In a game that they absolutely needed to have, the Philadelphia Flyers win in Toronto Saturday night, 5-4 and that my friends pulls the club within 3 points of the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. The Flyers had a number of chances to pull away from the Leafs tonight but the Mike Babcock squad showed incredible resiliency to battle back in the game. From a territorial advantage, the Flyers held the edge throughout the game and were rewarded for their efforts as a number of players had strong nights offensively.
The Flyers received goals from Sam Gagner (3rd), Jake Voracek (10th), Brayden Schenn (18th), Matt Read (10th), and Shayne Ghostisbehere (12th) in the overtime victory. In addition to the goal scoring, Michael Raffl, Scott Laughton, and Wayne Simmonds had two assists each as well. One of the positives that can be taken away from this game tonight was the fact that all 5 of the Flyers goals were even strength tallies. General Manager Ron Hextall deserves a ton of credit for upgrading, if ever so slightly, speed and hockey sense where he can as the Flyers were largely a team that lived and died by their powerplay prior to him taking the General Manger job. It’s by no means perfect right now but it is noticeably improving and that is great sign moving forward.
The Flyers used both goaltenders in this one as Steve Mason left the game mid-way through the second period with what appeared to be a knee injury. Neuvirth entered the game in relief and did well but obviously, Mason’s health is of the upmost importance right now. Mason has been through an awful lot this season between leaving the team for personal reasons early in the year and staying healthy when he has been with the team. Nothing has been revealed on his condition as of yet but I’ll update here if anything of note pops up.
Here are your game notes:
Well folks, he’s done it again. Another game, another heroic moment from rookie defensemen Shayne Ghostisbehere as he scores his 4th overtime goal and extends his point streak to 15 games as well. Seemingly every other night, Ghost does something historic or special but as he so often does, he tends to credit the people around for putting him in positions to succeed. Flyers forward Jake Voracek completely outmuscled Leafs’ forward Peter Holland along the boards on the play in the neutral zone before escaping with a burst of speed that set up the entire sequence. The Flyers then ended up on an odd man rush and Voracek made a beautiful saucer pass to Ghost for the finish. Skill needs skill out there and it appears as if Ghostisbhere perfectly complements Voracek and Giroux.
In addition to losing Mason tonight, the Flyers also lost defensemen Evgeny Medvedev to an undisclosed injury tonight. Medvedev did block a shot during the second period that hobbled him but I do not know for sure if that is what is ailing him at the moment. Medvedev’s aggressive neutral zone play and heady decision making with the puck have been welcomed elements to the Flyers blueline this year and it would hurt if he is to miss significant time.
All things considered, I thought Sam Gagner filled in admirably for Claude Giroux tonight in the win. Gagner has been hard-pressed to solidify a top 9 roster spot but he did the best he could tonight filling in the very large skates that Claude Giroux fills; he cycled the puck well, made a few passes and ripped a wicked, one-timer past Johnathan Beriner for the Flyers first goal. Gagner is likely to be trade bait when the trade deadline rolls around so he isn’t a long term answer here but getting solid play from him when he is called upon is essential to the Flyers playoff hopes staying alive.