The Philadelphia Flyers earn a much-needed regulation victory against the Boston Bruins to keep their playoff dream alive.
The Flyers find a way
Today’s contest against the Boston Bruins was nothing short of a clutch victory. Within the Philadelphia Flyers locker room, they’re aware of the Mass Mutual Eastern Division standings. Before the puck dropped, the Flyers were in sixth place, a point behind the New York Rangers and six behind the Bruins. Now, they’ve jumped back into sole ownership of fifth, four points out of a playoff spot.
Improvement in the style of play this month is drastic. Philadelphia has defeated Boston twice in three April games. They’re pushing playoff teams to their limits and earning needed wins along the way. Today, they didn’t leave any on the table. The Flyers collected two massive points towards the standings, keeping playoff hopes afloat.
Momentum is valuable in the NHL. Philadelphia, through extra frames of hockey, is beginning to establish its identity. A season ago, the Flyers were consistent from the beginning. Now, they’ll have to form a winning streak.
Anything is possible with sixteen games remaining. Here’s how today played out in Philadelphia:
Much like their first ten minutes against the New York Islanders, the Flyers did not come out strong. Ivan Provorov went down to the ice after blocking a shot with his knee. Early on, it seemed as if Philadelphia would be a defenseman down, but the ironman returned.
Patrice Bergeron scored the first goal of the game from the slot. A turnover behind the net allowed Bergeron to sneak in and unload a wrist shot past Brian Elliott. It was his eighth goal of the season versus the Flyers, remaining a threat on the ice. Philadelphia did tighten the defense around the slot throughout the rest of the game, however.
Travis Konecny had an answer to Bergeron and the Bruins. He was all over the ice today, contributing in every aspect. Since his benching from Alain Vigneault, Konecny’s game has evolved into a complete form of hockey. He cleaned up a rebound, scoring on Jeremy Swayman to tie the game 1-1. Soon after, he drew a roughing penalty which translated into an assist when Shayne Gostisbehere scored a deflection goal.
At the end of the first period, the Flyers led, 2-1. Making the correct adjustments and converted on the powerplay translated to a lead.
Konecny’s improved two-hundred-foot play acted as a catalyst.
Robert Hagg continues to play well in place of Philippe Myers. It is hard to argue with his performance lately against the Islanders and today against Boston. On the penalty kill, he took away one-timer looks from David Pastrnak. Along with Elliott’s performance, Hagg played a crucial role in today’s victory on defense.
Jake DeBrusk would eventually tie the game, 2-2, for the Bruins. After Philadelphia killed Nolan Patrick‘s holding penalty, the offensive pressure proved too much. DeBrusk found the puck at the top of the crease for the high-percentage goal.
To this point, Boston outshot the Flyers. Throughout this season, that works in favor of Philadelphia. Vigneault’s system means finding the high-quality shot. Today, the Flyers knew they had to get Swayman to move in the crease to create a shooting lane. With confidence, the Flyers are a more dangerous team when being outshot.
During this season, the Bruins outscored Philadelphia 14-7 in the third period. Recently, the Flyers have been a third-period team in terms of scoring. Swayman, in two previous starts, hadn’t given up more than two goals. Which club would find their place in the final twenty minutes of regulation?
Elliott continues to prove he is worth every bit of his contract extension this season. While Philadelphia turned the puck over and failed to clear early in the third period, he turned away every shot on goal.
Rewarding Elliott’s play on the opposite end was Sean Couturier, who scored the game-winner. Joel Farabee notched a brilliant assist, getting Swayman to commit early. Couturier gathered the puck on an open look, and that’s all she wrote. Now, the Flyers had to maintain their regulation lead. After Couturier’s goal, Philadelphia led, 3-2.
Scott Laughton bailed the Flyers out on the penalty kill a couple of times. He and Konecny made brilliant plays late in the third period to stop Boston in the defensive zone. Their efforts nearly allowed Philadelphia to extend the lead, but Jakub Voracek committed goaltender interference.
At the final horn, Elliott and the Flyers were victorious in regulation.
Up next for the Flyers
Tomorrow, the Philadelphia Flyers host the Buffalo Sabres at 2pm. Coverage takes place on the NHL Network and NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Photo Credit: Alex Mcintyre