Prior Game Fives: 2018 v. Penguins

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Flyers

As a continuation of PSN’s playoff series, we now move onto some notable game fives in playoff history. This time, we’re going to stay much more recent. Game five of 2018 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the Penguins was a pivotal game for Philly, as they took down the Pens 4-2. This kept them alive to see another game in this series.

APRIL 20, 2018- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS VISIT PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

During the 2017-2018 season, the Flyers were rolling into the playoffs. Winners of four of their last five regular-season games, they squeaked past the Columbus Blue Jackets for third place in the Metro Division.

During the regular season, the Flyers fell in the middle of the pack in both offensive and defensive categories. Their offense was ranked 13th in the league, averaging just about three goals per game. Their defense essentially canceled this out, as they allowed basically three goals a game as well. With Dave Hakstol behind the bench, this team was average at best, however, helping Hak stay around longer than welcomed with their 98 regular-season points.

First Period

To be cut and dry, the first period of this game was incredibly boring, especially in comparison to the opening periods of the other games in this series. In a series where at least five goals were scored by the winning team, the opening frame was scoreless through 17 and a half minutes.

The captain would soon have an answer for the “immortal” Matt Murray. Valtteri Filppula would dance through the Penguins’ defense, and continue heavy on his forecheck. This led to a turnover, where Filppula found Giroux open in the slot, and G wouldn’t disappoint:

Both goalies did not see much action overall though, combining for under 15 first period saves. The teams took a penalty each, but neither side capitalized, nor got a shot off on the powerplay.

Second Period:

Unlike the first, the second period of play opened up the game, however, not in the Flyers’ favor.

After Nolan Patrick and Michael Raffl failed to capitalize on a two-on-one, where Raffl had a wide-open net, the Pens took it the other way. Bryan Rust was battling behind the net, and tried a video-game-like random wrap around. Michal Neuvirth failed to squeeze the post, and the puck snuck in.

This was the momentum the Penguins needed. Only a mere four minutes later, Jake Guentzel would score his second of the playoffs. Crosby found Guentzel as the trailer and Guentzel put a weak goal through Neuvy’s five-hole. The Pens suddenly found themselves up 2-1 late in the second period. As a team that was a perfect 14-0 at home during the regular season when leading after two, they saw the next round in their future.

Luckily, however, Filppula continued his dominance in this game. After Radko Gudas went to the box for holding, the Flyers were down a man, and their series hopes were starting to slip. Filppula had the answer, though, intercepting a pass at the blue line. This led to him putting one home in tight with the second period winding down.

After a period of three goals and seven penalties, the teams went into the final frame tied at two.

Third Period:

Despite plenty of momentum building up late in the second period, not much action on the score sheet happened in the third period until late.

The Penguins began to pepper Neuvy with shots though. In the third period alone, Neuvirth made 12 saves on 12 Penguins’ shots. It would be wrong to say Neuvy played his best game, but credit is owed to him for the third period of this game. The Flyers, on the other hand, only could get eight on the net. But for the analytics crowd out there, it’s quality over quantity, right?

This game would prove that rhetoric. With less than 90 seconds remaining, Wayne Simmonds kept the puck alive at the Penguins’ blue line. Sean Couturier fluttered one on the net, which slowly trickled past Murray with a little help from a Scott Laughton screen.

With a minute remaining, the Penguins got control in the Flyers’ zone, finding the time to pull Matt Murray. Not even five seconds after the extra attacker was on the ice, Crosby had a “high-danger” opportunity in tight, but Neuvy made the save of the game:

A Matt Read empty-net goal later, and the Flyers inched closer in the series by winning game five, 4-2.

What Happened Next:

It wouldn’t be much fun to talk about the rest of this series. The Flyers went on to lose in the first round, after losing game six. Dropping the series 4-2 to the Penguins is not a fun memory, but games two and five were pretty fun.

On a less painful note, the Washington Capitals would take down the Penguins for the first time in a long time in a playoff series, en route to hoisting the Stanley Cup.

Mandatory Credit – © Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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