Coming off a bad homestand that saw them lose three games vs. the Capitals, and need a drastic comeback to beat the Sabres in a shootout, the Flyers headed north to start a four-game empire state trip against the Rangers.
Philadelphia got off to a quick start in this one. It appeared Sean Couturier made a nice tip at center to spring Joel Farabee and James van Riemsdyk in on a 2-on-1. Farabee made a slick little backhand feed to van Riemsdyk in front, and the Jersey Boy himself was able to beat Keith Kinkaid through the five hole 3:47 in.
While Couturier was originally credited with the assist on the play, it was later changed to Justin Braun. Upon further review of the play, it was actually K’Andre Miller who deflected the puck.
Just over a minute later, Couturier did pick up an assist as he won a faceoff back to Ivan Provorov, who fired it home from the point for a 2-0 Flyers lead. They continued to own the territorial play, and Kevin Hayes was able to draw a holding penalty on Julien Gauthier at 8:29.
Nothing doing on the man-advantage though, and about a minute later, the Flyers would put New York on the power play. Mika Zibanejad managed to put up a shot at 13:37 (New York’s first since 1:29 in), but the Flyers kept them to the outside and killed it off. Neither team was able to generate a ton after that, and the Flyers headed to the break up 2-0.
Overall, it was a good defensive period for the Flyers and while they didn’t generate a ton offensively, they were opportunistic with their chances. Not at all bad for a team that had previously been outscored 12-5 in first periods during the month of March.
The second period, however, was a bit of a trainwreck. The Flyers fell back on their old habits of playing far too passively, and it came back to bite them. They were content to dump the puck and didn’t really chase offensively while New York racked up outside shots throughout the first eight minutes of the period.
At 8:12, however, the Flyers gave Artemi Panarin too much room as he entered the zone, and after a great passing play, he was able to put every ounce of strength he possessed into a one-time blast that beat Carter Hart. Tarmo Reunanen picked up his first NHL point on the pass to Panarin and it was 2-1 Flyers. Shortly after, Panarin was able to skate in 2-on-1 and burned the Flyers again, sending a nice cross ice feed to Colin Blackwell who buried the equalizer at 10:52.
The Orange and Black finally got their first shot of the period a few seconds later and were able to generate some sustained offensive pressure. Nothing would come of it though, and at 15:16, Julien Gauthier was able to zoom into the zone, go right around Shayne Gostisbehere and beat Hart on the backhand for a 3-2 Blueshirts lead.
Just when it looked like the Flyers would head into the third down a goal, however, Gauthier took his second penalty of the game, and Farabee was able to rip a one-timer home eight seconds into the power play. Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek drew the assists, and we headed to the third tied at three.
Following a late Flyes’ penalty, the Rangers would head into the third with 1:44 of PP time. New York managed to get a 3-on-0 down low against Hart, but the young goalie said no and the Flyers survived the kill. They didn’t survive long, however, as the Rangers were able to force a turnover in the corner and work the puck quickly out to Kevin Rooney who was able to beat Hart for a 4-3 Rangers lead at 2:56.
Gauthier continued to put his stamp all over this one, for better and worse, as he took his third (and technically fourth), penalty, a double minor for high-sticking Giroux. Sure enough, the Flyers were able to convert as Giroux snuck below the goal line and crept up to the side of the net just as Voracek’s beautiful cross-ice pass arrived. The captain made no mistake, tapping the puck in and tying the score at four.
The Orange and Black continued to generate a strong offensive push, and earned yet another chance for their suddenly resurgent power play at 15:34. Hayes then wired one past Kinkaid at 16:54 and the entire Delaware Valley simultaneously jumped for joy… until we saw that New York was challenging the play for offside. Sure enough, the Flyers had beaten the puck into the zone, the goal was wiped out, our hearts sank, and the game eventually headed to overtime.
New York played keep-away for the vast majority of the overtime, seemingly content to just hang onto the puck and attempt to wear the Flyers’ defenders out. After being trapped on the ice for nearly two minutes, however, Jake Voracek was able to intercept a long, lazy outlet attempt by Kinkaid and break in alone.
He made a nasty fake to the forehand, got Kinkaid to bite like a Rottweiler on a steak and calmly slid the puck in on the backhand. Game over, Flyers win in overtime, 5-4.
While it wasn’t the ever elusive 60 minute effort, the Flyers were certainly the better team in the first and the third, and that is progress for them.
As for player of the game, we have to go with the in-arena first star Jake Voracek, who helped set up power play goals to tie the score at 3-3 and 4-4, and who eventually found the back of the net for the first time since February 3rd to win it in OT. The Flyers are off tomorrow night, but get a rematch with these Rangers on Wednesday at 7:30.