After playing nine of their last ten games away from home, the Philadelphia Flyers returned home to the Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night against the Washington Capitals.
Although it was the first matchup of the season in Philadelphia between the clubs, they continued the trend of needing overtime to settle the score. Defenseman Andrej Meszaros continued his incredible season with a game-winning goal to make sure the team started their three game home-stand on the right note.
As if coming home for the second game in 28 days wasn’t hard enough, the Flyers faced tough sledding all night long. After taking the ice for the second period with a 1-0 lead, the team realized that they would have to face a different goalie than Michal Neuvirth.
Claude Giroux completely dismissed the notion that the team had any change in mindset when they saw Semyon Varlamov in net.
“[Varlamov and Neuvirth] play pretty much the same way, they’re good goalies,” Giroux explained. “We just continued to make a point of putting traffic in front of their net.”
In fact, it was some Giroux traffic in front of the net that lead to the Flyers second goal at 13:38 of the second stanza.
After two periods, it looked as if the Orange and Black would blow the game wide open. The once high octane Capitals were held to 12 shots in the first two periods, which was largely attributed to the play of Braydon Coburn on Alexander Ovechkin.
“You want to try to play [Ovechkin] tight,” Coburn said afterwards of the challenges that the Washington superstar posed on Tuesday. “He’s a fast guy; you want to try to always put yourself in good position because he’s pretty dynamic.”
Then, all the wind in the Flyers’ sails vanished. First, Mike Knuble scored at 7:58 of the third, and less than a minute later Ovechkin tied the game on a loose rebound in front of Flyers’ goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.
However, the Flyers wouldn’t let their homecoming be ruined. After a flurry of shots on net in the waning minutes of the game the two teams took the ice for the extra period.
The player that came to the Flyers’ rescue was none other than the defenseman that keeps on giving, Meszaros. He has been arguably the Flyers’ most valuable player this season, and he added another superlative to his list for the season.
A game-winning overtime goal.
It was fitting that on the night when General Manager Paul Holmgren’s three-year contract extension was announced, one of his best trade acquisitions ended the game.
“[Everything] has just clicked in Philadelphia and I am really happy about it,” said Meszaros, the NHL leader in the plus-minus category (plus-29). “You know, when you come to a new team it is tough to learn everything but it was actually pretty easy for me. Fortunate for me it has been good so far.”