The Flyers entered last night’s Game 5 coming off their first back-to-back losses since the beginning of 2020. However, from the coaches to the players, there seemed to be a confidence that even had me sort of thrown off.
I will say the Flyers played a pretty good Game 4, and that loss was probably more frustrating than Game 3 just due to that fact alone. There were positive signs throughout most of that game (Joel Farabee not scoring point blank still kind of haunting me) yet we could not get that second goal until it was too late. Islanders coach Barry Trotz said that his team’s performance in Game 4 was their worst of the playoffs, still they took the W.
Yet the Flyers responded to all of this with a win to stay alive, although there was another late-game scare and once again caused Flyers fans to collectively hold their breath.
The first period saw the Philly come out with intensity, they looked like a team playing with that desperation we have wanted to see consistently. The Islanders were essentially on their heels, the Flyers forecheck was established early and forced some New York turnovers.
Alain Vigneault played around with the lines a bit to start Game 5, and his placement of Tyler Pitlick onto the second line paid dividends all game long. Pitlick has been one of the hardest working players on the team this series, and meshed well with Kevin Hayes’ line.
Hayes himself was on his game early, he really seems like a player that tries to elevate his game in the playoffs. If any of the Flyers “big guns” have showed up with consistency in the series, it’s gotta be Hayes for me.
There were not any goals until the second period, with the Islanders scoring first. This goal should not have counted, I truly believe the officials got this one wrong. Yes, I can see Matthew Barzal gets pushed into the crease. Does that excuse him from staying there, having a cup of coffee, and obstructing play for an easy Islander goal? Absolutely not. Not to mention he is holding Ivan Provorov‘s stick as well.
This goal kind of sparked the Islanders and they began to find their game. It looked like a classic momentum switch, yet the Flyers struck twice to take the lead before the period ended. Captain Claude Giroux finally got the monkey off of his back, with a great tip that found its way under Semyon Varlamov.
Both Giroux and James van Riemsdyk were mentioned by name in Vigneault’s press conference, I am sure you have all heard about the “big boy pants” comment. Well, JVR struck under three minutes later on a 2-on-1 to open his playoff account.
I have to point out that JVR has playing really well the past 2-3 games, I cannot see him coming out of the lineup again at this point. He has been skating harder than he has all postseason, laying the body and playing physical, which is when he is at his best. He has set up multiple quality scoring chances as well.
The Flyers extended their lead in the third period off a cannon shot by Matt Niskanen. I loved his reaction, you could tell he was really fired up. It was great to see him get a goal as well, especially since he left Provorov out to dry in Game 4 for the deciding goal.
Under ten minutes left in the game, the Flyers were playing pretty good hockey still and doing a good job of staving off the Islander pressure. However, a one-time shot by Brock Nelson suddenly made it a game again. I would have to say, that has to be a save from Carter Hart and he knows it.
Shortly after, inexplicably, nobody could get Cal Clutterbuck off the puck. He found an open Derick Brassard to tie the game. Suddenly, it is 3-3 and it feels like Game 2 all over again.
Hart may have let in a soft goal in the third period, but he was playing really well up until then. He shook it off, and straight up saved the Flyers in OT. Not even two minutes in, Hart slid across his crease to stop a one-time attempt on Devon Toews.
Hart then stonewalled Nelson on a breakaway attempt. His effort would help him become one of the youngest active goalies to win an elimination game.
Like Game 2, the Flyers played a strong game in the OT period. The line of Jake Voracek, Giroux and Scott Laughton was constantly in the Islander zone creating havoc. Laughton would be the hero this time, as he tipped a Provorov shot past Varlamov to save the season.
I will end with this. The Flyers “big guns” looked quite good in this one. Voracek was skating all over the place in the offensive zone, Giroux was everywhere and had a great game as well (1G, 1A). Travis Konecny had 2 assists and you have to believe he will get his first goal soon.
Sean Couturier left the game due to injury, and did not return. Not good at all. Laughton took his place on the first line for the remainder of Game 5, but the Flyers really need the Selke-finalist back ASAP.
Game 6 is Thursday night at 7:00PM. The Flyers look to force a Game 7, and although almost blowing the Game 5 late, I still think they deserved the W.
Fly or die.