Flyers 4, Penguins 2: Staying Alive

Updated: April 20, 2018 at 10:04 pm by Wes Herrmann

Claude Giroux promised that the Philadelphia Flyers would be returning to Philly for Game 6 and that’s just what the team will be doing. The Flyers pulled out a heart and soul Game 5 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, 3-2, Friday night.

Giroux had the first goal, Valtteri Filppula had the second and the injured Sean Couturier scored the game winner with less than two minutes left in the game.

FIRST PERIOD

Moving Valtteri Filppula to the first line worked in the first stanza for the Flyers. With just over two minutes left in the period, the Finn brought the puck into the zone, but chipped a shot wide of the Pens’ net.

However, he was the first on the puck and tied up the Pittsburgh defenseman, allowing Jake Voracek to scoop up the puck. He hit Claude Giroux for a one-timer that beat Matt Murray.

It was also a rare period where the Flyers didn’t give up a goal. It helped that the team had a solid offensive showing with a 9-5 shot advantage and did a nice job of limiting shots on the Pens’ lone power play.

However, the Penguins still forced turnovers. Scott Laughton made a bad pass early in the period, Matt Read overskated a puck behind the Flyers’ net and Brandon Manning made one of his patented turnovers while trying to exit the zone.

Pittsburgh couldn’t capitalize on any of the chances, though, and Philly got out of the first 20 unscathed.

SECOND PERIOD

It looked like the Penguins were going to skate away with a 2-1 lead after the second, but Filppula had other plans.

While shorthanded, the former Red Wing entered the offensive zone, dopped a pass to Jori Lehtera and attacked the net. Lehtera shot, Filppula dug out the rebound and stuffed it to tie the game at 2.

Earlier, Bryan Rust scored a wraparound goal to tie it at one and Jake Guentzel beat Michal Neuvirth on a stoppable five-hole shot.

Unsurprisingly, the Pens had the better second period. They had a 14-8 shot advantage with the Flyers climbing most of that ground later in the period.

Besides the goal scoring, the feistiness also increased. Brandon Manning and Evgeni Malkin were called for roughing and there was a big scrum after Pittsburgh’s second goal involving Robert Hagg and Derick Brassard.

THIRD PERIOD

The only thing that felt certain in the third period was overtime. There was some back and forth play, but neither team could put one away and both teams seemed to settle in as the clock ticked past five minutes.

Than the Flyers’ third line got some offensive pressure and when the Penguins tried clearing the zone, Couturier stepped up to keep the puck in at the blue line. He snapped a shot that deflected off Brian Domoulin’s skate and beat Murray.

But the heart attacks weren’t over yet. With 50 seconds left, the puck ended up on Sidney Crosby’s stick on the side of the net, but Neuvirth got his glove on the Pens’ captain’s shot.

Matt Read clinched the win by picking off a pass in the neutral zone and putting the puck in the empty net.

QUICK-HITTERS

Maybe the biggest factor in the Flyers’ win was the penalty kill. Although not every penalty was warranted, Philly didn’t break on any of the five kills. The unit got stronger as the game wore on too breaking up more chances and clearing the zone more.

Coach Dave Hakstol surprised plenty by naming Michal Neuvirth starter over Brian Elliott. His game wasn’t perfect — he should have made the save on Guentzel’s goal and could have on Rust’s. But the most important aspect was that Neuvirth didn’t let up any back-breaking goals like Elliott did in Game 4. His save on Crosby in the dying minute may have been the most important Flyers save in this series.

It may not have been the prettiest of lineups, but it got the job done and that’s been a theme for the Flyers this season. They’ve won and lost in the oddest of scenarios. Filppula played a big part in that even if the first line didn’t look any better with him. The biggest takeaway is that Philadelphia can’t get burnt on turnovers. The team still made a number of them in Game 5, but the Pens weren’t able to cash in.

Game 6

Sunday, 3 p.m. in Philadelphia

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