on Hart.
Mark that down as another turning point. Farabee’s tying goal felt like a moment, one that said the Flyers were going to overcome the adversity and claim the win, regardless of the way the game had gone. Just like that, they were playing catch-up again. It can’t happen, especially when you worked as hard as they did to tie the game.
5. Matching Desperation
Make no mistake about it, the more desperate team won the game on Wednesday night. From the start of the game with a shorthanded goal, to the leaky goal, to the power-play goal by the snakebitten forward that had been waiting for his chance, to the immediate response by Suzuki after the tying goal.
The Flyers struggled all night to match this desperation, even in the final minute of the game. And it makes their formula for Game 6 easy. They have to be the more desperate team in Game 6.
Mark my words: if the Flyers don’t take this series in Game 6, they will not come out of it. All of the progress. All of the high hope. All of the momentum and excitement that has surrounded this team will be over and they will still have a playoff series drought lingering over their heads.
The Flyers need to be desperate. They need to go back to frustrating the Canadiens with stifling defense. They need to maintain the physical approach. They can’t get caught up in the Canadiens games and be forced into turnovers.
Too much of it happened in Game 5, and that’s why the better team once again came out on top. But the Flyers have one more chance before their backs are against the wall. They haven’t lost back-to-back games since January. The reason: they take a look in the mirror after losses and realize that they have better than what they displayed. They need to go to that well one more time.