Flyers-Penguins: Postgame Review
It was starting to look like the end of a run. The Flyers were on the path to another loss, which would have been their third straight, and coming away with little to show for another outdoor spectacle.
Then the final four minutes happened.
A power-play goal, an unlikely goal and a heroic goal by the captain turned a 3-1 deficit late into a 4-3 win in the 2019 Stadium Series over the Penguins. For now, it keeps the Flyers in the playoff race when it all looked like the end. It's the biggest win of the season for the Flyers, who for one night, gave nearly 70,000 people a chance to celebrate.
More in our Postgame Review.
- Captain Clutch - For most of the game, Claude Giroux was invisible. His line had been ineffective for some time and he was headed to a fifth straight game without a point.In the final five minutes of the third period and overtime, Giroux reminded everyone why he is, and has been, the Flyers top player for some time.Giroux got the secondary assist on James van Riemsdyk's power-play goal, making a good play to keep the play alive and get the puck out to Jake Voracek.
But let's get to the goal, the marker that won the game for the Flyers in overtime. It's a relatively harmless play. Giroux gets some good neutral zone speed and makes a clean entrance into the zone. The move on Justin Schultz is brilliant. By this point, the ice surface was in horrible condition and the ability to make a move at that time just isn't likely. Giroux pulls it off and gets off a shot with Schultz's stick being thrown in his face. The shot went between the five-hole of Matt Murray and leaked through, just barely going inside the left post.
For Giroux, what a way to mark your 800th game in the NHL. The atmosphere is amazing. The situation was looking bleak and you come through for your team like that in front of 70,000 people. Not a bad memory there.
- Big Game Jake - Voracek had an assist on the first goal of the game for the Flyers, but he really keyed the comeback in the third.On JVR's goal, he took the initial shot, getting the puck to the net and setting up a situation where a rebound was up for grabs.The tying goal was more fortune than skill, but Voracek uses a lot in his favor here. Jack Johnson serves as a screen on Murray. Voracek's release was quick off a face-off win with little time to react. Sometimes, you have to just throw the puck on net and good things happen. The Flyers saw their shot total go from nine after 20 minutes to 17 after 40 minutes to 18 total shots in the final 20 minutes alone.
The game didn't start well for Voracek, with a turnover that led to the Penguins first goal by Sidney Crosby. He nearly didn't finish the game well either, with a very poor opening shift in overtime before the Flyers won the game. But he finished with three points and factored into all three regulation goals.
- Couturier Continues to Shine - The Flyers best scoring forward right now is Sean Couturier and Couturier has been as consistent as they come lately. He's always involved in the play. He's active around the net. He's got scoring potential. He's been right at the top all season.He was at it again on Saturday night. Talk about a shot on his goal to open the scoring for the Flyers.Oskar Lindblom does a lot of the work here on the setup, but the puck is rolling and on edge when Couturier gets it and shoots, and he places a shot perfectly over the shoulder of Murray. It was Couturier's 25th goal of the season and the assist he added late gave him 58 points in 60 games. Last season was no fluke.
- Moose Crossing - Go back to Friday evening and the announcement that Brian Elliott was getting the start over Carter Hart. It was not met well.When news came out on Saturday that Hart was out with an injury for 10 days, it started to make more sense.To be fair to Elliott, he did not play bad in either game he entered in relief of Hart, allowing three goals total in about 100 minutes of hockey. But that was in relief. This was his first start since Nov. 15.
Elliott got tested early, which was good for him to get into a rhythm, outdoors or not. He made 17 saves in the first period. He had 28 saves through two periods. Then came the third period.
With the Flyers trailing, 2-1, there was the sense that Pittsburgh was just too strong to overcome. Maybe a one-goal margin could be erased, but if Pittsburgh scored the next goal, it was over. The next goal went to Pittsburgh in a moment Elliott would like back.
Evgeni Malkin fired a shot that Elliott tried to glove. By this point, the ice conditions were worsening and the puck was wet. Elliott had it go off his glove, into the air and land behind him, knocking it off his pad and in. The flukey goal of sorts felt like a dagger to the Flyers chances at the time.
But throughout the game, Elliott was solid and sharp. He needed to be after the Flyers tied the game late in the third period too. Elliott made three saves in overtime to finish with an even 40 on 43 shots.
There is talk that Elliott could have been auditioning as a possible trade candidate too. Elliott has been serviceable in each of the last two years, but overworked at times and on IR too much to really generate an impact that is lasting with fans. He's more or less another goalie on the carousel. But Elliott was always serviceable, and on this night, he was a lot better than that.
- Finally, a Win - Three times before, the Flyers could not find a way to win an outdoor game despite coming close. It may have taken a frantic comeback, but it finally happened.The dramatics certainly add to it, in more ways than one. The comeback was unlikely, especially in the conditions. The pregame festivities were very well done, as always at events like this. Gritty was doing Gritty things -- like vaulting in from the top of Lincoln Financial Field or streaking across the field.But perhaps the two noteworthy things were that Giroux was the hero in his 800th game and Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds has been a topic of conversation for weeks as the trade deadline approached. It's now here for the Flyers. They don't play again until Tuesday, and the team could be very different by then.
If this was Simmonds' last game as a Flyer, what a way it was to go out. He had a lot of energy from the start, and in the first period laid a heavy hit on Brian Dumoulin that sparked an all-out donnybrook. Dumoulin left the game injured after that and Kris Letang was also hurt during the scuffle that followed. But Simmonds' added edge in what was a physical and exciting game said it all. It defined his time as a Flyer, especially if this was the end/
By the Numbers
Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said he felt like the game was in their control, and for most of it, it was. The Penguins had a 70 CF% in the first period at 5-on-5. The Flyers had an edge in the third at 5-on-5, with a 54.29 CF%, but it was the Penguins who still had the edge throughout the game. The Penguins also had 15 high-danger scoring chances to six for the Flyers.
Stat of the Game
Phil Myers was solid for another game, getting 18:53 of ice time with three shots on goal and two hits.
Kevin Durso is Flyers insider for 97.3 ESPN and Flyers editor for SportsTalkPhilly.com. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.