When the Washington Capitals came to Philadelphia on Tuesday night, many wondered which Flyers team would take the ice against them. Would it be the team that sprinted through the first half of the season, winning convincingly much of the time? Or would it be the lethargic team that had frequent lapses in competitiveness and struggled to put together a complete effort?
The Flyers answered the question in a resounding manner.
Despite losing 5-4 in a shootout, the team dominated play for much of the game and reminded everyone that they have the ability to march to the Stanley Cup.
Early in the second period, Washington looked like they would run away and hide from the Flyers when defenseman Dennis Wideman beat goalie Sergei Bobrovsky to make the score 3-0. Head coach Peter Laviolette replaced Bobrovsky with veteran Brian Boucher, and the Flyers took over the game.
With two goals in the remainder of the second stanza, the team not only got back on their feet, but they pushed Washington on the heels of theirs. First, Kris Versteeg scored on a deflection off of a Capitals defenseman’s skate. And with time winding down in the period, Andreas Nodl found Claude Giroux with a beautiful slap-pass that the all star one-timed past a motionless Michal Neuvirth.
“Offensively, I think it was one of our best games moving the puck,” Giroux stated afterwards. “We just played faster than we used to. We knew this game was going to be a test for us so it’s great that guys showed up and were ready to go.”
In the third, the offense continued to click when Giroux forced a Washington turnover in the offensive zone and found Nodl for the game-tying goal. Nodl, who was benched recently continued to respond with one of his best efforts on the season notching a goal and an assist in his second game since being inserted back in the lineup.
With the score knotted at 3-3, the Flyers found a way to take the lead with their fourth unanswered goal. This time, Daniel Briere deflected the puck behind Neuvirth, and in doing so, tallied his 100th goal since joining the Flyers organization.
“I really liked the effort that we put in. Even at 3-0, it would have been easy to pack it in and just say the night is over, but we kept coming,” Briere explained. “It was fun to see the character. I think we learned that last year. You never quit. ”
Although the Flyers found a way to push the score to their advantage, Marcus Johannson tied the game with a short-side shot that beat Boucher. After the two teams played five minutes of overtime, Alexander Semin that scored the game-winning shootout goal to give the Caps the victory.
Despite the loss, the Flyers were satisfied with gaining a point, and even more satisfied with the way they had played. With time ticking down on the regular season, many wondered if it were possible for the team to find their groove the way they had earlier this year.
With the tremendous effort put forth on Tuesday night, the team showed that they are capable of playing some of the best hockey that the NHL has to offer.
“I thought we played great today,” Laviolette stated in his postgame press conference. “This was one of our best games in a long time. It’s unfortunate that we couldn’t get the two points out of it but sometimes that happens. The guys should feel really good about the way they played today.”
There’s no doubt that the Flyers felt good about the way they played on Tuesday. There may be even less doubt that the rest of the Eastern Conference felt the opposite.