Flyers-Penguins: Game 5 Postgame Review
The series is coming back to Philadelphia. Against all odds, the Flyers made a number of lineup changes ahead of Game 5 and found a way to win.
It turned out that the biggest lineup addition was a leading player gutting it out. Sean Couturier missed Game 4 and was a lingering question mark for Game 5. Not only did he play, he scored the biggest goal of the season for the Orange and Black.
Let's hit it with our Postgame Review.
- Grinding It Out - It was far from Sean Couturier’s normal workload or performance level. He was laboring through this game. You could see it, and it was certainly understandable. He’s hurting, but it’s the playoffs. Players will take the ice through a lot to play, especially with the season on the line.Not only did Couturier do a solid job under the circumstances, he scored the biggest goal of the season.
Couturier’s goal came with 1:15 left in the third period through traffic, hitting off the leg of Brian Dumoulin and past Matt Murray.
This is a time when players step up and turn in memorable performances. Couturier, while clearly not 100 percent, rose to the occasion, and it is the reason that the series is heading home.
- Feeling Neuvy - It sure looked like Brian Elliott was going to be the starting goalie in Friday’s game, but Dave Hakstol kept a tight lip and sure enough it was Michal Neuvirth who got the start.It proved to be the right decision. Neuvirth wasn’t perfect, allowing two rather soft goals in the game, but he also made 30 saves, including several from point-blank range earlier in the game and an absolutely tremendous glove save on Sidney Crosby at the side of the net in the final minute.
There’s really no question who gets the start in goal for Game 6. Just like two seasons ago, Neuvirth is giving the Flyers the best chance to win in the clutch, in the big games. Neuvirth did that on Friday, and he’ll be relied on to do it again on Sunday.
- Ivan the Warrior - The Flyers really limited playing time for a lot of players and kept a solid rotation of lines and pairings with a lot of mixing and matching during the game.Everyone, that is, expect Ivan Provorov.Provorov played 30:07 in the game. Let’s say that again. Ivan Provorov played more than half the game.
In his final shift, right before Couturier’s goal, Provorov was sent to the ice and left in pain. He tried to stay on the ice for his next shift, but retreated to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
Provorov has been a warrior all season. While it’s certain he’s laboring in some way, it would take a lot to keep him out for Game 6 if there is a more serious underlying injury.
- Fil-ling in on the Top Line - You weren’t alone if you were scratching your head at Valtteri Filppula playing on the top line with Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. Again, it was another move that paid dividends for Dave Hakstol.Filppula helped set up the Flyers first goal of the game, scored by Giroux. He added a second assist on Matt Read’s empty-net goal in the closing seconds.
But it was the short-handed goal late in the second period that was the difference maker.
There was no bigger goal in the game than Couturier’s, but this one was a close second. Everything was going Pittsburgh’s way. They got the game tied on a weak goal. They took the lead on a weak goal. They got a power play shortly after.
If the Penguins score on that power play, it might have just been the series. The Flyers had been so morally wounded at times in this series that playing a fairly sound game for nearly two periods only to trail by two would have probably been too much to overcome.
That’s what makes the play, made by Filppula off a shot by Jori Lehtera, so gutsy. Filppula goes hard to the net, finds the rebound and pounds it home to tie the game. Instead of an impending two-goal deficit, the Flyers went into the second intermission tied with 20 minutes to try to win the game.
It may have looked like a questionable move, but Filppula had one of his best games as a Flyer in Game 5.
- Coming Back Home - The first task for the Flyers was finding a way in Game 5. They did. Now the series comes home and gives the Flyers a second chance -- or third really -- to give the home fans a show.The Flyers first two showings on home ice were brutal and forced them into the situation they were facing in Game 5. There was certainly no guarantee that the Flyers would get this opportunity. No one really gave them a chance in Game 5.
Friday's game was really the first to deliver everything that was expected in the series. There was physicality. There were plenty of extra-curriculars. There was that sense of a heated rivalry and a competitive series, something that was lacking in the first four games. With some close action and hints of the rivalry now injected into the series, Sunday's game should be a hot ticket not that the Flyers have made it a series again.
So Sunday brings Game 6 of the series to Philadelphia. It’s sure to be quite the atmosphere and the Flyers can deliver one hell of a result if they can force a Game 7 in Pittsburgh.
Kevin Durso is Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.