Flyers (7-6-1) 2 @ Blues 0 (10-3-1)
Make no mistake about it. Michal Neuvirth may have pitched a shutout and Brandon Manning scored the only goal against a goalie, but Ivan Provorov was the one that led to the Philadelphia Flyers to a 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues Thursday night.
The Russian defenseman logged 27:08 minutes of ice time Thursday after playing over 29 minutes Wednesday night, tied a Flyers record with 10 blocked shots and helped to stall the Blues’ offensive leaders like Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Steen and Brayden Schenn. The even higher level of play from Provorov couldn’t come at a better time with four blueliners injured in the Philly ranks.
Beyond Provorov, Neuvirth made 30 saves, a majority of them from the outside, for the shutout and Claude Giroux scored an empty-netter to seal the victory for the Flyers.
In an odd turn of events, the stats portrayed the Flyers’ first period in a more negative light than what actually happened. The Blues finished the first 20 minutes with a 14-8 lead in shots and the Flyers trailed by 10-1 and 12-2 at different points of the stanza.
But Philadelphia’s best chances usually didn’t result in shots on net, or it would have been closer. First, Travis Sanheim found himself with plenty of space in front of the net in the opening minutes, but shoveled a pass wide. A shift later, Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds missed on a two-on-one.
In the second half of the period, Sean Couturier surprisingly found himself behind a Blues’ empty net after Jake Allen mishandled a puck before losing it on a pass attempt and in the final minute, Michael Raffl flubbed a one-timer from Provorov. The offense was there, but the stats didn’t show it.
The Blues did have their chances, though. Tarasenko missed a should-have-been goal on the power play and Steen got behind the Flyers’ defense later, but Neuvirth made a save off his wrist shot.
The Flyers underappreciated offensive effort was paid off quickly in the second period when Manning’s point shot found the back of the Blues’ net. But first, the goal had to be challenged due to the officials ruling goalie interference on Jake Voracek.
Off the replay and challenge, it was easily determined that Voracek was outside the blue paint and Alex Pietrangelo had knocked him into Allen right before the goal.
The offense slowed down from there and was overshadowed by a hit from Schenn on Couturier that kept the Flyers center out of the rest of the period. After Couturier took a shot outside the St. Louis slot, Schenn caught his former teammate from his blindside, but missed his head. Still the penalty was certainly eligible for more than the two-minute minor it was rewarded.
Oh man, Brayden Schenn… pic.twitter.com/WYZbncpO4K
— Flyers Nation (@FlyersNation) November 3, 2017
Besides the goal and hit, Provorov played a huge period in his own zone, killing the entirety of a Robert Hagg high-sticking penalty, plus blocking three shots in the two minutes alone.
Facing an uphill battle, unsurprisingly, the Blues controlled the final 20 minutes of play. With 15 minutes left, St. Louis’ fourth line started turning the momentum when Scottie Upshall almost scored from his knees in front of the net.
Tarasenko had a premium chance, but missed the net and at other stretches the Blues dominated shifts and looked like they were going to tie the game. Not coincidentally, it was Neuvirth’s best period as he made some crucial saves to keep the Flyers in the lead.
Neuvirth’s effort was paid off with six seconds left in the game when Giroux buried the puck in the Blues’ empty net for his seventh of the season.
In a rare occasion, the Flyers were not burnt on the score sheet by a former Flyer. Most pegged Brayden Schenn to score a goal or more, but like every other Blue was stopped. However, the former King still had his chances. His best came in the second period when he had a slight breakaway, but his shot was snared by Neuvirth’s glove. Of course, Schenn was dangerous away from the score board, though, with his hit on Couturier.
On the other side of the coin, former Blue Jori Lehtera looked like a man that wanted revenge on his former team. He was buzzing in the offensive zone and laid a nice hit on Magnus Paajarvi in the second period. The Finn didn’t end up with anything too substantial, but it may have been his best offensive game in a Flyers’ uniform.
The first time coach Dave Hakstol challenged a play this season, he was burnt against the Nashville Predators when Filip Forsberg’s goal wasn’t overturned and his team was dealt a penalty. It was a talking point for Flyers Twitter for days to come. Thursday night, Hakstol didn’t hesitate to challenge the interference call on Voracek. That was a little more clear than the offsides review on the Preds, but Hakstol should still be commended for not shying away from challenging again.
Flyers vs. Avalanche
11/04/17 7:00 P.M.