By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
It happened again. Same scenario, almost the same amount of time on the clock, and the Flyers found a way to force overtime against the Penguins.
Not only did they force overtime, but they also won the game again, this time in the most dramatic of fashion.
With 10 games remaining on the schedule, it remains to be seen if the Flyers take this win and turn it into some magical last-gasp playoff run that gets them in, but it kept their playoff hopes alive for now.
More in our Postgame Review.
On Friday, this was the Flyers biggest letdown. The Flyers had a 5-2 lead in the second period and let it slip with five unanswered goals, each the result of a porous defense and poor goaltending.
For two periods, the Flyers played perfect defense. For the most part, chances were kept to the outside or from a distance. When chances got in close or were of quality, the goalie took care of them. It was the type of play you wish the Flyers would display every night.
Even down to the final minutes of the game, it was apparent that this was an all-out effort. Just consider Ivan Provorov's hard backcheck and diving poke check that prevented an empty-net goal as a season-saver. That was the final nail in the coffin on the season and the playoff hopes. But that one play gave the Flyers a chance.
Hart faced mostly routine shots in the first period, but as play ramped up in the second, the qualities that define Hart's game were on full display. He tracked the puck incredibly well. Any signs of the struggles he faced in the two games pre-injury and in being welcomed back against Washington last Thursday were gone.
Hart was again on point in the third, allowing just a rebound goal to Teddy Blueger. In overtime, he made seven saves, none better than a brilliant blocker save on Brian Dumoulin. Hart brought his best and may have again been the Flyers savior. No matter what happens in the rest of this stretch run, having Hart at the start of the season will make a huge difference.
That's right. On Jan. 10, JVR had just six goals on the season. Since then, 19 goals is tied for the most in the NHL.
For most of the season, there was question about how JVR fit into this Flyers lineup, and perhaps with so much confusion and disorganization by the likes of Dave Hakstol, JVR was never a fit. With Scott Gordon behind the bench and Wayne Simmonds no longer in the picture, there is place for JVR right in his office. It's worked wonders for the Flyers in that time.
JVR's 25th of the season was a goal scorer's goal, cutting up the slot with a one-touch, quick release on goal. Matt Murray couldn't stop that one.
JVR's another player having a "what might have been" season. After being injured in the second game of the season, the missed time for JVR essentially prolonged his offseason. As he's gotten into a rhythm here down the stretch, you're seeing the player who scored 36 goals a season ago.
Couturier was always a presence around the net in this game. On a power play with six minutes left in regulation, Couturier missed the net from the slot on a great chance. That seemed like the closest the Flyers would get.
In overtime, Couturier played hero for the Flyers, making a nice power move around Sidney Crosby in the neutral zone to set up the two-on-one. The goal with 3.4 seconds left was the fourth-latest in an overtime period.
Last February, Jordan Weal scored with 3.1 seconds left in Carolina. Mike Richards scored with an even three seconds left in overtime in Boston on Dec. 11, 2010. And the latest goal in overtime belongs to Scott Hartnell, who seven years ago Monday scored with 0.9 seconds left against the Penguins.
Remember back to the Stadium Series and find a few commonalities between these two wins. First, both Couturier and JVR scored goals in the game. JVR scored his goal with the goalie pulled, just like Sunday night. Jake Voracek tied the game in the Stadium Series with 19.7 seconds remaining. JVR's equalizer was scored with 18.8 seconds remaining. Both games ended with the Flyers winning in overtime.
How's this for irony too? Claude Giroux nearly had a goal in the first period. It was a strange play, with the Flyers on the power play, with Giroux beating Murray with a shot only to have the goal waved off for goalie interference, challenged by the Flyers and reversed, then challenged by the Penguins for offside and reversed again.
While the goal didn't count, Giroux literally used the same move he did in overtime of the Stadium Series to cut across on a defenseman and beat Murray through the legs.
The Flyers, who have had their struggles against divisional opponents, won the season series from the Penguins, 3-1-0, with their only loss being on home ice on Feb. 11, where they outshot Pittsburgh, 51-28.
By the Numbers
Carter Hart faced a pretty tough test with a lot of shots and traffic coming from the front of the net. Take a look at all of the shot traffic coming from near the crease and the slot. The Penguins had a 73.17 CF% in the second period, including five high-danger scoring chances.
Stat of the Game
It was a question if Giroux would play in this game, as he was battling the flu and missed the morning skate. He finished with 23:33 of ice time, six shots on goal, one hit and one blocked shot.