By Kevin Durso, Sports Talk Philly editor
The Flyers season has come to this, a week-long series of four games against the New Jersey Devils, two teams headed for the offseason in two weeks. At least the Flyers were able to make things a bit exciting in closing.
After playing deep into the third period with relatively uninspired play, two quick goals by the captain turned the game around and forced overtime. Following the overtime, Kevin Hayes scored the game-winning goal in the sixth round, giving the Flyers a 4-3 come-from-behind win over the Devils on Sunday night at Wells Fargo Center.
The Devils controlled the early play and turned an odd-man rush off a defensive breakdown into a goal. Michael McLeod and Nathan Bastian executed a perfect give-and-go on a 3-on-1, with McLeod tucking in his eighth goal of the season at 4:56.
The Flyers got on the board at 11:45. After some prolonged offensive zone time and a Devils icing, the Flyers won the face-off, quickly got the puck to the point for Phil Myers, and his shot was deflected in by Sean Couturier. It was Couturier's 14th goal of the season.
After the opening 20 minutes, the Flyers had the 16-8 lead in shots.
The Devils re-gained the lead in the second at the 7:07 mark. Off another defensive breakdown, Bastian set up another teammate for the back-door play. Miles Wood went to the net and scored on a slam dunk, making it 2-1 with his 16th goal of the season.
The rest of the period came and went without much fanfare. The Flyers got the game's first power play with 36.4 seconds remaining in the period as New Jersey was whistled for a bench minor. Shots through 40 minutes were 25-19 Flyers.
The Flyers never got set up on the remaining 1:24 of the power play to start the third period. The Devils got a power play shortly after and failed to capitalize as well.
At the midpoint of the third, the Devils got the insurance goal needed to essentially put the game away. Pavel Zacha scored from the slot to make it a 3-1 game.
With under three minutes to play, the Flyers pulled the goalie and got one of the goals back as Claude Giroux scored with 1:26 remaining in the third.
On the very next shift, Giroux struck again, getting a deflection at the side of the net to tie the game at three with 1:04 left on his second goal in 22 seconds.
The Devils got a power play 61 seconds into overtime, but were not able to solve Elliott. The rest of overtime came and went without any scoring, forcing a shootout.
Giroux and Couturier each scored in the first two rounds for the Flyers. Yegor Sharangovich and Jesper Bratt scored in the second and third round for the Devils to force sudden death. In the sixth round, Hayes got the go-ahead goal for the Flyers and Nico Hischier was stopped by Brian Elliott at the other end to secure the win.
Elliott made 29 saves in regulation and overtime in the win. Mackenzie Blackwood made 33 saves on 36 shots in the loss.
On both of Giroux's goals, James van Riemsdyk and Jake Voracek got assists. With his two goals, Giroux passed Brian Propp for third in franchise history in points with his 850th career point.
The Flyers and Devils meet again on Tuesday night in New Jersey at 7 p.m.