Morning After: Special teams delivers for Flyers

It will go down as one of the unsung plays of the season for the Flyers. In the closing seconds, Nick Grossmann stood tall and blocked a shot by John Mitchell that was bound for the back of the net.

A goal would have blown a 4-0 lead in the final 20 minutes. Instead, the block saved the game for the Flyers.

The blocked shot followed a penalty kill in the final 2:49 where the Avalanche played with an empty net. The Flyers killed the penalty and then survived the final 49 seconds to close out Saturday's 4-3 win. 

Special teams played a huge role in the win. The Flyers power-play was 3-for-6, including two goals on a five-minute power-play at the close of the first and beginning of the second.

"Great kill in the end there, great kill, great kill," head coach Craig Berube said. "Power play was excellent, but the penalty kill was really excellent tonight."

Claude Giroux was the star of the game, scoring two goals and adding an assist on Wayne Simmonds power-play goal in the second. Giroux, who had just two goals entering Saturday's game, seemed like he was trying anything and everything to score at the end of Thursday's game.

Giroux had not scored since his overtime game-winner on Oct. 18 in Dallas. Similarly, Simmonds had one goal in his last nine games.

"We got a couple bounces and they’re going in," Giroux said. "Power plays are going to be up and down during the season and we've got to find a way when it’s down to get it back up."

But Giroux focused more on the final two minutes of the game, when the Flyers beared down on defense, than any offense that came early in the game.

"Any time you can play good the last two minutes and get a win out of it, you want to bear down and make sure you win battles," Giroux said, "and we did a good job taking care of their sticks."

But before those final two minutes, the Flyers nearly coughed up a 4-0 lead in 18 minutes. Steve Mason looked poised for a shutout bid. A turnover by Grossmann set up Max Talbot for Colorado's first goal. A lost board battle by R.J. Umberger led to the third goal for the Avalanche. 

"Basically, at the timeout I said, 'Listen, you have to start playing,'" Berube said. "It’s nothing more than that. I can’t sit here and draw up a play for them to get out for it. Juts play. It’s never even that they stopped playing.

"It’s an attack mentality. You stop skating. That’s the biggest thing. You stop skating. Skate and work, no matter what the score is. And it gets you out of trouble and keeps you in the game."

Defensively, the Flyers had obstacles to deal with on Saturday. Braydon Coburn returned from injury, ahead a schedule, so the rust factor was there. Luke Schenn was lost for the game after suffering an upper-body injury when he went into the endboards awkwardly late in the first. 

That proved to be the game-changing moment. The Flyers may have lost a defenseman, but they scored two goals on the power-play that came from Nathan MacKinnon's major penalty for boarding.

The Flyers did so many things right in the first two periods. A sloppy third period almost ruined that. But at the end of the night, the Flyers still had two points to show for it, their third win this week on the homestand.

"It is obviously good to get a win, but it is not the way we want to play in the third period," Jake Voracek, who extended his points streak to eight games with three assists, said. "We found a way to win but have to be on our toes in the third period."

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Flyerdelphia. Follow him on Twitter @KDursoPhilsNet.